Thursday, October 16, 2003


Does this sound like a recipe for a vacation? 11 days off + a total of 11 flights + a 700-mile road trip + 4 nights spent in motels and 5 nights spent at relatives' 4 different towns + 1 night spent on a plane? Or does it sound like a people-pleasing journey that can only lead to exhaustion?

We arrived back on St. Thomas feeling as if we'd been traveling for a month. We could only muster the energy to look at each other and marvel: "We did a LOT!" It was our first trip back to the States since we moved to the tropics 3-1/2 years ago...and we tried to cover every familial base. The only problem is that we spent (for us) a small fortune and used up our remaining vacation time for the year...and we still don't feel like we had a vacation! But that's okay. Hopefully our respective families were happy to see us--if only briefly--and our next trip to the States we can be totally selfish and do something completely relaxing. My new motto is: From now on, we vacation ONE TOWN AT A TIME! Really, it was too much to try to do in such a short period of time. We may have covered a lot of bases, but we barely scratched the surface.

We did have a good time and it was great to see our families, even though we only had a brief time with any one person or group. Some highlights:

* Spending (unfortunately WAY too brief a) time with boyfriend's 12-year-old son in Portland. Still the same, sweet, fabulous kid. Plans were made for him to spend next summer with us.
* The dinner/roast for my Dad's 75th and my Dad and Stepmother's 25th anniversary
# My brother emceeing: priceless...and hilarious.
# Having my roast go over apparently quite well. I think I shocked a lot of people who didn't realize that I can actually be funny. (That's okay, my close friends know.)
# Getting to make my stepmother's wish come true to have all 6 of us Brady Bunch-combined kids home at the same for the first time in 25 years!
# The satisfaction on my Dad's face as a countless number of people got up to roast him. Not how I'd like to celebrate my 75th birthday, but I guess that kind of thing makes him feel widely liked.
* Having my best friend from high school pick us up at the airport and getting to spend some time with her over the party weekend. We had a chance to catch up a bit after not seeing each other since our 20-year reunion...10 years ago! The best part is she definitely plans to visit the islands. I'm looking forward to it.
* Spending time with my nieces and enjoying them individually...and together. The 13-year-old blonde blows me away at how mature and poised (and beautiful) she is...compared to how utterly dorky, gangly and painfully shy I was at that age. The brunette 5-year-old is as feisty, quirky and independent as ever. She likes to do everything...herself. She's a smart cookie who tickles me with her take on the world.
* A Sunday morning walk with the boyfriend on land owned by relatives. It was only in the mid-50's and foggy, but what a treat to just take in the pastoral scene and the cows, herons, ducks, birds, cats and wildflowers we came across.
* The road trip to Portland -- After being stuck on our little 13 miles long x 3 miles wide island for years, it was fabulous to be in a car and just GO...for hundreds of miles. You have no idea how much I miss LAND. I kept looking out the window on the Miami to San Francisco flight and feeling amazed at all the...LAND.
* Driving through the redwoods and the Smith River canyon--still my favorite place on the planet. And, yes, we acted just like tourists and stopped to take numerous pictures with our new digital camera.
* Walking around downtown Portland with my beau and remembering what a wonderful and utterly livable city it is.
* Hearing the boyfriend sit in and play (drums) a couple of times in Portland. He plays music all the time here, but it was nice to hear him play a few tunes that I actually like! Ha! He's the humblest musician I know, so I got a secret kick out of him blowing into town for a few hours and showing that he's still got the chops.
* Seeing the few girlfriends I had a chance to squeeze in between the family gatherings. It was great to see them all.
* Using the video feature on our digital camera (but unfortunately remembering much too late that we had it.)
* Having mostly great travel weather both for flying and driving.
* Getting to spend a weekend at my brother and sister-in-law's place the weekend before we returned home. It was the most relaxing part of the trip.
* Seeing how good my mother looked. She looked trim...I can't remember the last time I saw her wear jeans. And it's the first time in my memory (since I don't have any memories of my infancy!) when I've seen her with her natural hair color! She's let it go to its natural gray. She also got a short, spiky cut and the whole look really suits her. (Kind of ironic that I've recently gone back to coloring my hair after letting it go natural for 8+ years at the same time that she's stopped coloring hers.)
* Arriving back at my office on Tuesday morning and realizing with glee that I had completely forgotten my boss would be gone for my first two weeks back...yippee!


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