Summer Vacation: When the Children Take Control


After 25 years of family vacations, Julie and I have gotten used to being in control of our annual summer trips. Yes, we solicit input from each of our five children, but ultimately, we decide where we go and when. I just assumed this was the way it would always be 🙂

Our trips over the past 25 years have become known as our “Wallyworld” trips. Similar to the Griswalds (see Chevy Chase and the “Vacation” movies), we would load all seven of us (Julie, myself, and our five children) and our luggage into a minivan and head off to the East Coast, West Coast, the National Parks, or Canada. Believe it or not, we usually made no reservations since we wanted to be flexible for whatever came our way. If the children wanted to spend an extra day at Disneyworld or Glacier Park, no problem, we just figured out how that would impact the number of miles we needed to drive the following days in order to make it back home in time for work and the start of the school year.

Well, that process worked well until a few months ago. Maybe I should have realized that since the ages of the children are now 29, 26, 23, 19 and 15, things were due for a change. When I told the children of a few possible “driving trips” for this summer’s vacation, I was told: “Dad, we are not going on a driving trip in the minivan this year. We are going on a rafting trip.” When I inquired “where,” I was told: “Dad, just pack a sleeping bag and a bathing suit. We have arranged everything.”

This was not easy for me to comprehend: I am not involved in the planning???? And rafting sounded a little ominous since I have never done it, and I am not a great swimmer.

Well, it turned out to be an amazing week! We all flew to Denver where, ironically, the kids rented a minivan so we could drive across the state of Colorado to Grand Junction. From there we took a small propeller plane to the Green River in Utah. We then boarded three rafts with two other families and took a 90-mile rafting trip over five days down the canyons of the Green River toward Moab, Utah.

The scenery was gorgeous, and the stars at night were magnificent. In addition to the three rafts, the guides had inflatable “ducky boats”, which were two-man kayaks. The rapids were just crazy enough for Dad to get very nervous about flipping over…just another example of not being in control.

It was a wonderful family time for swimming, rafting, camp fires and story-telling. I am already looking forward to what surprise the children have in mind for next year!!

One comment

  • This is great, Harry. It is the way I grew up, too. FIVE of us Ohio to Seattle/Vancouver and down to Los Angeles in a 1976 Honda Accord with a clamshell luggage (pre-Thule) attached to the roof. The following year a similar adventure in the supersize Ford Econoline van that my dad customized – never a reservation or a specific itinerary to tie us down. It was the best. Sadly, I didn’t do enough of this with my own kids – hats off to you for making it happen. You’ve inspired a family reunion here! Thank you!

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