The first question was whether to go on vacation at all. We hadn’t left Texas for 2+ years, and we’d just made it through another ice storm. We were so out of practice. Traveling takes practice! Were we really up for driving 11+ hours to Florida with the kids? Should we stay or should we go?
The answer came from one of my favorite questions: “Will this enlarge me or diminish me?” I have never found any trip — and trust me, a “vacation” with young children is always a “trip” — to be diminishing. I almost always learn something, feel expanded, somehow.
So we got in the car and we drove…
We drove to New Orleans, A city I’d never seen. I became enchanted by the swamps of Louisiana, especially the Atchafalaya Basin. I’d meant to read something highbrow, like Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, but I got sucked into Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire, which is not as much of a pageturner as you’d think, but matched the setting perfectly. (I later walked the beach while listening to a few of her interviews from the Fresh Air archives.)
My kids get up very early in the morning, and I’ve learned over the years that there’s very little to do in a city super early in the morning (museums, zoos, etc., don’t usually open until 10AM), so what I like to do is: Go ahead and get up and out, pick up some coffee, and visit the prettiest park and playground nearby. Let the kids wear themselves out. Then get in the car. (This trip brought to you by Dramamine for Kids.)
We have a piano and a few keyboards in the house and my kids love to make music when we’re just hanging out. Our youngest started complaining that my ancient Casio SK-1 — the keyboard I had when I was their age — was missing keys, so I thought it’d be fun to buy them a new model. Something simple and cheap that they could beat up. I searched online for every Wal-Mart and Target and Guitar Center along I-10 to see if there was a Casio SA-76 in stock, with no luck. Then, at the very end of the drive, a few blocks from our rental house in Florida, I saw a store called Austin Music Co. They had one. (At a markup.) It was a sign…