On vacation

We’ve traveled a lot this summer, or at least it seems that way. First up was Israel, which my Florida family toured with us in two cramped, rental minivans, stopping to hike through waterfalls, explore ancient historical and religious sites, snorkel fabulous coral reefs and sample the wares at any number of falafel joints and baklava conditoria with roughly equal fervor.

Israel, as you may have heard, is in the midst of what the locals refer to as “a situation,” but by stroke of luck (and my brother’s insistence that we plan our trip to begin the first week all our kids were out of school), we breezed in and out of there without incident. No Katyushas falling on our heads, no road closures, not even any familial squabbles serious enough to lead to some stray spouse’s or in-law’s sudden, unexpected demise.

Still, the flight to Tel Aviv was some 20 hours each way with layovers, and over the course of 12 days we put at least 1,000 miles on the mobile tin can that is a Kia Carnival, so by the time we got back to Oak Park in a $100 private shuttle from LAX, I wasn’t looking forward to hitting the road again any time soon.

But three weeks later, hit the road we did. This time it was a sprint up I-5 to the Bay area to spend a weekend with my wife’s mother, siblings, and assorted significant others and progeny. Hey, if we can do two weeks overseas with my side of the family, fair is fair, right? So we burned up to Lafayette last Friday, crammed in some quality pool time, a beautiful hike around the reservoir, a few good meals and some intergenerational bonding, before sacrificing another tank of fossil fuel to make it home in time for a frazzled night’s sleep before packing off the kids to Junior Lifeguards and surf camp.

That’s where things stood until this morning, when my wife and kids left again, heading up to Sequoia for a long-planned camping trip with another family. Naturally, I thought hard about joining them, but despite the allure of those thousand-year-old redwoods and a couple of secluded streams we know that flow into thrilling, natural water-slides, I just couldn’t face two more seven-hour car trips over the course of a single long weekend.

So here we are, just me and the dog, kicking it at home by ourselves for three whole days for the first time in, well, forever in Hendrix’ case. No blaring TVs, no incessant brother-sister spats, no pick-ups or drop-offs for spontaneous cross-town hang-outs, no helping clean up after two kids who treat our kitchen with the same care and sensitivity that Hezbollah is currently exhibiting in northern Israel.

Yeah, sure, I miss everyone, even after only half a day. But I’ve gotta tell you, it’s great to finally be on vacation.

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