The northeast heat wave has been oppressive this past week.
But it’s been a beautiful week, nonetheless, because we’ve been on vacation.
No business. No mail to collate, cats to feed, plants to water, dog to walk, or phones to answer…
Why do we DO that anyway, run to grab the tele, just because it rings?!
No hospital visits or car failures.
In 1999, we took a two-week Christmas vacation to North Carolina and Florida to see family.
That road trip resulted in four trips to the ER, two for nine-month-old Big Guy who hadn’t been sick one day in his short life prior to that trip, and two for Warren, who developed a 104-degree temperature during our Christmas Eve festivities.
The Florida doctors ultimately determined Hubby had contracted some form of meningitis and that penicillin has no effect on our son.
On the way to that second destination, I drove in monsoon rains while Warren lay back in his seat, numb from the drugs to stymie a killer migraine.
We arrived at my mothers in the early, pre-dawn hours to find water entering her apartment faster than she could bail it.
On the way home from that little vacay, we “threw a rod through the block” of the car.
In layman’s terms: the engine blew up and we sick and stressed out parents had no choice but to purchase a new vehicle.
Well, new to us, yet old enough that the price tag would fit nicely onto our six-thousand-dollar-limit credit card.
We purchased that car with plastic funds because there wasn’t time enough to wait the several days it took back then to obtain loan approval.
Though we can laugh about The Vacation from Hell now, I think we’ve paid our dues and hope we never have to experience anything like that again.
But, honestly, I think it was the families who cared for us at each stop that made all the difference in our survival of that trip.
My parents and sibling, of course, who fed and housed us, and recommended local Quick Care facilities.
And then there were the tow truck driver and the automobile dealer’s workers, who were certainly Heaven Sent.
The hauler who took such good care of us, strapped into our seats atop the truck bed because we all couldn’t fit inside the cabin.
And then those dealership angels who worked around a comatose Warren, entertained the kids while I filled out copious amounts of paperwork, loaned us a car to tour the town while they readied our replacement vehicle, and then stayed after closing to help transfer over our luggage and toys and parenting paraphernalia and car-top carrier to the new van.
If not for them, I’m not sure we’d have been able to spin that adventure into a humorous tale.
We’d have repressed those memories for sure.
This recent trip, however, other than the stinking heat, was ten glorious days…
Since I’ve been gone for those ten glorious days (pinch me, please), and now must get back to reality, I’m going to let most of the pictures speak for themselves…
I kicked off the week with a lingering joy of the four days spent with my mom and an aunt and a brood of second and third and fourth cousins I never knew existed until we descended upon Philadelphia.
Our time together was filled with hugs, and you know how much I love a good embrace.
|Big Guy and his grandma|
The thirty-some of us toured Valley Forge, the place where George Washington and his troops wintered for nearly six months during the Revolutionary War.
My mom used to type 111 wpm on a typewriter similar to this!
Look at these shutters!
More than 2,000 of these 12-man cabins dotted the landscape during the war
Upon arrival to this Pennslvania land, the men stripped the lands of trees to build their camps.
They cooked on open fires and mounded up earthen structures into closed cooking pits.
They slept three tiers high in these cabins, on boards they cut from logs they harvested.
They kept as warm as they could with tiny fireplaces built at the far end of each dwelling.
They stood guard with empty bellies, bare feet, and little clothing covering their backs and bodies.
These are the things I longed for in history class, not dates and names, but to know how people survived, to have some glimpse into their lives, some notion of their struggles and their triumphs.
We visited the little-known Washington Memorial Chapel, a structure designed to honor George Washington and our nation.
The church’s mastermind, Milton B. Medary, designed the structure such that every single detail, right down to the thirteen chandeliers that represent the original thirteen colonies, was put in place with intent and meaning.
We were so captivated by the church’s history that we returned to attend Sunday’s service before heading out of town.
While talking with some of the parishioners, we learned that this Episcopalean church is currently undergoing a search for a new priest.
We visited Independence Hall, where Park Ranger Kate told us of the plight of the men who risked everything they had, even their lives, as they worked to come to an agreement on all the hopes and dreams they had for our developing country.
We learned that most of the original furniture had been burned at some time or another, and that the chair George Washington had sat in while overseeing the proceedings had somehow been spared.
It was in that same room, at the end of the days long discussion, that Ben Franklin discussed the sun carving on George’s chair and declared that we were a nation ascending unto our own greatness.
“I have often … in the course of the session … looked at that sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know it is a rising and not a setting sun.”
Franklin later wrote a French associate and said that the Americans were “making experiments.”
After my newfound appreciation for history, we were off to Ocean City, NJ to spend the week with friends along the shore.
Warren and I left early on the first morning to take in a walk/jog before the day became too hot.
On the return leg, I discovered this piece of artwork on the sidewalk and was immediately filled with peace, love, joy, and a great sense of fulfillment as I imagined the young, happy artist.
The rest of our week definitely included all of those things and more.
Inspiration and awe…
After watching that thirty minute workout, we definitely needed cooling off…
We had frozen yogurt from several places, including the wildly popular, Peace, Love, & Yogurt…
I love this so much more than the hardship plea…
What I’m doing every single day with The Five Facets, in spite of an enormous fear of failure
We had some good food and gambled and played Euchre and Phase 10 and worked crossword and jigsaw puzzles…
and we laughed so hard while playing Redneck Life that I thought I just might pee myself….
But the MOST AMAZING experience I had—maybe of my entire life—was this…
My friend, that’s her in the photo, and I went parasailing with our sons.
Floating. In. The. Air.
Like. A. Soaring. Bird.
Words can’t explain the feeling, Journeyers.
Language is as inferior in describing the sense of peace in being up in the air like that as it is describing the grief of losing a child.
It’s like watching a snowflake, gently free-falling from the sky, suspended as in slow motion, and I am the crystal hovering in the air.
It’s tranquility times ten or twenty, even.
Big Guy and I saw several pods of brown rays and he spotted a jellyfish.
Mike and Hunter, our crew, were funny and charming and seemed to love their jobs as much as we loved being there.
Mike’s from Maui but spends the summer months in Ocean City, and Hunter’s a local guy.
Of course I couldn’t resist capturing their slogan!
After our ride, I was talking with owner Jamie, and Casey and Sam, who told us that the winds and the ocean had been just right as to make the perfect week for parasailing.
Being in the right place at the right time is always cause for gratitude and celebration.
And I can’t leave out Bill, Jamie’s dad and the original owner of the company.
Those smiles are a reflection of how much they love what they do!
They also have pirate ship voyages for the wee ones and waverunner rentals for the not-so-little.
And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t receive any compensation for including their business here.
I’m writing about them because I honestly had the time of my life, and they were a part of making it happen.
And I believe we need to spend more time focusing on the positive…
If you’re ever in Ocean City, NJ and are looking for something to do, check out Ocean City Parasailing, in business for more than twenty years.
That’s worth talking about, don’t you think?
There are so many other little things that brought me joy and warmed my heart these past ten days.
But I’m sure you’ve got other things to do, places to be, other people’s stories to read…
and hopefully a few Happy Moments of your own to write about.
Feel free to share them here, no matter how big or how small.
Just like the proverbial Shit happens, so does Happy.
Ready. Set. Spread some smiles!
Please do share…