Tuesday, August 03, 2010


Lessons from the Woods

The vacation was a much-needed blessing. We were lucky in many ways: the weather cooperated, the kids were on their very best behavior, traffic wasn’t awful, the car behaved, and I was able to shed most of my workweek crankiness by midweek.

Scenes from the middle of nowhere:

- Kids plus large rocks equals climbing. This is true regardless of the depth of the prospective fall, the depth and temperature of the water below, and the relative agility of the kid. This is how parents age.

- At six, bless her, The Girl doesn’t have any sense of how some of her words sound. In a discussion that somehow touched on gumballs, TG announced unselfconsciously that something “tastes like caribou balls.” I informed The Wife that her daughter was talking about caribou balls. This occasioned some philosophical musings on the nature of paternity, the fluidity of language, and the likelihood of quoting that back to her at, say, thirteen..

- It’s amazing what a group can accomplish when nobody whines. I’m just sayin’.

- Nerdiness can pay off. TW questioned why I needed to bring the laptop and aircard until the hotel lost our reservation, and I was able to pull up the email receipt on screen and show the manager at the front desk. Note to self: bring printouts of reservations in the future. Still, it worked.

- When the kids simply refused to get up, they incurred the wrath of the Daddy Monster. The Daddy Monster used his monster-truck-rally-radio-commercial voice, combined with an apelike gait, professional wrestling language, and deadly tickling moves to move the unmovable. (“The Boy won’t stir? (TB giggles) He’s in for a world of pain!” (TB giggles again) Then I’d blow a raspberry on his belly. Worked every time.) At home I just sing. (My version of Katy Perry’s “California Girls” sounds like a cross between Tom Waits and Peter Brady in that episode where his voice changed. You know the one. Yes, you do.)

- Hotels that offer breakfast are better than hotels that don’t.

- Some people smoke on the beach, apparently on the theory that one form of cancer isn’t enough. Cigarette butts in the sand are disgusting. It gives the beach a “litterbox” feel that kinda doesn’t work for me.

- Restaurants that don’t have children’s menus are missing out. And the first restaurant that goes beyond the same three or four items on it (chicken fingers, burger, mac and cheese, pasta) wins.

- Whoever invented Dramamine deserved the Nobel prize. That’s all I’m sayin’.

- There’s something wonderful about being able to read whatever you want. The gender gap in action: TW read a William Styron novel, and I read Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky. The last chapter is worth a blog post unto itself. Somewhere, someone is going to write a brilliant essay rereading John Dewey’s notion of “organized intelligence” in light of crowdsourcing. Hell, if not for the day job, I’d write it myself. Anyone so inclined, go for it.

- A week away from office politics is a glorious thing. It clears the system of bile. When overlooking some of the most beautiful vistas nature has to offer, all that silly status-jumping stuff just fades away. There’s a lesson in there somewhere...

Sounds like a great week. Wish we hadn't already taken our vacation for summer because now I want to go on another one. :-)
You forgot to mention my horrible potty mouth at the top of the log flume. Thank God the kids didn't join us on that ride.
A couple of years ago, my wife took our two young boys with her on a car trip across country to visit family. For the boys, staying in a hotel was definitely a highlight of the trip. I'd get reports of how many beds and TVs there were, if there was a pool, etc, etc. And as you described, in their eyes a key criteria for a quality hotel was if it provided free breakfast. :o)
"It’s amazing what a group can accomplish when nobody whines"

Same logic could be applied to students. :)
"Cognitive Surplus"?
On vacation?
"- Restaurants that don’t have children’s menus are missing out. And the first restaurant that goes beyond the same three or four items on it (chicken fingers, burger, mac and cheese, pasta) wins."

The best chain for children's menus we've found is California Pizza Kitchen. Not as inexpensive as some, but among the options are a nice plate of plain grilled chicken with steamed broccoli.

For us, hitting the hotel jackpot is finding one with a pool, a playground (no matter how basic), and a decent restaurant either on site or within a block.
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