After two years of more-or-less weekly Wednesday videos about the writing process and the writing life, the launch of my new novel also marks the end of the vlog series. Vlogging was a lot of fun and I’d definitely consider doing another vlog project in the future. In the meantime, I’ll still be blogging here in the good old-fashioned way, reviewing books over at Compulsive Overreader, and updating my author website with news about upcoming book signings, readings, and everything book-related.
So I posted last week about the joys of family vacations. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I love planning trips. When it comes to travelling as a family, I don’t believe in too much spontaneity; I think you need an agenda and that when you tumble off the train in a strange city, there should be a hotel reserved in your name so you know where to go. As a result, I plan our trips pretty thoroughly and well in advance. What happens each day may be a lovely surprise but I always know where we’re going to sleep at night.
However, there are drawbacks to too much careful planning.
Five years ago, after the 2009 Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, our family rented an RV and drove west, exploring some of the US. Our plan was to drive all the way to Yellowstone National Park, where we would see Old Faithful and go white-water rafting. I had booked ahead campsites in most of the places we planned to stay, up to and including a short stop near Mount Rushmore and then onward to Yellowstone, where we would stay for a couple of nights.
Driving an RV was much less fun than we had imagined. I know a lot of people love their RVs and have made great vacation memories in them, but my main impression was that just to keep on target with our travel schedule we were spending seven or eight hours a day pushing this giant box along the highway, not spending much time stopping to see interesting things. It drove more slowly and guzzled more gas than we had imagined, and I didn’t dare attempt to drive the thing so Jason was behind the wheel hour after hour. As we approached Mount Rushmore I dared to say to Jason, “What if we didn’t go on to Yellowstone for the weekend? We’d miss out on Yellowstone, sure, but we’d spend a lot less time driving and a lot more time relaxing and doing fun things.”
I’m such a hardcore trip planner that it actually took me a couple of days on the road, in the RV, to think that one through and realize that I could change our plans. And yes, I’m sad we never saw Old Faithful, and didn’t go whitewater rafting (although this past summer we did it right back home in Newfoundland and it was awesome). But some of our kids’ best travel memories are from that KOA Kampground in South Dakota where we spent four lovely, fun, relaxing days. As soon as I called ahead to the campground in Yellowstone to cancel our reservation, I knew it was the right decision. I felt lighter, safer and more relaxed when we made a course correction and scaled back our plans.
Just a couple of weeks ago, my family was in Europe, hopping on and off trains and travelling from Paris to Copenhagen to London in a journey that, despite the decidedly modest nature of our accommodations (the first thing the kids now ask before we go to a new hotel is “Does this one have its own bathroom?”), still cost a lot more than we probably should have spent.
(sadly, the only pic from this year’s trip that includes all four of this is this not-very-good selfie in front of Lego Mount Rushmore, but what can you do? One of us is always holding the camera)
I am a big believer in family vacations. And I recognize that not everyone has the ability to take their kids to Europe. But to my mind the benefits of family vacations are the same whether you’re skiing in the Alps or setting up the pop-up trailer at Butterpot Park. And it can sometimes be much easier not to take a family vacation — travelling with kids poses its challenges, not just from an economic point of view but from sanity and time-management and energy points of view too. I believe there are two unique benefits to family trips that you can achieve no matter how far you go or how much (or little) you spend — two things you can’t achieve by staying home.
1. You experience something new. The opportunity to try, taste, do or see something completely outside the range of their everyday experience is a precious gift to give your kids. Yes, you do valuable and fun and useful things with them all the time at home, and so do their teachers at school, but both home and school fall into routines and there are certain things we and our children will never get to experience if we don’t get outside our comfort zones. And again, this is not dependent on budget or on your ability to travel someplace exotic. Whether it’s a Canadian kid who gets to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or a city kid who gets to bait a fishing hook with a real live worm for the first time, the important thing is that your family is doing, seeing or trying something they wouldn’t normally do as part of their everyday lives. That’s how we learn. That’s how we grow. And unlike experiences they might have on a school field trip (which are also great, of course), on a family vacation kids get to do these new things with their parents and siblings. Which brings me to my second point …
So, I kind of fell down on posting the Women’s Suffrage Trivia Questions here on the blog. I ended up posting five photos with trivia questions on Facebook, and had many readers playing along there, but I fell behind here on the blog. It turned out that having your new book come out the same week that you start teaching classes at school is … kind of a lot to have happening. And now that we’re into the third week of school, and the book is more-or-less out there (still on its way to some bookstore shelves), things are still, well, kind of hectic. But the main thing is, the book is out there. Ish. And I apolog-ish for letting the blog fall a few days behind, but I did have a contest winner, and Edwina now has her free copy of the book, and I’m hoping a lot more people will be reading and enjoying copies of it very soon.
I’ll post book-related updates here as I’m able, but an even better place to look is on my official website, www.trudymorgancole.com . If you click on “Events” you’ll find out when and where I’m reading from and signing the novel, and I’ll post links to reviews and interviews under the “Press” tab. I’ve also created this page which has links to a lot of information about the historical background of A Sudden Sun, so you can check that out too!
Here’s today’s WOMEN’S SUFFRAGE TRIVIA QUESTION (I can’t really call this a Fun Fact):
NAME THIS FAMOUS SUFFRAGIST! She is probably best known for the circumstances of her death in 1913, when she stepped in front of the King’s horse at Epson Derby, sustaining injuries that led to her death four days later. The reasons why she did this have been debated for, well, a century now, but the consensus seems to be that she was attempting to disrupt the event and draw attention to her cause — possibly by throwing a “Votes for Women” sash around the horse’s neck, though this theory, like everything else about the incident, is controversial.
It’s the last of my summer series about books I love and what I’ve learned from them, and I filmed this one in Amsterdam (where the book is partially set).