When we go on family vacations, such as our recent trip to New York City, there’s no question in anybody’s mind that I am The Tour Guide. I love planning trips; I love finding my way (and my family’s way) around unfamiliar cities and seeing how many culturally and historically significant sites we can pack into a three-day trip. This is usually fun, but it does occasionally lead to complaints when I roust everyone out of bed and tell them the day’s schedule. I have heard the comment, “But we’re supposed to be on vacation!!!”
My usual reply — I used this one a lot in Europe last summer — is, “This is not the relaxing type of vacation, this is the seeing-and-doing-new-things type of vacation!”
At the end of three vigorous weeks in Europe I promised my family that sometime we would take a vacation whose only purpose was relaxation. This past week, we did just that, heading to Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia with no other agenda than to visit our very favourite beach, Black Brook Beach, for some swimming, sunning and lots of body-surfing.
Everything worked out perfectly according to plan. We went to Nova Scotia the most relaxing (and expensive!) way possible — taking the overnight ferry from Argentia to cut down on driving time, and booking a cabin onboard for the night so we’d arrive well-rested. It was a short drive up to the park where we stayed in rented cabins instead of our usual tent camping (again, less work, more relaxation) and spent each of three brilliantly hot, sunny days at the beach. Each day, Jason and the kids put in three to four solid hours of non-stop body surfing in the glorious waves, while I alternated between short swims in the sea, walks on the beach, and hours lying on the sand reading a biography of Peter the Great.
When the day’s beach time was over, it was back to our accommodations with no agenda but to keep right on relaxing.
Even the fact that Chris bought a bodhran on the first day there and spent all his non-beach time teaching himself to play it didn’t interfere with our relaxation … too much. The weather was good, so we were able to send him outside to play most of the time.
Each evening we asked the kids did they want to try something different the next day or go back to Black Brook, and each day the answer was the same: back to the beach! So back to the beach we went. Until the last day of our trip, when gray skies and showers threatened, and the kids decided on their own that it would be OK to spend the day visiting Fortress of Louisburg instead of going to the beach. So we did spend one day doing something culturally and historically significant — even something educational! — but it was their choice, so that was all right.
Having proved that I can plan a relaxing vacation, who knows? I might even do it again sometime!!