Friday, July 14, 2006

Mission: Togetherness

Now that I’ve had a good night’s sleep in my own bed, I think I might be lucid enough to write a few notes about our trip.

The first 24 hours (seventeen of which were in the car), we could have taped and sold as a reality TV show (I can see it now: “Can these seven people work out their differences without wrecking their overloaded Suburban pulling that U-haul full of bicycles and beach gear?”). We had this idea (thanks a lot, Mapquest) that we could somehow manage to drive 805 miles in 12 hours (that averages 67 mph-with-no-stops for 12 hours, for those of you already reaching for the calculator).

We knew we couldn’t make it in 12 hours, what with generous allowances for potty breaks and the aforementioned U-haul.

And yet, there it was in black and white:

It tortured us through the entire trip.

It kept us grasping feebly, as it were, onto our optimistic-vacationer mode, even though we entered Florida well past the fourteen hour mark. When we were almost there, turning down a pitch black, wooded county road, I snuck a peek on my phone’s calculator. I dared not tell my husband.

We averaged about 50 mph. It was nothing short of painful.

In spite of it all, we had a great time. Actually, we even had a few great times in that packed truck, which I will try to write down soon.

Did every thing go according to plan? Obviously not. That's why they call it a trip.

On the bright side, Grayton Beach State Park was everything we wanted in a family “camping” vacation:

*No big-city amusement “attractions” that would distract from the real destination: the beach
*No phones, internet, or TV (let me tell you, this was much harder on me than it was on the kids!)
*A quiet, natural beach, with a family-friendly atmosphere and few visitors

But camping only goes so far with me. I REALLY enjoyed:

*Our own cabin, complete with full kitchen (including microwave, coffee pot, and even a toaster!)

*Kids had their own bedroom

*A nice patio with a view to the piney woods

*And most importantly – our own family bathroom

Well, maybe most-most importantly, the price was a fraction of the jillion-dollar beach houses just yards down the way and sharing our beautiful swath of unspoiled beach.

The kids played in the warm water, caught great waves, rode their bicycles, played games, and otherwise entertained themselves without friends, computers, phones or video games.

It was a piece of heaven.

Of course, some thoughts raced through my head as we lived quite well in this tiny cabin together.

For one thing, our house, while not large by city standards, is much too big. We have too many bedrooms (we had four kids in one room, having a ball!). I'm sure we have way too much stuff. We frequent too many activities that separate us physically and mentally. We don't, often enough, anyway, have to share our space, our time, or our attention.

Which, I guess, is what “getting away” is all about. Without repeating the 805 miles, I’m wondering about some concrete ways we can keep the mission of togetherness fresh in our family.

More on that, I suppose, is to come.

God did not lead by the way that was near...
Exodus 13.17


Laura said...

this sounds like a few pieces from A Gift From the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh - you have to read it if you haven't already - GREAT stuff! LOVE those pictures and so glad you all had such a great time!

Code Yellow Mom said...

The beach looks lovely...what fun.

Your description of the cabin brought a country song to mind: "Love grows best in little houses, with few rooms to separate. When you eat and sleep so close together, you can't help but communicate." This post also brought back memories of being a little girl - four kids in a tiny 3-bedroom or riding across the backseat of an old sedan (before seatbelt laws). It's not all about house size or being captive together in a moving vehicle, of course - I look forward to hearing your ideas on instilling togetherness...Very thoughtful topic!

Anonymous said...

I loved this post Katherine. You brought up a really good point about keeping a family close knit. How'd you find such a great place?

Kristin said...

That is so true. When forced to do with less it is amazing how much less we can really get by with. Thanks for that reminder.

Wendy said...

It looks like a great time. My kind of vacation! I agree with you about shared spaces and closeness. 2 of my kids are sharing a room this year and I think it has been really good for them and their relationship.

Jen said...

what a great vacation......we love the ocean and go 2 times a year to Florida....this year we didnt get to go because we are selling our your pictures have given me a little bit of the beach..thanks for sharing.