Monday, July 19, 2010

Family Vacation

We did it! A family vacation! Our first as a family of eight. The last time we went anywhere of any great distance, we were a mere family of four, and we haven't ventured anywhere far as a family in several years for a lot of reasons - among them: that it seems like I've either had a bun in the oven or a newborn every year for the last several years; that it's terribly expensive to go just about anywhere with this many humans in tow; and really, just that with each passing year and the addition of more kids, it's felt more and more daunting and undoable to go away anywhere. But we did it! I think Michael's surviving cancer has really brought a new appreciation to us, and a determination to make the most of what we have and what we can do instead of being bogged down in limitations. So we packed up the kids and stuffed the truck to the gills with necessaries and headed up the coast.

We left bright and semi-early last Wednesday morning and headed first to Cambria, a beautiful little rustic coastal town. It took us roughly seven hours to drive there, which included stops totaling about an hour and a half. In Cambria we stayed in a nice cottage at a lovely lodge with beautiful gardens you could (and we did) walk through. The lodge was situated in the woods, but just across the street is the ocean. The kids were in awe of the novelty of a "hotel" (and the girls were completely enthralled with, of all things, the little bar soaps in the room; I don't think they've ever seen bar soap, as all we use at home is liquid soap - so there was much washing of hands going on). We had dinner at a little grill and arrived back at the lodge only to discover that the truck had a flat tire - boo. But Michael changed it and everything was fine. Nobody got much sleep that night. There was one room with two queen beds for the kids - the three girls shared one and Kevin and Joey shared the other. We brought the pack 'n' play for Finn to sleep in, and he started out in the room with the other kids but that didn't work, so I moved him into our room, but he wouldn't sleep there either and spent most of the night wrestling around in our bed. Anyway, it was a beautiful little town, and really we could have stayed there longer.

On Thursday we headed out of Cambria and up the coast another few hours to Monterey, where we rented a little three-bedroom house for three nights. My friend Lisa of Genetically Enhanced happened to be working in Monterey and she came to the house for a visit and some pizza! On Friday we went to the apparently world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was pretty amazing. We had lunch at Bubba Gump's, a shameless capitalization on a wonderful movie . . . but what are you going to do? We walked around Cannery Row that night after dinner and took the kids for ice cream. We had considered driving up to San Francisco for the day on Saturday but when we realized it would be at least a two-hour drive each way we decided instead to just bum around Monterey. Sunday morning we got up early, packed everything and everyone up, and headed home, making it in about six hours with only one stop for lunch.

All in all it was a really, really nice trip. Some things we learned:
  • Kids generally don't appreciate scenic drives, and are really all about the destination and not the journey.
  • It IS very expensive to take a family of this size anywhere. Even though we packed a cooler with food for the road and bought groceries to keep at the rental house, we still ate out a few times and it's impossible to get out of a restaurant with six kids for under a hundred bucks.
  • Vacations seem to make everyone appreciate home! Honestly, the kids really did well, all things considered, but by Saturday night we had a couple of them in tears, wanting to go home and sleep in their own beds. I felt the worst for Finn who, unfortunately, spent a lot of time strapped into a car seat or a stroller. He was very happy to get home to his toys and wide open spaces to conquer.
Most of all, we learned that we can do this! I really hope we will make it a point to go away someplace as a family every year from here on out.

We took a shizillion photos, which can be viewed here.


diane rene said...

sounds like a wonderful little get-a-way, Lisa! glad you all enjoyed it. now that you see it's do-able, do it more often!

we make it a point to take at least one family vacation a year ... it was a promise steve made to us when we go married and so far we have kept it. some years are harder to manage than others, but it's (usually) well worth it :)

off to check out your pictures!!

heather said...

It can be done and it is so worth it. These little kids are growing up so fast and just a few more years and our oldest boys will both be at college and out of the house. Gotta take advantage of it while we can. And I agree that it's extremely expensive to travel with a family of 8. It's funny but I always seem to attribute a good vacation to finding a place where everyone sleeps well. :)

TUC said...

You are so brave Lisa and it sounds like it was a great time. I will have to email you for some more tips next summer when we take our brood of 5 (plus grandma) down South to visit friends.

Crittle said...

I am so glad that you all enjoyed your trip! Totally bummed that we weren't around though. I would have loved to play tour guide with you all.