Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Family vacations with grownup kids?

If you told me that your grownup kids want to spend vacation with you, I would assume it is not because you are a lot of fun to be around. I would probably say, let’s examine the situation: do you own a ski chalet in the mountains at Aspen and it is winter vacation? Are you spending time in Australia and have rented accommodation with an extra bedroom? Do they know of a cabin by a lake with a motor boat?

You get the idea …
What if your child is married and has a small baby, with one set of parents owning a lakeside cabin with a motor boat and the other set of parents owning a motor home that can accommodate a family of three and all the baby equipment? Well, then you have a true family vacation.

Lakeside Homes? Family-size Motor Homes? All the ingredients are there but somehow, are these really all that’s needed for a family vacation?

The first July 4th Independence Day with baby Ella was spent on the shores of a beautiful lake in Minnesota, fireworks and all! As you see the baby was sporting a patriotic outfit even as chocolate was melting over marshmallows at the camp fire. Erich and Anna proudly presented baby Ella to the Minnesota family, and it was a great reunion! So yes, check off one memorable experience!

It’s not the destination but the journey, or so they claim!

It takes a full two days to drive from Colorado to Minnesota in a motor home, and we were a tad nervous how the trip would go with a baby that’s just 2 months old. It turned out our granddaughter is a great traveler, sitting in her little car seat, sleeping most of the time, and in general looking happy about the adventure.

As for the rest of the family? Unfortunately, the children seemed to have found the trip a tad boring and they too slept most of the time. We stopped for the night at an RV camp, so we could have plenty of water, could dump the waste and run the air conditioners through the night. Located midway between Lincoln and Omaha, NE, we found a nice RV Park and set up camp. And of course, Richard pulled out the grill and Martinis were shaken – all looking pretty good. Ah, camping with the family!

In the morning we stopped for diesel, and baby Ella looked like an old fashioned bobble-head doll when we put her up on the RV’s dashboard.

Never question the driver!

Well, perhaps this one time, we should have … We arrived after dark, and proceeded toward the cabin on a winding, unpaved road.

The next morning we realized we had pulled up right by the lake – and we had no idea how we would ever back the motor home out of there!

As we killed millions of insects on our way to Minnesota the picture here taken through the RV’s front window, is a tad blurry.
You can see the boat, though, and the boat was a major attraction!

Captain Erich took us for a spin on the lake – the day was sunny, the boat was fast, family was happy!

But business must go on – Richard had deliverables that just had to be finished …

Guman (grandfather in Aboriginal language) Richard proceeded to set up an office in the motor home, or more appropriately our office away from our office – now that the children had moved into the cabin to spend time with the Minnesota Grandparents we needed to do some work.

One of the first considerations whenever we travel is to figure out just how to keep working, since being consultants, companies do not pay us to vacation. So it’s become routine for us to work in vacation time around business trips – and this adventure with the family couldn’t be an exception. Both, AT&T and Verizon data cards were set up (yes, our time spent with fault tolerant computers still influence much of what we do), laptops deployed, we were in business!
There was more to this trip, however – other locations beckoned!

After spending a couple of days by the lake, we then drove the Motor Home to Minneapolis as the children wanted to spend some time with the rest of the Minnesota clan. Well, it wasn’t that simple – first we had to back the motor home from its cozy location on the lake shore. I don’t want to relive that, so no further details will be provided – suffice it to say, Richard managed to do it in several little steps, and the RV wasn’t even scratched!

After the family dinner and a very warm welcome to the new baby and her parents, it was time to start going home. So far the trip had proved “manageable” if not completely comfy – but we were still learning as we went. We stopped again at the same RV Park in Nebraska and yet again prepared the RV for the night. We even managed to play a DVD. The “second bed” was not that difficult to set up for the nights we needed it but all the same, it was becoming clear that despite its size, the focus of a motor home was on entertaining rather than on providing extended accommodation.
However, the journey was proving important as the trip home wasn’t fun at all. The temperatures climbed into the low 100s and it became very clear that the air conditioning provided by the motor home chassis was nothing like the central air you get when the motor home is parked! We all were uncomfortable, trying to keep cool by opening windows and creating some airflow  – nothing seemed to give us much relief.

Should we do this again?
It was great to present the baby to the Minnesota family, spend time with the Grandparents and with the family, we too enjoyed the company and the incredible hospitality of our new Minnesota relatives. However, the trip home really made us all realize that motor homes were not designed for group travel – the driver and the navigator enjoy the comfort of the cooling by the motor home’s chassis-supplied front-seat only air conditioning – much as if you drive any car. But passengers really suffer, and I am not sure that we will do a trip like that again.
The baby was OK, and did not cry or display any signs of discomfort, so perhaps having bunk beds in the motor home and planning trips with the grandchild is in our future; her parents, though, were less than impressed. While we considered the task of transporting our brood north an experiment – there wasn’t any cost savings to consider – it did not shock us to find that, despite the size of the motor home including the extra two child-sized bunks, life inside modern motor homes is strictly for two, particularly when you plan to cover long distances. 
Looking back, I suspect that if we want to spend vacations with our grownup kids, we should consider at least a timeshare in the mountains...

No comments: