Friday, August 15, 2008

Everything I Know I Learned On Our Summer Vacation

A trip to Newport Beach can be as nice as a trip to Hawaii if you factor in several things, including but not limited to the fact that being able to drive means you don’t have to pay for airfare and a car rental, makes it possible to travel on your own schedule, and allows you to bring along everything you can cram into your car.

Spray sunscreen in a can is convenient when you’re putting it on, but it sure doesn’t seem worth the money when you use up an entire can of it just trying to get your family of four properly screened before your first morning at the beach.

The combination of a functional set of black swim-shorts with a cute, colorful bikini top means that, while my body is not exactly bikini friendly, it is not strictly bikini unfriendly either.

Arcades are pretty much similarly scummy wherever you go.

Sand can get into the most amazing places.

There’s probably such a thing as being too vigilant about sunscreen, but that level of vigilance is not one I have ever managed to reach.

Everyone in my immediate family sunburns easily.

A single-day ticket to Disneyland has become so prohibitively expensive that it can actually seem to make sense to just buy annual passes for the whole family and plan to come back a few times later in the year.

Credit card companies use perverse non-customer-serving logic, such as to simply decline charges that seem too big rather than giving the customers a hassle-free way to authorize them. This can lead to unpleasantness, especially when one is on vacation, and, frankly, seems counter to the desire of credit card companies as well. Don’t they want you to charge a lot of stuff?

It’s actually possible to go to Disneyland in the middle of August and have it be fun and not so ridiculously crowded that you spend all your time waiting in line. We recommend going on a Wednesday when the economy is crappy and Disney has just raised tickets prices a few weeks earlier.

Somehow, the saccharine schmaltz of Disney doesn’t seem that bad when you are actually inside Disneyland.

If you are walking around, say, a theme park, and it’s so hot and humid that the sweat seems to be pouring off you, a margarita is excellent remedy.

Just as the fact that fries are fattening doesn’t keep you from eating them on a frequent basis, the fact that you rented a condo and brought lots of food so you could eat home-cooked meals on your vacation doesn’t keep you from eating out a lot.

A walk of almost any length is too long the day after you spend fourteen hours walking around Disneyland.

The experience of swimming in the ocean teaches many life lessons. For instance, like life, the ocean can be dangerous, but if you don’t get out there, you’re never going to have any fun. Also, the ocean does things on its own terms. You can try to stand at the edge and not get wet above your knees, but if a wave wants to soak you, you’re going to get soaked. It’s better to learn to float along with it than keep fighting against it. And even when you do, you’re still going to get slammed into the beach by a rogue wave you weren’t ready for every once in a while.

However true that last item may be, having a mother who expects you to appreciate nuggets of wisdom like “The ocean isn’t fair” right after a rogue wave has slammed you into the beach is probably kind of a drag.

Even the best, most relaxing vacation can be tiring.

A little 2 bedroom/1 bath condo just a couple of blocks from the beach in great weather is terrific for a week’s vacation, but toward the end, you’re still pretty much ready to get back to having a dishwasher, a DVD player, reliable wi-fi, separate bedrooms for the kids, multiple bathrooms, your dog, and air conditioning. In other words, home.