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Day by Day: The family vacation curse finally appears to be over

My bad vacation karma started back when I was 7 or 8 and I was left behind at the Mille Lacs Reservation Trading Post as my parents and six siblings drove away in our green and white 1955 Pontiac station wagon.

As I stood there crying, a nice woman said they would be back for me the minute they missed me. I wasn’t so sure. I mean the car was already packed with kids and my dad hated wasting gas or making an extra trip anwhere. It took awhile and they did come back but it was an omen.

Not all the trips I’ve planned for Kevin and the kids over the years have been bad but most have included at least one disaster and a lot of disappointment on my part when the reality just didn’t match my expectations.

Case in point was our trip to Hawaii over the holidays when the kids were in middle school. It was going to be the best vacation we ever had or ever would have. I was determined to get nice places to stay and see and do as much as possible. And the first part of the trip went pretty well. It was Maui that did me in.

First the hotel overbooked and while we ended up being shuttled off to a very nice hotel for a couple of nights, they eventually moved us to a senior citizen golf resort where the kids had to lay low, keep quiet and only use the pool when no one else was there lest we violate the over 55 rule.

I took it in stride when I found out I was too heavy to take the bike ride down the volcano and I calmed down after losing my driver’s license when I was assured by the airlines that a police report would get me back on the plane home. But what we didn’t count on was the monsoon that stranded us for 48 hours without luggage, running low on cash.

But all that changed two weeks ago when we landed in Bar Harbor, Maine, for a vacation with our kids and their spouses.

It was well after dark when we pulled into the driveway of the house we had rented and I admit to a lot of trepidation as we entered. But a quick look around made me a believer. The Heaton vacation curse may just have been broken! It had everything from a lazy boy couch to a full complement of spices and all the paper towels Kevin could ever need.

What followed was a great time that no doubt was impacted by our first “tech-supported” trip.

GPS, which for Heatons refers to “going past something,” made the old AAA Trip Tik a distant memory and definitely cut down on the front seat shouting matches. I don’t know why all those years ago I never thought to just say “recalculating,” when we missed a turn.

And my smart-ass phone, the one I’ve complained so openly about here, I am a believer. We used it to book reservations and they just texted us when our table was ready. And Google was perfect for my now mature memory that leaves me only the vaguest recollection of places I’ve read about and want to see. Not to mention the arguments it settles about everything from obscure movie actors to what constitutes a “food desert.”

And photos -- well I loved learning how to take panoramic pics but selfies -- well there’s just no good angle when it comes to my face.

It had been 40 plus years since Kevin and I had camped at Acadia National Park and on Cape Cod but both were as beautiful as we remembered and a lot more comfortable on beds. And we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Cory and Rachel’s charming old apartment in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston where Kevin found an Irish bakery that made the perfect Danish.

But when we add up all the good things about this trip, at the top of the list would have to be the acquisition of Kevin’s newest and most prized possession -- his new LL Bean mosquito-proof suit.

Kevin has always presented something of a buffet to insects which is only aggravated by the fact that they want nothing to do with me. For years he has been searching for non-toxic, head-to-toe protection and leave it to the outdoor experts to deliver.

The store in Freeport was our first stop and it put Kevin in a good mood for the remainder of the two weeks. It basically amounts to him wearing a screen tent that covers him head to foot, complete with screen mittens for his hands and booties for his feet. “Even no-see-ums will not get through this,” he said with more excitement than I had from him since his first trip to Disney World.

I had hoped to make it home before the suit came out but a trip to the Boston arboretum was the perfect test run. Suffice it to say that there was no happier man in “Bean” town that day -- all puns intended.

The only down side will be if that screen stuff chafes???

Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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