Friday, July 26, 2013

My Dream Vacation; I’m Dreading It

It won’t be too long now before we embark on our road trip. We will be driving out west to visit Yellowstone and other national parks.

When I was a kid, my dad drove us all out to Yellowstone, and it has long been the destination that I most wanted to see again with my own family. My wife is from Japan, and she has not seen any of the vast, beautiful splendors of our Rocky Mountain states. So I have been especially excited to show her and her dad one of my favorite parts of our country.

I also want to share the experience with my son, to show him what real mountains look like, and see his reaction the first time he sees a geyser erupt.

I dream of it being the BEST VACATION WE HAVE EVER HAD.

But, big dreams bring the possibility of big disappointment. And I’m getting very anxious about things not going well.

It is an ambitious trip, as we’ll be putting in many hours in the car to arrive at Yellowstone by our third day. It will be the farthest we will have driven together.

But the long-distance travel is the least of my concerns. Kai actually does pretty well on these long car rides. But there will be other challenges on this trip.

In past vacations, Kai has loved going to the beach. But there are no beaches in the Dakotas or Wyoming.

In past vacations, we often took breaks in the middle of the day, going back to our motel room to relax. On this vacation, we will stay at a different motel every night, thus not having a set place for respite.

I have made reservations for every night of our trip. Several places will not have a television. Or wifi. Or a swimming pool. Basically all the things that keep my son happy on trips like this.

When I told Kai that we would not have internet access some nights, he groaned in agony.

But then I made a PowerPoint deck to show Kai our day-by-day schedule.

On each page, I inserted a map of where we would travel that day. I showed a picture of the lodge or motel we would stay. I described the main activities we would do. And I wrote about things that could potentially cause him to get upset. Things like…

“The drive may be slow as there will be a lot of cars; people may stop to see wild animals on or near the road – that is okay because we want to see them, too, and we are not in a hurry to get anywhere”


“We will make lots of stops, and get out of the car often to look at the scenery and take pictures. We will walk around a lot to see the hot springs and other interesting sights. Some of the hot springs may smell like sulfur.”

Kai loved the “story” as he called it. And he helped with ideas. He wanted me to insert a wifi icon for the days where we would stay at a motel that had internet access, and a picture of the swimming pool for those places that have one.

And he wanted to put in a picture of the Sulfur character from his Basher Elements book for the days when we would be visiting smelly hot springs and geysers.

So, I’ve tried to prepare him for the trip as best I could, and set his expectations for things that may occur.

Now I need to set my own expectations.

“Kai may get impatient when we are driving slowly to look at animals. I will stay calm and remain patient with him.”

“Kai may not want to hike to see the great view of Jenny Lake from Inspiration Point. I will encourage him, but not get angry if we don’t get to see everything I want to see.”

“I expect that not everything will go according to plan, and will stay flexible and adjust the schedule as needed instead of trying to cram everything in.”

Okay, expectations set.

Now I have to keep remembering that a vacation is about having fun. I hope I remember!

Next: Yellowstone Vacation – We’re Off


  1. Big trip indeed! I don't know if Kai already has one, but a camera for him to make his own photo diary in his own blog may make him excited to stop so he could take his own photos...and even to take them on the way through the car windows. He could record his thoughts of each photo in a note book or verbally in a digital recorder so he could write them in on his blog.

    Also, I don't know if his iPad has 3 or 4 g...if may purchase blocks of Gigs for relatively little expense.

    You probably have thought of these already...but just in may help with the long trip. Alex loves long trips because he may always use his iPad on the road...and wherever we stop (so long as the cellular network is available).

    You will have plenty to write about. I will be looking forward to hearing of your journey.

    1. Shiroi, we got a Nintendo for him not too long ago, and he likes taking pictures with it more than playing games (though the pictures he takes are of things that interest him, not ones that would interest me). Kai likes long car rides, so I am not so worried about that part of the vacation. I'm more concerned that when we'll want to stop and look and walk around and take pictures, he will not want to do any of that and rather stay in the car with his iPad and videos.

      Yes, there will be plenty to right about... not sure I will have time to on the trip. We'll see.

  2. I loved your title! If I were taking a dream vacation any time soon with Janey, that would be my title too! Your PowerPoint sounds amazing. You are a wonderful father.

  3. yuji
    that is a great post
    love the approach
    I just wanted to add that you are becoming an amazing writer


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