That Time Our Vacation Wasn’t

1280px-Morning_on_the_Buffalo_RiverI’d planned out everything perfectly. I was really looking forward to sharing the world of the Missouri Ozarks with my three suburban children.

I brought the (detailed, well-planned) itinerary to my husband with the joy of a child presenting a gift, forgetting his less-than-love of the great outdoors. He played the part of Ebenezer, hemming and hawing, reminding me of the chunk of money we’d dropped at Disney World this past winter.

I’ll admit, the air was taken a little from my sails and I lost momentum. By the time I got around to making cabin reservations, they were either all booked or $150 a night (seriously?! for a camping cabin?).

After talking with the hubs, I booked the cabin for the first two nights. Then we totally bailed on Mother Nature and splurged on one ridiculously priced night at the Great Wolf Lodge. 

That was to be the sum of our summer vacation.

And honestly…it was plenty.

It all began with a three-hour drive. Now, three hours is totally doable regarding a road trip. It wasn’t enjoyable, but I didn’t want to cut my ears off, either. Not a terrible start.

Upon checking in, I asked about our drop off time for the Great Float Trip. “Oh,” she tells me, “the guy that does that had a family emergency, so…”


Ok, fine. We’ll deal. Not one to make a fuss, especially when it’s 8pm and we haven’t eaten dinner.

We get to our cabin. It’s freaking adorable and I start to feel better about things. Maybe this will all be OK.

We run to the campground restaurant, excited by its rustic log-cabin look and local chefs.

Loooooooong story short; the food was abhorrent and the service was worse. Disappointment flooded through me. This was not turning out well. This was not a vacation at all.

We went “home” and bedded down for the night. I turned to my hubby with tears in my eyes and told him the cabin was the only good thing about this trip so far. He reminded me that, no, the fact we’re all together is the best thing about this trip. Aw! Bonus points for the hubs.

1280px-LauraIngallsWilder-RockyRidgeFarm-MansfieldMOThe next day we went to Mansfield, MO. Why?? Because Laura Ingalls Wilder, that’s why.

It was pretty cool, but Charlotte had a hissy fit and we were starving and no one was really that into it after all. Plus, I really wanted to get my girls a cute bonnet but after all the fit-throwing I couldn’t stomach one more second of it so we left.

After car-naps and a pretty decent truck-stop lunch, we went floating (through a different vendor).

Here’s my (non-humble) unsolicited advice for you. When taking your kids on a float trip, don’t. 800px-Current_River_MO_2009-06-15_n65_below_Welch_Spring_crop2

Or if you’re like me and you really want them to experience the beauty God has given us, for the love only do a 4-mile. The first couple of miles were super fun. The girls were a bit in awe of the Missouri Ozark hills, water snakes, and turtles sunning on rocks.

After the 496 time Ceci asked, “Is this where the fishies live?” and my response of “It’s a river, Cec, yes.”

And after the 592 time Soph asked, “Can we swim here?”

And after the 1,293 time Charlotte asked, “Is this vacation?”

I was over it. And Mike had been over it the moment we left the AC. And the girls were over it.

This was officially the vacation that wasn’t.

That night, I was lying with the big girls on their Murphy bed in our perfectly picturesque cabin in the woods when I heard a very distinct squeaking. I started, hushed the girls, and listened. There it was again.

In a moment of flurry I ushered the girls into the bedroom where we barricaded ourselves inside in fear. We spent a night of elbows-in-earlobes and tosies-on-noses as the four of us ladies hunkered down on the queen bed in fear of a small but mighty rodent. My brave husband took the Murphy bed and also enjoyed a restful night’s sleep.

The perfect part of our vacation? That cutesy-lil cabin? Had mice.


The next morning, we packed up and headed out-of-town. We went on to enjoy a luxuriously over-priced night in an indoor water park. The whole vacation cost us more than a week in Michigan had.

On paper, it was a total fail. Not one thing went as I had planned it.

But here’s the deal.

We were together.

We had no cell phone service, no internet, no iPads or TVs.

We had books and games and playing pretend.

We had laughter and excitement and awe of all that God has provided us on the Earth.

We had nighttime snuggles, away from little mice.

We had baby birds in a nest outside our door.

We had rock-skipping and river-swimming.

We had great conversations about the rotations of the Earth and women in the 19th century.

My girls learned they are smart and brave.

They tried new things.

They learned new things.

They asked question after question after question.

This vacation was not relaxing. And it was not particularly fun in a grown-up sense.

But it was without a doubt, 100% a success.



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3 Responses

  1. Sandra Sanchez says:

    Thanks for the pointer of not going on a float trip with the kiddos AFTER we have one booked!! We’ll let you know how it goes! You got it right, though. Count the small successes and positives and you will find the greater joy!!

  1. August 2, 2016

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