We recently took an extended vacation-son moving-business trip cross country. We moved my oldest son to Florida, where his fiancée is working on her graduate school work at U of Florida. Then my wife and I traveled down the Atlantic Coast, to the Keys, and up the Gulf Coast, staying several nights in each place. We then went back to Gainesville and met my son’s fiancée, who was coming to the U.S. for her first time. We then went to the panhandle and Alabama to visit some key CU partners. Next we stopped in central Tennessee to visit my brother. Then we went to Louisville, where I saw my younger son and my wife met a long lost relative. The final leg of the trip was back to Missouri to see friends and my dad, and then the long trip back home.
While along on the trip, I had several random thoughts…
There is something right in the world when you are laying on the beach and looking up at blue skies and palm trees.
There is something seriously wrong with me when I ignored my wife’s counsel to put on more sunscreen. Heck, I am in the shade, what could go wrong? I was pretty out of commission for a day with part of my body the same color as a lobster.
Everyone needs some time to unplug and enjoy things in life you normally would not do. For my wife and I, this was the longest vacation with the two of us since our honeymoon, 25 years ago. We were able to snorkel in reefs, see dolphins in the wild, go to the southernmost geographic point in the continental U.S., and see the sunrise and sunset over the ocean on the same island.
The best places for smoked meat have large smokers inside or outside the restaurant. Also, if the staff can tell you what kind of wood they smoke with, you are probably guaranteed it is good. We had some BBQ at a dive in Fort Myers, which had none of those characteristics. Consequently, it was a failure. We hit a home run with Mission BBQ in Louisville. The owners proudly announced he only uses red oak seasoned for at least one year and then took me back to see his twin smokers—Myrtle and Enda—named after his grandmothers. This was very emotionally touching.
Take time to enjoy the joys of others. My son’s fiancée is from China and she had the first opportunity to experience American things for the first time. In each case, her enthusiasm was infectious and caused us to seek out other new experiences for her. She was able to experience good smoked meat, root beer, a real burger (not from McDonalds), onion rings, trips to an American mall, trip to the ocean, and ability to see hundreds of stars for the first time. Her joy and laugh was infectious.
Any trip that you take where you can spend time with all your kids after they have moved out of the house, is a really good trip. Bonuses are when you spend time with your brother and get to hug your dad.
When all comes down to it, what matters are the relationships that you have in life.
If you have an intensive planner combined with a go-with-the-flow guy on a trip, the best result will be a mixture of well-planned events and spontaneous activities.
A successful trip seeing your older brother is one where you discover another thing to irritate him with. Now that we have a family member who is a Florida Gator, I have to show him how they are superior to the Tennessee Volunteers!
It is always great to visit fellow CU brethren in their communities. I was able to see some CUs in small rural towns all the way up to visiting the fine folks at Navy Federal at their complex. In each case, there was a strong commitment to make their small corner of the world better.
As I write this I have on the news about the devastation in Texas from the hurricane and its aftermath. It breaks my heart across the country but is nothing compared to the pain those who are there experience. Our hearts and prayers go out to these folks.
It is also encouraging to see people helping their neighbors, rescuing the stranded, getting folks to safety. Their compassion and action shows one of the greatest sides of America.