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Trips and Vacations

There are trips, and there are vacations.

A trip involves going, doing, seeing, experiencing. Disney World. Washington, D.C. Go, go, go! See, see, see! Run, run, run!

A trip requires an extra week to recover from all the fun.

In contrast, a vacation involves relaxation. Sleeping. Reading. Resting. Winding down from the craziness of everyday life.

While both have merit, I prefer the latter.

We spent last week on vacation. I looooove vacation. We rented a house in The Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee, with our very dear friends. We’ve been Going On Vacation with them for the last three years, and somehow every year is better than the last. This year, the house sat on 125 acres of land filled with woods, a creek, a pond, fireflies, stars, trails, putt-putt, hammocks – not to mention the wraparound screened-in porch and rocking chairs. It almost seemed too good to be true – but it was true. Every inch of it.

I’m still surprised at myself for being so surprised at God’s willingness to bless us so abundantly. Surprised at His knowing exactly what we need, and then actually providing it.

It was the epitome of relaxation. And considering the last few months, it was precisely what we needed.

A typical day involved sleeping late, eating a quiet breakfast on the porch while the kids either played inside or watched a movie, then packing up a lunch and heading down to the pond.

One morning we took a hike…

It was stinkin’ hot…

We took two trips into Nashville – just so we had a little trip in our vacation. We ate lunch on a showboat…
Took a backstage tour of the Grand Ole Opry…
(because really, you can’t visit Nashville without seeing the Opry)

Visited the Adventure Science Center…
Met up with some old friends for dinner…

Most of all, we enjoyed being together. Sometimes we laughed until our stomachs hurt and tears squirted out of our eyes. Other times we sat silently and listened to the frogs and the birds as we looked out over miles of trees and water. In raucous laughter or comfortable silence, we relished the short time we had together.

It was the perfect mix – trip and vacation, laughter and silence – and it ended way too soon.

On Friday morning before we left, we had a visitor.
This dog just showed up at the house about the same time that the guys came to mow the grass, so we assumed that he belonged to them – but when the mowers left, the dog stayed. The kids quickly “adopted” him and named him Bubba (this is, after all, Tennessee!). Bubba followed the kids around, swam with them, sat next to them all day. We kept telling them not to feed Bubba, hoping that he would get hungry and go home.

On Saturday morning at precisely 7:00 a.m., Bubba howled and barked outside our door. I hated that dog.

We packed up the cars to go home, hoping that Bubba had a home and would at last go back there.

Meghan left a note for the people who would come to clean the home after we left and before the next family came in, asking them to call us if they found her charm bracelet…which is another story. She added a P.S.:

“Don’t feed the dog (Bubba).”

When we got back home twelve hours later, there was a message from the homeowner:

“Jennifer, this is Jerry. I just talked to the cleaning people, and they said there is a dog outside the house, and there was a note saying not to feed the dog. So we’re a little confused…did you leave your dog at the house?”

Oh, jeez. How embarrassing. He thought we were dog-abandoners?!? I called Jerry the next morning and reassured him that no, this was definitely not our dog.

And on Monday, back in the depressing post-vacation reality of our lives, we were unpacking and putting away and cleaning up, when Griffin yelled, “I think I found Meghan’s bracelet!”

Meghan’s bracelet is not just a little trinket. It holds high sentimental value. Gretchen and I started these bracelets for Meghan and Alex a few years ago, and every time we celebrate a birthday or holiday or vacation, we buy them matching charms for their bracelets. I picture them wearing them on their graduation days and wedding days and as old women sitting together on a screened-in porch In The Middle of Nowhere. These are pretty special bracelets. And Meghan’s was no where to be found.

But there it was, stuck under the banister at the bottom of the stairs. I have no idea how it got there. She wore it to Nashville on Tuesday, took it off before bed, and it disappeared. We searched through everything and everywhere at the house looking for it. Behind furniture, under the beds, in the beds, in the dirty clothes, in the clean clothes – Michael even took off the drain pipe under the sink. No bracelet. And here it was, on the floor of our entry way, stuck under the banister. Somehow, it attached itself to something we own and found its way home.

(Hopefully Bubba did the same.)

And, I swear to you, not five minutes after the joyous celebration of finding that which was lost, I asked her, “Meghan, where is your bracelet?”

She had no idea.

It didn’t take long to find it, but I wanted to drop-kick her all the way back to Tennessee. I couldn’t because I was laughing too hard, and she was laughing, and I tried really hard to summon up my mean, fussy voice and order her to keep the bracelet in one of two places: her arm or her jewelry box.

Crazy girl.

So now we’re back to swim team practice and soccer practice and piano lessons and gymnastics. Back to fenced backyards and laundry. Back to phone calls and paying bills. Back to missing our closest friends.

We’re already planning for next year.


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