Monday, January 11, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth?

Because 13 nights away from home over Christmas just wasn't enough for this vagabond family of four, we're off again.  In just a few short hours, we will be flying south, heading for the Happiest Place on Earth.  No, not Denmark.  (Hi, S!)  Nope, not Costa Rica either.  (Hi, Gwen!)

That's right, boys and girls, we're going to Disney World.

This year marks our third annual journey to central Florida to join my parents for a week of sun slightly warmer temperatures and family togetherness the grandparents and I entertaining the kiddo (now kiddos) while Husband lurks in the condo preparing for the pending start of his semester.

Our upcoming trip makes me think back to some treasured childhood memories of travel.  As I've mentioned before, my family crisscrossed the country several times by train.  My older brother and I were always seat-mates and travel buddies, playing countless games of War, reading dozens of books, gulping down our country through the picture windows of the observation car, sharing semi-edible dining car fare, and then heading early to the lounge car to scout out our seats for the evening movie.  Together we crawled through the Rocky Mountains, slithered across Lake Pontchartrain, and roared through Glacier National Park.  Side by side we met our first Amish people and endured the sweat lodge of an Amtrak train with a broken air conditioner snaking through Georgia in the summertime.

The thing is: I remember far more about those train trips and the pit-stops we made along the way than I do about some of the places we ended up, as wonderful as they were.

And that is what I thought about last night as I repacked our barely unpacked suitcases: even though the timing isn't perfect, even though our destination may not be ideal - even with a toddler and an infant, I'd still rather visit the actual Germany or Morocco than the Epcot versions - the journey is what matters most.

What has been your favorite vacation?

And, please, if you have any pull with Mother Nature, put in a good word for these already winter-weary Midwesterners headed for (supposedly) warmer climes. 
 Image: Disney World by HaloFan1993 via Wikimedia Commons.  Image is in the public domain.


  1. Wow, those must have been some amazing adventures on the train! It makes me rethink how we travel as a family when the time comes that I'm actually daring enough to take a vacation with the family! I hate to fly so I'm thinking not only would a train be less stressful but it would also be more memorable.

    Our family's best trips were the camping trips we took for weeks at a time each summer. We'd sleep in a pop-up camper in a quiet camping space, ride our bikes to the showers and bathroom, cook over a small grill and read under lantern light with the huge bugs smacking against our canvas bed walls. Truly fantastic memories.

    Have a WONDERFUL trip to Disney! Say hi to Cinderella!

  2. Dear God, you are a better woman than I. I can only shlep to Disney once every oh, seven years. I am WAY too old for that place. I get exhausted just looking at Cinderella's castle.

    My favorite trip...would it be wrong to say Greece, my trip WITHOUT my kids??

  3. Oh, I hope it gets warmer for you, altho how can you have a bad time there with kids?
    My fave family vacation was to Arizona. There was snow up by the Grand Canyon and then it was in the 80's down where we stayed. We drove the old Apache trail and saw cliff dwelling ruins. Of course, my kids were 10, 13 and 17 at the time, so this was a different type of vacation.
    Have a blast!

  4. I hope it gets warmer, and I hope you have a fabulous time :) Enjoy it!

    (my favorite vacations are always heading to FL to see my parents.. and we do nothing but sit by their pool and play!)

  5. Have a wonderful vacation! Cheers to "happiness!"

  6. What a perfect description of your summer vacations on the train. I love childhood memories for their perfection. And the moment itself need not have been perfect for the memory to be so. It's the disasters and misadventures that we recall most fondly as adults. Bravo to you for packing up and taking and adventure... and making memories.

  7. Have a fabulous time!

  8. I adore my kids and we have a blast traveling but I do not in any way consider that a vacation. Its exhausting, hard-won pleasure. Last summer we drove from Colorado, through Yosemite to the Big Sur California for my 30 year old stepsons wedding with the twins in the back. We rented a pop up camper, which was a big compromise for me because I was raised to camp in TENTS in FARAWAY places that don't cater to poseurs. What a camping snob I turned out to be. But the pop up camper was a blast, the kids loved every second except going night night, and it was all wonderful.

    Now, about that trip to Greece with no kids TKW....let me know next time you go and I will shrink to fit in yer suitcase.

    I hope FL is wonderful and warmer today than it has been recently! Have fun!

  9. Enjoy your trip! (Have never been to Disneyworld. Not my thing.)

    My best trips? Paris. Or exotic locales with beach and French speakers. (Probably no surprise there!)

    Have fun!

  10. My favorite vacation? The 2 I took with Hubby to Hawaii..that is where our souls belong! Paris was pretty amazing, too, but as you know, I'm a beach girl. And listen here, I am praying for warmth around here for my own selfish reasons, so if I've got any pulll, you should be good. (Can't wait to hear about it...heading up there next week for the first time WITH infant and 4 year old and grandparents, gulp).

  11. Favorite vacation was a simple, long weekend at a nearby resort with just us four. Sweet, unplanned moments stand out from all the stuff we'd planned.

    You are a sport. We took our kids to Disney a few years ago (trip was a gift from in-laws) and my husband swears we won't go back. The pixie dust didn't work on us:)

    Wishing you safe, sunny travels.

  12. Safe travels! The trips I have taken range from tent camping in the Adirondacks to trailer camping every summer as a child to train trips to Niagara Falls to a trip cross country and back with four kids under five.

    Enjoy FL!

  13. my favorite trips w/ my family have been camping trips, like becca said. there's something about all having to pitch in together, working for things you normally take for granted, an outdoor fire, and an orchestra of crickets playing the soundtrack of summers past. (love camping in winter, too, but my wife and 8 yo aren't so good with it!)

    my experiences with trains happened after i got out of college and did six weeks in europe via a Eurorail pass. as you said, i remember more about the train trips than some of the stops! enjoyed this!

  14. Oh, I'm sooooo jealous! My favorite vacation? Disney World, of course! My husband keeps reminding me that there ARE other places to vacation but I don't believe him. I grew up vacationing there. My cousin was an electrician that helped build the place so I've been going since it opened in '71. Too many times to count and I'm still not tired of the place. Have a fabulous time!

  15. I'm with you: I'd rather visit the real place than the recreated version. I'll never forget my mom going to Las Vegas a few years ago, and she saw a woman standing in front of the Paris hotel. This woman placed her hands on hip, looked skyward at the faux Eiffel Tower, and said, "SO THIS is Paris!"

    My husband and I were lucky enough to take an eight-month trip around the world last year, where we visited 15 countries over five continents. That would have to be my hands-down favorite vacation (if you could even reall call it a "vacation" -- it was more like an odyssey).


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