I should be on my way home at the moment, but I haven't done a Friday Five in a while, so I'll just be a teensy bit late while I think fondly of trips and non-trips of years past.
1) What did your family do for vacations when you were a child? Or did you have stay-cations at home?
We did take vacations, but almost always with family in mind. I remember several trips to Des Moines to see family on my Mom's side, and trips to Omaha for family on my Dad's side. We went to Chicago when my Uncle K & Aunt A lived there, and also to Denver to see Mom's sister L, her husband G and their son J, who is just a year older than me. The longest trip together by far was the year we drove to Seattle to see my Dad's sister P and my cousin K. We drove through South Dakota and saw Mount Rushmore, drove through Yellowstone and saw Old Faithful, stayed with my Mom's Aunt E and Uncle D in Wyoming, then stayed for a week in Seattle before flying back to NE (my grandparents flew out and drove our car back). It was a great trip.
2) Tell us about your favorite vacation ever:
While the one mentioned above was wonderful, my favorite by far was our honeymoon in Germany. Kristin's family hosted an exchange student who is now a professional basketball player in Europe, and he was married three months after our own wedding, so we decided to go for the ceremony and then do some traveling. Using Rick Steves' tour guide (thanks to my sister-in-law and her husband, who'd done the same trip two years earlier), we drove around Germany for a week by ourselves, with stops in Rothenburg ob det Tauber, Nurnberg, Munchen, Hohenschwangau and Wurzburg before flying home. Great beer, incredible sights, a really fun rental car, great beer, good food, great beer and, of course, the wonderful company of my wife made it a trip that'll be hard to beat. Did I mention the great beer?
3) What do you do for a one-day or afternoon getaway...is there a place nearby that you escape to on a Saturday afternoon/other day off?
We haven't found it just yet. There's a really nice state park not too far from here that everyone suggests, but travel with our girls to anywhere like that is really tough. As they grow older, though, we'll do lots of camping and hiking and outdoors-y things with them. I'd love to spend a day or two riding along some of the great trails in the area once we get a bike trailer, or maybe spend the day at the Iowa State Fair with the whole family when they're older. For now, though, one day get-aways are for me, not for the family. :-)
4) What's your best recommendation for a full-on vacation near you...what would you suggest to someone coming to your area? (Near - may be defined any way you wish!)
Amana Colonies. You just can't do anything else in this part of the country, really. There is a neat wine trail that the local wineries have put togther, so oenophiles could certainly do that, but for most folks, this part of Iowa means Amana Colonies and perhaps Dyersville, the "Field of Dreams" field. I know others who live here would disagree, but chalk it up to my ignorance of Iowa and let me say I hope to discover more to enjoy the longer we live here (and we want to stay a good long time).
5) What's your DREAM VACATION?
A month in Ireland with Kristin, followed by another month in Germany. Could also be done in a cabin on the north shore of Lake Superior, much like the picture here. Unlimited money for Guinness and pub food. My guitar with me and a solid grasp of a goodly number of reels and jigs so I can sit in on sessions in local pubs. Time in the morning to drink good coffee and read good books. Afternoon visits to museums, castles, landmarks, what have you. Most of all, to fit into the local culture and not be so easily identified as American tourists - always a goal for me wherever I go.
Bonus: Any particularly awful (edited to add: or hilarious) vacation stories that you just have to tell? ("We'll laugh about this later..." maybe that time is now!)
When we got to Germany for our honeymoon, we thought we had good directions from the airport in Frankfurt to Bamberg, a drive of approximately 160K. What we didn't realize is that in Germany roads often cross and re-cross one another, so it's best to get directions by city, not by road numbers. For example, to get to Bamberg you go through Town A, then Town B, etc., not the A5 to A29 S to ... You get the picture. So, we got lost. Then, when we realized we were off track, we tried to get back on track, which is difficult with a dyslexic navigator and a driver who's not sure exactly where he's going. About two hours after we landed, when we should have been arriving in Bamberg, we were off the map in some hills southeast of Frankfurt, calling for help on what we soon realized was a phone only used for accidents or car trouble. As we sat in the car, frantically trying to figure out where we were, arguing with each other about how we'd gotten into that mess, windows down because of the heat and not wanting to run the engine for fear of running out of gas, a moth attracted by the dome light flew into the car and we wound up screaming, flapping our hands at it and finally opening both doors and shooing it into the night. Then Kristin was crying, but 30 seconds later we were both laughing our asses off. It was just so absolutely ridiculous. Pretty soon we got back into the car and just started driving until we found a road on the map, and eventually we found our way to Bamberg. The really funny thing? We were never lost again on that trip. Not once. And now we do indeed laugh about it.
The pictures, from top to bottom:
- On the shore of Lake Superior, north of Duluth, summer 2004
- Sharing a drink at this cute cafe near the Kaiserburg in Nurnberg, summer 2004
-"Our" cabin at Cascade River Lodge, north shore of Lake Superior, summer 2006
- The Panorama Trail Overlook at Yosemite National Park, summer 2004
-Hanging out with friends in Lincoln, NE, summer 2006 (and soon to be together again, which is the best reason for traveling these days.)