Norman Knight: No vacation from vacation planning

Yes, we should have started planning earlier. But coordinating personal schedules, taking into account changing needs and plans, and factoring in limited calendar possibilities makes planning a family vacation for nine a … challenge.

It was easy to procrastinate. Let’s face it: Sketching out a Family Vacation Master Plan has evolved from a relatively easy “Throw-some-luggage-in-the-car-and-hop-in” to a complex strategy that might be likened to the D-Day Invasion.

One reason planning for a family vacation has changed is because the grandkids are growing up. Their adolescent lives these days are filled with friends, activities and obligations which lay claim to that most valuable of commodities, time. They are growing up physically, as well. Packing four rapidly growing young people and five older adults along with suitable luggage into a couple of cars for a week-long trip is a family quartermaster’s nightmare.

In addition, the family vacation has become a “tradition” which means we have no choice but to see it through to the end. Political labels aside, when it comes to traditions, no family is more conservative than we are.

One tenet of our family’s vacation tradition is the assumption that the destination should be a never-before-visited site and should be a place with a variety of activities. This has become more of a problem as the years go on because we are running out of places that are relatively easy to get to. If we were to win a big lottery — which would be difficult because we don’t play lotteries big or small — that would be a family vacation game changer, but until then we will just work with what we have.

So far at least, we have had success with the vacation spots we have chosen. The adults are always happy to visit someplace different and the younger ones seem to have a good time, as well. They haven’t, as of yet, developed the cynical unimpressed teenage pose. Perhaps that will come in time, but I hope not.

This puts me in the mind of the 2021 book “Subpar Parks: America’s Most Extraordinary National Parks And Their least Impressed Visitors” by Amber Share. Each short chapter covers a National Park but opens with a comment posted by a visitor who seems to have been totally unimpressed by the natural beauty the park offers. Yosemite National Park elicited this comment: “Tree blocks view and there are too many gray rocks.” Arches National Park caused someone to observe: “Looks nothing like the license plate” and the essence of Grand Canyon National Park was summed up as: “A Hole. A very, very large hole.”

The author insists the quotes are for real and express the honest impressions some visitors left with. I laughed as I read the book, but I was also kind of sad to think there are people who seem to be so emotionally and spiritually separated from the beauty of the natural world.

One of the first hurdles to overcome as we plan this family vacation is establishing what sort of vacation it should be. Perhaps we can enjoy the serenity of the mountains and forests. Perhaps a beach and all of its attendant activities. Perhaps the museums, history and cultural attractions of a major city. We have done all of these at one time or another. Each has its adherents, and at this stage of family development, each of the nine should have at least some input into the final decision.

Not sure what we will finally decide or where we will go, but we need to get on it; get the plan finalized. And, yes, I know. We should have started sooner.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]