It has occurred to me several times in the last few years that I’m living in the wrong decade, if not the wrong century. I’ve got the wrong attitude when it comes to vacations. Around me are adults who, when they think of taking a vacation, they think of taking vacations AWAY from their children. To escape the grind is to escape the grind of parenthood. The concept of the shared family vacation as part of the education of the child by the parent by exposing them to new places, history, natural beauty and time spent outside the home seems a bit old fashioned. An example: a father called and left a phone message for his son from his vacation in a tropical location: “Hey, just came back from snorkling-you would have loved it. I love ya -….” Personally I find that kind of message disturbing. How is a child supposed to feel when a parent calls to let them know what a great time they’re having-without you?
So I took my sons on two vacations in the last two weekends. First we went to Kalaloch Beach in the Olympic National Park coastline. Here is the gazebo at the trail head down to the beach:
And more of the beach proper:
What I learned on this part of the vacation was that if you put 3 boys in a van and drive for almost 4 hours, let them loose on a beach, they will happily step 5 feet off the path to the nearest driftwood fort and proceed to “improve” it for the rest of the time you’re there. So I was the one who walked up the beach looking for interesting sights and flora and fauna and the kids never moved from their fort. Not a big surprise as driftwood is really Kalaloch’s big attraction. I haven’t been to a whole bunch of beaches around the country/world, but I do know that here in the North West we are big on driftwood. And rocks. Personally, I wasn’t too thrilled with Kalalock. Flat sandy beach I don’t find too interesting. I never was a lay around on the beach and tan person - I get hot and bored. Plus there aren’t a whole lot of warm beaches up here to lay around on. Brrr-somebody pass me a sweater. With a hood.
After a reasonable night in the tiny burg of Forks, Washington, I fended off the boy’s efforts to drive directly back to the same fort and spend the second day “improving” it some more. Instead we headed for the Hoh Rainforest. For those of you who haven’t been wowed by the statistics, this is the temperate rain forest that gets an average of 140 inches of rain a year and another 30 inches in condensation. And it rained…. ; ) How many shades of green can you count?
What I learned at the Hoh Rainforest: ADD boys and throwing rocks in the Hoh River go together like cookies and milk. Oh, and disposable cameras suck.
From the Hoh we went to Ruby Beach, which I liked a lot more than Kalaloch. I grew up down in the Portland OR area and we usually went to Oregon beaches which tend to be rocky with lots of tidepools. I find these much more interesting to explore. More beach forts were discovered and two out of three boys actually ventured into the water, which was numbingly cold. Welcome to the Northern Pacific! There was lots of surf fishing for perch and one of the boys said he could feel crabs pinching at his toes. Also, someone got a great deal of joy out of piling flat round rocks on each other to form little pillars. Others had left their mark by scratching their names in the rocks and piling them around driftwood forts. The tide pools were a disappointment though - discovery total: one green sea anemene.
Here is an excellent slide show by nwexposers.com of most of these beaches:
[MOJ’s note: slide show is lovely and definitely worth a look - but turn your speakers down if you’re at the office - there’s background music.]
So we left Ruby Beach and survived the ride home despite regular reminders of boredom in the van. Did the boys have a good time? Yes. Were they glad we went? Yes. Even though at times they had to be dragged from the van, they were glad they went.
Next Week: Part II
Responses to “Kids and Vacations and the Middle Class American Dream”