Over the years I have been amazed at people who don't use up all their vacation time. They say things like "I didn't have time to take vacation". What the what??!! Honestly, it's like a foreign language to me. I assume the people that say these things think 1) they are too important to take vacation - the working world won't be able to continue without them or 2) they don't know how to relax.
It's 10:00 the night before I leave for vacation and I must have said three times today "Why is it so hard to take a vacation?" Perhaps some of these people have a point. A very small number...but some people.
I have to admit, I may be a bit ambitious in my planning. First, let me tell you what we are doing. We are going camping - to Wilmington, NC beach area....Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Cape Fear....right on the SC border. We chose the location because, as Jack gets closer to going to college, we try to visit nearby colleges so he can get a sense for the type of school he might like. He has always been interested in Marine Biology and identified UNC - Wilmington as a school he was interested in. So, I planned for months and just 2 weeks ago, after he said camping wasn't for him anymore, he also dropped the bombshell "I realized marine biology isn't for me. I don't really like math or science...I just like turtles." Uhm, ok....glad you realized that now rather than in your junior year of college....but 2 weeks before the vacation to go see a school you are interested in? Little tough to swallow. Luckily, the area has tons to offer so it's not a big deal. I will admit...the "I realized I just like turtles" will go down as one of his infamous lines. So cute and so funny.
I literally have been planning this vacation for months. First, there is the research of the area - is there enough to do around there? Where are the great campgrounds? Do they have availability?
Then comes the menu planning. Years ago, when we bought our first pop up for $175 on the way home from a soccer game, the woman who owned it filled me in on a little tip. Make as much as you can ahead of time and freeze it. Then pull out and defrost as you need it. I have been doing this for years and it has been great.
First, I sit down with my friend Pinterest and look over all the potential recipes. Since we will be driving for 16 hours, I need breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the road, and then those meals for the first few days. Then there is dinner....I found that if I don't make/prep things ahead of time, we end up eating out half the time...which really isn't camping at all. I'm also of the school of thought that when you camp, you don't need to eat typical camp fare. I cook as though I'm at home. This is what gets me in trouble.
Add on top of all of this that we typically go away this week and it's Jack's birthday. Last year I made a camo cake and transported it to the Outer Banks. Stupid? Yes. Worth it? Yes. He loved it. But there I was slaving over the stove at midnight the night before we left making 3 different colored cake batters, swirling them to look like camouflage, frosting the layers, and then finding a spot in the car where it wouldn't fall apart.
So, what's on tap for the menu this vacation? Well, for our "car breakfast" Friday morning, we'll be having The Pioneer Woman's Good Morning Muffins (made 2 weeks ago and froze), Sweetie Pies (which are little raspberry filled, heart shaped pies sprinkled with cinnamon sugar - they are a standard of our car trips), and fruit salad. For lunch, we'll have sandwiches that we'll make on the road that will be accompanied by my friend Ann's excellent broccoli salad. Dinner will be out...we always need a break at that point.
During our vacation we'll have (all homemade): lemon blueberry bread, breakfast quesadillas, birthday chocolate chip pancakes (topped with whipped cream and sprinkles), egg "mcmuffin" sandwiches, corn salsa, black bean burgers, steak, ribs, meatball parm sliders, grilled pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and strawberry shortcake.
Add to all this cooking.... working at my full time job and packing... clothes and camper supplies (sheets, towels, pots & pans, dishes, games, you name it). Yeah, I know....it's my own fault and I don't have the right to complain that it is too hard to take vacation. I choose to camp and I choose to treat it like an Iron Chef Competition with myself. But it's all worth it when the kids say, at the end of each trip, that it was even better than the last.