Part 2 of Ah! Wilderness:  The Ultimate Family Vacation

Pulling over from the fast lane and into campsite No. 47 for a weekend was one of the healthiest, sanest things I have done in a long time.

Can we stay friends?

But sharing a family vacation with people from outside our bloodline presents some new and unique challenges. Should families plan their meals together or decide on their own menus? Should we split the grocery list among us or have one person do all the shopping? Do we bring diet or non-diet soda? Caffeinated or caffeine-free?  Emily Post, to my knowledge, has never addressed this conundrum.

Don’t get me wrong. I genuinely like spending time with my friends. But up until now bonding moments have occurred during play dates, field trips or backyard picnics. Going it more than 24 hours with the same group of people is a stretch. Three days straight could send me babbling to the therapist’s couch. My goal is to keep these special people in my life long after a weekend in the woods.

Leaping the first hurdle

We commit to the trip and begin to make arrangements. Emails ping pong back and forth through cyberspace. Cash is exchanged to cover the deposit, campsite No. 47 is reserved, the Web site is found, menus are confirmed. My husband decides he will head out early with the kids; I will drive to the campground straight from work and meet them in time for dinner. Depending on traffic, I should be sitting next to the campfire with a glass of wine and a dog on a stick by six.
It’s 2 p.m. on the day of departure when my office phone rings.

“Our campsite is a four by four.  It’s too small for our tent. We’re going to be on top of one another. There are about a hundred RVs. I can’t put up the screened-in room.”

I twirl in my leather chair and look out my office window at the city skyline. First impressions are not good. My back-to-nature husband, who’s used to searching for trail markers by the side of the road, is not adapting easily to security gates, man-made lakes, general stores, and pay-to-bathe showers.

Taking a deep breath, I debate whether I should leave work early and try to help or wait it out and see what happens. Real storm clouds are gathering overhead and it looks like we’re in for some rain.

I look at my desk and decide the report that’s been sitting there for a week has taken on a sense of urgency. Besides, if I let things settle down at the campground, there’s a better chance I’ll arrive to the serene calm of Walden Pond instead of a grisly scene from Friday the 13th.

Read more Ah! Wilderness:  All Goes Well & The Epiphany