Posts Tagged ‘fall break’

Swimmer Girl and I spent seven days (or 168 hours or 10,080 minutes…however you wish to parse it out) exploring as much of New York as we could.  We visited the must-see tourist sights and found some places off the beaten path where we tried to blend in with the locals, although I suppose our mannerisms and drawls gave us away.  Here’s an abbreviated version of our week, sans pictures.

The good?
1. The shopping, from SoHo with all its quirky little stores and shops, all the way uptown where FAO Schwartz still has the keyboard floor, to the delight of all who step on it.
2. The shows.  Wicked was wickedly good, but Mamma Mia was Swimmer Girl’s favorite.
3. The food…most of it anyway.  Benjamin Steakhouse was amazing, even if we were the only two unaccompanied females dining there and the only two sharing a steak. Tony’s DiNapoli fed us homemade, fresh and wonderful pasta; 5 Napkin’s burgers  were worth the late-night trip to the fringes of Hell’s Kitchen.
4. The history.  Governor’s Island, Ellis Island, Central Park, Washington Park, South Street Seaport and the World Trade Center memorial each offer a glimpse into various aspects of our country’s unique heritage.  The American Museum of Natural History seems as vast as the nation it tries to encapsulate, and the newer  BODIES exhibit is fascinating.  Wall Street is unabashedly and unapologetically American and the Empire State Building offers a breathtaking view of the city that does not sleep.

The bad?
1. The blisters.  Manhattan is jam-packed with stuff to see and do at every turn, and every square inch in between.  Most of it is within walking distance of wherever you are. But make no mistake, it is a HUGE city. Even on feet accustomed to running and walking miles every week and wearing comfortable daytime boots and shoes, my feet had the least amount of fun of any of my body’s members.
2. The crush of humanity.  Everywhere you go, you are surrounded by a throng of people, all trying desperately to ignore each other.  (Think “Black Friday” shopping crowds, everywhere, every day.) For those of us who are raised with lots of room to roam, a little of that much togetherness goes a long ways.

The ugly?
It breaks my heart to say it, but….Macy’s.  Going in, I had such high hopes for the flagship store of my favorite chain.  Such a HUGE disappointment.  Bigger is NOT better, at least when it comes to their brand-new “World’s Largest Shoe Floor.”  We bought….oh, let’s just say “several” (*cough*) pairs of shoes on this trip.  But none at Macy’s.  Why?  Because the service was insufferably bad.  I would still love to have a Macy’s right here in Murfreesboro, but they can keep their New York sales force. In the balance, the Clinique counter staff was much more friendly and helpful, so maybe it was an off night on the shoe floor, or maybe it’s something about people who deal with feet that makes them simultaneously snarky and inefficient.

The best?
Spending uninterrupted time with my daughter, admiring the ease with which she figured out the subway schedule and negotiated with Chinatown street vendors, and savoring her first bite of the big apple.  And being greeted at the airport with a big hug from Mr. Official, and once again sleeping in our own beds.

Happy Monday,


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We’re leavin’ on a jet plane…

In just a few hours, Swimmer Girl and I board a big ol’ jet airliner (yeah, I’m mixing my classic rock song references), and we’re headed for fall break in the Big Apple, NYC. We’ll touch down at 11:30 pm local time, grab a cab to the hotel and hit the ground running Saturday morning. I don’t know if we’ll have much downtime for blog posts, but we’ll catch up when we get back home  in 7 days.

It’s shaping up to be a trip to remember with lots of shopping, strolling through Central Park, catching some Broadway shows and taking in the sights, smells, sounds and experiences that are unique to this mega-city.

Our first fall break trip was seven years ago, when I took her to Disney World…her first trip to the Magic Kingdom.  That was a special trip with lots of mom-and-daughter talking in between squeals and screams on teacups and Tower of Terror rides.

Our fall breaks in between have focused on the gulf, and have involved group trips with friends of hers and mine.  But just as our inaugural fall break trip was just the two of us, it seemed fitting that the grand finale trip would also be mom and daughter, and the destination as magical as the first one.

I hope and pray that future years will give us both opportunities for stealing away with friends to bid a warm farewell to summer from a warm gulf beach…we both know it could be a while before we can once again team up on those memorable October getaways, and we both accept that we may never be able to make our fall schedules coincide again.

So for now, I’m counting down the hours to our flight, and then looking forward to a whirlwind week basking in the glow of big city lights, and seeing New York through the eyes of my daughter.

If anyone feels sorry for the guys we’re leaving behind, feel free to give ’em a call or stop by with a pizza.  They’d appreciate the company – and the food!

Happy fall, y’all

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Where do you fall on fall?

Fall is a defining time of year, more so than the other seasons, I think.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say it may separate the glass-is-half-full crowd from the other half.  We can see it as the end of one season, or the prelude to the next.

Of course, how you view fall is influenced heavily by how you view summer and winter.

Growing up on the western plains and front range of the Colorado Rockies, I associated fall with the approaching onset (or rather, the onslaught) of an interminable period of cold weeks punctuated by snow storms, freezing temperatures and cloudy gray skies. A few snow-cancelled Halloweens in my childhood served to increase my disenchantment with the season. 

I was not a fan of winter in my childhood years, in case you couldn’t tell.  (I never even attempted to ski on snow until I was married and returned to Colorado in the winter with my husband and then only twice.  If I’m going to get around on two sticks, I’d rather do it being pulled behind a boat on a warm lake in the summer.)  Because I dreaded winter, I viewed fall as the harbinger of cold. Instead of appreciating what it had to offer, I spent the autumn season bracing for what would come next.

The southeastern U.S. offers less extreme winter temperatures, and the cold season is relatively short (the big box stores put out seedracks and lawn and garden items as soon as they take down the Christmas displays.)   Years of short southern winters have softened my perspective somewhat.  I’m still not a card-carrying member of winter’s fan club, but I don’t loathe it.

Better still, I no longer view fall as merely the curtain call on summer, but I’ve learned to relax and savor it as a season in its own right, albeit as a period of paradoxes: warm but crisp days all rolled into one, sweaters and flipflops worn simultaneously, and piercing blue skies above a sea of blazing orange (on the trees and on game days.)

We have enjoyed our week of fall break, and the weather has been pitch-perfect for drinking up the last drop of summer’s warmth.  Last night we enjoyed one final sunset.

Today we arose early to welcome the sunrise and prepare to head home.   It’s time to turn the page and enjoy the pageantry of fall; the scenery will change daily until the last of the leaves are gone.  The daily temperatures are beginning to slowly drift downward, and as they do, our tastebuds begin warming up to the savory flavors of hearty foods once again.

I still can’t say I look forward to winter, but I have come to accept and even welcome fall for what it is, instead of constantly peeking past it at what lies beyond. All things considered, I’d say my glass is more than half full; how about yours?

Happy fall to one and all,

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This week is fall break for us.  As we have done for several years, we’re soaking up the last bit of summery goodness on the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.

Yesterday began with worship, then we headed toward the impossibly beautiful, pastel tinted town of Seaside for an afternoon of sightseeing, boutique rummaging, and…eating out.

Yes, I know.  It was Sunday:  my self-declared day of rest from consumerism.  And there I was, shopping and dining with everyone else.

A most fitting sign outside one of the shops that was closed for the day.
Seaside’s post office stood quiet and still, too.

What can I say?  My goal is not to foist or bind this “day of rest” idea on anyone, nor am I advocating we return to laws that would force compliance.  It is only to gently encourage all of us to give some serious consideration to taking a weekly break from the consumer “rat race.” And – if enough of us were to do it on a regular basis – it might eventually lead to retail store owners giving themselves and their employees the gift of a weekly break, too.

Our regular programming will resume next Sunday.  But for today, we’re honoring a tradition that swimmer girl and I look forward to from the minute we begin firming up our itinerary for the annual trip.  And some traditions are worth honoring, even when they hang in the balance against other goals and ideals.

Happy fall,

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It’s fall break week for our school district.  That means one thing:  girls gone south.  We headed out yesterday as soon as the dismissal bell rang.  Traffic was lighter than past years on I-65, and we made great time; under 8 hours including a stop in Birmingham for dinner and Montgomery for gas.

It struck me today this is the sixth year swimmer girl and I have made fall break into a girls’ getaway:

  • 2006, swimmer girl was 11 and we took Disney World by storm, just mother and daughter.
  • 2007 found me just a few days after hernia surgery when a dear friend bundled me in her car before dawn and hauled us and our daughters to Fort Walton for the most incredible week of healing and relaxation I could have imagined.
  • 2008 was a repeat to Fort Walton, but this time with a two-car caravan and more girls – fun, fun, fun was had by all!
  • 2009 was a bit of a departure – swimmer girl and I headed west to visit my parents after my dad’s shoulder surgery.  We also managed to explore every square inch of the venerable Country Club Plaza, Kansas City’s claim to shopping fame as the oldest shopping center designed for access by automobile.
  • 2010 was back to Florida, this time to Panama City Beach.  We arrived just as the bikers were leaving after a week-long ride-in.  Perfect timing.  Our group consisted of another mom and me, plus three teenage girls, a preteen girl and a boy.  (Yes, we will allow some boys, sometimes.)  Great trip and good memories!
  • 2011 finds us in Destin, and our group is smaller:  just swimmer girl, one of her oldest and best friends, and me.

Next year will be her last year of high school and our seventh and final fall break, unless her college has a longer fall break than MTSU’s.  We plan to do it up right with a different destination – we’ll see how it all works out.

But for now, we’re glad we are here safe and sound; the condo is lovely and the gulf and pure white beach is a quick jaunt through the complex and across Hwy. 98.  (We made the trek as soon as we threw our bags in the condo.  It was after midnight, but we just had to touch the beach and listen to the surf pound under its canopy of stars before turning in for the night.)

The weather forecast is sunny and warm all week, and we’re anxious to get settled in and on the beach as soon as possible today.  My wish is for safe travels and a memorable time to everyone heading somewhere this fall break.  And good luck to Derek Dooley and the boys today – Go Big Orange!

Happy Saturday,

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Homeward bound

Leaving for a trip has its mix of excitement, anticipation, and worries (What did we forget? Will the weather be good? What if the condo is a dump?) Last Friday was smooth sailing, once we got out of town.  We arrived to discover we had all the important stuff (except my Kindle and camera battery chargers), the trip down was (mostly) uneventful, the weather was sunny but a tad cool, and the condo was beautiful and spacious, if understocked on some basic items. Like a can opener.

The week slipped by too fast, as it always does. Any minor bumps and mishaps along the way are soon forgotten, and the memories distill into a warm blend of sweet and funny moments that will stay with us until the next trip rolls around.

Preparing for the trip home is always bittersweet but has fewer unknowns: just make sure everything gets packed up. The extended weather forecast is no longer important and sleeping in our own beds again sounds pretty sweet.

Happy (and safe) travels!

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So how do YOU prepare for a trip?

For me, preparing for a trip has at least two major components:  readying the house to leave it for the duration (I hate coming home to a messy house or unfinished laundry), and packing/planning for the trip itself.

Depending on the state of the house when I start the preparations, that part might actually take more time than packing for the trip.  But not this time – I let those staying behind know that I’m simplifying things.  (I’ve finally learned my lesson:  they’re adults, they will eat if, when and what they want, and whatever I try to make is likely to remain frozen or go bad.)  All this trip demands is a quick pass through the bathrooms, run the vacuum and dust, a little laundry and I’m free to roam around the countryside, guilt-free.

As I counted down the days to our road trip to Florida, I tried to do as much ahead of schedule as possible (although some things still got put off to the last minute, as happens with us procrastinators.)

So my week went something like this:

Sunday:  check the extended forecast for the area.  Pray fervently for safe trip, good weather and NO HURRICANES. Check. Repeat daily until we leave.
Monday:  take car to get tires rotated, balanced (and aligned – ouch).  Check
Tuesday:  get toenails painted (very important part of preparations); plan menu and grocery list for condo (because I really hate spending wasting hours at the local grocery as we try to devise a menu and grocery list on the fly.  That is always an expensive and wasteful effort – we inevitably forget something, and buy way too many items that we don’t really need.)
Wednesday:  take car for oil change, emissions test and tags.  Wash & vacuum car. Check and check. Plan route with Google and TomTom.  All done.  Post pictures of the weather report and route on Facebook, because my enthusiasm knows no bounds.
Thursday:  final grocery run (okay, I bought those staying behind *some* snackage), tidy the house, pack my suitcase. (Yeah, these rather important things got put off until the very end.)  Check with condo manager to get door code and parking info. Check.
Today:  pack grocery staples I’m taking, put suitcases, camera, laptop and paperwork in car, and get last-minute work and a final load of laundry done before school lets out and we hit the road.

So, how does everybody else count down to leaving?  Is this routine pretty typical, or do you have a better way of getting everything done? Don’t be shy…I’d love to hear your ideas!

Happy vacationing!

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