Sunday, August 14, 2011

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

This past week my family and I returned from our summer vacation. We covered 9 states (WI, IL, MO, OK, TX, KY, TN, KS, & AR) in just over 2 weeks visiting family and friends. Below are some of the things I learned along the way.

- Driving in rain storms is no fun, but it sure beats driving in snow/ice storms.

- Driving through Illinois is almost as boring as driving through Kansas.

- 113 degrees is pretty hot! Much of our vacation was spent in locations where record highs were a daily occurrence. After living in Texas for almost 10 years I grew accustomed to summer heat, but to combine that heat with Midwest humidity made me glad we had regular access to swimming pools!

- Transmissions are expensive to replace. On our way to Nashville the transmission went out on our Explorer. We've had good luck with that vehicle and the mileage is low enough that it was worth repairing, but man was it expensive.

- To make matters worse the only vehicle available for rental (that would hold our gear) was a 15 passenger van. While the Explorer was being repaired (7 days) we drove a giant van around the country! Not exactly riding in style.

- The Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Kansas City Royals AA minor league affiliate) are loaded with talent and should produce several major league impact players over the next few years. I had the opportunity to see them  play the Springfield Cardinals with my Dad. There's something pretty cool about fathers, sons, and baseball.

- You should make every effort to see friends and family, especially those that you don't get to see very often.

- A 16 hour road trip makes for an extremely long day. I would not recommend that you do this often.

- I went to RestoreFest in Joplin, MO which was a fundraising concert for victims of the May tornado. I saw destruction firsthand and was amazed at the spirit of the community and its people. Someone on stage spoke about the difference between this natural disaster and certain disasters in previous years. No signs were ever displayed by the people of Joplin asking where FEMA was. No protests have taken place by people looking for a handout. Instead, the people of Joplin have rolled up their sleeves, taken care of their neighbors less fortunate, and have started rebuilding their city in an effort to make it better than it was before. Way to go Joplin!

- I watched the St. Louis Cardinals play several games on TV while we were away. Tony LaRussa won't ever have a career in public relations, but he's still one of the best managers in the game. (It's also kind of cool that he's still managing in St. Louis. He began his tenure there while I was still in high school.)

- If you ever find yourself near Pittsburgh, KS (southeast Kansas), you need to have dinner at the famous Chicken Annie's. They serve some of the best friend chicken (& onion rings) that you'll ever eat.

- The Ozark Mountains in Missouri and Arkansas are a hidden gem. There you'll find some of the prettiest terrain in the entire country.

- Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO should be a mandatory stop for families on vacation. We had a blast and I've never been to a cleaner, more family-friendly amusement park in my life.

- Portable movie devices for vehicles have made long road trips so much better for kids. I wish we would've had that technology available when I was younger.

I'm sure I learned several other things along the way, but I'll consider these the most important. If you haven't taken your summer vacation yet I would encourage you to hurry up and make it happen. Summer is all-too-quickly coming to a close. Enjoy the rest of your summer!

1 comment:

Tina Hollenbeck said...

LOVE that spirit in Joplin - taking care of their own and not asking for a handout. As I recall, when the floods came to Nashville a couple of years ago, it was a similar thing. There's a lot to be said for midwestern strength and diligence - and "self-reliance" in a good way (i.e., relying on each other, not the government).