Right before we left on our vacation, I caught the stomach bug that had been already plagued several members of our family. It was the first time in years that I'd been sick enough to want/need to stay in bed all day and I was disappointed to have to cancel a couple of things I had on my calendar. In the midst of lying there, feeling gross, unenergetic, and really wanting to be more productive than my body was allowing, I decided to get caught up on a few blog posts that I'd fallen behind on. A few hours later, I had nine blog posts scheduled to post every couple of days the whole time we were on vacation. I was so excited to finally be caught up and I had grand visions of continuing to blog while we were on vacation, so that I had some leeway built into my blogging schedule (and perhaps more time to blog creatively). Too bad our schedule on vacation was jam-packed and did not allow much in the way of unfilled time to blog. Actually it wasn't actually "too bad", since we had a wonderful vacation filled with outings, hikes, visits, and lots and lots of time with family, but alas all my pre-scheduled blogposts are published and I'm back to flying by the seat of my pants again.
So someone recently commented to us that they didn't like to spend money on traveling and that they strongly preferred to have someTHING to show for the way they spent their money and not some nebulous experience. I understood them...to a point, but had to disagree. While I don't think that you have to spend a lot of money to have a good memorable experience with your family, even vacations on the cheap cost something. And I think family vacations are not just educational and horizon widening experiences, but very much can play an important role in strengthening the fibers that comprise the fabric of our family.
So while we are not quite the world travelers that most of my family are, we do make going on vacations a priority each year. And we cut corners wherever we can...
We almost always drive instead of fly. We use points to pay for our hotels. We eat simply, either buying food from a grocery store or forgoing the fries and drinks at fast food restaurants and getting only the main course. The kids sometimes grumble at having only water and fresh fruit to go with the meal, but they just know that that's what we do and it's not only more economical, but it's healthier too!
Basically we skimp on whatever we can, so that we can have enough of our vacation budget left to have experiences like this....
A ziplining and adventure course in the mountains of Montana!
We really love providing physically challenging experiences for the kids, because we feel like it offers them the opportunity to feel the satisfaction of overcoming their fears or insecurities to accomplish something challenging.
Ziplining itself isn't strenuous, but it does require climbing to uncomfortable heights, walking on unsteady surfaces, exercising patience, and eventually feeling the thrill of soaring over the beautiful landscape.
It's something that even Ellie can do. We witnessed her having a few seizures during the experience, even one while she was in a shaky, precarious position that could have easily resulted in her slipping off the edge, but we knew that no harm could befall her because of the double-locked safety harnesses that we were attached to us 100% of the time we were in the air.
Seeing the dedicated looks of concentration on their faces while they performed their difficult task and then the exulted look of accomplishment and excitement on their faces at the end of each zip was pretty priceless!
We finished it all with a great conversation on how, like on the zip course, they can overcome challenges that they may face in their lives. Sometimes they may feel like they're on shaky ground, in uncomfortable situations, or with a herculean task before them that they can't see the end of, but if they put one foot in front of another, concentrate, and trust in the safety harnesses of faith and family...they can overcome.