When most people hear the word travel more than likely images of epic adventures in faraway places come to mind. Aw, how dreamy. Well, when I hear the word travel, not so dreamy images start swirling around in my head. That’s right, I said it… the thought of traveling can make my stomach sink. And unless you have multiple children, dogs, and chickens, you probably think I’m a real pessimist… and in this case, I suppose maybe I am.
I haven’t always been this way. Back when I was a packing for one I took several trips to the west coast, a couple to Mexico, Canada, and even England. I was lucky enough to have a chance to live out those whimsical traveler’s dreams, and will advise my children to do the same while they are still young.
Of course we do go on some very lovely vacations, all of which I am very grateful. Plus, Matt’s career with the Patriots led us to multiple Super Bowl host cities and many trips to Hawaii for Pro Bowls and NFLPA meetings.
However, this was all back in a simpler time… a time of a smaller, more transportable family. Somewhere along the road the idea of vacation has turned into work, and I became a bit burned out. How can this be, you ask? Allow me to illustrate it for you:
- Preparation. Days, not hours, of preparation go into moving my family from one place to another. I start laying clothes out for all four kids 2 to 3 days before departure, then for myself the day before. Matt is in charge of himself when it comes to packing due to the amount and oddness of items he insist must accompany him on his travels. Plans also must be made for missed school and activities, care for the animals, and any deliveries made to the house while away.
- Same day, different location. As I’ve stated before, I truly enjoy taking care of my people, but being on vacation (such a misnomer) can feel like just taking care of them in another, less convenient place. And you can just disregard that cliché pro athlete fantasy (thank you Bravo and E! Network) of the Lights lounging poolside, banana daiquiris in hand, while the nanny lathers the children in Supergoop before leading them to the beach so Matt and I can kiss and cuddle under the setting sun. Ok, maybe that’s just my fantasy, but this simply isn’t how we roll. Yes, I do have a banana daiquiri in one hand, but the other is very, very busy “gooping” the children, chasing after flyaway styrofoam lunch containers, picking food out of Matt’s beard before the seagulls zero in on it, and making sure the baby doesn’t walk off the edge of the pool.
- The aftermath. The only thing I despise more than packing is unpacking… especially when coming home to the tornado left behind a week earlier. In general, unpacking, washing vacation laundry, catching up on a weeks worth of mail, and retrieving all the animals, all while jumping back into our daily routine, takes about 4 to 5 days. When its all said and done, I need a vacation from my “vacation”.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let me say that I am not a total travel scrooge. I actually love and look forward to road trips (to laid back destinations that I can pack for in 1 day… I’m a real adventure seeker, I know). There are a few places we travel to as a family every year that I wholeheartedly enjoy, and I’m so excited to share one of them with you…
This is DeRuyter Lake, NY. It’s near Syracuse, about 5 hours west of Boston (perfect road trip distance). And, as much as I dread ever having to cross county lines, this place is truly special and exempt from all my adverse feelings related to traveling. It just feels easy. There are no fancy restaurants to dress for, no one to impress, and nothing more to expect than truly relaxing and enjoying ourselves.
We stay in little waterfront cottages owned by Jerry Rice (no, not that one) and his adorable wife Nickie. They live right behind the cottages and run the General Store and boat launch for the lake. These two, along with their two amazing and beautiful daughters, who we’ve watched grow up over the years, are among the most wonderful people Matt and I know in this world. I could seriously go on and on about how much these folks mean to our family. They are the kind of people you pray your children will be like one day, and have become the reason we go back year after year.
Here is a little peek at this special place:
Seriously?? How cute are these cottages? Details are everything with this family, and it shows! That sweet ride however, is all mine (now I’m really crushing those pro athlete clichés).
Here’s Nickie training Grace on the register so she could help work off some of our tab. KIDDING! While clearly not a bad idea, our kids actually love helping out the Rices, especially this past trip while their two daughters, Jordan and Joely, were off in California. Our boys would actually wake up with the sun to hang out with Jerry and help him out around camp.
We never leave without our DeRuyter Lake shirts!
This picture says it all!!
One of my favorite shots. Can’t wait to get back!
I should mention that the Rices did not ask me to market their little slice of heaven, nor do they need me to do so. In fact, if you ever wish to visit the “official vacation destination of the Light Family” I would suggest planning ahead, as this is not an easy place to get into. Happy travels!