This weekend we ventured on a 3 day vacation with good friends of ours down to Palmyra, New York. Our children are all born within months of each other, and their two oldest boys are great friends with Colin and Caleb. We chose to leave Benjamin at home with James' parents, because that much travel and excitement would have been too much for a one and a half year old. (It was the right decision.)
Day one consisted of doing the four hour drive in chunks, shopping just over the border, setting up camp, and taking a dip in the pool to cool off in the 35+ degree weather. As we were getting settled into our cabins in the campground, the boys ran around with each other, playing all sorts of imaginative games and having a blast. That was the moment when I realized this was going to be a great trip for them. There are a lot of things at stake during this kind of trip. 1) just because you are good friends with people doesn't mean you'll travel well together. Luckily, we were all very much on the same wavelength when it came to making decisions, and generally we were all very easy-going. 2) Just because the adults are good friends, doesn't guarantee our children will get along. Luckily, they all had a fantastic time together.
Day two started out in the Museum of Play in a nearby city. This was a most amazing place. Each exhibit was in a huge room, and featured some sort of theme from childhood (Dollhouse, Super heros, Sesame Street, Berenstein Bears, Adventure, Fairy Tales, etc.) We could have spent days in there, but by lunchtime the kids were getting tired and badly needed a nap.
After that rest, a little more swimming and some mini gold back at the campground, we were off to the pageant. The Palmyra pageant is an outdoor event put on by our church, with a cast of more than 650, and a crew of 150. They go through some of the stories in the Book of Mormon. The cast and crew are made up of families who descend on the area for about 3 weeks, to rehearse and put on the show. I hope one day we can take the boys down to participate.
Day three saw a split from our friends. After being up all night with one of their boys, they opted for a quick drive home. Being Sunday, we wanted to worship in some way, but we have heard that trying to attend the local church can be crazy, since thousands of people descend there. Instead, we decided to head out to the Sacred Grove, a beautiful forest. We walked partway in and then read from the scriptures together.
With that we were on our way home. With the rest of the day ahead of us, we took our time and stopped as needed. One rest stop in Niagara-on-the-Lake was particularly interesting. As I waited for the boys to use the restroom, I noted the most eclectic gathering of cultures. A tour bus of Asians stopped and several converged on the souvenir shop. Three men emerged from a van, buttoning up white shirts over their prayer shawls. Two Islamic men carried a rug to the back of the rest stop to offer one of their daily prayers toward Mecca. All of this happened without any party giving any other a second look. I love this multicultural aspect of Canada.
Final verdict: a fantastic trip! When asked, Colin and Caleb both proclaimed their favourite part of the trip to be the swimming. Just like their dad, you couldn't get them out of the pool. Caleb hit a swimming milestone of his own - the first time he would swim without a parent holding onto him. His confidence grew in leaps and bounds once he realized what the life jacket would do. My favourite part was the campfire - house of chatting with great friends about something other than children and motherhood. While I enjoy those topics, too, they seem to monopolize most of my conversations with people, since mothering is an easy topic we all have in common. But I always crave a good philosophical conversation, and around a campfire was even better.
As a young family, we are just starting to create traditions, and this is definitely one to continue!