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The Realities of Girlfriend Getaways

22 Sep

As with many great ideas, it started in a bar.

During an impromptu gathering of college friends, the conversation turned to a familiar topic: We should see more of each other.

It had been ten years since we’d graduated from Syracuse University together. Remarkably, we’d stayed in touch and liked each other even more than in the days of dorm food and keggers.

We also were enjoying the self assuredness that comes with being 30 years old, and the bonus of having a little financial security to boot.

There was only one logical thing to do–plan a weekend getaway. Little did we know that our first trip would turn into an annual tradition.

It’s been six years now, and over that time I’ve discovered these realities of girlfriend getaways:

1. Planning is half the fun. 

Our trip always falls on MLK Day weekend, but discussions about locales, flights, hotels, what to pack, and what to see last all year long. E-mails with links to indulgent spas, highly recommended restaurants, and top-rated attractions bounce back and forth. So what if there are days we barely make it past the hotel bar.

2. There will be tears.

At any given moment, it is not uncommon for one or more of the five of us to break down. Whether it is over entrees in Arizona or walking down Sixth Street in Austin, there’s something about being around girlfriends who validate your feelings and love you unconditionally that spurs an emotional release. Bring tissues.

3. You’ll miss home.

Most of the time during our girls’ weekends I’m giddy with the joys of leaving it all behind. Pets, kids, laundry–not today! But then I’ll get a little twinge, wonder what’s going on back home, and need to check in. It’s OK, just try to avoid calling at 4 a.m. from a dance club. Husbands don’t love that.

4. Be flexible.

Plans will be made, and plans will be broken. It will rain. Planes will be delayed. That don’t-miss thing you must see, forget about it. Crankiness is inevitable (and usually caused by hunger, by the way). In the end, it helps to remember that girls’ weekends are about being together, no matter if it is waiting in line for an epic brunch at the Bellagio or dealing with the inevitable delays caused by five girls and one bathroom.

5. It will end too soon.

Before I know it, bloated from too much food and drink, wallet empty and laughing to myself over some silly happening, I’m on a plane heading home and wondering where the time went. Inevitably, I will open the inflight magazine, flip to the map of the U.S., and start thinking about next year.


To Camp or Not to Camp?

12 Jun

When I was 12 years old at an impromptu family meeting (always a sign of bad news), my parents announced that they were planning to sell our camper.

As my mother tells the story, in true preteen fashion I burst into tears and exclaimed dramatically, “Camping is my life.”

Melodramatic, yes. Inaccurate, not really.

Prepping the perfect campfire

I spent my childhood in and out of KOA campgrounds, gathering kindling for the campfire, cranking up the pop-up, lugging ice back from the camp store. Hotels were never an option as we explored the Smoky Mountains, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Quebec, and Maine’s Moosehead Lake.

Today, 20-plus years later, camping is decidedly not my life. Give me 1,000-thread-count egyptian sheets, room service, and a concierge, and I’m a happy girl.

What warranted such a change of heart?

It could’ve been the wayward drunk that tried to crawl into our tent on our first-try camping trip with our son Samuel, then 2 years old. Or the very loud, 3 a.m. domestic dispute at the neighboring site on the same outing. Oh, and it rained the entire weekend.

But one bad experience does not break a seasoned camper.

A few years later, two kids in tow, we arrived at Hershey Park campground at twilight.

By the time we confirmed that the tent poles were, in fact, back in our garage 400 miles away, it was dark and the kids had learned a few choice phrases.

The solution? Three nights with 4 people in a 2-person tent . . . I didn’t say it was a good solution. Did I mention Will was potty training?

Still I persevered. Camping is (was?) my life!

The last straw was a girl’s get-a-way to Martha’s Vineyard. After check-in and non-refundable payment, we discovered why the campground seemed deserted for a summer weekend. Gypsy moth infestation. The suckers were everywhere: covering the picnic table, dropping from the trees, invading our sleeping bags.

And so it is that camping and I have parted ways. Though, we stay in touch occasionally.

Near Santa Barbara, I discovered a luxury tent campground where the store sold s’mores fixings and wine country’s best. At Point Sebago Resort a few years back, we set up “camp” in a Park Home with a full kitchen and two bedrooms. And . . . um, cable TV and air conditioning.

At least I didn’t have to worry about forgetting the tent poles.