Around Independence Day, people seriously start talking about vacations — if they haven’t gone on one already. So, I tried to remember our favorite vacations of all time.
At least close to the top of the list would be a trip Nikki and I took to Ireland about a dozen years ago. We flew into Dublin, rented a car and drove around the country for about a week.
Ireland was everything it was advertised to be. Breathtaking scenery (especially Ring of Kerry), friendly people, stately old churches, historic castles and iconic pubs. Some structures were hundreds of years old.
I remember stopping at one pub while looking for a place to stay the night and sitting next to an older gentleman on a bench across from the bar. He would make a statement and then laugh as hard as he could. He would have told you he speaks English, but actually it was some dialect, and I could barely understand a word he was saying.
Finally, I asked, “Have you met my lovely wife, Nikki?” He began talking to her and I snuck up to the bar. (I do not believe she was very happy when I finally came back.)
Another fun vacation was when we went to New Mexico about 20 years ago. Again, we just drove around the state for about a week. I remember getting a speeding ticket on an Indian reservation on a very flat road in the middle of nowhere.
In Sante Fe, we stayed in a stately old hotel. I think it was early June and we would have the windows up during the day, but the moment the sun went down, it got really cold.
One highlight of the trip was when we were driving miles and miles on a dirt road to the Chaco Indian ruins and looked up ahead and a cowboy was crossing the road on his horse with lasso twirling trying to rope a wild horse. Right out of the movies!
Our children went on that trip, but another fun vacation for just Nikki and me was for one of our “big” anniversaries — 15th, 25th or something out of the 42 years we have been married. We went to New York. We had planned on going to Israel on a church trip that year, but because of violence in the Middle East, we decided to stay in the United States.
We booked a flight long before the December trip, but did not reserve a room until a couple of weeks before the trip when I got on the Internet and discovered, to my great delight, that the Waldorf Astoria was not much higher than the other Manhattan motels.
I checked reviews on the Waldorf and discovered that the only negative one was from someone complaining that when President Bush stayed there, the Secret Service took over the elevators, which was inconvenient to guests. I reasoned that if the only complaint related to the president staying there, perhaps that was the place for us.
It was a good choice because we were in walking distance to so many things, including Saks Fifth Avenue (where prices were outrageous), the giant Macy’s (where prices were reasonable and where the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade passes every year), various Broadway plays and NBC studios, where Nikki went just about every morning and where I got up early enough to go one morning.
Nikki and I also went to San Francisco one summer — I went on business, her just for fun. We packed warm clothes, partly because of the quote attributed to Mark Twain. “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” When we got there, it was almost as hot in Chinatown as in Alabama. Proud we packed summer clothes, too!
While only Nikki and I went to New York, we made certain that our three children — Candice, Kristin and Lee — got a wide variety of experiences. In addition to Disney World, we took them to Washington and on up to the national aquarium in Baltimore and to Chicago and the Sears Tower and to Minneapolis and the Mall of the Americas.
I remember when we went to Disney one year, Candice broke out practically all over her body, so I stayed with her while the others went to the park. One of the nicest things that ever happened to me occurred the next year when Candice wrote a school theme paper about that day. She wrote that what started out as one of the worst days of her life, when she was denied a trip to Disney World, turned into one of the best when she got to hang out with me all day. We sat out by the pool, went out to eat, went for ice cream and just generally had a great time.
Each year, we also tried to squeeze in at least one trip to the beach. We preferred the family atmosphere of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach over Panama City’s teenybopper scene. Generally, when we could, we stayed in a cabin at Gulf State Park, where the children could run and scream outside. (Cabin guests could use the amenities of the lodge, including the pool and the once-a-week luau.)
One thing we did right was that when the children went with us, we always tried to take a babysitter, so Nikki and I could escape for a little peace and quiet. As I used to say, “Don’t leave home without her.”
Retired Auburn Attorney Don Eddins is publisher of The Auburn Villager newspaper and the online publication, auburnvillager.com. Before going into law, he was state Capitol reporter for The Huntsville Times and state editor for The Columbus Ledger. Email him your comments about the newspaper to email@example.com.