When an Anniversary Trip Goes South

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Recently my husband and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. We have always taken a trip to celebrate our anniversary, and this year was no exception. Since we were married in Vegas (in a suite, not a little chapel, and not by Elvis), on our first anniversary we returned to our favorite city.  If you have ever wondered what a wedding for 50 looks like in a Vegas suite…here is a glimpse.

The timing worked out well to have one of our favorite Vegas photographer take some pictures of us while I was pregnant during our first anniversary trip back to Vegas.  It was a different sort of Vegas trip since I was pregnant, but we still had a good time by the pool, going out to dinner, getting massages, and doing a little bit of gambling.  It was actually our last trip together before C was born a couple months later.

For our second anniversary we were booked to return to Vegas, but since it turned out that was right in the middle of when we were moving from Austin to near Houston, we changed the trip to a shorter and less expensive trip to New Orleans for a long weekend.  My parents kept our then 9-month-old daughter, and the long weekend was perfect.  Good Cajun food, good music, and a nice room at the W New Orleans French Quarter.

Then last year the two of us went for a weekend to San Antonio. We spent a night on the Riverwalk and headed to the Westin La Cantera Resort.  That trip was documented here and here.  From memory, by the second day of that trip we were relaxed and enjoying our time together.  However, I do remember the first night being a bit “rocky” as we transition from our “normal lives” to our quiet weekend together.

Each year the trips have gotten shorter and closer to home. This year we decided on staying at Bernhardt Winery that was within an hour or so of our house.  This winery isn’t known for it’s eleventy billion year old reds that are still aging in barrels made by God himself.  Instead, it is a fun Texas winery known for wines that are inexpensive and taste yummy now (as in a “young” wine).  My kind of place.

We have been taking plenty of trips recently, and the idea of “getting away” without having to actually go anywhere was very appealing. There were no hotel points to be earned or stay credits to be added to our yearly tally at this winery, but that was okay. We were going to be the only ones staying on the property in a beautiful loft that was built by hand by the owners of the winery. The room was $175 for the night ($150 per night for consecutive nights), but that included not only the room, but a wine tasting, a glass of wine each, a bottle of wine, a cheese plate, snacks, and a continental breakfast. Since the winery is outside of any real city, we were going to be able to sit outside and watch the stars and just hear the crickets. Not my idea of fun for an extended period of time, but perfect for one night to celebrate another year of marriage…or so we thought.

Before I get to what went wrong, here are some shots of the room.  It truly was peaceful and beautiful.





From the doors, you can look out at the trees and the lawn where they host many weddings and events.


When we got there, we did the wine tasting and helped celebrate another couple who got engaged outside while we were finishing our tasting.  It was a fun and festive environment.  We then ate our cheese plate and selected our bottle of wine for the evening. 

Some wine, no kids, the place to ourselves, what could go wrong?

I’m not exactly sure what went wrong, but I think the main problem was related to taking two very busy (and sometimes stressed) individuals out of their environment and giving them one evening away to celebrate their anniversary.  We’ve had similar problems when we get one night away on other occasions.  One night sounds fantastic, and it is, but it does sometimes put pressure to do everything you want to do and talk about everything you want to talk about all within a few hours.  There isn’t really enough time to disconnect and relax before you are having to gear up and head home again.  I think that this issue is more pronounced for parents who are really trying to maximize the limited time together without the kiddo(s).  At least I know it has been more problematic for us since Little C has joined our family.

I’ll spare you the play-by-play, but in the end, we actually ended up heading home and did not spend the night in the loft we had rented for the evening.  We picked our kiddo back up from Grandma and Grandpa and got an F on the anniversary score card.  Now why am I posting about our botched “trip”?  I’m sharing this because most all of the trip reports that are out there about trips that were AMAZING and BEST EVER and LIFE CHANGING.  The biggest problems are related to nuts not being warm on the plane or the bed being too firm.  I wish I could live on the planet of amazing, best ever, and life changing all the time, but unfortunately I am a permanent residence of the planet where you “win some and you lose some”.  I wanted to share this side of our trips too, in case I am not the only who has trips that sometimes don’t go the way you had hoped.  Not all trips consist of the breeze in your hair, a nap in the hammock, and hand holding through the park.  Some of the good ones do, but not all trips go that way.

We have learned our lesson this time.  We have learned the one-night trips away to celebrate events are potentially dangerous for us.  We do better either with a full weekend, or with nights away that are “just because”, and not tied to a specific occasion.  We also learned that if we have limited time together we really need to talk about what we want to do together ahead of time, so that we are on the same page.  I think that is probably good advice for all busy folks who have very limited time away.  Again, while I don’t think this issue is limited to couples with young children, I am willing to bet it is more pronounced for couples in that demographic since the “alone time” is much more scarce.

We’ve recovered from our anniversary mishap, and have vowed to learn from our mistakes so that we don’t waste precious time together in the future.  So, if you have ever had a trip that should have been “perfect” turn into a “hot mess”, you aren’t alone.  If you haven’t yet had that thrilling experience, hopefully you can learn from us and never have a 4th anniversary that goes down in the history books with a failing grade.  We would have likely done better picking up a bag of burgers and fries and staying up late hanging out watching movies on our TV at home while the grandparents kept C so we could sleep in.  We will do much better next year.

For the record, I still highly recommend the winery (for non-wine snobs).  It is very drivable from the Houston area, and is just a little over two hours from the Austin area as well.  Maybe we will try our luck there again one day.

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  1. what a refreshing post! sometimes there is so much pressure on vacations to be perfect and it’s good to recognize that if you are lucky enough to travel frequently you are bound to have some “off” trips.

  2. Sorry to hear it wasn’t perfect, but I know you’ll do better in the future.

    I totally hear you about tired and stressed.

  3. Gutsy post! I think you may have develop a niche on how to keep sanity together as a couple with full time demanding jobs and a kiddo. Remember, when the 2nd kid comes along, it becomes mayhem:-)

  4. Hate it when I post with wrong grammar! Should be “you may develop”

    I can imagine your stress on having to come up with yet another blog post so soon. And your husband feeling it…At the same time, you both like the money coming in…You must be wondering…”Is it worth it?”

    Am I making sense or am I waaaaaay off base? (which happens so often) 🙂

  5. Lauren, very true!
    Deidre, I think the tired and stressed camp has a large contingent!
    Gpapadop, ha ha. If I hadn’t seen your tweets about writing your own blog posts I may have taken that personally. ;). Truthfully, there is a bunch more to our life than just blogging. Having a family at home and husband who is on the road every week does get tough. Just like with all other busy families, it is hard to sometimes just “turn it all off”. I think that is something many others can probably relate to….or we are just the weirdos. 😉

  6. MP, sounds like my wife and I were married about the same time as you and our daughter is about the same age as little C. We have yet to spend a night without her though. We have a tentative plan for next summer, our fifth anniversary, to leave the kids (the next is due in four weeks) with family and fly out to Utah to go canyoneering. I’ve already planned to make it a non-rushed, several day trip but we’ll keep what you wrote about in mind.

  7. @Paul S, we are super lucky we have had some good time with just the two of us since C was born. I know not every parent has that chance! Congrats on your second! Very good idea to make it non-rushed and several days. Plenty of time to unwind and “go with the flow”. 😉
    @Southern travel girl, so true. I have no doubt we will one day have way too much downtime on our hands and in a way miss the frenetic pace that life with a young child can have. We do our best to enjoy what we have in front of us today…it just doesn’t work 100% of the time. 😉

  8. Aww. That just stinks! I totally understand the attitude of “hurry up and have the best time of your life before our baby sitter turns into a pumpkin!” Thanks for the reminder to take it easy and just get take-out! 😉

  9. THANK YOU! I can so totally relate to this post. Deal Dad and I have pretty much punted the idea of forced “couple time” in lieu of lunch dates and an occasional kids night out. In our experience, romance doesn’t do well on demand. It’s just too much pressure! We’re better off taking turns getting out of Dodge for a weekend.

  10. Oh, and btw, this line almost made me pee myself ” This winery isn’t known for it’s eleventy billion year old reds that are still aging in barrels made by God himself.”

  11. Special trips can be loaded with expectations, especially when crammed in to a busy schedule. I have found is to be a recipe for disaster as small problems can lead to a cascade of negative feedbacks. It is hard not to load up expectations but it does help to try and keep them in check and when things go wrong to go with the flow and find another way to enjoy time together.

  12. Great post, MP. As someone with many more years of marriage under her belt (34), I can assure you that one day you’ll look back on this trip and laugh. It will become a family legend and part of your shared history. You’ll find yourself saying, “Remember that horrible 4th anniversary trip when we . . .” Being able to laugh at our past foibles together is one the great things of sharing life together.

  13. AJM said it the best. And it sounds like you already know the “true” secret to marriage which is communication. I know you guys will have a fabulous 5th anniversary trip and laugh about how bad the previous year’s was.

  14. Kelley and I were in London for our honeymoon in 1989. After a couple days of eating pub food we went to a nice restaurant to get some salads with vegetables for a healthier diet.

    It was early, before 6pm and the restaurant was mostly empty. We sat at the table and ordered two salads. When the waiter asked what we wanted for an entree, I said we only wanted the salads.

    He told us we couldn’t occupy a table if that was all we were ordering. My wife was willing to order more food, but I argued the issue with the waiter on principle. The two salads alone were about a $20 order and we were planning to be in and out in less than 40 minutes.

    We left the restaurant and Kelley was so mad at me that she said she was going back to the hotel alone. I followed about 30 feet behind her walking on the sidewalk waiting for her to realize she had no map, no subway card and no British currency.

    She was angry the rest of the night, but that was just one of the blips in a mostly wondeful two week honeymoon experience.

    One of the key pieces of wisdom I remember hearing from Bill Cosby (on TV, not in person) is always sign your own checks and no matter how bad the fight, kiss your spouse at bedtime.

  15. >>>>>If I hadn’t seen your tweets about writing your own blog posts I may have taken that personally.

    I am pondering about jumping in but I am so scared of the time commitment and am terrified of having to come up with new stuff…you know, writer’s block:-) I like my life, do I really need to make it more complicated?

    >>>>>I think that is something many others can probably relate to….or we are just the weirdos.

    I believe you are totally normal and sooo many other couples with kids can relate! This was a beautiful post, keeping it real!

  16. Maybe it’s just me, but I really didn’t get the gist of your post. So you both work and have a child, you were going away for a overnight alone, and for undisclosed reasons (inter-personal, I’m sure) you called it early and went home. So this was due to no other reason than a problem between the two of you. What did this have to do with travel? Sorry, but to this observer this whole thing comes across as whiney. By all accounts on previous posts on your blog you’re well ahead of my family in many respects, and you’re lucky to have both parents in the picture. I didn’t have that luxury when I was left to raise a three-year-old on my own. I always enjoyed your writing, but this was a pointless post. Sorry but as a fan I have to call it like I see it.

  17. Sorry to hear about the “debacle”.
    My wife and I always go somewhere too for our anniversary. This year was the first we had to stay close to home as all our family was away. My best friend watched our daughter with his son and we stayed at the W fll. But it felt too short :/ didn’t enjoy much.

    Next year I’m getting a sky suite in saint Lucia for 3 days that’s on my bucket list of places to stay to relax.

  18. Mommy points, I have been married for over 19 years and let me tell you, this stuff happens. It is just a part of life. I think for me, that is why I like to blog about the fantastic trips that I have taken, it makes me forget some of the less fun trips I have taken in my life… or less fun hours of trips, because for me, these things are better forgotten! Which, by the way, just recently had a blow out in 2012 in Florence, Italy, of all places! It can happen anywhere, an hour away or a world away!

  19. Yep – happened last year for our 6th anniversary – for some reason, it took us a whole day and night of “the Grumpies” to start enjoying our anniversary. Thank goodness we had a long weekend.

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