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Here in the dog days of summer as they are called, we have been home for several weeks running just staying busy locally and enjoying the variety of activities that summer has to offer. In late July we aren’t yet tethered to the rigor of a school schedule, the days are long, the nights are short, the water is warm, and the child’s energy is almost boundless – somehow despite the 100+ temperatures.
Being home for a while has allowed us to reconnect with friends and explore some local activities that we sometimes miss when our attentions are turned toward other destinations further from home. Being home for a while is good not only because you can explore and appreciate the places around you, but because it gives you time to reflect on where you have been, and where you want to go.
I want to spend a little bit of time on both of those issues, even if it may just serve to clear my own mind. They may seem to be two unrelated topics, but for me they are very intertwine.
Swimming in the Blue Lagoon in Huntsville:
First, if you are in the Houston area and have the itch to explore an hour or so north toward Huntsville, a spot not to be missed is the Blue Lagoon. We just went with friends for the first time this morning and really loved it. This place has warm, calm, clear, blue water and caters to divers and SCUBA instruction, but it does permit a limited number of regular old swimmers as well. Be warned, there are kinda steep entrance fees considered it is just a place to swim in the middle of nowhere, but that also helps to keep the place very calm and not at all crowded.
Whether you want to SCUBA or just swim in a beautiful spot with your family, this can make for a memorable outing that makes you forget you are even in East Texas! This was seriously a gem find that not everyone visits, or even knows about. Check out their website if you are interested and be ready to arrive before they open to line up for a spot. During the weekdays it doesn’t seem to be too hard to get a spot, but the weekends are apparently a different situation for non-divers.
Where to Next:
Second, what has been on my mind a lot as we have had several weeks at home is where we really want to go next. Sure we already have multiple future trips on the books, but I have been making more selective decisions about where we want to go, and not just jumping on some of the crazy low sales or great bargains that run across my Twitter feed. There is a time and a place for jumping on a deal just because it is a deal, but I’m not really in that place right now. More importantly, our family just isn’t in that place right now.
Outside of work commitments, I either want to go somewhere because we really want to go there, or we just want to be home making smoothies, swimming, and enjoying a normal(ish) schedule. I don’t want us, or especially my kid, to miss out on a good grounded life here in our community for the sake of always being somewhere else. It’s a balance I will never totally master, but I am trying to not book trips that we don’t really, really want to take. Given that we are genuinely looking forward to everything we have planned, I think we are doing okay.
This has all led to me thinking harder about where we want to go, and ultimately I realized the next “big” trip I want to plan isn’t big because it is to somewhere far away, or involves a complex award booking, or anything of that nature. It is big because I want a bunch of our family members to be there. Planning a big trip involving lots of people is far more difficult than planning a journey for yourself to many different countries or destinations. Far more difficult.
What I really want is a Christmas Eve in a big house with my dad’s family in Telluride. Don’t get me wrong, I love all sides of my family equally, but the magic of Christmas and Colorado is firmly connected with that side of the family. Telluride specifically is a special place for all of us.
What I want is the smell of Christmas cookies baking in the kitchen. The sound of Christmas carols from the piano, or at least from Pandora. Mix-matched stockings from all the cousins and second cousins stashed all over the living room. Giggles of 3, 4, 5, and 6 year olds who can’t wait for Santa to come the next morning. Hearty laughs from the parents and grandparents remembering the wonderful Christmases from a generation or two ago. The magic of knowing, as it is happening, that spending a night like that together in a place so special to all of us will not ever be forgotten, or likely recreated. And if we are lucky, really lucky, maybe through the huge glass windows of the grand house we could some white snow falling to dust the ground like a freshly laid out set for our Christmas morning to unfold.
Of course there would be skiing, sledding, snowman building, snowmobiling and more to fill the days. That would all be fun, but it would also all be secondary to the magic that would be created in the grand rented house, on the grandest of weeks, in the most special of places. Christmas presents would take a backseat to Christmas memories.
I want that more than Australia, over water villas, lie flat seats, passport stamps, deluxe room service breakfasts, sightseeing, you name it. Of course, just because I want it doesn’t mean I can have it. I can make all the above listed things happen, but getting a group of people to go anywhere at the same time is hard (and expensive). Getting a select group together during the holidays when everyone is usually pulled in several directions is harder. Maybe too hard. Maybe too expensive. I’m okay knowing things may not fall in a way that makes it possible, but I’m nowhere close to giving up this travel dream because it is bigger than just a travel dream.
I can’t just sign up for a credit card or two and have the miles to make it real, but I’m going to wallow in the idea a bit longer and imagine how good it could be. I’m going to smile knowing how excited my grandparents would have been knowing that we are all at least even considering making it a reality.
In the meantime we are going to keep playing local, but dreaming big.
What travel dreams are making you smile? Have you ever been able to turn a travel dream into a travel reality?