Dreaming Big, Playing Local

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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.

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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?


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  1. Weekly Price: $7615


    Property type: Apartment
    Accommodates: 12
    Bedrooms: 4
    Bathrooms: 4

    The property is perfectly located adjacent to the Telluride Ski Resort with access via the Lower Village Bypass and a semi-private lift. Free wireless internet, a fitness center, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, a heated pool, and a sauna are all included as amenities at these luxurious accommodations.

  2. I love this so much – we just got back from 2 weeks in Jackson Hole and it was a big trip with lots of family and friends and was so memorable, for so many reasons. I am sort of struggling with this right now, we had been planning a big trip to Japan with both kids for next summer but as we add up the costs (even with miles/points/etc) I am wondering if it isn’t better to wait until they are older and save some money and do a bunch of smaller trips rather than one big one.

    And then I realize it is a nice problem to have 😉

  3. Summer I know exactly how you feel. We’ve been on 9 vacations this year and have Paris, San Juan, Niagara, & Destin, still on the books. It is tempting to jump on the SPG US Open seats or the softball game at Wrigley but sometimes regular schedules and the routine of life provide a good balance for the award trips. Learning to say no to a trip has been tough for me since points changed our lives.

  4. I love this. A few years ago I was in my mid 20’s, anxious, and worried I was doing enough to travel. I would dream and dream and dream about quitting my job and just traveling. Then one day, I made the phone call to American, and started playing around with a OneWorld Explorer ticket. Hours and several phone calls later, the itinerary on hold was emailed to me: LA to Honolulu to Tokyo to Hong Kong to Bali and on to Bangkok. Trains through Thailand and Malaysia, before ending in Singapore.

    A couple days later, I submitted my letter of resignation. My wife then girlfriend did the same. Stupid and irresponsible were perhaps the most polite words thrown our way. And we set off and not only had the journey of a lifetime, but the journey that convinced us both it was time to get married.

    That’s the best travel dream turned reality we ever got and we managed to sneak one more OneWorld Explorer plan in, around the holidays in December, that will take us back to Hong Kong and to South Africa and Doha before dropping in to Chicago to visit family. =)

  5. This is a great post. I was recently reading one of your reports and thinking that maybe you had lost your way. It seemed like you were doing more and more travel for the sake of travel. When you mentioned that your husband has only 2 weeks of leave, I was left feeling he must be absolutely exhausted by not having any down time, and the fact that you travel more and more with just your daughter can’t be good for family. Sounds like maybe you have been feeling the same way. My kids are very active in both winter (hockey) and summer (swim team) sports. Coupled with school schedules, it really curtails the amount of time we can travel. Yet we still managed to go on many great trips this year (and getting ready for a 2 week trip starting Saturday!) To me the family time and “normal” life for kids is far more important. My kids are so used to vacations now they don’t even seem special, which I actually see as a negative. I hope you can keep up the travel you love and keep a normal family life for your husband and daughter. Sounds like you are on the right path, and your Christmas idea sounds amazing!

  6. We live in New England and I don’t like to travel away from here in the summertime- it is an amazing place to be and the kids just love all we do locally! However I’m also dreaming of our next big trip- one that is really like to figure out how to use points for! It involves both sets of inlaws(at different times), an aunt and my husband, kids and and a chartered sailboat in the bahamas…I think the excitement of planning a big trip with extended family is part of the fun. When traveling all the time- which is great- routine is what you crave and it becomes special. Enjoy the break, embrace the routine until that itch to travel returns!

  7. That lagoon looks awesome!

    We went nowhere this summer. Instead, we mostly played in the neighborhood pool and at the park. My daughter starts kindergarten this year and I wanted to spend the summer having some local, cheap fun.

    We have a lot of travel scheduled for the next few months, some with the kids and some without. I am excited for all of it, plus my plans for 2015 which are still in the works!

  8. Lark, thanks for that! I’ve been drooling over lots of awesome options. Found one on VRBO that I really really want, but obviously no option to house anywhere near enough of us will be inexpensive during ski season.
    Andrea, loved following your trip on Instagram. We love Jackson, too!
    James, absolutely.
    Patrick, sometimes you can will dreams into reality. You only live once, so indeed make it the life you want. Glad that trip had such an impact on you two!
    Michelle, isn’t it just the best!
    Lynn, it will forever be a balancing act…especially as we are in the lucky position to have travel be more than just a hobby for us. I love my trips with just my kid (especially to coincide with when my husband is on a work trip anyway), but it can easily get to be too much. I’ve been doing better at turning down deals and trips we don’t really, really want, but we are in a unique position even beyond the uniqueness that miles already bring to the table. Hopefully we will stay on a mostly focused path. 😉
    Kristen, for sure!
    Holly, the lagoon was pretty special indeed. Sounds like you had an amazing summer and hurray for having fun trips on the horizon!

  9. Today is my birthday. I read this post a day or so ago, and just re-read it.

    Amazing. Lovely. Awesome. The Christmas part of the post brought tears to my eyes.

    Isn’t this why we travel? To love, to explore, to find magic that is in our world?

    I want to open up my photo albums and laugh at the silly clothes we wore in the 70’s. Find the 80’s yearbooks with the big hair! Remember fishing with Dad in Michigan, the cold Christmas in Kentucky, the crazy college days in N.Y.

    In other words, your story has brought to mind many, many great memories of loved ones near and far.

    Thank you. From the bottom of my heart to yours, thank you for truly reminding me what this whole travel thing is all about: being. Just being happy. Finding magic. Stopping and enjoying life both in personal moments and moments shared with others.

    I’m laughing and crying on the inside because as I re-read this posting, I just finished watching ‘Rhythm Abroad’ on PBS. There was a wonderful statement at the end about travel being an adventure that one must immerse onself in the experience. Sadly, I was too slow to copy it exactly down. I’m watching ‘Music Voyager’ now. Seems I can’t get away from travelling the world, if only thru my mind and imagination!

    This is why I am a fan of your blog. Why I value your opinion of places when I would discard others- because you get it. You get that fundamently we are human beings looking for the magic of life. It is to imagine; to share; to learn something new but treasuring what we have at home.

    Now, I’m going to go hug my mom.

    You don’t have to write or share about your life and travels. But I am so very glad that you do. Thank you.

  10. Icicle, first happy belated birthday. I hope your day was special yesterday – I know your comment helped make ours a bit more special.

    I’m so honored that this post sparked some magical memories of your own. As you said, you don’t have to read about our travels or share glimpses into your life, but I am very, very glad you did.

    Thank you for reading, and more importantly, thank you for sharing your own story.

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