St. Bernard’s Memories

St. Bernard’s Memories*

As I think back on all the places I’ve been in my life, those memories that strike the strongest chord often center around my childhood trips to Newfoundland.  I was born on The Rock, and moved to the States when very young.  Still, my family returned home every other year or so, giving me a cultural heritage almost unique in my adopted world.

Whether heard in the lyrics of a Simani song, or seen in reruns of Pigeon Inlet, Outport Newfoundland is never far from the thoughts of most Newfies.  A rich source of folklore and humor, the lives of those hardy fishermen and their families is now almost legend.

My own experiences of Outport Newfoundland were my childhood visits to St. Bernard’s in the late 60’s and early ‘70’s.  I apologize if my recall of that time and place, and the faces of those I knew, has faded with the years.  Any mistakes I’ve made here, in revisiting those times are, of course, my own.

 Harbor

My Grandmother was a Pope from Stone’s Cove (the Family’s last name, not the Pontiff).  Grave markers for generations of Popes can still be seen in Stone’s Cove.  It was Grandma’s generation that experienced the Resettlement first hand.  I grew up listening to the often confusing arguments about Joey Smallwood and the modernization of Newfoundland.

cousin, grandpa & grandma

All we knew as kids was that Grandma’s family lived in St. Bernard’s and that they moved from Stone’s Cove, which was abandoned by the time I went there.  We also knew the only way to see Stone’s Cove was to take a dory trip across the bay.

St. Bernard’s in those years was a 3 hour drive from St. John’s, where I was born and where we stayed (with relatives) when we visited Newfoundland.  The roads to St. Bernard’s were gravel, full of twists and turns.  I remember the rear wheels of our old Ford throwing rooster tails of dust behind us, as we drove to that small Town on the edge of the sea.

After passing through Jacques Fontaine (or Jack’s Fountain as we called it), we knew we were near the end of the trip.  It always felt good to shake the dust from the road and settle in with a cup of tea and toasted homemade bread at the end of those long drives.

 Dory

Once there, we parked in the grass near three clapboard houses at the end of a dirt road.  Grandma’s remaining family lived here, the homes roughly surrounding a wood pile of chips and an old sawhorse.  Aunts and Uncles, nieces and nephews, and more cousins than I can remember were there to greet us.

Among the first things I noticed were the strange accents of these distant relatives.  They thought I talked funny as well.  Growing up in the Midwest, I had barely a trace of St. John’s accent.  Except in school, when I mispronounced “route” or spelled “grey” wrong, no one would have guessed I was a Newfoundlander.

But here in St. Bernard’s, it was like learning a different language.  Words like lamwash and wharf soon became familiar*, sometimes spoken in the high-pitched voice my Uncle Dick would use when he yelled at us.  My cousins had trouble with my accent too, and laughed at my pronunciation when we talked about life in the States.

 Fishing St. Bernard's Harbor

I don’t think it took us too long to work out these differences.  Of course, telling my friends back home what my summers were like in Newfoundland was nearly impossible.  Even now, how hard it is to convey even a moment of my time spent in that strange and wonderful place.

My Brother, cousins, and I spent our days there wandering along unpaved streets,  throwing skippers into the ocean, or catching conners off the wharf using snails for bait.  Conner fish were spiny, slimy, and pretty unpleasant to deal with, hence the expression “sly (or slimy) as a conner.”*

One year we dammed the small creek that ran through the open field behind my Uncle’s house, making a pond for our sailboats.  Cranky as my old Uncle Dick was, he fashioned some firewood into model boats for us to launch.  I remember returning a few years later to find it all gone, with nothing left of the pond but the little creek and a few stones.

I also recall one summer making a sling shot from an old tree branch and some rubber bands I found, and using it to shoot small metal wires I shaped into a Vs.  I took it home and kept it for years.

During our visits, my Brother and I waited long days for dory rides from friends or relatives, who still kept their fishing boats in St. Bernard’s.  We’d wake each morning and run for a glimpse of the bay.  If the sea was heaving with whitecaps, we knew no boat trip would happen that day.

Harbor Work

The days we did get out were special.  The chugging of the flywheel as the dory made its way from the dock, ocean spray and the taste of salt on my lips, and the chop of even a mild sea as we left the cove, are all part of my love of the Maritimes.  We jigged for cod and squid (two completely different ways of fishing), and once stood on an 18’ shark that beached after getting tangled in fishing nets.  The smell was really something!

We also went to Stone’s Cove.  Even back then, it was mostly abandoned, with only a few fisherman’s cottages maintained for seasonal use.  After walking through the old Town, its homes facing the cold sea, we picnicked on salt crackers and butter before heading back out from the small harbor.

Of all those memories, perhaps the most precious are the people I knew back then.  My Uncle Dick, a rough seaman who’d survived a night clinging to his overturned boat, during a storm that took the life of his fishing partner.  Uncle Tom with his kind eyes, and my Aunts who knitted and made tea.  Even during the summer, my Uncles had to get up before sunrise each morning to chop wood that fed the iron stoves, which warmed their houses before we even got out of bed.

Margaret, a cousin of the family, lived in this small enclave, with her fisherman husband Leonard and a load of children (my cousins, although I’m still not certain of the exact relationship).  She was part Micmac*, and her oldest son Sam resembled a full blooded Algonkian Indian.  Her husband Leonard had a rare saltwater allergy, leaving his eyes constantly red and teary.  He drowned years later, walking back home one cold night.

Most of the rest have passed on as well.  These proud and independent people didn’t care much for modern medicine.  When your time came, you accepted it.  Most spent their final days at home among family, not in hospital beds at St. John’s Memorial.  I can’t fault them for it, nor for their lives of simple pleasures.

For them, Faith was a matter of concrete belief.  The old Catholic Church in town hosted community bingos and picnics, and on Sundays a traveling priest came in his modern outboard motorboat to say Mass.  The hymns we sang were familiar, although sometimes the words sounded a bit odd to my ear.

As I grew older, I tired of the monotony of Outport Newfoundland and St. Bernard’s.  My cousins were growing up and moving away, and there was little for a teenager to do.  Whenever we went, I soon longed to return to the excitement of St. John’s.

Desperate to get a television signal during one particularly long visit, my Brother and I spend a day running bare wire up a tall hill to an old antenna at the top.  The view of the ocean from there was spectacular, but in my haste to see if the TV worked, I didn’t linger long.  I can’t recall to this day if the picture was much improved.

Any tale of Outport Newfoundland must end on a melancholy note.  With little or no work to be found, the younger folks my age mostly moved away.  I lost track of all of my cousins, except for Sam, whom I’ve heard still lives in his father’s house.

Yet I can still see the old fishing nets clinging to rough picket fences, fading to strings in the sun, and the lines of little white boats bobbing in the bay.  Nothing lasts it’s true, but Outport Newfoundland lives mostly now in the memories of those who had the good fortune to experience it.  Like so many other transplanted Newfoundlanders, a large part of my character was formed out of that hard land by the side of the sea.

Pete Murphy                                                                May, 2015

*  This article originally appeared in the May, 2015 issue of Dowhhome Magazine, page 132.

*  A good review of Outport Newfoundland words and usage can be found in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:  www.heritage.nf.ca/dictionary

Orlando & Son

Orlando & Son

           My eldest child was two years old when I took him down to Orlando for the first time.  Father and Son, we got to spend a couple of weeks together in the summer of 1997.  It was a strange time for the both of us.

I had little money in those days, struggling in my practice after my law partner of four years had quit the business a few months before.  My 1991 Ford Mustang had certainly seen better days, but I didn’t have the funds to maintain it back then.  Airfare being beyond my modest budget, my Son and I set out from the south Chicago suburbs on a hot Saturday in early August.

Once on the freeway, the Mustang quickly developed a persistent vibration from an unbalanced tire, which really shook the car when it hit 60 mph.  It also lacked air conditioning and a reliable speedometer (although the aforementioned tire rattle indicated I was doing the speed limit).  To keep cool, we kept a large Coleman chest filled with ice cubes within reach in the back seat, and held the cubes to the backs of our necks during the hot afternoons on the road.

My Son was away from home with me for the first time, and I had all the concerns that come with being a single dad on his own:  from dealing with diapers to wondering what to feed the little guy.  But what we lacked in experience together we more than made up for in enthusiasm, learning from each other as we drove those long miles down to Florida.

I remember we talked a lot, but admit it was pretty one-sided.  At two, my co-pilot didn’t yet have much of a vocabulary.  Still, he could answer my basic questions about being hungry, thirsty, or car sick.  Somehow the communications must have broken down regarding the length of the drive, and his eyes filled with tears that first night, when we hadn’t made it to Orlando and instead stayed in a motel south of Atlanta.

Things improved when we drove into Orlando in the late afternoon the next day.  The sights of all those large neon-framed hotels and resorts along the I-4, not to mention the 3-D billboards showing popular park rides, picked up our spirits considerably.  In a short time, we were checked into our modest motel in Kissimmee and changing into swimsuits for the motel pool.

Unlike these days, when a trip to Orlando involves online booking of resort hotels, air, rental cars, theme park tickets, and even restaurant reservations and ride passes, I often “flew by the seat of my pants” in those years.  We checked into our motel without a reservation and paid cash for our first three nights, not certain we’d be able to stick it out longer.

The next morning, I grabbed a free coffee and local map in the motel lobby, and drove to Universal Studios.  After parking in their garage, I unloaded the umbrella stroller from the trunk and, putting a few snacks and diapers into the carrier underneath, headed toward the Park.  We only had to wait in a short line to pick up a multi-day ticket for me, and went inside without waiting in today’s lines for security checks or bag searches; and being only two, my Son didn’t need tickets, a savings I appreciated.

The Islands of Adventure theme park was still under construction that year, although a huge count-down hourglass was featured in the Preview Center, along with scenes of the coming attractions.  Islands looked like it was going to be a good time, and was indeed fun when we returned in later years, but on this trip Studios was all we hoped for and more.

Admittedly, some of the ride experiences at Studios were a bit intense for my Son; but he toughed it out, enjoying even Jaws, Earthquake: The Big One, and Terminator 2: 3-D.  The fun part for me was that my little guy very nearly believed a real shark was after our small boat in Amity Harbor, or that we were trapped underground for the Big One in San Francisco.

Back then as now, Universal Studios had some of the best rides in Orlando, a few even more exciting than their Disney cousins.  The animatronic King Kong was stunning in size and movement, dropping our tram at the height of his attack on Kongfrontation.  We barely made it out of the Big Apple, as a special news bulletin showed us on our in-tram television near the end of our ordeal.

Jaws was a bit reminiscent of the original ride in Hollywood, but had more of a storyline, which added several additional shark attacks, including one inside a dark boathouse.  To me, Jaws was both nostalgic and new at the same time.

Entering the subway car at the Embarcadero for my first ride on Earthquake: The Big One, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The pre-show presentations of Hollywood special effects had prepared us for a wild time, but when the underground fires exploded and a tanker truck started sliding towards our stricken subway tram, even I had to double check that we were still on the ride and not about to be its victims!  I’ve never been in an earthquake, but have no doubt it would have felt a lot like that ride (at least until the lights came back on and the subway scene reset itself).

As a fan of the Terminator series, Terminator 2: 3D was my favorite show at Universal.  We walked into the pre-show area to watch a sales pitch from Cyberdyne’s corporate shill, and were soon confronted by the specter of realistic cyborgs on a killing rampage.  Arnold, a.k.a. Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, eventually defeated the monster guardian of the cyborg production plant and destroyed it.  Humanity was safe from its own creations, but for how long?

Sadly, Jaws, Earthquake: The Big One, and Kongfrontation have since closed at Universal Studios in Orlando.  For those of us who enjoyed them, they fade only reluctantly from our memories.  Fortunately, we can still find video of these adventures online.  These images, while never quite the same, help us relive those original thrills.

Back in 1997, it was all new to us.  Still a toddler, my Son was worn out most afternoons by 3 p.m. or so, when we headed back to our motel for a dinner of fast food hamburgers and some pool time.

I’d brought with us a small bucket of soldiers for him to play with, and the local hamburger joint gave away mini car kits with their kids meals; so in the evenings, we’d line up the plastic army men to be run down by homemade Mad Max style vehicles.  Then it was off to bed before another day at the theme parks.

Our second day found us at Magic Kingdom, where I again purchased a multi-day pass, and soon was whisking him down Main Street.  I’d gotten pretty good at weaving the stroller through foot traffic, finding a place to park in the stroller lot and, taking my Son by the hand, sprinting to the closest ride queue.

We experienced most, if not all, of Disney World  and Universal Studios over the next several days.  From Peter Pan’s Flight and Snow White’s Scary Adventures at Magic Kingdom, through The Livings Seas and Spaceship Earth at EPCOT, to our last day at Universal and a repeat ride of Jaws and Kongfrontation, it seems we never stopped.

I suppose I tried to fit everything possible into this vacation, both to show him the fun of Orlando and because I wanted to relive my best times there.  Looking back now, maybe some of my enthusiasm was fueled by the desire to make it his best vacation ever.  During a time of change and challenge for both of us, I like to think I did pretty well.

We certainly managed to do a lot on that trip:  four days in Disney World and three days at Universal Studios, not including the four-day drive in the old Mustang and a couple of pool days at the motel in between.  I ended up extending our stay in Kissimmee for eight days, and the car made the 2200 mile round-trip without a problem.  All in, I probably spent less than twelve hundred dollars on the entire trip.

Those theme park rides and shows were their own particular slice of time, some gone now and some exactly the same as they were over 15 years ago.  That summer I shared my favorite experiences with my young Son, leavened with the endless explanations, opinions, and comments that most young dads are powerless to stop themselves from offering.

And if there were a few times outside the queue lines when I had to explain to him that the rides were not real and that we were never in any danger, the joy of surviving an attack from freaky ghosts, cyborgs, or a giant gorilla more than made up for it.  We grew closer over those summer days in Orlando, which I think was Walt’s original intent, and almost certainly the reason Universal Studios and Disney World succeed.  They not only bring out the child in all of us, but remain a unique lens through which we revisit our childhoods with our own children.

In my later years, I’ve slowed the “mad dash” to do everything on vacation, and learned to listen more when I talk with my younger kids.  I sometimes wonder which is the better approach to parenting, or if in the end it makes much of a difference.  My younger ones find a seasoned and considered Father most times, while my eldest Son often found the raw enthusiasm and energy of a much younger Dad.

I’ve been back to Orlando countless times since then:  with only my eldest; with him, my Wife and his younger siblings; and most recently with just my Wife and younger children.  Each new experience changes me and the members of my family, and I suppose I will never be quite the same person I was back in 1997.

Yet these days, I trust that our family vacations to Disney World and Universal Studios still manage to bring out the best Dad in me.  Walt would have understood.

Pete Murphy    April 2015

Cocoa Beach – The Space Coast

COCOA BEACH – THE SPACE COAST*

             It was a warm, cloudy morning when my family and I lifted off out of Midway onboard our 737, bound for Orlando International at the beginning of the Labor Day weekend.  We had reservations for Disney World later the following week, but our first stop would be Cocoa Beach.florida 4

After a half-hour wait at the rental car counter, we loaded up the luggage and were soon driving out of Orlando along the 528.  It’s a straight road most of the way to Cocoa, until it turns into part of the A1-A and heads out over the water on a pair of long causeways, just before you reach Port Canaveral.  There, the big cruise ships are almost always in port, loading up passengers for 3 and 4 day excursions into the Caribbean.

We followed A1-A south, and about an hour after leaving Orlando found our hotel.  As usual, we stayed at the Four Points Sheraton, just a couple of blocks from the beach in downtown Cocoa.

The Atlantic rollers on the Beach that afternoon were higher than I remembered from previous trips, but that made swimming and body surfing much more exciting.  Quite a few locals said it would be crowded this weekend, and I suppose it was; but, compared to an August weekend at Oak Street Beach in Chicago, it wasn’t that bad.

Florida 3

The shoreline at Cocoa Beach is impressive.  I felt I could walk for miles along the sand and not come to the end of it, and so visitors could really spread out.  The kids were soon lost to the waves and seashells, with my Wife tagging along behind to keep them from getting lost.

You could quickly pick out tourists like myself, painfully pale and liberally dosed with sun screen.  I envied those lucky residents who could hop in their cars, park for a few quarters in the meter, and head down to the sea whenever they felt like it.

After an afternoon in the sun and sand, we headed back to the Sheraton for some dinner and shopping.  The Cocoa Beach Surf Company makes up about half of the Hotel, and includes the Shark Pit Bar & Grill and a surf board rental shop.

I rented a body board the next morning, and we were back at the beach around 9 a.m., to soak up more rays and do some serious body boarding.  I’m the first to admit that I have no talent or skill in this area, but the couple of times I was able to ride a decent wave all the way into the shallows made all of my efforts worthwhile.  There’s a joy in it, that makes all those times getting knocked down seem less important.

We headed back to the Hotel when they closed the beach for half an hour around noon, due to a shark sighting, or so the lifeguard told me.  We grabbed lunch, and still had a long afternoon of fun in the sun before finally calling it a day.

Later that afternoon, after a short walk from the Hotel along a boardwalk near the beach, we stopped into Captain J’s, a bar and grill with upper deck seating overlooking the ocean.

Florida 2

Good food and service, the main attraction is watching the Disney, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean cruise ships as they head out to sea.  That Sunday night, the ships appeared in line heading southeast, and we watched as they sailed out of sight into the vast Atlantic.

Florida 5

I walked the beach alone that evening for the last time:  listening to the sound of the surf as they sky darkened, looking at the lights out to sea and those of the resorts on land, and enjoying my solitude among the last few beach combers.

The Moon was quarter full when it appeared that evening, and almost directly overhead.  I could almost feel the presence of those astronauts who left from nearby Cape Canaveral on their Moon missions.  Did Collins, Aldrin, or even Armstrong walk these sands, looking up at this same Moon mere days before they walked on it for the first time?  I could well imagine them here.

Toward the end of the evening, I spotted a couple of old men in front of a lopsided tent, enjoying a few beers as the sun set.  As they talked, joked, and reminisced, I wondered if they might have the right of it, just sitting there on the beach in Florida without an apparent care in the world.

florida 1

Maybe this lifestyle would grow routine, but I saw a lot of enthusiasm on the faces of the surf boarders, skim boarders, and body boarders – old and young alike.  I wondered what it would be like to live out the lyrics of those old Beach Boys songs, if even for a little while.

I would be driving to Orlando and Disney World the next day, and I knew, in the back of my mind, that my law practice in cold Chicago was waiting for me when I got back home.  But part of me waits on that beach, walking the sand, watching the sun set and listening to the waves.  And maybe having that cold beer.

*  this article appeared as “Cocoa Beach Reflections” in the November 2014 issue of The Beachside Resident, page 17.  The Beachside Resident web page can be found @:

http://www.thebeachsideresident.com

 

Pete Murphy                                          January 2015

 

Wisconsin Dells: Traditional Family Fun

Wisconsin Dells is one of my family’s favorite vacation places.  Close to our home in Chicago’s south suburbs, and with plenty to offer kids and parents alike, it’s a great place to spend a long weekend or part of a week’s vacation.

We took the drive up in mid-April this year.  My children, ages 7 and 11, were off school on Easter break, and my Wife and I had managed to schedule a few vacation days to take them.  As is tradition on our family vacations, we surprised the kids on the morning we left with the good news.  They knew we were going soon, but keeping the actual date secret meant a good night’s sleep (theoretically) for all involved.  The next morning, we ran for a quick breakfast, then plopped the kids in the backseat of my big Chrysler for the drive up north.

The journey to the Dells continues to be a bit of a challenge, with construction on most of I-90 North (the Jane Addams) from the Rockford exit to near the State Line (40 miles or so).  It probably added half an hour to our 3 ½ hour trip this year, but when the project is finished in 2016 it could well reduce travel time to less than 3 hours.

The first thing you notice on exiting onto Highway 12 in the Dells is the truly huge funnel structure that makes up part of the Howlin’ Tornado at Great Wolf Lodge.  Seeing the funnel always excites the backseat crew, since Great Wolf is our usual destination when we go to Wisconsin.

 

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Check-in at Great Wolf is typically a painless experience, then it’s off to drop the suitcases, change into swimsuits, and run down to the water parks.  We spent nearly all of our first day swimming.  It was still pretty chilly outside when we left home, so the indoor water parks at Great Wolf were really the only chance we’d have to get wet this early in the Spring.

Seeing the massive bucket dump at the Fort Mackenzie park for the first time is something I’ll never forget, and watching it now is like reading a “welcome back” sign.  Great Wolf keeps the queue lines down, and the crowds to a minimum, by allowing only resort guests and their visitors into their water parks.  This excellent policy means our kids can ride the water slides till they wear out, but also requires frequent long climbs up the staircases of the tallest rides for Mom and Dad, the latter often carrying whatever inflatable tube the ride requires.

Everyone loves Slap Tail Pond, the indoor wave pool that’s the largest in the indoor water parks.  The sound of wolves howling (I assume it’s electronic) announces the start of the wave action every 15 minutes or so, and with waves up to three feet high, it’s fun to body surf into the shallows.  A word of caution:  the pool bottom in the shallow beach area is a bit rough, and sliding along on your bare stomach or back could mean a few souvenir scratches to take home.  On this trip, we got to watch a practice rescue by the guards in the wave pool.  I was impressed how quickly they shut down the waves and got to the “drowning” teen, if not by his acting skills.

Resort service is really above average, with an attentive and professional staff, life guards everywhere, and a good selection of reasonably priced food.  Hotdogs and fries at the water parks is a fun treat between swims, and there are plenty of restaurants with kid-friendly menus in the vicinity of the resort.

I’ve been going to the Dells since I was younger than my kids, and many of the attractions I remember are still there, if somewhat updated.  The Wisconsin Ducks, though, remain closest to my earliest memories of them.  We took the Ducks’ tour on the chilly morning of our second day there.

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The Ducks don’t run as often early in the season as during the summer months, about every couple of hours depending on how many people are waiting to ride.  We were the last to enter a full boat, and it was nice to be surrounded by other warm bodied mammals as we began our trip through the forests.

I really respect the young people who drive and narrate these tours, learning the numerous gears and handling these 60-year-old, 8-ton monsters safely, all the while keeping things light and fresh with continual banter.  Admittedly, most of the jokes sound the same from one tour to the next, and having a sense of humor about the Chicago Bears is pretty much expected of passengers, but the views are spectacular and entering the water from any type of wheeled vehicle is a novel experience.  It was windy and cold on the Wisconsin River, but well worth the discomfort to see the Baby Grand and Hawk’s Bill rock formations along the tall banks.

 

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The campy jokes of the drivers always remind me of similar comedy bits I’ve heard on Disney’s Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom in Florida:  “Remember, if you have small children, please keep them ….”  [pause for laughter].

The hour tour was soon over, and with a last look at Duck Dock we drove the short distance back to Great Wolf.  There are literally dozens of other attractions in the Dells, including power boat runs on the rivers and lakes, water shows, and numerous exhibits.  This trip, though, we kept to the Ducks’ tour, our resort area, and a few restaurant meals. Another couple of hours of swimming followed by pizza in our room rounded out the second day of our trip.

Once again on this visit, the kids talked us into buying the resort’s Paw Passes, giving them access to MagiQuest along with stuffed animals, candy, and other treats.  They’re a good deal if you plan on buying a few souvenirs anyhow, and MagiQuest is fun for kids, if only for the 4-storey playground they get to explore.  Aside from several more hours of water park time, our third (and last) day there also included a stop at MagiQuest and a visit to Tanger Outlet Mall, both within walking distance of Great Wolf.

I don’t often advocate a shopping excursion during vacations, but on this occasion it was a good break from all the water activities.  Tanger has some top notch places to shop, and prices well below anything I’ve seen online or at our local malls.  I figured we had enough trunk space to carry some extra packages, and so for a couple of hours picked through clothing and toys to find a few things we normally wouldn’t have bought, but could use at home.

We had dinner our last night in the Dells at Buffalo Phil’s, literally located just a short walk across our resort parking lot.  It has the unique feature of delivering your food by train, so has become a “must stop” for our kids.  When not running burgers and homemade root-beers out to waiting customers, look for the train to pass by with stuffed animals or toy vehicles aboard.  So long as the kids on the neighboring tables don’t make a grab for your food (or the engine), table service via model train is a fun way to enjoy a meal.

I guess the last night of a vacation is a mixed blessing for any family.  The sadness of leaving is hard on young minds.  I take the band-aid approach:  get it over with quickly to reduce the pain.  Having packed most of our stuff the night before, the next morning we were only a few doughnuts and a couple of coffees away from the drive back.  We had a somewhat longer trip back, again due to road construction, but made it home in the early afternoon to unpack and unwind.  The kids were happy to be off another week on school break.  Their Mom and I, not so much, but we returned to our jobs with the kind of memories that make long afternoons at work quite a bit more tolerable.

And reading my emails the next morning, I guess I wasn’t surprised to see one from Great Wolf Lodge, asking when I planned on coming back.  Maybe in the Fall?

I just won’t tell the kids yet.

 

 

– Pete Murphy                May 2014