This week I’m sharing fun vacation spots, remembrances, and mishaps… Since this blog is about the Stories of Our Lives, email me with your funny/memorable vacation story. I will select one to ‘re-tell’ it in the month of July – come on now, share those stores. (…

Favorite vacation spot: East Tennessee. The Smoky Mountains offer everything from the tourist trap fun of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to the pristine beauty of nature. There’s hiking, tubing down the river, blue grass festivals, biking, caving, river rafting, and my personal favorite: lightening bugs, also known as fireflies – I think it’s the last place in America where they are still in abundance.

My favorite vacation memories are with kids and camping. There’s nothing like being so far way from the city lights that you see a zillion stars at night. Kids, marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers go together like peanut butter and jelly. They can eat a ton of the gooey things and still go to bed without complaining because they were worn out from the fun of the day. Water has to be part of camping – either a lake, river, or campground pool – but it’s a must. The morning ritual of frying bacon on the camp stove is my favorite part, somehow it just smells yummier. Returning home everything we took with us smells like smoke, but that’s all part of it.

Since we’re on the subject of camping I’m reminded of the time my husband had a week long business meeting in Southern California, not too far from Santa Barbara. We lived in Northern California and thought it would be great for the three kids and I to drive down after the meeting and head to the coast to camp on the beach, something we had never done before. Everything was going great: the packing up, the drive, the potty breaks, the directions (long before gps). I was beaming when I picked up my husband.

Keep in mind we were tent campers during those days. Arriving mid-afternoon our first clue something might be wrong was when we pulled up to our assigned spot and ALL the other spots had RVs parked in them. We quickly discovered why: the wind was anything but mild. After several attempts to anchor the tent in the sand, we finally drug the heavy, wooden picnic table in to hold it down. I think we were the entertainment for the day as most watched from afar shaking their heads.

We made the best of it while playing on the beach before the sun set. Hungry now, we discovered it was too windy for the camp stove or a camp fire. That meant cold hot dogs, cold beans, and no smores. We told stories and went to bed early. Sometime in the wee hours I awoke hearing drip, drip, drip – apparently the dew at the coast was so heavy it was seeping through the tent – at least the wind had died down.

When morning arrived we surrendered, packed up, and headed home. Even so it was a memory we laughed about for years to come – too bad I didn’t get a picture of the picnic table in the tent!

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