Vacation Do’s and Dont’s


My mental checklist of what we did this year, to better prepare me for next.

DO … book at least four nights. Three is just to short. Five maybe a bit long long. Four is Little Red Riding Hood on the third bowl.

DON’T … depend on Travelocity-like sites to find a deal. We booked a sweet stay – 2BR, 2BA, kitchen, balcony, indoor/outdoor/beachfront polls, two free breakfasts, all for $99 a night – and found it only through the resort’s website.

We stayed at Ocean Creek a couple years ago, so we knew to check there. The third day of the vacation turned unexpectedly into a day of rest. The teens slept most of the day, and the wife never touched water. Just the Gs and I did the surf and pool.

DO … bring a wagon. Cause nothing makes lugging a cooler, towels, blankets, sand toys and buckets across burning sands as easy as four wheels.

DON’T … worry about beach chairs. We never had time to sit, or opportunity.

DO … get some beach shoes for the little ones. While canvassing for shells in shallow water Big G sliced one foot up proper like – two gashes, four puncture wounds and many scratches.

DON’T … rely on the honesty of strangers. The wife had a pair of flopflops jacked while walking the beach. They were cheapies, but still …

It was an unwritten rule, thou shalt not take beach shoes that shant belong to you. I was seriously surprised someone would steal a pair, especially since my overgrown sandals were on top of them. And man was that beach hot at noon. Footwear was a flame-retardant.

DO … hit water at least twice a day. What the point of being at the beach if you’re not wet?

DON’T … turn on the TV. You’re not missing a thing. Seriously.

nazDO … double-date vacation when you can. Some friends stayed a night at the same resort and it was a highlight of the year! Good friends make a great vacation even better.

DON’T … ever let a chance to make friends pass you by. Even when it’s awkward.

Our first evening there, I was in the kiddie pool with Gavin. A mom and her son were there too. We began chatting. Meanwhile, my wife and her husband were in the big pool with the other kids. (They had a daughter). At one point Gavin and the lil one left the small pool for the big. We continued to chat. It was 10 minutes before I noticed me and the mom were still in the kiddie pool .. alone. Watching our spouses play with the kids. Uhhhhhhh .. guess I better leave now.

DO … stock the room with bread, lunch meat, cereal, milk and juice. Nothing more really needed.

DON’T … forget the sunscreen. Just make sure you didn’t buy it during the Clinton years. And have more than one tube. Just in case.

We still spent more money than we should have. More than $100 on food, primarily for a cookout Monday with hamburgers, hotdogs and dessert. Was still better than hitting a drive-thru or checking a menu twice a day.

DO … take photos. Lots and lots of photos. These are the prints you’ll want to revisit when you’re 75 and realize how young and fit you were, even when you really weren’t.

DON’T … forget the video setting on the cell phone, darn it.gavhat

And when I did remember to take video with the phone, I didn’t pay attention to the screen. My finger snuck into shots several times. I blame the sun.

DO … take time to get the kids souvenirs, even if it is something as simple as a hermit crab shell with Spider-Man painted on it. They will treasure it.

DON’T … allow the kids to take anything .. a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g .. into a store you can’t live without. Only the lucky find the lost again.

Brief scare. Gabby lost her bear blankie on the day we left. Or so I thought. She had it in a store, then later I saw no sign of it. I figured it lost. The next morning she asked about it, saying she’d left it by her bed when she went to sleep and now couldn’t find it. Later when cleaning out the van I found it lodged UNDER her booster seat. I have no idea how that happened.

DO … always pack for both the beach AND pool. Odds are you’re going from one to the other anyway, so why worry about a room stopover to resupply.

DON’T … take the trolley. Just walk. You need some exercise, after all.

DO … know what’s around you. Restaurants, thrift stores, tourist traps and fun stuff. It’s always nice to have non-beach options, just in case.

DON’T … plan too much. Go with the flow. Keep in mind what’s possible, but don’t schedule it. There’s an amusement park down the road. Get to it, when you want to.
DO … find a place you like, and stay with it. We were at Ocean Creek two years ago, but thought maybe somewhere else would be better. It wasn’t, not by a long shot.

DON’T … worry too much about the room anyway. You’re on vacation! Stay away from it! Sleep, eat, potty – that’s all it should be used for.

Over the course of five days, I spent maybe five waking hours in that room. Which is how it should be.


A tale of two sittings

Gabby, the Teen, and the Teen’s friend on the Himalaya. This was taken in mid-ride, as they flew by. Note, Gabby is estatic.

One night of the beach vacation was dedicated to Family Kingdom, the big amusement park just off the strip. It illustrated the great divide between the Gs. There’s Gabby the Daredevil! And Gavin the Darenot!

First up, as soon as we arrived, Gabby joined the Teen and the Teen’s friend in line for the Himalaya. Gabby rode this last year too, and it was love at first whip. And she loved it again.

When the ride was over, Gabby exclaimed, “I wanna ride it again!” Instead she went with the teens on a couple other thrills. She never cried. Never wanted it to stop. Never wanted it to end. Meanwhile, Gavin was taking in much less grand rides. For instance, he drove a car.


He loved that! Next, he saw a canoe ride. “Dad! Dad! I wanna do this!” he pleaded. I told him to wait for Sissy, who also loved this ride last year. When she arrived, they both got in line and got their very own boat. They both climbed in excitedly! The attendant pushed them off! And within two seconds of calm, clear, comforting canoe canoodling …


NOT a happy camper. He disembarked ASAP. But Gabby finished, in her own style.


Later I got Gavin on the Merry-Go-Round. Again, he wasn’t too hip. He didn’t want to ride any of the horses. He only wanted the carriage. So we got in. He looked around. Didn’t like that either. Not the front seat. He wanted the back. So one step closer to a sense of security. And speaking as someone forever scarred by riding Space Mountain before he was ready (fourish and SCREAMING!), I made no issue of the horsie hesitation.


Later, the Gs joined their cousin for a firetruck ride. It was a green firetruck, so of course Gavin LOVED it.


Overexposed on the surf


This is from our last day at the beach, and I have no idea what happened. Me thinks my film was overexposed, or very old, or maybe my camera just decided to go bonkers for 24 straight shots. Either way, I’m not sure whether to be upset or pleased. I kinda like that effect.


Buckets of fun


I’m convinced, she was meant to be a mermaid. Before this photo was taken, Gabby was offered a hand-me-down fish, which she of course took. It was about four to five inches long, and she had it in her yellow bucket.

According to the fish-handee, his little girl was given it by a little boy was was leaving the beach. Now he himself was leaving, and was wanting to pass it on. After showing it off to both family, friends and strangers for about 15 minutes, Gabby did what any mermaid would so – she released the fish back to the sea. Even the strangers congratulated her on her wise choice.