Saturday, October 20, 2012

My Traveler Philosophy

Traveling with parents is always an interesting adventure.  The older you and your parents get, the more patience is required for everyone involved to survive.  This weekend is interesting because it's the first time all three of us, and their dog, are vacationing together for five days in Prescott, Arizona. Why?  Well, first of all, it's my step-dad, so we've only had him around for about ten years. I actually introduced him and my mother.  There are many days when I’m sure one or both of them would like to throttle me for that favor.  Anyway, I had two dogs until recently, and they have an elderly dog so one of us usually had to stay home for puppy-sitting. So it would be mom and “dad” going somewhere and I’d stay, or mom and I going somewhere and dad would stay.

My dad is like the caboose to Train Wreck #2. He doesn’t quite qualify to be his own train wreck, but he’s probably headed that way. They bicker quite a bit, which only reminds me of my grandparents, A LOT. But if I mention that, they get pissed off, so I usually try to keep the peace, stick up for whichever is the biggest victim at any given moment, or claim to be ‘Switzerland’ and leave while they work it out on their own.

This brings me to my Travel and Tourism Philosophy.  There are basically TWO kinds of travelers:  The first, are the people who want to go, go, go and see, see, see when they’re on vacation. They have insane itineraries that they can’t possibly fulfill with every, even slightly, interesting or historical site on their map. And that doesn’t include the slam-on-the-brakes stuff you see along the way. Those travelers are up at zero-dark-thirty a.m. to get the maximum amount of daylight for site-seeing. You roll in at night and crash hard, only to get up and do it again and again. You don’t care about make-up or how your hair looks really because who do you know and why do you care?  OK, maybe a little mascara and I’ll put my eyebrows on (I’m a ginger kid so they’re not there naturally) so I don’t look like I’m 12 years old. Bad weather will not stop these travelers unless it is the SITE itself that closes for it, and that’s a total bummer. If it comes down to it, it’s all for bragging rights:  Yep!  Been there, done that is really the most perfect saying for these travelers, not to mention our family motto.

The second kind of traveler, is the person that goes on vacation to relax and do nothing. These are the ones that don’t really want to move much, definitely don’t want an itinerary and couldn’t care less about historic sites or anything that doesn’t directly affect them or their hobbies… say golf (dad!), or something like that.  These folks are happy sitting in a beach chair or a hotel room and napping on and off.  This is the laidback traveler.

Now, in all honesty, these two kinds of travelers should probably never travel together because just by their descriptions above, they won’t mesh.  They will argue, bicker, pout, snarl and just generally ruin each other’s chances of a fun vacation. They will probably spend more of their vacations apart, doing what they want to do alone.

The Two Traveling Train Wrecks both fall into the first category. If you could have seen us in the UK and Europe and Canada, you wouldn’t believe the schedules we prepared and the frantic pace we kept everyday.  It took like six months to recuperate, but damn it was worth it!  Mom and I are the perfect traveling companions.  We are so much alike, and we love to stop for spontaneous or silly reasons, which makes it even better. An example would be last month when we were vacationing in Colorado and I wanted to do a zipline at the top of a mountain. My 64-year-old mother did the zipline WITH me.  I was so proud!

The caboose for Train Wreck #2 (aka Dad), falls into the second category.  I always smile when my mom comes back from a vacation with him.  She usually says something like, “I will NEVER go on another vacation with him!”  Then she starts planning the next trip.

My idea of a bad vacation would be on a cruise, which are mostly the Type 2 Traveler.
I’ve been on three cruises and was miserable on the last two (the first was a day cruise).  My parents love to cruise, and that makes up the majority of vacations they go on. I’m actually surprised my mother loves to cruise because you don’t have the freedom to do what you want, when and where you want.

Now, remember that I was raised in Florida, on all kinds of boats in all kinds of waters. So imagine my surprise when I went on a three-day cruise with mom to Mexico, and I discovered motion sickness! I was SO seasick, I could barely leave the cabin and our stupid porter couldn’t get a simple morning order of coffee and croissant to me each day.  He was too busy making animals out of my mom’s nightgown.  Too freaky.  I finally had to break down on the “at sea” day and go to the buffet to get some kind of food (it was stormy) and as soon as I saw the back of the ship going up and down on the horizon, I had to run to the railing. I must have been absolutely green because other people were clearing a path.

Truthfully, I am bored out of my mind on a cruise. Everyone seems to love it because there’s just SO much to do. Really?  Let’s see… casino costs money. Alcohol costs money. Massage costs money. Shopping costs money.  Bingo costs money. Excursions cost money AND you have to be on the ship’s schedule. You can’t just stop at anything interesting en route because you have no choice! Sometimes you have to pay to visit some of the restaurants as well. The term “all inclusive” should never be used in the same sentence as “cruise”, because it isn’t.

You can’t really enjoy the pool (I don’t do public pools) even if you wanted to because invariably, every other guest will have sent their miscreant kids to the pool to get rid of them.  Then those kids migrate over to the hot tub as well. My idea of hell on Earth would be a Disney cruise. Don’t get me wrong; I love Disney. I’m a grown-up Disney kid. But I do NOT like children! Really don’t. So putting me on a floating asylum with that many kids and no escape would be the worst.

Some of the shows are okay, but since I worked for Club Med and had to perform in some of those kinds of shows, I’m really not impressed.  Then add on the fact that I can’t go to the club for dancing (coordinationally challenged and on a rocking ship… uh, no.), and that pretty much leaves me with board games or playing trivia with other bored, uncoordinated guests in the lounge. Maybe karaoke on a really wild night.

This was a way longer blog post than I expected, but there were a few stray tangents I went off on, as usual. I’m curious to see how three of us share one car and a dog that has to go with us everywhere.  Prescott, fortunately, is very dog-friendly. Seriously, afternoon in the park is like the doggy social hour.  People don’t know each other’s names but know the names of all the dogs. LOL Everyone visits each other and sniffs for doggy postcards on every curb and shrub. Even many of the restaurants have patio seating so your pet can sit with you. Since we know how much I loved my fur-babies, that’s a big plus. 

I will update the blog when I get a chance as the weekend progresses and share whatever mischief one or all of us get into. I’m looking forward to checking out some of the cemeteries and hiking trails. Until then… signing off.

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