In the science of happiness, it has been demonstrated that creating enjoyable and memorable experiences keeps us happy into our old age way better than spending money on stuff. I'm all about creating excellent experiences. Jenn and I went to Paris last October and the boys stayed with their aunt and uncle at home. Summer is our time for all of us, and when it's a family vacation, we gear activities toward what we think our 9 and 11 year old sons will enjoy. That leaves out a lot of stuff -- most museums, lots of walking in hot cities. Come to think of it, my tastes tend to skew the same way. They also aren't keen on taking many hours to get there, wherever there is.
To maximize everyone's potential for a good time, we decided to stay sort-of local for our vacation this year. We are less than 2 hours from home, but other than the travel time being brief, we might as well be a thousand miles away from our suburban Philadelphia home. Our vacation strategy? Go far enough away that we don't have to call it a "stay-cation," skip the plane fare for a family of four, go during the week to avoid the crowds, and stay away from checking work email at least 90% of the time.
Our destination? Jim Thorpe, PA, population 4,774. Why? Rafting, biking on converted railways, excellent state parks, caverns an hour away (in case it rains), and a waterpark not too far to cap off the trip.
As always, we are staying at a place with at least minimal food storage and prep facilities. We nearly rented a house through VRBO.com, but because of an iffy forecast, we decided instead on a Hampton Suites because of the indoor pool in case we get rained in. I packed accordingly and, at least until the refrigerator got overly excited and froze all my vegetables, I was in pretty good shape. Breakfast is included with the hotel, so when I don't want to have my protein shake in the blender I brought, I am enjoying fruit and individually packaged yogurts. I packed lunches for our two day-long outings so far: Salad during our rafting lunch stop, PB&J on an Udi's bagel for our 15 mile bike ride. I have plenty of snacks on hand too -- homemade oaty protein bars, granola circles, gf Oreos from Trader Joe's, Xocai healthy dark chocolate, veggies and hummus, raisins, trail mix, etc. A couple of shops in town have boasted gluten-free ice cream and desserts. We have spotted a couple of places in town through Urban Spoon that sound like they can accommodate a gluten free dinner, but so far we've not had a big dinner out. Jenn and the boys have been happy with pizza or sandwiches by the pool while I have eaten provisions I brought. Maybe we'll venture out for dinner tomorrow. Maybe not. Doesn't matter really.
It doesn't matter because I didn't come to Jim Thorpe for the food. My main goal is to stay healthy and unglutened so that I can enjoy the journey of making happy memories. We chose to stay in this small town in Pennsylvania for the opportunities for family fun and adventure. So far, so good. I know that the memories of our excursions together will far outlast any recollection of meals eaten or not eaten, as the case may be.