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An oxymoron called ‘family vacation’

When the county in which one lives annually takes top rankings as a travel destination, it’s hard to wonder why any of us would want to leave. Yet, every summer, flights are booked, trailers are hitched and real life is packed and stowed, a ritual charade of alleged fun and frivolity called “family vacation.”

Has no one noticed the very term is an oxymoron? In my limited experience as a husband and father to a single 5-year-old, I’m a relative neophyte when it comes to familial travel. A week here, a weekend there – I’ve only ever attempted family vacations in small doses. Then I tried two weeks, which proved the metaphysical equivalent of having my stomach pumped.

Coming, as it did, on the heels of a birthday, I’m not sure what made me greyer. After two weeks on the road visiting allegedly idyllic spots along California’s central coast, my hairline has been frosted with a striking lack of pigmentation.

I was laboring under the misapprehension that one is supposed to be rejuvenated by vacation – emphasis on the “juven,” from the Latin for “young.” Instead, I’m older, poorer, my wife won’t talk to me and my son keeps expressing astonishment at my sudden old age.

I blame it on the camping, which, for me, amounted to a miserable couple of weeks of digital deprivation fraught with familial fracas and the persistent feeling that I’ve made terrible choices in my life. I endured by fantasizing that Big Foot might appear to put me out of my misery, or least bring me a decent cup of coffee.


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