I'm down in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, on possibly one of my last vacations spent with my whole family. It's one of those realities of growing up, where lives get busy, jobs get demanding, and it becomes more and more difficult to arrange time off to go on a traditional family vacation, at least in the ways my family spends it.
Some things never change, like the overstuffed green van that waddles down the high way for 10 hours with 2 boats on top and a bike rack full of bikes hanging off the back. This is how we've traveled for summers upon summers, bored children and weary parents trying to survive drives of almost 10 hours. But, this is how we rolled, where as other parents flew their families down to Disneyland or drove a mere 2 hours to "down the shore" in their own state. They stay in hotels and beach houses, we've camped up and down the east coast.
This is one of the rare trips where we are not camping, but sharing a beach house with the majority of my mom's side of the family. We haven't had a trip like this in 14 years (and 15 years since we've been in the Outer Banks). We were actually set to meet up in the Outer Banks last summer but our attempts were thwarted by Hurricane Irene washing away huge chunks of Highway 12, the main highway connecting the Outer Banks islands.
Being older, more aware and conscious, has revealed some interesting observations about my family. We're all adults now. My brother turning 18 means cursing is kinda okay, I hear my aunts and uncles interact in a more authentic way then what my censored younger self heard. I grew up in a bubble where for the most part, all of the adults in my life were perfect. They truly are your role models, and I have some amazing ones. I've noticed that for the most part, the women in my mom's side of the family have married gentle men. They care, are responsible, crack jokes, but are never crude, rude, or angry. And the women in my family are amazingly active; running, playing tennis, kayaking, bicycling, they do it all. It's not to discount the men in the family though, they are equally as active. I'm also seeing as adults, mistakes are still made, the process of learning and growing up does not stop at a pre-ordained date or time. It's a humble reminder that life truly is a journey.