The Perfect Vacation: Plan and Be Flexible

The Perfect Vacation

How Great Thou Art!


In the previous post, Planning the PERFECT Vacation, you saw in our sketchy timeline that we had a four-hour drive from the airport to our destination. However, it was along one of the most beautiful highways in California, so it was painless—it actually contributed to the perfection.

First Sighting

As we entered “Redwood country,” I saw a sign for the “Drive-thru Tree” park. This novelty has long been the icon of the Redwoods in my mind, as a friend had shown me pictures of this when she visited there years ago. I had to see this firsthand. Steve pulled off the interstate and we wound our way into the forest—and were we in awe!

Immediately, the giants (the trees, that is) cast a shadow over the area, more or less blocking the sun from view. We simply could not stay in the car. Steve pulled over, and we all hopped out. Other cars drove past us, heading to the “hole in the tree,” but we had to get amongst the trees—immediately.

We each experienced this moment together and yet in our own unique ways. Steve took pictures, Hudson climbed trees, and I gazed–in awe.


Hudson experiencing it his way


I took a few pictures with my iPhone to somehow try to capture the moment for me. I posted the picture above on Facebook with the caption: “This pic doesn’t do justice, but I still like. I was overcome with the desire to burst out with ‘How Great Thou Art.’”


Capturing the moment


After about 15 minutes, we got back in the car, drove to the Drive-thru Tree, snapped a picture and then continued on. I’m glad I saw the Drive-thru Tree—like I said, it is an icon in my mind—but it was nothing compared to my first impression of just driving into that magnificent forest.

The Beach

After the drive-through-the-tree, we went to the race registration site to pick up our race packets and then headed to our hotel another 30 minutes north. By the time we checked into our room, it was late afternoon. We unpacked (this was going to be home for three days) and then found a nice local restaurant and had dinner.

After dinner, there was still a couple of hours of daylight left, so we decided to preview one of Hud’s climbing places (“climbing day” was scheduled for Monday). Steve checked the map, and we headed to Moonstone Beach which was only about 15 minutes away. Little did I know the beauty that awaited us.

In the last post, I confessed that I had not reviewed the climbing sites that Hudson had chosen. This was his special part of the trip, and I knew I would enjoy watching him climb, but to look at a picture of a climbing rock—well, I figured one climbing boulder wouldn’t look any different than another, so I just planned to see it in person when the time came, and I left it at that.

Imagine my surprise when we arrived at this!Moonstone Beach


Looking for the masterpiece

Steve gathered up his camera and tripod and took off looking for “the masterpiece.” Hudson hurried to one of the boulders on the beach and started climbing. After conquering the first in short order, he moved on to another. I followed him around enjoying the beauty of the area, the hypnotic sounds of the ocean surf, the smell of the clean sea air, the warmth of the sun on my skin combined with the ocean breeze blowing through my hair, the sand between my toes… It filled up my senses.

When it started getting dusky (a favorite time of day for Steve to take pictures), we had the beach to ourselves. The beauty was breathtaking. The deep sense of contentment I felt as I sat in the sand watching Hudson climb and Steve in the distance exploring, setting up, moving on—it was indescribable.

SteveTakingPics2  HudClimbingBoulderHudSilhouette

And to think, for me, all this was a BONUS! I was expecting big climbing rocks, but I had no idea the beauty that would surround them!


1. Stop and smell the roses. I don’t recall seeing any roses on this trip, but the principle still applies. We had to drive a little out of our way to see the Drive-thru Tree novelty. It took about 30 minutes of our time, and it only cost $5 (entrance fee). But it was memorable first impression.

2. Be flexible. I’ll comment on this idea more in the next post, but I want to mention it here. I think schedules and deadlines should be very minimal on a vacation. A “skeleton” timeline, such as I prepared to guide us day to day, is necessary to make sure you do everything you want to do, but too much planning and schedule-making kills the spirit of rest and relaxation. Our impromptu visit to Moonstone Beach that first evening wasn’t on our schedule, but it turned out to be a highlight of our trip. Thanks to Hudson!

*All pictures taken with my iPhone camera. Amazing, huh?

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2 Responses to The Perfect Vacation: Plan and Be Flexible

  1. Kristi Butler says:

    Diane ~ I have loved reading your new posts. It makes me think of my childhood when my grandpa took us places. (McDonald’s was a treat! ) He took by brother more after my grandma passed away. But I cherish the memories I have of our time spent together. It also gives me another little something to look forward to, even with our boys, to do those little things together that make the moments count. Thanks Diane. ~ Kristi

    • Diane says:

      Thanks for the comment, Kristi! I agree; no need to wait till your a grandparent before building memories with the kids. Might as well start while still a parent! 🙂

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