I think most of us would agree that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children are family experiences and traditions. In our family we have several traditions, and one of the unanimous favorites is our annual summer vacation to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Early on in our marriage, my husband, John, and I agreed that having a family summer vacation was a priority to us. We knew we needed some downtime from our hectic lives of working and raising three active children. Don't we all? In the early days we were still not sure what a summer vacation would like for our family. When we were still living in Seattle our limited vacation days were spent traveling back to the East Coast to visit with family and friends, but once we moved back to Massachusetts in 2000 we immediately set out to find the perfect vacation spot. We began in a friend's family-owned rustic, lakeside cabin in New Hampshire, before it was sold and rebuilt as large home. Next we unsuccessfully tried Vermont. That vacation was such a disaster that conversation of it is forbidden in our family - so please don't ask! The one positive outcome of that particular vacation was that we connected with a very dear college friend who urged us to rent her parents' cottage on Cape Cod the following summer. And so began our little love affair with the Cape.
Curlew Cottage in Eastham offered us a quiet respite from our normal busy routine. We fell in love with the tiny 2 bedroom, 1 bath cottage, just a short walk from First Encounter Beach. Always upon first arrival we breathed in the salty air and instantly felt the tension of our everyday lives melt away. Vacations when the the kids were young were hardly vacations at all, as anyone with young children knows. John and I worked non-stop preparing meals, changing diapers, applying sunscreen several times a day to ourselves and the kids, lugging sand toys and sandwiches to and from the beach, making sure everyone got bathed and fed and off to bed at a reasonable hour, much like at home just in a house half the size with less bathrooms and sand coating the floor. While those days spent at the beach were not exactly what I would call relaxing they were rejuvenating in their own way. Walking the beach at low tide, building sand castles and watching the kids happily become fish in the water was its own special kind of relaxation. Don't get me wrong, it was not perfect and some years were quite challenging. There was that infamous year when we arrived in a rainstorm to a cottage with a broken toilet. The distress we felt when the plumber informed us that the forecast was for rain through Thursday almost led us to turn the car around and head back to the Berkshires. And rain it did. It didn't just rain, it poured for 5 days, and on Friday, when the sun finally made its grand appearance we soaked it all in for all its worth.
Unfortunately several years ago Curlew Cottage was sold and it was time for us to look for a new vacation spot. The children, now teenagers, were crushed, their deeply rooted tradition of vacations on Cape Cod firmly cemented with the memories made at Curlew Cottage. As luck would have it, the same dear friend who connected us with Curlew directed us to new rental home, this time in Chatham. Curlew will always have a special place in our hearts, but in Chatham there is room for five pairs of adult-length legs to stretch, two bathrooms decreases arguments, and an even shorter walk to the small windy beach is a convenience we will gladly accept as we have traded in our large net bag of sand toys for two kayaks. The marsh full of local wildlife, located just outside our door, adds to my photographic and creative desires that only heighten when I have the chance to be away from home for a bit.
Our lives have only become busier which is why I am saying today, "better late than never" as I share these images from LAST summer's vacation, just in the nick of time, as we get ready to depart for Berkshire Bissells Take On Cape Cod - 2017. But first, 2016... Enjoy!
I'd love to hear about your family summer traditions and your journey to find a little peace and relaxation in your busy life!