Louisville: A Family Gateway to the South

Louisville: A Family Gateway to the South

Travel is a priority for our family.  It’s nice to be home and to have routines, but it doesn’t take long for us to move from settled to stir-crazy.  Our appetite for travel exceeds our finances.  But that doesn’t stop us.  It only makes us creative. That’s why it’s no longer crazy for us to think about sleeping on an air mattress at a church in Ireland for three weeks.  It’s this creative spirit that had us arriving at a little farm house just outside of Louisville for a week stay. A few years earlier I’d become acquainted with a very special family from Louisville.  I felt an instant connection with Jim, and my wife and I were about the same age as their older children.  While they lived in Louisville, they had a little farm about 20 minutes outside of the city which they often share with ministry leaders, missionaries home on furlough, and other special people .  Because my appetite for travel is unquenchable I asked if our family could use it for a week.  And because they are gracious people they agreed. After a long day of travel, it was almost 4 o’clock in the morning by the time we got to the farm.  Now we had to hope the gate codes and key codes worked to get into the house because I was not going to call our hosts at 4 in the morning.  We were in and we crashed. It took a few days to finally get adjusted.  Thankfully, the next morning our son was as tired as we were and slept late.  Around...
Family Trekking Through Amsterdam

Family Trekking Through Amsterdam

I’m Dutch.  Well, I’m 12th Generation American.  My family first set foot in the New World in 1662 and if you’re looking for a history of the Dutch Colony of New Netherland, later referred to as New York, one of my favorite books is “Island at the Center of the World”by Russell Shorto.  The Dutch influence on American culture is tremendous, but you wouldn’t know it because the victors (in this case the bloodly English) write history. I’ve long desired to travel back to my ancestral homeland.  Especially on those flights to London when you’re looking at the in-flight map on your little TV screen and it seems so close.  But visiting Amsterdam and traveling through the Netherlands has alluded me. I’m a travel guy.  Sure, I love the things you can only enjoy at home: my French Press Coffee, my own bed, and being around my friends.  But too much routine puts me in a rut.  Today I’m going on a mental escape.  And I have visions of cycling around Amsterdam. Amsterdam is known as the Venice of the North because of the long stretches of canals built during the 1600’s while the Dutch enjoyed global dominance.  Fortunately for us today, while the Dutch merchants were making money hand over fist Amsterdam invested big time in infrastructure and city planning. We love exploring a new city by bike and in Amsterdam we’d be right at home on our two-wheelers.  Reports say there are more than a half a million bikes in Amsterdam and there are more than 250 miles of dedicated bike paths and bike lanes in the...
Family Time in Our Nation’s Capital

Family Time in Our Nation’s Capital

Our Nation’s Capital.  I’ll admit to secretly desiring that in the shadow of some of America’s iconic structures that I could walk arm in arm with my wife and turn to her and say in a Forrest Gump accent, “I’m glad we were here together in our nation’s capitol.” But it didn’t happen.  We were on a family trip.  There were no romantic walks among the monuments.  But what we did experience together as a family was just as nice. Over the years I’ve spent a fair amount of time in DC on business.  Enough time to have my favorite establishments to grab a martini on the Hill and generally know my way around.  My wife and I had an amazing New Year’s Eve in Washington.  We knew going in that it was our last New Year’s without kids so we played it up and enjoyed it to the fullest. Even that trip was on the front end of a business trip.  Now I was here in DC with my kids and family–just here to enjoy our Nation’s Capitol like millions of other visitors each year.  What would I do?  How would my experience be different from every other visit here? We stayed just across the Potomac River in Arlington.  We were at the Virginian Suites Arlington.  Over 250 reviewers on Hotels.com give the Virginian Suites a 4.1 rating but I like to qualify all ratings. It’s a great hotel for families.  Large rooms with little nooks to place a Pack ‘n Play for your little one to sleep.  A kitchenette to prepare snacks for the kids and a...
Myrtle Beach: Gangsta Paradise

Myrtle Beach: Gangsta Paradise

It’s called a Family Trek for a reason.  The mention of trekking implies there’s adventure, a degree of uncertainty perhaps, and a malleable spirit that willingly agrees to go where the wind takes you. The wind took us to Myrtle Beach.  It was not in the plan.  Not when we woke up that morning.  Not when our family sat down for a Cracker Barrel lunch a few hours outside of Washington, D.C.  But there we were. Even as we drove into town the previous night we knew that Myrtle Beach was like nothing we’d ever experienced before.  We’re accustomed to beach towns.  We lived in Santa Barbara and had spent a fair amount of time over the years on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.  But there was something different about Myrtle Beach.  We could sense it as we drove into town the night before.  As the sun rose and shed light on our home away from home for the next few days our initial reaction was reinforced.  Maybe it’s because I’m white and I grew up in Indiana and I only know three rap songs–but I could not get that Coolio song–Gangsta Paradise–out of my head.  It was typical beach town.  T-shirt shops galore.  They sold all the usual fare–sunglasses, sunscreen, styrofoam coolers, flip-flops.  Yet they also sold switch blades.  Knives.  Scopes.  Silencers.  Brass Knuckles.  Gangsta Paradise. There was a little gangsta but plenty of paradise.  It was early May and the water was warm.  Bake in the sun for a while and take an occasional swim.  Just perfect.  Lifeguards start setting up early and when you are on your early...
My Adirondack Chair

My Adirondack Chair

I could be in my backyard in Santa Barbara, at the beach at Lake Tahoe, or sipping an umbrella drink in the Caribbean.  If you’re relaxing and having a good time with friends and family is there anything better than an Adirondack Chair? I want to go where to a place that has a lounge chair named after it. The world is big, time and resources are finite, and we’re still young.  Back in 2009 we almost made it to this Eastern US outdoor paradise.  But we didn’t.  Now we’re just teased by the thought of it as my wife and I sit by the fire at night talking about all of our yet to be taken trips. What amazed me when talking to my friends in the Western United States is how few people even knew about this place  They knew about the chair.  They’d just never realized the chair was named after a place. With over 6 million acres, the Adirondacks dwarf the more famous Yellowstone, which encompasses roughly 2.2 million acres.  The Adirondacks boast more than 3,000 lakes.  Yes, that’s right.  3,000. When I think about a family trip to Adirondacks I think about having a little cabin near a lake.  Not just a family rental–you know, the vacation rental you can find about anywhere that’s owned by a single family who uses it 4 weeks out of the year and rents it out the other 48.  I love taking advantage of the family cabin rental.  Moving into someone else’s house on a little getaway and having access to most of the house except for a...

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