Sometimes you need a post-vacation vacation

Remember those back-to-school essays about what you did on your summer vacation? Well, I haven?t done one in a while, so here?s the tale of my summer vacation.

We decided to go to Colorado. After all, it?s close and there are bunches of fun things to do. Until this year, we tried to time our driving after dark. That way the kids sleep through most of it instead of getting cranky.

This time we figured the kids would be OK during daylight hours. For the most part, they did well. Sure, there were the bathroom breaks that were needed right after we left the filling station. Sure, there were the constant pleas of hunger or thirst.

When we finally got into the mountains, the oohing and aahing began. Last time we were up there, the kiddos were too young to remember.

Now, don?t get me wrong: variations of ?the beauty of nature? and ?the nature of beauty? are really cute when you first hear them. After 15 minutes of the same words, you?re ready to gnaw your way out of a moving vehicle.

Then there was THE GUM.

We let the kids pick out their own gum to relieve the pressure in their ears. Sure enough, before we had even crossed the mountains, they wanted to spit it out and wanted to try someone else?s kind. Let me tell you, I was chomping pretty hard on my watermelon Bubblicious by then.

Soon after came the plaintive wails of ?my head hurts? and ?my tummy hurts.? Who knows what happened to the gum?

Finally we arrived. After check-in, I breathed a sigh of relief. Then came the fight about the bed.

There was one bedroom with a large bed, one full-size bed and a couch. At first, they agreed to share. An hour later, frazzled from the trip, they were still up and quarreling.

In comes genius hubby to the rescue. He made a blanket fort with couch cushions and extracted promises from the kids that they would alternate nights in the fort.

I?m so thankful for him. By then my temper was running so thin that I would have made Jaws look like a cute, fuzzy kitten.

Day 2: Caitlin decides she just has to go hiking. We go to a local hiking trail near a waterfall. The scenery is gorgeous, the air scented with pine.

Five steps up the trail, she decides she doesn?t like hiking. We continue over many protests (some from my knees) and finally make it to the end of the trail. It?s amazing how you forget that sometimes coming down a mountain is just as hard as going up.

Day 3: Mini golf. The kids were using clubs as tall as they are, but all went fairly well. They still don?t understand honors. All was relieved by letting them play on the playground set and swing around and hoot like monkeys.

Day 4: Oh my. We had saved up to take the narrow-gauge railroad trip, since both kids love trains. No sooner had we boarded our open car than Arthur got motion/altitude sickness. Three guesses who held the bag, and the first two don?t count.

He finally wore himself out, went to sleep, and we knew he was OK when he sat bolt upright and said, ?I?m hungry.? Thank goodness for some really helpful crew on the train. Lunch was an ordeal, but we finally got back on the train for the thankfully uneventful trip down.

Day 5: Stayed in and did laundry. Yea.

Day 6: One of my favorite places in the world is Mesa Verde. Hubby and I went there on our honeymoon 10 years ago, and I was looking forward to revisiting it.

We bought our tickets to visit Cliff Palace, but the kids were fixated on the stuffed animals in the gift shop. It?s amazing how much of the guide?s presentation you can miss while you herd kids who still want the stuffed animals in the gift shop.

Day 7: Rock hunting. As one of our ?revisit our honeymoon? moments, we bought a permit from the forestry service to collect rocks and trees. Thankfully, the kids didn?t throw any rocks at each other, and we had a lovely picnic. When you see me, ask me about our personal avalanche.

The real plus of the whole shebang was the natural hot springs. We got a full-week pass, so no matter how stressful or painful the day was, we could relax in nice warm mineral water.

I?m sure I?m not the only one with kids who needs a vacation from my vacation when I get home. Still, it was a nice break with some great times. Huge thanks to my family, friends and neighbors who kept an eye on the farm and the critters while we were gone.