For some people it's exploring new places, trying new activities, checking out the local restaurants, seeing museums or iconic buildings, maybe some shopping. You get the idea.
In my humble opinion, THAT IS NOT A VACATION, ARE YOU CRAZY. My idea of a vacation is to move as little as possible. And, if I do have to move, it better be toward a large body of water.
Obviously, since I have children now, I don't get to lie on a beach towel all day (not even on vacation! cruel, cruel world!), but you had better beleive that I am NOT going to be schlepping them around in the car from one place to another and trying to call it a vacation. GAG. No way. We are going to a fun place and STAYING PUT for a week.
Thankfully, my family shares my opinion of vacation. We drove to a river house in West Virginia, and then proceeded to not leave it all week. With the exception of a few trips to WalMart, because we were running low on beer and other essentials.
We did not go out to eat. We did not go hiking. We did not explore the town. WE MOVED AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, YOU GUYS.
We turned pages in books. We sat around and talked. We watched some movies. We walked down to the river. We splashed around. And then we walked back up to the hot tub.
The most strenuous things we did all week were a family game of wiffle ball, and a two mile float down the river (both of which will get their own picture-filled posts later this week.) After that, we all needed a nap.
We do, however, cook on vacation. Oh boy, do we ever cook.
For several years now (7 years? I think?) we've had a cooking competition on our family vacation. Each married (or dating) couple cooks dinner on one night of vacation and at the end of the week, my parents pick a winner. The winner then lords their victory over everyone else for the next year, until vacation week rolls around again and the competition starts afresh.
I think it started out as a way to just sort of share the cooking load, but it quickly devolved into a cutthroat competition involving elaborate menus, secretive shopping trips, a lot of trash talk, and an incredibly messy kitchen each night. But the culmination of all that is that each night, dinner is a multiple course EVENT. Signature drinks, appetizers, multiple-course meals, homemade breads & condiments, to-die-for desserts... it's just SO DELICIOUS.
My sister-in-law, Lauren, summed it up best this year when she said that the best thing about the cooking competition, is that everyone wins. Because even if you lose, you got to eat everyone's dinners all week, and THAT IS WINNING.
This is my favorite picture from the kitchen this year:
It's Mark & Mary Alice, preparing their main course which was local, organic, grass-fed steaks, smeared liberally with pastured butter and grilled to perfection. Mark looks BIZARRELY excited, for obvious reasons, and Mary looks impishly guilty for slathering all that meat with all that butter. She should have felt a little guilty, as the pile of steak in front of her was ridiculous:
In her defense, there were 15 people there. We needed a lot of steak.
It takes a while to cook that much food, that well, for that many people, so most nights we fed Henry & Maggie and put them to bed before we all sat down to eat dinner around 8. Each night David & I would put the kids to bed and then as soon as we walked out of their room and closed the door, David would give me a high-five and say "Vacation starts now!"
Then we would go eat dinner. And it was glorious.
We did however, share some of the yummy foods with the kids the next day.
Maggie has pretty much decided that anything given to her on a spoon is gross and boring, so she has mostly skipped the purees stage and moved straight into finger foods. And by 'finger foods' I mean "Get out of my way woman, I want whatever is on your plate and I want it NOW."
And honestly, I pretty much just give her what's on my plate. Here she is chewing on a hunk of the aforementioned steak:
Here is Frank, trying to steal it from her. She looks perturbed.
The babies loved the steak so much, that we took to referring to it as "the meat paci" since it kept them so happy for so long. Gross, yes, but look at the joy on his face! (Also, this is my favorite picture of Whit, ever. EVER.)
I think that's pretty much what we all look like, scarfing down dinner each night. We're only slightly more dignified than Whit.
So, long live the meat paci! And long live the vacation cooking competition!
It's the best food I eat all year.