Archives for category: vacation

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Recently I was on Martha’s Vineyard, and my sister, with a penchant for apple fritters, insisted we wait in line at Back Door Donuts. It’s a bakery in Oak Bluffs that will sell hot, fried, sugary delights from the back door from 7:00 pm to 1:00 am.

We had taken part in this new island tradition the last time we were up there, but we did it earlier in the evening and sampled the greasy goods while sitting in ocean park during sunset. I was never really impressed – perhaps I’m just not an apple fritter kind of gal.

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This time we went much later in the evening. I think it was closer to 10 pm and the line was enormous. It snaked back and forth along a roped off path; I’d gamble to say that there were at least 100 people in line ahead of us. I think the line for Space Mountain was shorter.

I was already weary after a long night of walking around town, but my husband and kids wanted some hot donuts, so we decided to wait in line with the family. While waiting we perused the menu they had written out by hand on a couple of sheets of poster board. My brother aptly stated “these better be the best donuts on the planet for this long of a wait.”

After waiting in line for at least 45 minutes, we finally went to place our order, only to find out that 75% of the donut varieties on the menu board were sold out. At no time did any bakery employee come out and announce that they were no longer available, or better yet, place a sticky note or a placard saying “SOLD OUT” over that variety on the menu.

Nope, these greedy mothers wanted to you keep waiting in line, KNOWING that you would settle for any donut because like an ass, you had waited in line for an hour.

Typical of Tracy, I was not amused…especially since I didn’t even want a fucking donut. I got the fried dough instead, which wound up being a total disappointment. I got crispy, over-fried strips of dough that more closely resembled bread sticks. My idea of fried dough is like what you would get at an Italian fair…a zeppole. I gave the bag to my sister who had smartly decided to have a few beers while we sheep waited in line.

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I won’t ever waste my time there again. If hubby and my girls want to that’s fine.  I’ll sit in the park watching the gazebo and hearing the waves crash along the Oak Bluffs beach – let someone else wait in line.

20170703_105904I just got back from a week on Martha’s Vineyard. The main reason for going was to spread my father’s ashes around the island. You see, my father is the founder of Martha’s Vineyard for our family. He went up one weekend a million years ago with a college friend, and never wanted to vacation anywhere else.

While he was never able to afford to buy a house on the island, he turned my cousins Bob & Carol on to this summer wonderland, and they own two homes – one rental and a large home that they live in during the summer. For 52 years it has been my summer place, and it felt really good to release dad to the beauty of this island.

We began by releasing some ashes into the water during the ferry ride from Woods Hole to the Vineyard. My husband, in a flash of brilliance, let one of the crew members know we were doing it, and after dad’s ashes swirled into the air, he gave the ferry horn a long, loud blast. It was very cool, and very moving.

20170702_195615We spread more ashes on the beach in Menemsha at sunset. It was a beautiful evening spent on the beach with the family, listening to music, sipping wine and noshing from a picnic spread. I think dad would have loved it.

20170703_114816And of course, we had to leave some of dad on Gay Head. My mom’s ashes are here. It was funny…when we spread the ashes by my mom, my sister had trouble with the container, and it was a very clumsy release. It makes me laugh to think of that now, because I think it’s something my mom would have found amusing.

We also walked further down the beach and around the horn of the cliffs to spread dad among the stones, rocks and ocean. It felt right.

The trip itself was pretty hectic. I’ve never seen the island so crowded….things are definitely changing there. I’m just so pleased that there are pieces of both of my parents on the beaches where we spent so much time growing up. I know how much dad loved this place. I am certain he’s resting peacefully now.

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Charlottesville, VA, the town that I live right outside of and work in, has become somewhat of a racial hot bed in the past few months. You see, we have a few confederate statues in town, and like they did in New Orleans, Charlottesville is having them removed.

Not only are they removing the statues, but they have renamed both parks, which were named after confederate generals. However, the new names they picked really suck. I doubt they’ll stick.

In any case, we had one white supremacist rally last month led by white nationalist Richard Spencer. They showed up burning tiki torches – it was a pretty fucked up thing to happen in our little artsy fartsy fairly liberal college town. The photo below was taken one block from my office…from where I sit now writing this…and it’s a pretty daunting sight. However, because they were burning tiki torches, one spectator said, “the air was heavy with both hatred and citronella.”

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C_1HJnOXoAE3uMv.jpg-largeSo it turns out the KKK wants to jump on the bandwagon. They have a protest scheduled in the same park on July 8th. My paper, C-VILLE Weekly is running an article on it this week. You know, I sit a few desks in front of the reporter who did the research for the article. It was very interesting to listen to her interview actual KKK members via telephone. It sure beat what was on the radio.

To quote the article (which doesn’t come out until tomorrow or I’d post a link), the reason the KKK is coming to Charlottesville? “We think it’s a shame they’re erasing our Confederate history, our white history,” says Jones. “It’s a spit in our face to take down our monument.”

There are several counter protests scheduled at the same time, and I was bummed I couldn’t be a part of it. See, that very day we were to spend the day in New York City on our way back from Martha’s Vineyard. But it turns out one of the counter protests is happening at the outdoor pavilion my husband works at, so we decided NYC can wait…we want to be a part of what could be historic happenings in our hometown. We want to be among those who stand up and say, “This is not what Charlottesville stands for.”

It’s sure to get National coverage….how often does the KKK raise its ugly head and come out from under the rock to stand up for its twisted beliefs? But I will be careful – my whole family will. To further quote the article…

 “Some members will be wearing robes,” he says, noting that it’s illegal in most states to wear the face-covering hoods. Others will wear black military garb. And many will be packing heat, he says.

And sadly, this protest on July 8th won’t be the end of white supremacist assholes flooding our fair city. There is another rally scheduled for August. Richard Spencer and his Alt-Right cronies are slithering into town with what will likely be hundreds of people to further rally against the removal of these statues.

Uff da…the bars and stars will be all over the place. That alone will make me crazy. But seeing actual robes? Not sure how that is going to make me feel at all.

Stay tuned.

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For my youngest, this is her last week of school before the school breaks for summer. This morning, she turned to me and said, “Momma, it’s my LAST week of school. I just realized I have the whole summer ahead of me.”

And you know what, she’s right. What a delicious time of year that was when you were a kid…those last few days of school before the start of summer vacation. Where you did next to nothing in class other than watch movies and talk with friends. Recess would be 2 hours long.

The summer seemed almost endless. Long days spent at the pool, riding my bike up to the corner store to buy candy or ice cream, afternoons filled with bottles of diet Pepsi and bags of Doritos while watching Match Game.

And then, vacation would come. Like real vacation – packing up the family and heading to Martha’s Vineyard for 2-3 weeks of gloriously good times. We never went to the Jersey Shore growing up. My dad hated it. I don’t think I had ever been to the Jersey shore until I was in college. Who needed it when you could romp in the surf of South Beach.

Every aspect of our trips to the Vineyard were magical. We would always have an early ferry, so we would leave our house in the middle of the night. I remember as a child going to bed that night in giddy anticipation of being woken up at 1 or 2 am, piling into the back of our station wagon fixed up with pillows and blankets, and heading north towards Cape Cod.

Dad would usually stop at the Howard Johnsons at the Mystic Seaport exit, where we would get muffins and hot chocolate. And those next few hours in the car were blissful…the cool night air and the anticipation of the ferry ride that began the official start to vacation.

We are heading up there again this year to spread my father’s ashes. It’s really where he belongs. While this trip will be the highlight of our summer, I’m hoping there are many other trips that my daughters will cherish over the course of those short summer months.

Things like visits to Kings Dominion, hiking and swimming at Blue Hole, and a trip to DC to take part in the Truth March. Yeah, I think the summer of 2017 might turn out okay.

Oh wait…I still have to buy a bathing suit. Groan.

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Yesterday I booked my passage on the Island Home ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. We are going as a family over the July 4th weekend to spread my father’s ashes. While the reason for the trip may be somber, we are going to celebrate the place that, thanks to my father, was our summer vacation spot.

July.

6 1/2 months away and yet I feel like it’s right around the corner. I’ve got just that long to shed some of the lbs. I packed on last year. I’ll admit, compared to 2015, I was really inactive over much of 2016. The time to turn that around is now.

I made a goal of walking at least 30 miles in January, and shy of contracting the flu, I plan on shattering that number by the 31st. It feels good to have set a goal and even better to be sticking to it. I sort of gave up on my walking regime towards the end of last year. It was super hot during the summer, and then I just got lazy once the cooler temps came.

Sticking to a plan, even if it is just walking more, is quite motivational. I’m making other small changes each week that passes, and with any luck, it will raise the gung-ho spirit I need to really put my rear into overdrive.

Cause July really is just around the corner.

In response to the Daily Prompt, Locked

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When my youngest daughter was around 4 years old, we took a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, and stayed in the million+ dollar house that my cousin lives in. We wanted the girls on their best behavior so we would neither annoy nor cause my cousins to think we were bad houseguests.

About two days into the trip we were all getting ready to go to the beach, but my 4 year old had to go to the bathroom. There was a powder room right in the foyer, so I told her to go there and to hurry it up – we didn’t want to be the cause of everyone having to wait.

Five minutes later, I banged on the door to see what was taking her so long, at which point she told me she had locked the door and could not get it open.

Fuck.

The doorknob was a lever handle, as shown above, but the lock was not your typical push-button variety. It was a separate lock under the door knob…the type you had to twist right to lock and left to unlock. And for some reason, my baby girl could not figure this out.

There was a window to the bathroom, so we went outside to try and coach her through the window (which of course, was locked). After 10 minutes of us shouting instructions, she sort of gave up and just sat on the floor.

Hubby began to freak out. It had been at least a half an hour, and the crowd was getting restless. This was super embarrassing for him…the day was getting ruined and it was our fault. He told me to call the steamship authority and see if we could get on a ferry today…we were leaving the island.

This, along with the fact that my child had pretty much mentally shut down in a small bathroom, made me lose it. I paced back and forth outside the window chain-smoking and crying.

My cousins had decided to call their handyman, who was on vacation, to come to the house and drill through their very expensive bathroom door in order to free our daughter. The thought of OUR FAMILY costing them money and damage to their new home rattled my husband to the core, so he took action.

He drew a picture of the lock, and then an arrow pointing in the direction to unlock the door, and slipped it under the door. Then he quietly coached his little girl, and within a minute or two, the door opened – and none too soon. The handyman was standing their, goggles on and a drill in his hands.

She’d been locked in there for over an hour, and she didn’t cry once. I wish I could say the same. Then I had to talk my husband into letting us stay – that we would look way worse if we turned-tail and ran.

Because these are the types of things that happen when you have kids. Hell, I got locked in a bathroom the same exact way when I was a kid when we were visiting some friend of my fathers. I had to be rescued through the bathroom window.

One good thing came of the incident…My daughter got a new knick-name. To this day, my husband calls her “Locked.”

 

The other day I found out an old family friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I have to tell you, this news bummed me out.

Growing up, my parents were good friends with Dan & Tina Morielli – and our families spent a good amount of time together, and I always looked forward to our outings…whether it was a trip to the Poconos or just a Saturday night hanging out at home, it was always a good time.

Dan & Tina had two kids, and we had four, and the six of us always managed to have a blast. A lot of our chuckles originated from the fights our parents used to get into over politics or whatever. I’ll tell you one thing, the visits were never dull.

We lost Danny years back, and now, Tina has cancer. I wrote this post years ago as part of a private collection I keep, but I feel the need to share it now. Because these people were such a big part of my childhood, and all the times with them were the best.

The Morielli’s Condo in Miami Beach – A Summer Playground

The summer we went to Miami Beach with the Moriellis was one of the best vacations of my entire life. It was  1973, which must have made me 8 1/2 – wow, I can’t believe I was that young. I remember so much from that trip, perhaps because it was made of the stuff that makes family legends. We retold these stories among us over and over during car trips and holidays growing up because we had a full week of hilarity and hi-jinx.

The Moriellis were, in my opinion, our closest and coolest family friends growing up. I have no clue how our families met – I’ll have to ask Dad about that one – but when we were getting together with The Moriellis you were in for a fun time. Parents: Danny & Tina. Kids: Anthony and Antoinette. Neither kids were close to me in age. They were about the age of my older siblings, but it didn’t seem to matter. I never recall being shunned or ousted from the action because I was a little runt.

A Car-Full of Yankees Heading South
The Moriellis bought a condo in Miami Beach, and our summer vacation that year, rather than heading to Martha’s Vineyard, was the long drive from New Jersey to Miami. I remember a few little things from the trip down. I recall our absolute glee upon reaching Florida (yay!), only to be told that Miami was still like 6 hours away (boo!). I also remember stopping at a “Welcome to Florida!” rest stop which had a machine that would cast a little figurine out of wax, I think. One of my siblings (can’t recall which) decided to use some of their money to buy a figurine, which was exciting as I would get to see this machine in action at no cost to myself.

Money was inserted and the machine did its magic and out popped a light blue statue of a dolphin jumping in the waves. We all “oohed” and “aahed” and whoever bought it decided it would be best displayed on the window ledge of the side back window in our station wagon. This proved to be a big mistake in the hot Florida sun. I don’t think that little statue made it to Miami before it melted and folded in on itself.

Mom, Dad (complete with belly flab) and Tina Morielli at the pool

Six Kids Run Amok
Once we arrived in Miami the fun began. the Moriellis condo was small and meant only for a family of four, not a hoard of 10. A bunch of us had to sleep on sleeping bags in the walk-in closet, which to a small kid was a blast. The condo had a pool, elevators, a gym and card rooms all waiting for us to explore.

We soon found out that this condo catered to much older, child-less clientele, and we were loose and on the prowl. When we weren’t at the pool, the beach or eating, we didn’t have all that much to do, so off we would go in search of adventures in a 15-story condominium.

One of our favorite games was elevator races. You would start in the lobby and the object was to race in 2 different elevator cars to the penthouse and back. The fun of the game was you never knew when the elevator was going to stop to pick up people, thus slowing your trip. I recall being amazed at how the hallway in the penthouse was wide and lavishly decorated with plants and statues, and that one floor always smelled of chicken soup.

The gym had some kooky machines!

We would also amuse ourselves by whipping bottles and other garbage down the garbage chute, which made quite a noise and was probably very bothersome to those who could hear it. We would often try to sneak into the gym which had a whole bunch of old-timey exercise machines, and medicine balls to goof around with, but eventually some grown-up would come along and yell at us to hit the bricks.

We were allowed in the card rooms only if no adults needed it. The card rooms were small rooms with felt-covered card tables designated for Men & Ladies.I recall one girl came along to play with us. She was a bit older and her name was Doralee, and I think she was a little slow. I used to make faces behind her back to make Antoinette and Wendy laugh, which I realize now was mean, but at the time I was young and doing what I could to get a laugh.

Hi-Jinx in the Florida Ocean

The Sparkler Affair
Another moment sealed in the memory vault was the great sparkler incident of ’73. My sister Wendy and Antoinette had gotten their hands on some sparklers and had decided to light them up on the balcony. Danny caught them out there and screamed at them to get the hell off the balcony. So, Wendy and Antoinette walked back into the living room and stood there with sparklers blazing, in the process dropping little bits of fire onto the new carpeting. It was funny because they had obeyed Danny, but were making matters worse by burning the carpet.

After being ushered into the kitchen, and sparklers doused in the sink, Danny proceeded to chase Antoinette around the condo, screaming, darting in and out of rooms trying to administer a few good cracks. I stood like a statue in awe taking the whole scene in. Danny walked back into the room shaking out his hand and muttering “that kid’s got an ass like a rock.” Repeating that phrase to family members is still good for a laugh today.

Tina, Judy, Antoinette and Anthony – Bathing caps were mandatory for women

Here I am with Judy in my halter and shorts in front of Cinderella’s Castle

The Clan Takes On Disney World
The highlight of the trip was our visit to Disney World. Orlando is quite a distance from Miami, so as an adult I’m impressed the adults dared to make this trek with 6 unruly and often wise-cracking children. Disney was going to be a one day trip; no hotel stay; just there and back. I imagine whoever had to do the driving was pretty tired at some point during the day because I know we left well before dawn and did not return till the wee hours of the following morning.

Disney Ticket Book – 7 whole adventures? Gee Mickey, where do I start!

Back in ’73, Disney operated a bit differently than it does today. Rather than fork over the equivalent of a mortgage payment to enter the park, and ride all you want for that once price, you purchased a ticket book. There were a certain amount of tickets for each park section (like Adventure Land, for example) and each ride in that section required a specific amount of tickets. This proved to be rather sucky, because there were sections of the park that had better rides than others, and you had to make hard choices as to which rides you wanted to spend your tickets on.

I remember the Grand Prix car racing being a very big deal, but I was too little to ride alone so I had to ride with somebody which sucked. I held onto my tickets for Fantasy Land because I wanted to ride the Dumbo ride something fierce. I also recall us all going to the Hall of Presidents. It was pretty cool for its time because they had animatronic robots portraying all the past presidents, and I could have sworn they were real people.

Space Mountain wasn’t open yet in 1973, so our favorite ride at Magic Kingdom was the Haunted Mansion. There was really nothing like it at that time, and we were amazed. The special effects were mind boggling, and we simply had to ride it more than once. But, the ticket book only had enough coupons for one ride. This would require the purchase of additional tickets. For four kids. Asking Dad was a crap-shoot at best because we were always on a budget with 4 kids to pay for. But dad came through and bought us the extra tickets. I guess even he realized this was a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience. As it is, I didn’t make it back to Disney World until I was an adult.

The Fire Drill
After the long drive back to Miami, the parents were exhausted and the kids were all asleep. It must have been a real chore to herd our group of zombies up to the condo, because they let us flop right down to bed in our clothes. The next thing we knew, we were up again with bells ringing. The building’s fire alarm went off, and we were required to evacuate to the lobby.

Once in the lobby we felt totally out of place – everyone else was standing in their pajamas and robes. Several woman had curlers in their hair with nets over them. But us kids were standing there fully dressed. I recall getting odd looks from people who were wondering why our folks would either (a) dress their kids before coming down to the fire drill, or (b) let their kids sleep in their clothes like a bunch of slobs.

It was a great trip, just as every adventure we had with the Moriellis was. It’s why I’m so sad about this news. I want to send Tina a card and let her know how much our family treasures the memories she helped to build…and that I’m thinking of her.

Because I know for sure, that until we are old and gray, my siblings and I will talk about our times with the Moriellis, and we will laugh.

 

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Today a co-worker of mine sat with me to go over a few last minute items before she “left town” for the holidays. As we were wrapping things up, I casually asked where she was going. Her answer?

“I’ll be gone for six weeks.” She then rattled off a triad of envy-inducing destinations that left me wondering, how the hell is that possible for a working woman? I mean, the last time I had six weeks off I was unemployed…and there was no money for travelin’ at that time my friends.

But man, that must be nice.

I envy anyone who gets to travel – for business or for pleasure – it’s just so cool to be able to go somewhere new; to explore a new city or a part of the country you’ve never been to; and then come back home to all that is familiar.

Even something as simple as a road trip has always excited me. I drove by myself down to Florida once to visit my sister. Another time I drove to Mississippi to visit a boyfriend who was in the Air Force. Both trips were absolutely thrilling for me.

My dad would check out my car, and set me up with a AAA triptik map. As I drove down the road I’d look forward to flipping each new page of my map, and I could stop and do anything I wanted at any time. Cool water tower? I’d stop and take a photo. I remember stopping in Atlanta just to see the infamous Peachtree Street.

With the exception of my week long summer vacation each year, I almost never get to travel. The last time I was on a plane was when my dad was in a car crash back in 1999, and I had to fly out to Colorado. Other than that my family and I stick to car travel, mainly because it’s economical.

There are times I think of exploring my state of Virginia, but then I remember that my car has over 250,000 miles on it, and settle for something local…and familiar.

Sigh.

I hope one day I am able to get out there and explore again. Even driving down a road I’ve never travelled on before holds a bit of excitement for me. Where will it lead to? What will I find a long the way?

I can’t wait to find out.

 

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Green-Eyed Monster.”

So, you know how on Facebook you can unfollow a person, but remain friends?

Yeah, I use that feature a lot. First, I use it to avoid people who constantly post nothing but inane meme’s about “Bein’ American” or “Obama is the devil! Share if you Agree!”

Oh, and it’s also really good for those people who post 12 old photos of themselves everyday, even though it’s not #TBT. It’s like, ugh – how many photos of you do I have to see back when you had a smoking body, even though you still have a smoking body?

But the folks I’ve been unfollowing lately? They are the well-travelled Facebook Friends.

These are folks who usually don’t post on Facebook unless they are in France, or Italy, or some other great vacation destination. When they are not clogging up my wall with scenes of Venice and Bordeaux, they are showing off their thoroughbreads, or their pedigree dogs, or their 4th car.

And it drives me nuts.

Am I a jealous douchebag for unfollowing them? Maybe yes, maybe no. All I know is as I sit at my desk, having spent my one week’s vacation already, and knowing I have like 46 more weeks of sitting at my desk before I get to go somewhere that will ultimately not be terribly exciting, I feel no remorse for unfollowing them.

So there.

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A few weeks ago my family, along with my two sisters and their families, spent a week at our childhood vacation spot, Martha’s Vineyard. Although I’ve been back for several weeks, I haven’t been able to blog about it because, to be honest, the vacation was too good. I’m having trouble finding a concise, interesting way to tell the tale of our week on this stunning island.

So, I won’t. I’ll just share my photos.

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It started off miserably. When we got to Wood’s Hole, it began to pour. The Weather Channel had tornado warnings for the area. Now this was a first for me. I can’t ever recall in my 50 years of going to Martha’s Vineyard, a rainy ferry ride. Maybe drizzle, but not these torrential rains.

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Luckily the skies cleared up enough for us to enjoy a very windy, but fun, ferry ride to the Island.

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Every morning, and I’m talkin’ early, my husband and I would walk into Edgartown, split a bacon, egg & cheese sandwich from the Dock Street Coffee Shop (which I highly recommend), and sit on the wharf and watch the day begin.

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South Beach was crazy. The water was so rough, I wouldn’t let my daughters go in past their knees. But when I was a kid? I would’ve been all in that, body surfing – and getting bamboozled – until my parents made me get out.

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The kid’s favorite town was Oak Bluffs, with the Flying Horses, the gingerbread cottages at the campgrounds, and of couse, the arcade. I admit it was always my favorite town as a kid too. I could ride the Flying Horses all night long.

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July Fourth was the best.

I usually dislike the 4th because there is so much pressure to do things; things which involve impossible parking, and crowds followed by fireworks and impossible parking and crowds trying to get home.

This year was a dream. Our house was within walking distance to both the parade and the fireworks – and when you’re walking with a cup? It makes for one fine Fourth o’ July.

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Typical....

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One day we spent on my cousin’s “private” beach – a strip of South Beach that is reserved for residents only. Oh, and you have to take a boat to get there. This is hubby, my sister, her daughter and my youngest enjoying the ride.

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I think we are all in agreement that our best day was close to our last…the day we spent at Gay Head. We go there to celebrate my mom’s life, and remember her passing. Her ashes were spread here more than 20 years ago, and it’s comforting to know she rests in such a magnificently beautiful spot.

Among the nudies.

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0706151206aOn our last full day there, Hubby, my neice Meaghan, and my girls mustered up the courage to jump off the Edgartown/Oak Bluffs bridge. I did this as a kid, but now? No f-in’ way.

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Before we knew it, we were packing the car and heading for the ferry. On the ride back to the mainland, we all agreed that it was the best vacation we’ve had in a long, long time. Maybe it was because we went somewhere different for a change. Or perhaps it was because my family really gets along with each other.

I think it was also because we DID a lot of things. When we go to my dads, we spend a lot of time at his house, at the pool, talking and hanging out. But on the Vineyard? We were out and about – not letting any time get wasted.

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We all want to go back. Now. Hubby admits he looks at the photos from the trip every couple of days.

And me? I’m playing the lottery. Cause I want to go back for a long, long time.