What I Am: Reading This Week

Fodor’s Guide to Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard

You may or may not know this about me, but I’m a planner. When I travel, I like knowing where I am going, what there is to do, where I am living when I go there, and what I am eating. And when.

When I was 21 years old, I traveled to Paris with three of my college girlfriends. I went out and bought two guidebooks (Frommer’s and Let’s Go! if memory serves), read all about what to do in Paris and how, where to stay, etc., etc. I figured the other women I was traveling with were doing similar research.

I was wrong.

When we got there, two of the women I was with decided we were staying in a WAY expensive hotel in the 15th arrondissement. This would be like traveling to New York and staying in Philadelphia — no, someplace rustic. Like trying to see New York City from Connecticut.

After one night there — one night, in Paris, with nothing to do (I believe we stumbled onto a billiards room, so at least we got a drink. And billiards? Not the same as pool) — I said, “Look, I’m moving to the Latin Quarter, the 5th arrondissement. It’s on the Seine. The Pantheon is there. You’ve heard of these things, yes? Coming with?” They came with. We had to split up into two groups of two and stay in different — and much, much cheaper hotels — but we were in the real Paris.

We had a blast. We walked everywhere, including to Notre Dame, Champs-Elysees, and the Eiffel Tower. I had a mere smattering of high school French under my belt, but that hardly mattered. Four cute American girls in Paris? Language was not an issue, I assure you.

These girls had no idea how to travel. I’m not sure why I did, but I did.

So when DearDR decided he was going to register for and attend a week-long symposium in Cape Cod, I figured it would be a perfect opportunity for a family “vacation”. (I’ll explain the quotes in a mo’.) In the seven-plus years we have been married (excepting our honeymoon) we have never gone on a vacation alone; we’ve always been with his family or my family — which is not a bad thing (built-in baby sitting!).

I had been to Cape Cod as a child with my family, and I remember really enjoying it. I didn’t go when I was as young as my children are now, however, so I knew I had to find appropriate activities for the preschool set. The Internet is a fantastic resource, of course, and ClumberKim sent me many good links. Since I don’t have an iPhone, and I don’t want to walk around with a laptop, I also picked up the Fodor’s guide.

As I suspected, there are plenty of family-friendly activities to keep us busy while my husband is at the symposium. There’s a ZooQuarium (which Fodor’s refers to as “hokey”, but I’m going to guess that my children don’t know the difference between hokey and entertaining — yet), museums and nature centers galore, and even a Trampoline Center. I don’t know if we’ll go to Provincetown or Martha’s Vineyard; my kids may be a little too young to appreciate what those locales have to offer.

We are staying in a cottage not far from the hotel where the symposium is being held. It’s fully equipped with a kitchenette (with a coffee maker, I checked) and a TV; it’s two-bedroom, and has a deck off the kitchen, so there will be plenty of kid-free evening time for my husband and me. (Yay!)

All-in-all, I am pretty excited to be going. I’m not calling it a vacation; I’m referring to it as a “change of scene”. When you travel with young kids, it’s not necessarily a relaxing experience. But I’m okay with that (or so I think; ask me how I’m doing next Monday).

The Fodor’s guide makes me feel confident and prepared. It’s got maps, information, directions, and tips. It highlights the highlights, offers dining options for every budget, and points out family-friendly things-to-do. It will fit in my backpack/diaper bag.

All I need to do is pack a suitcase, some toys for the kids, and car-friendly snacks. We’re hitting the road Friday around 9 p.m. We’ll see how it goes.