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Last week Team Dragovich went on vacation—a real vacation, not one of our many “trips” that Superman likes to pretend is vacation; the ones where we tag along to a conference or week of work by the coast, or (even more erroneous) a visit to see family. Not that spending time with family is the anti-vacation (if it were, then last week’s vacation didn’t count). But when you go to their home and enter into their space, where their world continues around you—well, it’s not a vacation.

But, last week was a vacation. In Chattanooga, TN. We rented a house on the Tennessee River, south and east of the city, at a spot they like to call a lake, but really it’s the river. Other than our house being what you’d expect along the Tennessee River (but not quite hoped for), it was a grand affair.

As with all my vacations, I came home drenched with new knowledge and insight (and tremendous numbers of books for future soaking). Unlike most vacations, the learning wasn’t outward—specific to the history or geography of Chattanooga. The learning (and simple reminding) was meant only for me.

I thought I’d share some of my freshly acquired enlightenment:

  • 2nd son (quickly becoming known as “California”) has a sense of witty dry humor like his Papa (my father). Similar to his Papa, he somehow manages to work magic with it at just the right moments.
  • Full-on-living son (#3) still resorts to crying threats about growing up to be a gangster when under stress of long drives.
  • Sometimes, the only way to overcome girl drama is with a cheer. Here’s an example of some of my spontaneous cheering:
Girl, Girl, Girl!
It’s okay; she’s not weird;
She’s just a girl! (Complete with handclaps and maybe some kickbacks if not in a moving vehicle)
  • It’s not necessary to fill every vacation with an inch-by-square-inch exploration expedition, sucking the place dry with your brain’s insatiable curiosity. You can find satisfaction in relaxing, too.
  • There really is such a thing as clean, smooth, ski-able rivers in America. Who’d of thought??
  • Slalom skiing (water skiing on one) is like riding a bike. Once your up and going, the moving and cutting comes back quickly. Having glassy water helps.
  • Living between time-zones sounds interesting in theory, makes for fun “Land of Nod” conversation and joking, but practically speaking is a little like washing your dog in the Mississippi River. It also confuses the smart phones—causing them to disagree (“mine says 8:15,” “Umm… mine says 9:15 and it’s always been right”) and be…well… not so smart.
  • You can accidentally fill your boat with water (repair men left plug out), load it onto your trailer, snap the cable causing the boat to slide off the trailer, bouncing and scraping down the concrete ramp, back into the water, and have no harm done to either boat or men involved.
  • If, and when the above happens, the men will need LOTS of beer to recover from such trauma.
  • Watching your children carelessly play in a downtown water pool monument (designed to be carelessly played in) erected to honor Cherokee victims of the Trail of Tears, is simultaneously delightful and disturbing.
  • College kids are looking younger and younger all the time. What’s up with that?
  • Wheat beer doesn’t give me heartburn. Yeah!
  • A brothel turned bar still looks and feels a lot like a brothel.
  • My oldest son continues to be one of the most courageous people I know.
  • Superman’s still hot on one ski.
  • I can think of no other times when I laugh harder and feel lighter than the times spend with my brother and sister.
  • My favorite childhood vacation spent pulling our new, but really old, pop-up camper, behind our Datsun truck (with the camper top, where my brother and I rode the entire trip), through New England into Canada was really more redneck than I had ever imagined.
  • Childhood memories turn new shades—more vibrant with a mostly comic value—when reminisced as an adult with your parents.
  • You can be married 14 years, entrenched in raising your own children, been through many persevering, suffering, life-changing experiences, and still wish your mama lived close by, wanting to stay in her safe arms forever, and have her repeat over and over in your ear, “Oh, my girl. I’m so proud of you. All is good.”
  •  Someday when my daughter is grown with a family and life-changing experiences to endure all her own; I pray like crazy she, too, will wish to have her mama close by, wanting to stay in my safe arms forever, and have my whispers reassure her, “Oh my girl. I’m so proud of you and I love you. All is good.”

What’s your most memorable vacation? Please share!