In order of memorability, here's the trips/getaways we took this year:
1. California in June
In front is my grandparents' dog, BJ. Sitting on the bench are my grandparents with my kids and in the back, from left, are my parents, my sister and Katie and me.
This was easily the best vacation my family (all 4 of us) has ever taken. It was the first time for my wife and kids to set foot in California. It was also the first time we got to visit my friend Chuck on his turf.
I knew this was going to be a great vacation when we woke up the first morning (after getting to my grandparents' house after midnight), the kids realized they were in a new setting and went outside to explore and David discovered snails. He loved them. Other discoveries included the orange, grapefruit, lemon and avocado trees in the yard.
Some highlights of this trip included: Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Hollywood, Santa Monica Pier, 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Padres game, U.S. Open Golf Tournament (seeing Tiger Woods in person) and spending time with my grandparents, my half-uncle Steve and his family and Chuck.
2. Ludington in October
Katie and I set up the camera to take a timed picture on the rocks at the end of the jetty in Pentwater, Mich.
The main reason this one comes in second instead of third is because it was a getaway for just Katie and me. That makes it incredibly special and something that doesn't happen very often.
Katie and I were fortunate enough to obtain the use of a cottage near Lake Hamlin (thanks to Derry's parents) and spent a few days away from the kids. We did a lot of relaxing, watching movies, playing games, eating at local restaurants and sightseeing. We drove to Pentwater, which is the first town south of Ludington along the Lake Michigan shoreline, and revisited some of the shops and beaches where my family and I had spent time in the summers while I was in high school.
Above all, the trip was a time for Katie and I to connect in a way that is very difficult to do when you've got two young kids running around and begging for your attention.
3. South Haven over 4th of July Weekend
This was kind of a last-minute decision to take off for the weekend and join our friends Craig, Jill and Craig's parents in South Haven for the weekend of the 4th of July.
We were tipped off about a week in advance that Craig was going to propose to Jill and then he called us the night it happened. So, the weekend ended up being not just a getaway for our family but a chance to celebrate with Craig and Jill. They're getting married on December 27, by the way.
While in South Haven we spent time at the beach, drove up to Saugatuck on July 4 for dinner and fireworks and spent some more time at the beach. Derry and Janelle Prenkert (and Katylynn) also drove up on July 4 but did not spend the night, so that was a lot of fun.