The Beauty and Fuss of a Westchester Family’s Vacation in Vail, Colorado

What a long, strange trip it can be when vacationing with family



Want a Saturday-night reservation at Richard  Gere’s Bedford eatery or seats for the hottest new blockbuster that won’t require a next-day chiropractic adjustment? Welcome to August, when scores of Westchesterites clear out for the annual family vacation. Personally, I’ve found said “vacation” to be a lot like childbirth. Once you’ve unpacked, done mounds of laundry, shown off what you brought home, and had time to inflict all your pictures and video on your nearest and dearest Facebook pals, you’ve forgotten just how painful it really was. Why else would there be so many squabbling siblings sulking their way through scenic spots?

So yes, that’s my defense and I’m sticking to it: I was a victim of family vacation amnesia. A few summers back, when the priceless memories of previous journeys—like the privilege of paying big chunks of cash to listen to our loved ones carp at each other in close quarters—had faded sufficiently, some family bonding time sounded suspiciously like A Good Idea. Our destination: Colorado in August, sans the snow but with all that fresh mountain air, breathtaking scenery, and wholesome outdoor activity.   

Before heading out, we had booked white-water rafting, hot-air ballooning, horseback riding, golf, hiking, skeet shooting, and mountain biking excursions. “But what are we gonna do there?” wailed our two offspring and their cousin (along to cut down on the squabble factor). Apparently, this was not enough action for a trio who usually burned their calories working the remote and sprinting to the Sub-Zero during commercial breaks from The Simpsons or Law & Order. But once we settled into the oh-so-charming little village of Vail, our happy band of travelers did manage to get with the program. 

In various combinations, we hiked, cantered, and biked along picturesque mountainside trails. We shot clay pigeons, unearthed divots on the links, paddled along river rapids, lolled around in the hot tub, soaked in natural spring pools, and communed with nature (spotting a deer in our Rye backyard, we usually think Lyme disease; viewed from a chairlift, we thought Bambi). We played Frisbee golf, shopped for fleece wear (the signature fabric of the Rockies), pet countless Labs (the unofficial canine breed of Colorado), and read lots of trashy books. 

We also rose at the crack of dawn two days in a row only to find our hot-air balloon grounded by iffy weather, but I’ll spare you the details; as you might have guessed, it was not pretty. And yet, busy as we were, some of us still found plenty of time to argue about (sorry, discuss) which of Vail’s 200+ cable channels we should watch and which of the 50-odd restaurants we should dine in. 

Returning home a week later, it became as crystal clear to me as all the clean mountain air and stunning views we had enjoyed: I needed a vacation from my vacation, and the laundry, errands, and voice- and e-mail catch-up that greeted me. But we downloaded our photos, admired our new fleece fashions, and promptly forgot all about the squabbling and the sulking, the bickering and the brooding. And then, call us crazy: We made plans for our crew to spend Christmas in
the Caribbean.

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