Thursday, August 15, 2013

FVC: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

You know on vacation when you see those bohomie bods; they're the life and soul of the party doing high-fives with the staff? They win all the prizes and can be found joining in from breakfast to dinner? Yeah, that's not me. I am the shadowy vacay figure; off the grid if you will.

My friend sipping wine on the beach at Isla Vista

Last week we were at the Family Vacation Centre at the University of California, Santa Barbara for the ninth year in a row. Last year's post here. We first went nine years ago because it was the only all-inclusive kids' club vacays that takes babies.  That first time, six-month old Cy screamed for the whole five-hour car ride down there. Ahh memories...

The harbour at Santa Barbara

Lotusland: A five-times married opera singer planted acres of cactus, ponds, topiary and tropical plants


...And she bathed naked at night in this pool surrounded by conch shells

Plein Air painting class - see I did do something.


No children were harmed in this photo. Photo: VDB

Quick photo by the beach is free, an hour session is $70. Photo: VDB

Spires of a church

Fiesta celebrations in town

The courthouse


FVC poolday

I
Timmy takes Harley for a surf lesson

#ifyourhusbandwon'tdoit



Cy and his friend Quintan win the three-legged race. Photo: VDB

Tallulah and her friend Jordan on campus. Photo VDB

Harley blindfolds Hank in a confidence game. Photo: VDB

It's a sort of a cruise, but on land - so without the sea-sickness and the ship piping poop into the surrounding seas. You stay in student dorms (clean and simple) eat at the cafeteria (tropical fruits, Asian bowls, fresh fish is available - but Cy, nine, continues to eat Lucky Charms doused in Coke at every meal) and students counsellors take the kids surfing, bowling, crafting etc. so the adults can go shopping, sight seeing, wine-tasting, surfing, biking etc.

Even after nine years I am that person that arrives and says: "Oh, not many returning counsellors this year then" (there were 20 returnees out of 36 apparently) The counsellors did know my name, but probably only because everyone has to wear name tags. I am not FunMum and I'm afraid it's too late for me to try.

On the last night there was a heart-warming 10-minute slide show of all the activities during the week set to tunes like It's A Wonderful World. At the end, not a dry eye in the house. There it was; songs by the campfire, karaoke, bingo, paddle boarding and high kinks by the pool. "A lot of stuff went on this week" said my husband Kevin. "But we didn't do it." Turned out there was not one photo of us two in the show (okay I was a speck in the bike ride pic)

In contrast, the "Dynamic Duo" - so named by the kids - Bro-Dad (surfer flip flops, pony tail, always wins "best in show for the most cleverly designed soap box race car) and his friend Cooler-Dad (who tugs a cooler of Coors Light around) are beloved of both the counsellors and fellow vacay-goers. They're the fun ones, they win all the prizes and are in all the photos.

I kid myself that I don't want it enough. The truth is I would like to be FunMum but my anonymous persona has been going on too long, change is too hard. One day instead of doing tennis-bike-ride followed by surf lesson, I spent the day in my dorm bed eating nectarines and writing a chapter on my novel which I later deleted by mistake. That was not the Wednesday of an aspiring FunMum.

Now I'm home, exhausted. Wonder if the dog remembers me.

On vacation are you one of the Bonhomies or the Off-The-Grids?

46 comments:

  1. Oh definitely off-the-grid, because Barry is such an introvert. I could go a little bonhomie, but not like that!

    Love Santa Barbara - I have got to get there!

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    1. Its a cornucopia of all sorts of stuff, great exhibition at the Modern Art gallery too (conveniently located next to Sax for your viewing pleasure)

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  2. Depends what and where for me,
    But 95% of the time I'd watch the spree
    Sit back off the grid
    A much better bid

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    1. Beach volleyball
      leap or fall
      always better gripple
      with a baseline
      tipple

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  3. Hi Jody thanks for popping over to say Hello - I'm here, at home, just not blogged much!
    On hols I'm definitely off the grid, hiding behind my book - hiding mainly from my own kids as well as everyone else! I did once take part in some parent activities at a hotel in Mexico - the kids still talk about it but I'll never do it again!

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    1. Jay I remember a holiday in Greece with Mark Warner where kevin and I were ducking behind bushes all the time so the kids didn't see us from their kids clubs outings. More fond memories...

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  4. I would most definitely be hiding behind my book too!
    ~Anne

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  5. Oh gosh, funny bc i desperately tried to be off grid but i can't help it. I even tried to sit in the no talking session but then people come over to say hi or i have a question for a passerby - i end up having tea with the the staff in the staff room and getting all the gossip and the lowdown on other guests. that stuff is addictive.

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    1. I do love a spot of staff gossip. These staff are trained not to spill the beans, so not even my interrogation would produce anything!

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  6. Off the grid for me too.....and happy that way.......and my sister got married in that courthouse!

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    1. It must have been a stunning wedding, on that really green internal lawn?

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  7. I'm a bit off-grid as well.. too much happy, happy, gets on my nerves;) This looks like a fun spot and I can see the artist trying to emerge?! UCSB .. and the surrounding area, are my stomping grounds. Didn't go to school there but lived an hour east and visited all the time. SB is a great spot with fun shopping and eating. I'll hopefully be able to visit in a few weeks. Glad you are enjoying your summer Jody and thanks so much for visiting me this morning! xxL

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    1. I found out that Sienna is the basis for everything and that colour goes with everything. I think that might have been the thing I learned last year too!

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  8. I'm not a fun mommy either. I need to be alone to recharge my batteries!

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    1. Nectarines and a flat dorm bed did that for me!

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  9. I "escape" to Santa Barbara after taking care of obligations in LA. What a glorious place - saw that garden in June and died.
    A cousin of my mother's retired there, and for years I tried to figure out how a retired parochial school teacher, single to her dying day, could have afforded this town. I decided she must have had a more active social life than the rest of her family knew about.

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    1. Ha ha...a bit of the old Ganna (rich opera singer) in her life....

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  10. Jody,
    This sounds so great. A vacation without all the hassle and a break. I remember your last years post so well.

    You sound just like me. I am definitely that anonymous person as well. Even with my tennis, I think sometimes they forget I am on the team! I tell myself I like it, but sometimes I don't. The problem is the American way is- be a cheerleader, super out there person or nothing. Sometimes it can make you feel like you are missing out. I just hate when I get that feeling!

    xo Kim

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  11. This vacation package is actually a really good idea. I would have loved to spend some time with my parents during vacation, and still be able to do my own activities. Also, that harbor is gorgeous, with the water reflecting the sky. Your family is so photogenic!

    Brittney

    anotherbeautifulthing.blogspot.com

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    1. That's nice to hear Brittney, hope my kids say the same thing later on!!

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  12. I am both... I can't help but talk talk talk to everyone at a resort, but then the rest of the time I like to be left alone to read a book in peace and quiet. I'm not a huge one for group activities (actually, make that any activity. I like to lie around on holiday).
    Actually all the chat backfired a bit on a family holiday to Fiji. My sister was living there at the time and had obtained 'local rates' for us to stay at a very chi chi resort island. Only catch was I had to impersonate her for the week. No problem... except that the other guests started calling me Heidi and talking to me about Architecture and our life in Australia, and eventually the manager overheard and bailed me up to ask why I didn't go by my 'real' name and what exactly did I do in Fiji? As I mispronounced Nandi, and made vague references to my job as "doing trade negotiations and stuff" before trying to run away, I think you can safely say that we won't be going back for quite a while....

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    1. Are you sure these are not scenes from Homeland the third season?

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    2. The last hotel we stayed at overnight only near the airport before flying out, I waited with impatience while an enormous family of Kiwis checked inl. When I was finally acknowledged by the staff and told the reception guy my name, he looked up with shock, said "Oh, I'm so sorry Dr xxx, I didn't recognise you" and was quite flustered. I said vaguely "Oh...... that's ok, I've lost weight" (and gained 3 children, changed my eye colour and shrunk, so it was no wonder he didn't 'recognise' me). Next family holiday you're welcome to come along!!

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    3. Sounds brilliant! But seriously what about me being an extra on your show? Are we on?

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  13. This looks like a great time!! I like holidays that you can do things, but also be lazy by a pool if you wished. Thanks for the comment on my post - the water wasn't bad, it was a really hot day, so it felt great, any other time it would be too cold to go in, but since it was hot, it worked :)) xx

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  14. Not having much holiday time, we go back to the UK and stay with my mum, but I do my funmum act by getting us to go to interesting places. Ensures we have a good time. :)

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  15. Logo looks like a fun time. I cannot believe how much older the children look. It is great you have found somewhere that suits all (always a challenge). I also painted on my holidays must post a picture. Hope you are settling ack

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  16. Dear G*d, it sounds like Hell incarnate.

    Where's the zoning out by the pool with the Tiki drinks?
    Where's the long lie under a gentle sun with a good book, silent kids and a Hoki-Poki cone?

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    1. Hahaha, spluttered into my latte at your first line!

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  17. Did you love LOTUSLAND?I was there this summer too and she had SIX husbands!Currently, I'm reading her book she wrote in 1943.The gal at the gift shop says itsnot in print anymore so they do not sell it but sometimes its on E~BAY selling for $250.00!I found a copy at the OAKLAND library.............should I lose the book and pay the fee!!
    Your family is gorgeous.........love the shot all together..........as for your latest adventure good of you to go!Sorry about the deleted part!!!!!!!KILLER!
    Question for ya......I just got your e-mail and there are 29 comments a head of me!!I live behind you!Whats up with that!

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    1. That's so funny - we were trying to get hold of it! I am fascinated by Ganna of Lotusland. I can't believe they didn't re-print her book it as she is such a fascinating character. I love that phrase "what a dame!" and that applies to her. Actually she was a character who was very bonhomie, then off the grid (though not a recluse) for her latter years. ALSO as my friend said - it's sooo hard to get one man to marry you - how the hell did you get six (rich and famous) ones????

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    2. Plus can you believe - she once got on a boat from Europe to America, befriended two men and by the end of the boat trip both wanted to marry her (and in the end she did marry both as the first died and the second left his wife for her)

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    3. YES!Tis all in the book.......I best return so you can read too!I am fascinated with her too!She was very smart and a head of her time.........Did you see the book on LOTUSLAND picture book???Well, i bought it there at the gift shop because of the last page!At 84 still walking through HER garden!

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  18. it all looks gorgeous (must get to the West coast one day!) but I am exactly like you - off grid, G&T in one hand, book in the other!

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  19. I can't believe you've been going for so many years - I remember the post from last year and it is great that you have this tradition!
    As for being the FunMum- you are- but in your own way :)

    ~Alexis Grace of North On Harper

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  20. I think i still have that mentality of sitting in the back of the classroom and making snarky comments, so I am not the one for any group activities. I am that mom that is always late to pick up the kids because she she wanted to finish the chapter and maybe her margharita as well ;) I will never be the FunMom and I am never in the pictures. I don't mind that. Most of the times anyway...

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  21. What a great concept. Summer camp for families! No wonder you go back every year. And you are a fun mom, just undercover.

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  22. OK I had to stop and intervene at the sentence :"lucky Charms doused in Coke at every meal"; even if it is the liquid variety of Coke, Mrs ALW, you have to stop him doing it right now !!! (or at least never let a French person see him ) :)

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    1. its hard - he's a Californian kid through and through, loves his nuclear reactive food!

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  23. Holiday clubs sound like pure torture to my ears. Secluded and quiet - yes please. And how many people were sitting at that pool please? (And very nice legs, btw!)

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  24. Dougie and I, in years gone by, were very good at winning Ideal Couple/Mr &Mrs competitions at the brash hotels we used to visit. We weren't noisy but we won things by stealth!

    Your photos are fabulous. - such great memories and what a handsome family you have. So glad you had another good vacation.

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  25. I've read about these types of camps in books written by American authors but this is so new to me. Over here, everyone just buggers off to various locations in France, preferably rent somewhere with a pool and vegetate for 2 weeks until they get back to gloomy UK.

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