|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|
|Timmy takes Harley for a surf lesson|
|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?