- My first trip to Disneyland
I was nine years old, and it was my first trip west to visit my mom since she'd moved to Las Vegas. We took a few days and drove to Disneyland, and I will never forget staying at the Disneyland Hotel, riding the monorail and the People Mover and the Matterhorn. It rained on us one day, but we didn't care. Magical. This was way before Space Mountain.
- Salzburg at Christmas
My sister went to Austria for a year in college, and we visited over Christmas break. I was perhaps thirteen. We walked across a frozen lake and toured the very cool fortress, and I got laughed at by Austrian kids on the ski slopes. My dad spoke almost no German, and he left a note for the B&B lady that said something like, "Sorry we left before breakfast. We went shitting." He meant to write "skiing."
- Block Island
Looking for jellyfish over the ferry's rail. Riding bikes around the island and climbing down the clay bluffs. Getting sandwiches and salt water taffy and tacky souvenirs at Old Harbor. Eating fresh, raw honey from the little farm. I wonder if it still has any of the same charm that it did thirty years ago, or if it's built up beyond recognition now?
- Walking Mt. Katahdin's Knife Edge
My dad: deathly afraid of heights. Me: A nine year old kid more interested in cartoons than hiking. A mountain trail known as "Knife Edge." Add in a little rain, and you've got a typical Dudley childhood vacation. I loved it.
- Were the Vikings really this tacky?
In the year before kids, we drove around England. One stop was York, which I loved, but not because of the Jorvik Viking Museum. I am a huge fan of medieval history, particularly the English period around the time of Alfred. But Jorvik seemed a surreal Disneyland treatment, complete with barnyard smells, when I was hoping for something more... museumlike.
- Flooding and Pestilence
I can never remember whether it was South Carolina or some similar state, but I woke up in my little tent in four inches of water during what was likely a hurricane. We slept the rest of the night in the car. This was not an uncommon part of our vacations.
We took the Blue Nose Ferry to Nova Scotia and spent a few days at this gorgeous Canadian national park. The rangers ran a wonderful nature program in the evenings. I'll never, ever forget the stargazing we did one night.
- Lunch at the Louvre
When our oldest was only four months old, I went on a business trip to Paris. Round trip fare was just $500, so my wife joined me for the weekend prior to the conference, leaving the tot with grandma. It was a cold December, but it was a great trip. The Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysees.
- The old MGM Grand Hotel
I spent summers in Las Vegas, and my favorite hangout was the old MGM Grand. Their back section held the jai-alai fronton, the video arcade, a Swensen's ice cream shop, and the movie theater which showed old, MGM classics and had big, puffy seats like recliners and servers who would bring you food and drinks. Too bad it burned down.
- Most recent trip to Disneyland
We took our boys to Disneyland last December, and it was again magical. After nearly a whole week there, when it was time to leave, my oldest (eleven) teared up and asked when we could come back. He's not sentimental, not in the least. But the magic had gotten into his bones, and it broke my heart to have to leave. (Here he is in the Jedi Training Academy.)