Last month, Mike and I drove up to Maple Valley to visit our daughters and their families. That Friday afternoon, we were invited to watch 9-year-old granddaughter Evan take part in her school’s Color Run.
For those of you who haven’t been introduced to this hilarious activity, the internet describes it this way: “As you run/walk/dance through the course, you will get showered in safe, eco-friendly, plant-based powdered dye at every zone — turning you into a moving target of fun!”
The kids — decked out in old T-shirts, sweatpants, sunglasses and bandannas protecting their nose and mouth — run around for about 10 minutes as adult volunteers toss powdered dyes in all the colors of the rainbow at the kids.
When all is said and done, the runners look like the most vibrant version of a tie-dyed human you could possibly imagine.
Since we were scheduled to leave on a family vacation to Cancun a couple of weeks later, I said to Evan, “Good thing they didn’t schedule the Color Run for the week we’re on vacation.” She replied, “I think I’d pick the Color Run over going to Cancun. It’s so much fun, and we get to go to Cancun all the time.”
That comment got me to thinking about how vacations have changed for the Barkstrom family.
When our kids were growing up, our family vacations consisted of going camping at Lake Merwin every summer. Mike’s best friend’s grandparents had homesteaded along the lake, and we’d park our Suburban on their property and carry all our camping gear down the hill and camp right along the water. Grandpa Ham’s cows would saunter down to the lake every morning and evening to get a drink, but they didn’t bother us. We’d spend the days swimming, cooking, cutting firewood and hanging out around the campfire, with the kids playing Capture the Flag and Hide and Seek.
Not real pay-a-lot-of money-and-travel-a-long-way getaways, but nice family vacations anyway.
Now that we’re older, there’s no way I’m going to camp and sleep on the ground! So we try to plan a trip with the whole family every other year, flying someplace where there’s lots of sun and staying at an all-inclusive resort. Not quite “all the time” as Evan would say; but in the last 10 years, besides our yearly five days at Sun Lakes in Eastern Washington, the whole family has gone on a Caribbean cruise and taken three trips to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico.
The latest trip to the Paradisus in Cancun was pretty darned amazing. The rooms were quite comfortable and the food was amazing. Huge buffets were available for breakfast and lunch, and a poolside cafe cooked up hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken wings, brick-oven individual-size pizzas, nachos and seafood cocktails to order. For dinner there was a choice of elegant restaurants with a variety of themes — Peruvian, Mediterranean, Japanese, traditional tacos, Brazilian steakhouse and contemporary Mexican.
The swimming pool was huge — probably a quarter-mile long with lots of little alcoves on each side where we spent most of every day, making sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours. There were side trips to the beach for playing in the sand, and the grandkids enjoyed some time each day at the well-supervised Kids Zone, where they made friendship bracelets and dream catchers, spent time at a “pool party” in the kids pool and had water balloon fights.
The swim-up bars were easily accessible from all areas of the pool; and, besides “adult” beverages, they served up mango, strawberry, banana and chocolate-banana smoothies that the grandkids loved. Not being much of a drinker, I had to try a variety of beverages including mango margaritas, passion fruit daiquiris, banana-coconut daiquiris, rum punch, mai-tais, piña coladas and tequila sunrises before settling on a blended pineapple-rum concoction.
All in all, it was a very relaxing vacation with lots of great family time.
And by the way, Evan proclaimed on the airplane on the way home: “Cancun was really, really fun, Bama — better than the Color Run! When can we go again?”
Karen Barkstrom, The Daily World’s editorial assistant, can be reached at 360-537-3925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.