Tag Archives: vacation

Strong Families Have Fun Together – Explore Together – So – Try Maine!


Amy Schuman
Amy Schuman


Did you know that, if you stretched the coast of Maine out into a straight line, it would reach all the way from Maine down to California? That’s how many curves and coves the coast contains. As my husband and I were enjoying a Maine vacation last month, I realized that many of our experiences would make excellent opportunities for families seeking to learn and have fun together. At the risk of competing with Tripadvisor or Yelp, I’d like to offer three ideas here! 

First, how about spending several nights on a schooner off the Maine coast?  It would make a fantastic family adventure – no escape – forced cooperation – shared adventure – cramped quarters – great food. The boat we picked, The Schooner Nathaniel Bowditch, was friendly and comfortable, and like many others, left from Rockland Maine which is right on the way to Acadia National Park. Hurricane Irene was on the radar screen when we left port, but Captain Owen and crew took great care of us, and we were able to enjoy the calm before the storm.  In fact, the trip was somewhat of a family affair with the Captain’s younger brother Paul as master cook and story teller and his older brother Greg teaching us the proper way to eat a boiled lobster as well as entertaining us with his fiddle! 


Second, did you know that Cadillac Mountain, in Acadia National Park in Maine, is the highest point on the eastern seaboard, all the way down to the Yucatan? If you get up to watch the sun rise, you will be witnessing the first light to hit our continent, not to mention enjoying spectacular reds and golds. I’m sure the family will never forget getting up at 4 AM, stumbling out to the car in the pitch dark and cold, then driving up the mountain to be faced with this stunning sight. 


Third, did you know that the lobster fishermen of Maine represent a unique form of multi-generational family enterprise? Even though they are far from the inner city, they are known as Lobster Gangs. 

The lobster fishermen in Maine have found a way to work together to enjoy a profitable fishing business today, while preserving it for future generations. Lessons have been learned and taken to heart after both the herring and cod industries of Maine were completely wiped out from overfishing. We learned about this on an Island Cruise that left out of Bass Harbor (in Southwest Mount Desert Island not too far from Bar Harbor). There were many families on the cruise and everyone was transfixed when Captain Kim Strauss pulled up his lobster traps and we all crowded around to see what he had caught.
Bass Harbor Cruises

Now that we are back home in the Midwest, just thinking about the blue sky and waters of Maine brings a smile and a bit of relaxation. I hope this little snippet of our adventures re-inspire you to pursue new vistas with those you love, in places removed from the distractions and demands of everyday life.  By the way, there is terrible cell phone coverage in Acadia Maine – just one more reason to head up there!


The Agony and Ecstasy of Family Vacations

Amy Schuman
Amy Schuman

I’m just back from a long anticipated vacation in Israel with my husband and two of our adult children. It was wonderful in so many ways.  At the southern tip of the country, Eilat, we devoured fresh whole fish caught just that morning in the Gulf. In the northern part of the country, Karmiel, we grabbed falafel and schwarma from street vendors. We capped the trip with a visit to the red rocks of Petra in Jordan, guided by a Bedouin from a local tribe. No doubt, this vacation will live on as a high point in our family’s memories.

But, like all family trips, it wasn’t all roses. In between the fun and excitement, there was plenty of time for argument, dissatisfaction and frustration.  Travelling with young adults – ages 23 and 19 – required adjustments that my husband and I didn’t always make quickly enough. We often forgot about their maturity and sophistication, and treated them like 10 year olds. And, not surprisingly, there were times when they whined and pouted like children much younger than their years.

Here are some ideas that emerged along the way to make the whole experience more enjoyable for all:

 1. Spend time separately, doing what you most enjoy – the reunion and sharing over dinner is all the sweeter from the time and space apart.

2. Early risers can take an early morning exploration and breakfast, then bring back coffee and a roll to those who want to spend more time snuggled under the covers.

3. Requests from the kids:

                **You don’t have to explain everything to me every 5 minutes – I can see for myself what’s going on in front of my eyes.

                **Don’t ask me every 5 minutes what I want to do, or eat, or see – if I have a request I’ll tell you.

                ** Don’t plan every minute of every day – leave time to hang out, sit at the corner café, enjoy the city in its natural state

The most fun thing we found to do together turned out to be long, late night card games, euchre and rummy, full of laughter, teasing and friendly competition.

There are some great lessons here about helping families knit more closely together across the chasms of age and experience.  Don’t get too wound up by the tense and tough times – they are inevitable. Balance time together with time apart.  And, find time for simple laughter and fun together – say over a game of cards or checkers – that’s the best that family has to offer, wherever we may be on the globe.