If you are like many people from around the globe, you have been jolted out of your slumber in the middle of the night by the sudden realization that I have not been blogging much this summer. I know it’s been tough, but I trust you have persevered and somehow managed to make it one day to the next.

Now, if this is not the case, please do not bother to let me know because, like most bloggers I am fueled by the sweet delusions of my own social media grandeur ūüėČ

Alas, I am back, I am rested and, I dare say, a little tanned ūüėČ

When my kids start school on Monday and are asked, “What did you do on your summer vacation?” the teacher better put a time limit on their response otherwise everyone should pull up a snuggie make themselves comfy. For roughly six weeks this summer our family of five traveled from the one side of the US to the other: from Washington, DC to Hawaii with brief stops in Indianapolis, IN, Charlottesville, VA and Montreat, NC. ¬†Through the generosity of some family members, gracious invitations from others and some saving up throughout the year, this was an adventure that will forever live in our family’s memories, as the “You remember that summer when we travelled A LOT?” summer.

To tell you the truth, we packed way too much into the summer, but this just happened to be a year when a bunch of events converged, the kids were all old enough for some serious museum time and schedules worked out for the whole family. We will not repeat this pace again . . . we hope.

A few highlights of our summer . . .

My eldest daughter and I started out at the end of June by attending The Big Tent Conference, a gathering of 10 different national Presbyterian conferences where I preached and she blogged and tweeted for the Peacemaking conference.  Not only did we get to hang out with some great folks and engage in some meaningful conversations, we were able to reconnect with peacemaker and performer, David Lamotte. [More Big Tent Photos]

After this event, we flew home to pic up the rest of the crew and immediately headed back out the next day, destination North Carolina.  But first, a quick couple of days in Charlottesville, VA where we visited Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. [More Monticello Photos].

After Monticello we spent two+ weeks in Montreat, NC taking part in Montreat Youth Conferences.  I am so grateful for such a great experience with 2000+ high school students and adults as we tackled issues of faith, life and community. If you are interested, you may still be able to pick up some twitter echoes of the summer at #myc11. [More Montreat Photos]

We figured since we were already on the right coast, we might as well take advantage of being so close to Washington, DC. With the debt¬†ceiling crisis as our back drop, quotes from Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian as our soundtrack and 100+ heat index to greet us in the morning, we we spent a week wandering museums and monuments in our nation’s capitol. With great thanks to our friend, John Ariale,¬†Chief-of-Staff for Congressman Anders Crenshaw, we lunched in the congressional dining room and had great tours of the White House, Capitol Building and¬†Library¬†of Congress. ¬†We were also able to make stops at the National Portrait Gallery, The National Archives,¬†Museum¬†of American History, Botanical Garden, Museum of Natural History, The International Spy Museum, a three-hour night tour of the national monuments and a few meals with some DC friends. [More DC Photos]

While we could have spent much more time exploring our nation’s capitol, shave ice, loco moco and the ocean were calling our names. ¬†And nope, from DC we didn’t head to the Atlantic which would have made much more¬†sense. ¬†Instead, after a¬†brief¬†two-day layover in our own San Francisco beds . . . we headed to Hawaii. ¬†Because of the amazing generosity of some family members and¬†the fact that my mother pretty much ordered all of her¬†children to be there for family pictures, we topped off the summer with two weeks in the big Five-O. Yeah, I know, tough life. We spent a week in Maui – Kihei in particular – with 20+ family members mostly hanging out, eating and laying on the beach. For week two, our fab five headed to Oahu where we visited Pearl Harbor, the Bishop Museum, Lanikai Beach . . . and did more eating and laying around on the beach. [More Hawaii Photos]

As I said before, this summer shall not become the norm for our family and we are fully aware that many families do not have the resources or ability take this kind of trip. Still, I am sure that we will always look back on the summer of 2011 as one when we created some wonderful memories flavored by the sites, the people and our time as a family seeing the world in new ways.

Grateful does not begin to express what we feel.

One last picture. This one was taken the night we flew home. After some travel issues lead to a few more unexpected hours in the airport the ensuing boredom inspired sisterly bonding time.  Our girls reminded us that  possibly the most important key to the success of any family vacation is, you guessed it . . . flexibility.

I hope that the summer brought moments of rest and rejuvenation for you and your family and hopefully a memory or two that will stay with you for a lifetime. And for those who have begun or will soon begin a new school year, I hope the next stages of life are filled with new learnings, great community and an ever-widening experience of life.

PS: One of the things that we took great advantage of on this trip was Yelp.  I have been kind of a slacker the past year on my own reviewing, but I am grateful for the time spent and opinions offered by others. We found great food, avoided some possible disasters and I am confident that our summer was made better by Yelping community.

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