We were living in a different world when we booked our travel for New Hampshire. It was pre-COVID-19, the great Before. Not so long ago in the grand scheme of things but a sea change away from what life looks like now. It felt like the trip was so far ahead of us for so long, and now in the blink of an eye it’s fading in the rearview.

I realize that our family — 9 of us in total — flying across the country in the midst of a pandemic isn’t a choice many others would have made. It was made clear to me by more than one reader that our decision and subsequent trip photos were viewed as not just foolhardy but hurtful, and I absolutely understand and empathize with that point of view.

I just wanted to acknowledge that. I know everyone is living a different experience right now. Location, personal health and family health, tolerance for risk — there are so many factors that influence our choices and outlook these days, and the choices we make obviously don’t just affect us, they have the potential to negatively affect other people.

There was a night about halfway through our trip when I found myself wide awake in the wee hours and imagining a scenario where someone started showing symptoms and how would I feel about things then? All the good times we were having, would they have been worth it if someone got really sick … or died?

Well. Everyone remains healthy for now, so I don’t need to dwell on that question. The truth is aside from that one internal freakout I mostly let go of the pre-trip anxiety I had been wrestling with and just enjoyed myself.

It wasn’t hard to do: New Hampshire is ridiculously lovely, and while we got to see some of the state and the Maine coast as well (and walked part of the Freedom Trail in Boston one morning), we spent most of our time on Little Squam lake, playing in the water and visiting.

This was a whole side of the family tree I’d never met before, and I really can’t say enough good things about how warm and hospitable everyone was. John’s uncle and his family went above and beyond to show us a good time, and we’re all still talking about how fun it was and how we can’t wait to go back.

I truly enjoyed getting to know everyone, but my very favorite memories have to do with little moments with the kids: hanging out with Riley much more than usual and relishing his goofy teen self, riding on the back of a Jet Ski with Dylan driving like an absolute pro, sitting around our rental house and laughing together, watching the two of them experience the Atlantic for the first time.

I know we took on risk (and inflicted risk on others), but I believe we did the best we could: we wore masks in all the situations that required them, we were mostly outside, we left one relatively low-infection-rate area for another. In the end, I have no regrets — it was an unforgettable time, truly the kind of memory-making trip you hope for as a parent.


15 Responses to “Post-trip pondering”

  1. PETE J HAIDINYAK on August 2nd, 2020 11:56 am

    I’m glad the trip went well and y’all had fun.

  2. PETE J HAIDINYAK on August 2nd, 2020 11:56 am

    BTW, nice looking family.

  3. Martha Pepek on August 2nd, 2020 12:50 pm

    New Hampshire is a really special place. I have lived here all my life. We have the ocean, mountains, lakes, and close proximity to Boston. I have been lucky enough to travel across a lot of our country (I have never been to your neck of the woods) and seen quite a bit of the world, but I always love coming home! What excellent memories you are creating with your boys. I plan to do more of the same with my boy, once this stupid pandemic is over. We love checking out new places together…he has my traveling bug. Next time you are out this way, maybe we could connect for coffee. I am glad you had such a great time!

  4. Karen on August 2nd, 2020 4:34 pm

    I look at things this way: Every day we wake up and live,there is a risk of dying. Every day could be our last. Healthy people should live. If others make another choice, that’s fine, too. The judgments must stop. My own elderly mother quarantined for a while but she’s by herself and it was so lonely. Locking yourself inside your home, fearing death, was a sort of dying for her and so she got out and started to do things. When things stopped being locked down where I live, the majority of people I would see go out to eat were the ELDERLY! They wanted to live! They chose to risk the dreaded virus and live! We are here on earth to live.

  5. Jill on August 2nd, 2020 5:47 pm

    I am glad you went on your trip. Life is strange right now, but I am tired of people being so judgmental. Live your best life and enjoy it. If others think it’s foolish, so be it. Looks like you all enjoyed a wonderful vacation in a beautiful location. (and I thought your pictures were great!)

  6. Donna on August 3rd, 2020 7:38 am

    Jealous. So so jealous. It’s so beautiful.

  7. Heather on August 3rd, 2020 8:37 am

    Looks like a great trip. For what it’s worth, back in June – after our planned vacation to Yellowstone was cancelled – we briefly considered a trip to the Oregon coast, which is one of our family’s favorite places to visit. We ultimately decided not to go, but I frequently find myself wishing that we had, mostly because I think there would have been some of those moments with our teenaged son like you described, moments of closeness that we’re not getting cooped up in our house.

  8. Molly on August 3rd, 2020 8:44 am

    There are only so many summers when your kids are young and at home and not fleeing from you at every turn. I’m glad you were able to make such a special trip happen!

  9. sara favoright on August 3rd, 2020 9:27 am

    The trip looks lovely! I’m exhausted with everyone having to defend whatever choices they make. We cant stay inside forever, thats not living. Wear masks, wash hands, be conscious of space, etc. Everyone just needs to be cautious and get on with it.

  10. Valria Lopez on August 3rd, 2020 3:01 pm

    In a world where I currently can only live vicariously through others. LOOKS like a great time.
    Glad you had fun, stayed safe and made memories.

  11. Jill on August 3rd, 2020 5:03 pm

    We are currently living in Korea so it was bad here at first and now it’s more or less fine (mostly because everyone wears masks everywhere they go without question) so I sometimes feel guilty posting our vacation pictures and awaiting my kids’ return to school in a few weeks but our family and friends in the US mostly just seem so blase about the whole thing. My family is all crossing state borders to visit each other and I have other friends flying to Florida for the beaches. I think your trip seems like one of the lowest risk that I’ve seen, so absolutely no judgment there, but the US in general is just a mess. I was supposed to come home for my brother’s wedding this fall and clearly now I won’t even though they are still planning the wedding. Your trip pictures look beautiful; New Hampshire is not an area I’ve visited but it looks so pretty!

  12. Tess on August 3rd, 2020 5:55 pm

    I know in my mind that children grow up. But how did the turtle baby turn into a man?!?!??!! Your family is so lovely. I am glad you are all safe and able to enjoy time together.

  13. Pat Birnie on August 4th, 2020 1:56 pm

    I’m so glad you had a wonderful trip -and I echo many of the comments above. 1. Where did this man child of yours come from? 2. I’m so tired of people judging. I was extremely careful and quite isolated at first as I’m high risk. My husband and I went to our little cottage a few weekends in March/April as I have severe asthma and we just wanted to get out of the city. We shopped here, packed our car and drove directly to our cottage where we stayed, never exposing anyone. Our (formerly very friendly) neighbours up there are now completely snubbing us. My feelings is they have no idea what our situation is and didn’t bother to find out. We also chose to fly across Canada to visit two of our kids we hadn’t seen for a year. Cases are extremely low where we live and where our kids live. We wore masks as required and practiced all the other safety measures. People judge or have their opinions — not my business what other people say about me as long as I am making responsible choices. Love your pics!

  14. M.A. on August 12th, 2020 10:12 am

    Linda, I’m so happy you are posting again. I love your writing style and everything you have to say, and it’s been a pleasure and an honor to watch you and your family grow. THANK YOU! <3 <3 <3

  15. Christine on August 16th, 2020 2:46 pm

    I’m really glad you could go and you had a great time and it all worked out.

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