Every summer one of my best friends travels to a resort in Wisconsin where her family fishes and they kick back. They all go. First her parents went and now she and her brothers and often many of their children. I always thought this was so wonderful that they all traveled together, and now that we had two family trips this past year I realize I was right: generational travel is the best!
A generational trip takes on a different meaning than traveling with your children when they are young. A recent trips with my son and his wife and another this past summer with my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren offered insights into their lives. We saw the humor and the way they handle one another and how kind they were to us. This was just a few of the benefits of generational travel.
The trip in May was to Tybee Island Georgia. We stayed in a condominium near the beach. We spent some days together and at other times my husband and I set off by ourselves, including touring around Savannah. We took a hop on, hop off trolley tour, dined at Paul Deans, and most of all, the amazing Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House.
We spent most of our time on Tybee Island. While we often ate in the condo, we also had some fun meals out. Breakfast at the aptly named Breakfast Club was amazing and my son-in-law loved that they diehard Chicago Cub fans.
We toured the Tybee Island lighthouse, which was built in 1773. Many different flags have flown there when the island was under the rule of Spanish, French, and amazingly enough pirates, as well as the Confederate government and then finally the United States of America.
Privacy is also a must on a generational vacation, especially when the spouses of our children are on the trip. It’s great to be all together but time apart is crucial.
On these family trips, the south and the beach are our favorite destinations as we leave the snow-covered fields of Illinois behind. On the way south, we stopped at Lookout Mountain and rode what is called the steepest passenger rail line in the country. Besides offering amazing scenery, it is an engineering wonder. The train car takes you for a mile ride offering a view of Chattanooga and the surrounding countryside. The cars are trolley like and at one point I held my breath as it went up a steep 72.7% grade.
We also checked out Robert Craven’s site, which is part of the famous Battle Above the Clouds. His home was used by both the Confederate and Union armies. The history of this place with is both somber and fascinating.
The next day we spotted the Crime and Punishment Museum in Ashburn, Georgia. We had to stop and see just what had happened over the years at this former Turner County jail. And then it was on to the Jefferson Davis Capture site and then full tilt off to Jacksonville Beach.
Once we arrived, the ocean and the quiet dignity of the Casa Marina did its job of turning my families focus on the ocean, the sun and the amazing view this historic hotel has to offer. At the Casa Marina we had have beach-side views, plus the magic of being in an historic hotel that opened their doors in 1925.
In 1895, W.E. Scull, a railroad surveyor arrived at the beach and named it Ruby Beach after his daughter. Over time many mostly wooden hotels were built along boardwalks and most were destroyed by fire. The Casa Marina got it right, utilizing a Spanish Mediterranean design that was composed of stucco, concrete, tile and had a sprinkler system to protect its 200 guests.
The hotel has hosted political greats like Harry Truman and, FDR, but also the famous and infamous like Mary Pickford and Al Capone. During World War II, the hotel was used by the military. Over the years it was used in a variety of way and eventually closed. In 1991 it reopened with a new veranda and the Penthouse Lounge, where we enjoyed cocktails while soaking in the unrivaled views.
Generational travel offered us the chance to do and see things we may not have stopped to see on our own. We climbed the steps to the Tybee Island lighthouse; we went on a dolphin cruise and a boat ride off Amelia Island where hammerhead sharks breed. We saw an island with wild horses, tried a martini and talked, laughed and loved.
Now, I have set sights on a trip to Louisville with my mom and my youngest daughter Allie soon. This past year I lost my father and a friend who was like a second mother to us. More and more I realize the importance of taking the time for an afternoon walk or a short weekend trip or the adventure of a weeklong getaway with the entire family.