Summer Vacations That Could Have Been
by Stephanie Gold
Summer vacations for my family meant a rented cabin on Lake George.
We kids ran barefoot, swam, and impaled our thighs on those nasty inner
tube things. I ate toasted almond Good Humor bars, and my brother whipped
me at tetherball. We also went to Israel when I was 12, taking turns toting and
mollifying our 5-year-old sister, seeking spiceless burgers for my culinarily
challenged brother, and visiting the Western Wall, where I wedged into the
ancient stone cracks my futile plea for a horse.
I'd have opted for a dude ranch vacation instead, but, tragically, Gene Kilgore's
"Ranch Vacations" wasn't published yet. The color photos show happy families in
gorgeous settings from desert to pine barrens, riding horses and having fun. This
book would have provided irrefutable support for my dream horse holiday. Of
course, it also tells about places for fly-fishing and cross-country skiing, for them
what like that sort of thing, and provides the incidentals of cost, location,
accommodations, and entertainment for more than 300 vacation ranches.
To truly wallow in my deprived childhood, I turn to Richard Reeves's "Family
Travels." It isn't organized around horses, but the whole family does take off to
see the world, visiting Tokyo and Denpasar, Ubud and Yogyakarta (my family
never took me to Ubud), Delhi, Jerusalem (yes, I know), and Paris, for starters.
For little more than a deluxe month at a dude ranch (as Richard's wife points out,
round-the-world tickets are such bargains) they (all eight of them) saw the world,
averaging a mere $125 per person per day.
I haven't started a family, but when I do you can be sure we'll travel everywhere
(by horse, preferably). And as we're galloping Arabians down a Jordanian canyon,
I'll hear my children's voices above the clop of hooves on ancient rock, whining "we
want a cabin by a lake."
--Stephanie Gold is a freelance writer in San Francisco. She has since seen the world, ridden an Arabian in Jordan, and retained a taste for toasted almond Good Humor bars.