A few weeks ago we were able to host our first Alumni Week at the lake. It was a great vacation memory to build with former residents and to continue building relationships. It got me thinking about what vacation memories our board and staff have. And here they are for you! Be sure to respond in the comments with your own memories!

Jessica Henman-Board Secretary, Princess Dance Planning Crew

When I was little, the biggest vacation my family was able to take was to northern Ohio to a couple of amusement parks. We stayed at a Holiday Inn and every night smelled yummy things coming from the restaurant next door. We decided to go on our last night of vacation, and walked in in our t shirts and shorts, to be greeted by a maitre d’ in a tux. He very graciously seated us without comment or even a second glance, placed the linen napkins in our laps, and proceeded to give us one of the most memorable dining experiences of our lives–even when my mom, who had carefully taught us to use the right fork and behave correctly in a fancy restaurant, shot a rib bone across the table.

Alyssa Hilburn-Case Manager/Volunteer Coordinator

We always spent part of the summer with my grandparents in Oklahoma. They live on a farm/cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere. We swam in the creek, explored the pasture and always had a blast! We would also spend a portion of that time with my uncle on his ranch. That was my favorite part because I got to spend the majority of the time on horseback with him.

Cindy Lawson- Board Member, Communications Innovation Crew

About 15 years ago (SHUT UP….it can’t be that long ago!!!), I took my three kids to the Smoky Mountains for a vacation.   It was my first road trip with just me and the kids, so it was a little scary.   We stayed in a great wood cabin and shared many great memories.      One of the highlights of the vacation was a white water rafting trip on the river.   It was so much fun, but the river was definitely “raging” with a lot of bumps and drops.    As we neared a bend in the river, the guide told us that there was a camera posted at the bend to the left.    It would shoot a pic and we would be able to purchase it at the end of the trip.   Well my 16 year old daughter found the camera in “mid-paddle”,  and posed with a pretty smile ….. and then bounced out of the canoe because she was not holding on!  LOL….we recovered her, but lots of ribbing later on.   She DID however take a nice picture.

Geries Shaheen- Housedad

For our anniversary a few years ago, we decided to take a bus from Cancun to Chichen Itza three hours and want to see the Mayan ruins.  They gave us the wrong boarding time so we missed the bus. We found a very inexpensive manual transmission vehicle to rent for the day and maneuvered our way through thick forested terrain. We arrived enjoy the day and drove back. Adventure awaits!

Heather Hussey- Board Member, Communications Innovation Crew

In June 2012, my family (husband and three kids), along with my husband’s extended family (husband’s parents, grandparents, brother and cousins), rented a beach house in Panama City, FL like we do every year. Well, my mother in law had been wanting a family photo of everyone, so I hired a Florida photographer. Well, after a few poses here and a few poses there, the photographer replaced the typical “say cheese” with “say Heather’s pregnant.” It was so awesome to announce the coming of our new baby to our whole family WHILE also capturing their reactions!

Kirk Kasicki- Board Member, Gala Planning Crew
When Emma was four we went to Disneyland. It was the perfect time to go for her because all the Disney “magic” was real. One of things that we did was to find the princesses in the park. We were able to meet Cinderella, Belle, and Sleeping Beauty all at one time. Cinderella was her absolute favorite and Emma’s face just lit up. Unfortunately (for her) she had to meet Belle first. She told Belle that she was her “second favorite” and that she was really there to meet Cinderella. My wife and I bust out laughing and Belle had to suppress a smile but played along very well.

Amanda Shaheen-House Mom
My family were the weirdos  that had to come up with something obscure to bring home from a family vacation. One year while visiting Colorado’s Pike’s Peak…my mother got the genius idea to bring home a small boulder…you know…to put out as a lawn ornament in our yard. So my father pulled up to the side of passing zone on the mountain, our mini van door slid open, my mom lunged out of the van with my dad, and they grabbed the biggest rock they could carry. It got placed with my brother and I in the back. As we made our way down the mountain to the park gate (where park rangers were stationed) my mom fashioned all the pillows around the rock, and told my brother and I to lay down on them. Out of the park we went, with our cleverly discussed boulder in the back seat. To this day that ridiculously rock sits outside my parents house.

Mark Hollander- Board Treasurer, RUSH 5K Planning Crew
South Padre Island, TX in 2005.  Melissa and I took the girls down to Padre Island for a week of relaxation and playing on the beach.  We decided to take a drive into Brownsville, TX one afternoon and somehow got into a lane that lead us into Mexico.  We had absolutely no intention of driving into Mexico and I was the only one with a drivers license – no identifications or passports – and we were sure that they would never allow us back into the US.  Fortunately, we had a very nice border guard who too pity on us and allowed us back into our homeland.  My girls still giggle at me today about it.

Erica Grogg- House Aide
Something my sister and I do on every vacation is search for places for fun pictures where it looks like I’m throwing her off a mountain, bridge, cliff, etc. It gives us some fun pictures to take home and it never fails that we make our parents incredibly nervous whilst taking the pictures! One of my favorite parts of vacations is when my mom and I go searching for old cemeteries. It sounds crazy, but we love walking around and reading the headstones to try to figure out all the “hidden history” buried in the cemeteries. It’s incredibly peaceful and gives you a unique view of the area.There is always one day on vacations that my sister and I have a “date.” We have done so many things like walking around Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, biking along Lake Michigan, or even roaming around aimlessly to get lost then find our way back.

Kevin Thompson- Board President, Facilities Innovation Crew

Mid 2000’s, family vacation at a house on the beach in Gulf Shores, AL.  Kids were swimming in the ocean and I was on the deck watching.  I saw manta rays approaching them, and was yelling and pointing for them to look.  They couldn’t hear me, but saw my pointing and looked.  Just then, the ray put one tip of his fin out of the water, and it looked exactly like a shark fin.  I have never seen kids exit the water so quickly!  One of our sons and daughters were practically climbing over each other.  We still laugh about it!

Carissa Figgins- Executive Director

One of my favorite childhood vacation memories was anything involving my Grandpa Price. He was a renaissance man who could paint, read, fish, hunt, invent, sing, play guitar, etc. One of my favorite summers I think I was around 9 and was spending a big chunk of the summer at my grandparents lakehouse at Lake of the Ozarks. My grandpa decided to build a swim deck for all the grandchildren that was nearest to the deepest part of our “swimming hole.” He made it so easy for us to fish, get in and out the water, tie our rafts to it, or just have a place to sit and read that wasn’t hard wood with nails sticking out of it. My grandfather loved the outdoors and made sure all of us appreciated it as well.