Buss Family Vacation!!

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments



Starting out at four thirty in the morning.

Driving 700 hundred miles on the first day.

Riding through the painted desert with no air conditioning.

Two meals per day, breakfast and dinner, because there was no reason to stop sightseeing for lunch.

These are just a few of the many memories from my childhood family vacations.  My parents took our family from coast to coast.  We were introduced  to multiple national monuments and historical sites.  All of this helped create the foundation for what I believed were “traditional” family vacations.

Fast forward twenty five years and I find myself embarking on our first “official” family vacation.  We’ve taken trips to the lake before but this venture involves riding in a vehicle for anywhere from 800 to 1,000 miles one way, booking hotel rooms for the whole family and planning for a week in the Colorado mountains at a friend’s cabin.   And the key for this trip – all seven members are coming (or have to go, depending on who you talk to).

In the month before departure, a tentative list of activities were planned:

  1. Visit Garden of the Gods
  2. Explore the forest surrounding the cabin with multiple ATV rides
  3. Play disc golf until we can’t walk anymore
  4. Multiple hikes up and around the mountain
  5. Shoot the potato gun to our heart’s content
  6. Family time playing games
  7. If time permits, go to Pike’s Peak – driving up and not shelling out the cash for the train
  8. If boredom settles in, contemplate taking the canoe with a couple boys at a time to a local river.

For a week’s worth of vacation and my own personal vacation history of early departures and long days, this seemed infinitely feasible.  Not just that, it appeared that I may not have had enough items planned.  My ego began to swell with small bits of pride at the prospect of helping to continue the Buss family vacation experience.

How does that phrase go. . . “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.”   In my case my intentions were noble but I neglected to fully understand two things:  differences in my current family dynamics versus what I experienced growing up and the ultimate fact that my plans may not always be in line with the Master’s perfect plan.

From the start, our journey  west to Colorado was adapted to account for the fact that we still have a three and five year old that might not travel as well as the older children.  Driving was split into two days and even included a very fun stop with family friends only a couple hours from our end destination.  After visiting our friends, the agenda should have gone into full swing – Garden of the Gods, other items in Colorado Springs and then off to the cabin in the woods.

“Babe, I’ve been checking online and there’s a urgent care clinic that opens at 8 a.m.  Think I need to get there.”  That was how I greeted my wife on Monday morning of our Colorado vacation.  Chest and back pains accompanied with a fear of bronchitis or pneumonia prompted me.

Sidenote – some might be view my actions as a bit of over reaction.  Jump back 10 months and our family lost 3 to 4 weeks battling pneumonia.   Fortunately the doctor dismissed that theory.  But the family vacation plans were already being altered.

After “losing” at least half a day in the great city of Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods was crossed off the “to do” list.  Instead, my wife and I got to herd our brood of five boys through Costco while attempting to choose the right amount of food to feed both our family and fit into the already stuffed Yukon toting our clan.

Mid point of Monday afternoon our journey finally reached the cabin in the woods.  Surely the rest of the week would go according to schedule.

First official full day at the cabin and 18 holes of disc golf had been accomplished along with a small trail run.  Feeling back on track, I decided to strike another item off the list.


Jesse voiced a desire to ride with dear old dad on the back of the ATV.  Helmets donned and heeding the advice from Mom to be careful, the two of us journeyed out onto national forest trails.  Fifteen minutes into the ride, I managed to commit a common but dangerous mistake.

“You ok, Jesse?” I asked.

Jesse pulled his feet quickly out from under the side of the tipped ATV.  “Yeah, I’m ok.”

Thankfully, all was well with Jesse and the only problems I really had were a bloody hand, an overturned ATV plus the thought of telling my wife that we had tipped on our first trip out.  Again, not exactly what I had planned for our trip.

Day three of the Colorado excursion started a family hike to the top of the mountain in back of the cabin.  Three hours later six of the seven family members were sitting back in the cabin ready for a rest.  Chalk off one more thing on the family vacation list.

The end of the day, however, should have cautioned me about the rest of the items on the family vacation “to-do” list.  For over a week, my oldest son had been experiencing what we thought were several uncomfortable fever blisters.  Running low on medicine, the family jumped into the Yukon to travel 40 minutes to the nearest pharmacy.   Of course, the promise of ice cream made the trip more bearable for all involved.

Day four started with hopes of potatoes flying into the air and tooling around on the ATV.

“JD, I think we need to take Jake to urgent care,” was Kelly’s opening statement for the day.  “He’s getting worse, not better.”

Potato gun in hand I was faced with the decision – do I drive the whole family two hours east to Urgent care to diagnose Jake or hope he feels better and try to stay on plan for the day.  Concerned parent won out.

“If we’re already going to be in Colorado Springs shouldn’t we do something there?”  Kelly asked.

Good point.  We could move down the list and make the run up to Pike’s Peak.

“What about taking the train to top?” Kelly asked to that suggestion.

Spend money when we could drive up and avoid spending money?  Move back 30 years and I knew my father wouldn’t even ask that question.   But we are a family of seven with four of the five boys 10 and under riding in a car that is a decade old.  Losing a transmission will cost much more.  The train ride won out.


At 10 p.m. that night, driving curvy mountain roads back to the cabin I realized something.  A second trip to urgent care, tooling around Colorado Springs and then riding the train to the top of Pike’s Peak may end up being more memorable than any of the “to-do” list items I could ever write down.

Friday morning donned and provided opportunities for multiple ATV rides – no tipping took place – along with several chances to send spuds airborne.  In less than 24 hours the Buss clan will exit the cabin and make the journey back to Kansas.  Will our first official family vacation be a success?

Look at the original list we could say a partial success.  Looking at the amount of time we spent together and memories achieved, I could say a resounding success.  Of course, now I also realize why my parents only did these types of trips once a year.

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