Lessons Learned from Bar Harbor…

The hubby’s family takes a destination family reunion vacation every three to four years. We have been to Virginia Beach, VA, Hilton Head, SC, Branson, MO, Estes Park, CO, Brown County, IN, and now, Bar Harbor, Maine! (I’ve probably forgotten a few, too.)

When one tries to get 36.5 people together in one location where none of us live, it’s an interesting “expedition,” both planning-wise and execution-wise. (When one of the homes you rented actually has “servants quarters,” you realize just how large this family has gotten!) Thankfully, the family “travels well” and when we hit “road bumps,” we muddle through it all together. Here’s my take on the lessons learned from the latest vacay with pretty much the entire family:

  1. Start planning the next vacation while you’re at the current one…it will take that long to plan.
  2. Count on adding at least 5 people to the family between the last vacay and the next.
  3. At least one member of the family will be pregnant at the time of each vacay.
  4. Add 6 bedrooms to the number of current bedrooms needed for the next vacay.
  5. Just rent out an entire hotel and call it good the next time. It will probably be cheaper.
  6. Cancel # 5 because we still insist on cooking 2/3’s of the meals ourselves.
  7. Each rental house needs to have the following:
  • An elevator
  • Two dishwashers
  • Two dryers
  • Two refrigerators
  • A massive grill
  • A Keurig machine
  • A Kitchen-Aid mixer
  • Pots big enough for a kid to hide in (a relatively big kid)
  • At least a foosball table, pool table, pool or air hockey table
  • A massive porch or porches
  • Enough dining space to accommodate 2 dozen people without running into each other
  • A kitchen big enough to land a jet in
  • Wicked fast wi-fi
  • Extra sheets and towels for all bathrooms and bedrooms
  • Plungers for all bathrooms
  • A gorgeous view
  • A nice yard
  • Enough parking space for 9-11 cars without requiring parallel parking
  • Soundproof walls
  • 4 sets of “service for 12” china
  • 6 serving platters
  • 6 sets of tongs
  • 4-6 large bowls
  • 2 large-sized economy grills
  • A partridge in a pear tree
  1. When you can’t find everything in # 7, look at bed and breakfasts, condo complexes, small motels, google the same thing 300 or 400 times, and conclude that you need to double the budget for the housing.
  2. Investigate why the week selected doesn’t fall within “the season.” It may be because it’s during the “hypothermia season” which is mid-June.
  3. Inform the local area that a family monsoon is about to invade and to load up on the following:
  • Pancake mix
  • Eggs
  • Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Fair Life and Lactaid milk
  • Distilled water
  • Bottled water
  • K-cups
  • Cereal
  • Bread
  • Jelly
  • Peanut Butter
  • Sweetener
  • Lettuce
  • Something in the “chocolate family”–okay several “somethings”
  • Muffin mix
  • Pillsbury dough products
  • Gluten free everything
  • Allergy meds
  • Pain meds
  • Intestinal “distress” meds
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellent
  • Souvenir hats
  • Souvenir t-shirts
  • Ear plugs
  • Pasta
  • Burgers & “dogs”
  • Burger and “dog” buns
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Relish
  • Pickles
  • Mayo
  • Cheese (both sliced and shredded)
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Pecans
  • Blueberries
  • Diet Coke
  • Pepsi Zero
  • Snapple Tea
  • 4 kinds of juice
  • Coke Zero
  • Pizza
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Bread crumbs
  • Partridge bird seed
  • Partridge bird feeder
  1. Reassure the local merchants it will all be over in a week.
  2. Check with the locals to see if major road construction is planned for 2 years from now. If planned, look for a new location with 2 homes with all of the aforementioned.
  3. Book those two ideal homes at least a year in advance.
  4. Assure the ideal homeowners that we’re a smoke-free, party-hearty-free, drug-free (other than what’s prescribed or over-the-counter), clean, gentle-on-furnishings kind of family.
  5. Exceed their expectations.
  6. Have the eldest niece and her family plan the itinerary of sight-seeing and family activities for the week. Let’s just call her the “Cruise Director.”
  7. Have some attorneys in the family for any legal/contract disputes that might arise.
  8. Have a nurse practitioner and optometrist in the family for any near medical emergencies.
  9. Have an aunt around who’s a walking pharmacy.
  10. Have several web developers and computer engineers around for all technical issues.
  11. Have several accountants and math teachers around to keep who owes who what straight.
  12. If you shop with a 15-month-old blonde hair, blue-eyed boy who waves at all passersby and their pooches, expect shopping to take twice as long.
  13. If you shop with a 15-month-old blonde hair, blue-eyed boy, expect your souvenir shopping budget to triple.
  14. Let the parents of little ones have a night off from parenting duties.
  15. Let the grandparents have a night off from the night off.
  16. When they say you’ll catch salmon and bass, remember to inquire about the average size of said salmon and bass and the last time anyone caught those. If the answers are less than satisfactory, enjoy the boat ride.
  17. When both the captain and the naturalist warn you four times that the whale watching tour might encounter rough seas, get off the boat immediately.
  18. When encountering rough seas, don’t expect Dramamine to come to your rescue.
  19. Consider it a bad sign when the crew members carry a roll of paper towels, a huge bottle of disinfectant, a squeegee and barf bags on their person as a matter of routine.
  20. If it’s advertised as a whale watching tour, expect to see lighthouses, seals and puffins. Consider renaming the tour???
  21. Remind yourself to find a nearby mobster to take out your tour guide for the 300 times she says, “This is going to be a big wave.”
  22. Go to the back of the boat if seasick.
  23. Expect to freeze and get wet at the back of the boat.
  24. If the title of the restaurant features “Atlantic Brewing Company” in it, confirm which one you’re all meeting at by address first.
  25. A pound of lobstah is actually about 5 ounces. Is this some kind of new metric system?
  26. Marvel at tall ships and cruise ships routinely going right past your back yard.
  27. Show the younger set all the great places to get pretty shells on the sand bar at low tide.
  28. Have lunch at the Terrace Grill, even if it’s cold. Just sit in the sunlight, bring a sweater (maybe two) and “mess” with your waiter’s head. Let him mess with yours right back.
  29. Get the 411 about life as a 2nd grader and 5th grader and their “fam squads.”
  30. Eat a lobster at the Bar Harbor Lobster Bakes and save room for that blueberry cake.
  31. Catch up with the rest of the family and marvel at how everyone seems to be doing well in spite of the fact that the rest of the country seems to be falling apart.
  32. Consider it cute when a young one has a melt down because it’s not your own anymore!
  33. Enjoy “Ghost Room Service” by some mysterious younger members of the family.
  34. Play board games with 27 people who “get you” and still let you stay in the family.
  35. Worship together. Expect miracles during the service–such as a 15 month old taking 10 steps on his own for the first time! Also expect a “moving floor” comprised of the “under 6” crowd.
  36. Bless the meals together.
  37. Celebrate monumental birthdays.
  38. Enjoy the variety of great food provided by great amateur chefs.
  39. Eat the leftovers!
  40. Keep the advice to yourself.
  41. Love the ones you’d like to advise.
  42. Be okay with the not-so-great tours and adventures taken together because they were taken together.
  43. Listen to the wisdom of the preceding generation and your own.
  44. Be thankful for it all.
  45. Wonder how you got lucky enough to ever marry into this family.

Monday’s Post: Did you know the WOW?

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This entry was posted on Friday, June 15th, 2018 at 7:39 am and is filed under Lessons Learned. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


  1. June 15th, 2018 | Judith Heinrich says:

    Sounds like there is an Arnold in this mix!!!!! Good trip!

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