Can it really be called a vacation when you're not really looking forward to it all that much, you don't expect to have a whole lot of fun and you're going to a place you would probably never choose to go willingly? I don't think so. Hence the quotation marks of doubt (yes, that's what they are).
We are getting ready to go away and it's all Redheaded Snippet's fault. If she wasn't so stinking good at field hockey, none of this would be happening! She has been selected, once again (can't seem to lose that note of maternal pride), to compete in the National Championship in Virginia Beach. Apparently, it makes for good exposure to college coaches and recruiters and looks good on a resume, so I am told. All I know is she has learned a lot from this program she is in and her skills have definitely improved as a result. So we're going.
The Viking seems to have fooled himself into thinking this is a vacation. I don't know what that man's problem is. He thought that last year, a folly I can somewhat understand as it was our first year and we were in blissful ignorance. But this year, we're sadder and wiser and yet he continues to act like we're going to have the time of our lives. I guess that's the basic difference between him and me: he's an eternal optimist and I'm a confirmed pessimist.
I am looking at this venture as a business trip. We are going for Snippet to play hockey. And they don't mess around down there; there are 9 am meetings, 8 am practices and 6 am games! They play rain or shine (with delays for thunder and lightning), cold or hot and believe me, it's going to be hot! Last year was absolutely miserable. I honestly don't understand the thinking behind forcing parents to sit in the blazing Southern sun without a trace of shade for hours on end. The only relief available was in the form of five-dollar vials of somewhat cool water sold at the "concession stand". And if you were lucky, and the wind (if there was any) was blowing the right way, you might get caught in the spritz of the field sprinklers. That's right, they hose down the turf, but not the players or spectators.
I don't like heat, I don't like salt water, I hate sand and humidity and I'm naturally the color of paste. Needless to say, I am not a beach person. I haven't been to the beach in about three years and I don't intend for that to change. So between the climate and the schedule, I'm not expecting much rest or relaxation.
We have been researching cheap or free things to do in VA Beach and have quite a good list going! We're going to try to divide and conquer while we're there which means I will take Snippet to the hockey field while The Viking takes Man-Cub to do things to make up for the fact that he gets dragged all over the place because his sister plays hockey.
We've arranged for the dog/house-sitter and booked our hotel and I've been doing extra laundry each day to get ready for the dreaded packing of the suitcases. But now it's time to do the most dreaded planning of all: meals. Last year we stayed in a room with a kitchenette including a 2-burner stove, full fridge, sink, microwave and even a small dishwasher! There was cookware, tableware, even dish soap, pot holders and dish towels! I really kind of loved that place. I cooked all of our meals (except for breakfast, which the hotel so very benevolently provided) and we saved a ton of money.
The problem this year is we couldn't find a hotel with a kitchenette in our price range. All we'll have is a microwave and mini-fridge. So I have to be creative in addition to being thrifty, although I would say that there is a great deal of creativity already built into thrift so to be precise, I need to be even MORE creative! Aye me.
We have a nice, big cooler which we can fill every day from the hotel's ice machine to keep things that won't fit in the fridge. I also have an electric skillet that I can use to heat up things that won't fit in the microwave (plus I am not very skilled with micro-cookery...I only use mine to thaw meat). We have decided to eat out once while we're there as a treat.
So, I need ideas for five-days-worth of foods that I can either cook beforehand, freeze and reheat there or things that will be quick and easy to prepare with just an electric skillet. I'm already thinking tacos for one night (cooking up the meat and prepping all the other fixin's ahead of time and stashing them in zip top bags). I can bake some boneless chicken breasts and reheat them in a microwave along with some canned corn and maybe instant mashed potatoes? And, of course, there's always lunchmeat sandwiches or hot dogs in a thermos for lunches. But what else????
Sigh. I've tired myself out just thinking about it. Maybe I'd better go throw in another load of laundry and make the beds to take my mind off of menus. And then I'll make some lists, lots and lots of lists: clothes to pack lists, toiletries lists, cooler lists, chores to complete before departure lists, you name it!
Right, off to launder...