Acapulco's Second Act


Mexico's original beach town has reclaimed its old-school allure.

Long before Cancún or Los Cabos or the Riviera Maya were even specks on the tourist map, Acapulco reigned as Mexico’s coastal queen. Acapulqueños have recently worked hard to restore Old Acapulco and the Costera, and posh resorts and malls have risen in the newest neighborhood, Acapulco Diamante. The result is a thoroughly modern vacation destination rich in culture and history. Now is the time to visit—or revisit—the place where Mexico’s tourism fame was born.

OLD ACAPULCO

In the early Hollywood days, Playa Caleta and Playa Caletilla, on the western shores of Acapulco Bay, saw the most action. Today, the ’50s have returned with the restoration of the beachfront Hotel Boca Chica. The designers faithfully retained the mid-century architecture and the tiny Coco Wash disco, which has become the hippest hangout in town. Chef Keisuke Harada creates platters of sushi and Kobe burgers for happy hordes at the hotel’s restaurants; on weekends, locals pull their yachts up to the dock and linger for hours over mescal martinis.

With Boca Chica grabbing attention, travelers are also being lured to the palapa-shaded fish shacks on Playa Caletilla. Here families gather beneath blue umbrellas, and water taxis take swimmers to the clear waters off Isla Roqueta, just 10 minutes away. At the nearby Plaza Alvarez (also called the zócalo), elderly gents study their newspapers at sidewalk cafés as kids scamper around the filigreed bandstand. Across the street, fishermen lay out their nets beside docks where party boats collect passengers for sunset sailings.

In the winding streets high above Old Acapulco, sightseers gather at La Quebrada to witness the famed clavadistas, or cliff divers. During the show, a lone diver poses atop a jagged, precipitous cliff. Below, waves crash against rocks before settling into a small swirling pool. In the blink of an eye, the diver swoops toward the sea. Onlookers applaud as he emerges from the water, and another duplicates his feat.

THE COSTERA

Most visitors to the Costera devote the sunlight hours to lounging poolside, browsing in arcades and malls and playing in the bay. Pint-sized fun-seekers enjoy the rides at Papagayo Park and the waterslides at CICI waterpark.

As evening sets in, families head to the Hard Rock Cafe for burgers and ribs. Partygoers seek out tables at Paradise or Beto’s, among the best of the clubs on the sand, or retire to high-end restaurants and discos in the hills. Horse-drawn calesas (carriages) clomp along the Costera, delivering dancers to Baby ’O, one of the best-known discos. And fireworks and laser beams shoot over the bay from the hilltop clubs until dawn.

ACAPULCO DIAMANTE

Perhaps the best evidence of Acapulco’s resurgence lies in the burgeoning Diamante neighborhood. Stretching from the Costera up the steep, winding Scenic Highway, Diamante has legendary discos, championship golf courses, lavish resorts, a concert hall and a shiny new mall.

Several large timeshare resorts are also found on the beaches of Acapulco Diamante, close to attractions like the La Isla shopping center at Punta Diamante, which has lured some of the Costera’s well-known establishments (including the family-friendly yet rowdy Carlos’n Charlie’s). Kids can head to the mall’s Aqua Planet, with bumper boats and mini-golf, as well as displays that teach about water conservation. And at Mundo Imperial, an enormous development with a convention center and hotel, the stars of today appear at the Forum, a state-of-the-art concert hall. With the three sides of Acapulco all in a state of transformation, Mexico’s coastal queen is once again the biggest star on the map.

 

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Cozumel – Island of Swallows


Josef W.Walking down the stone streets of Playa del Carmen, past the numerous vendors and quaint shops, the ferry to Cozumel slowly comes into view. It looks sleek, fast and modern sitting atop the crystal clear blue water of the ocean. As we wait in line with mild trepidation to board, we watch the families play along the pristine white sand beach, bathed in the warm sunlight. Boarding the ship is quite a breeze once the gate opens and we are soon under way heading to Cozumel. As Cozumel slowly comes into focus, small droplets of ocean water cool us off during our complimentary sun tan on the 30 minute ferry ride. Arriving in Cozumel proves to be as easy as boarding was and we are soon on our way to the resort.

One of the first things that we noticed about Cozumel was that it feels like mainland Mexico, yet feels very different as well. There were numerous places to rent scooters on the side of the road, offering adventurous travelers the opportunity to explore the island on their own. They seem to be quite the popular mode of transportation to get around for the tourists and locals alike. We quickly leave the town limits of San Miguel de Cozumel, the capital, and drive along the highway towards our vacation destination. The resort staff is quickly at our service with towels and fresh drinks upon our arrival. We are quickly checked in and on our way to explore the resort. Having the ocean right outside our door along with a convenient ocean-side bar made this stay quite the treat.

The island seems to move at a slower pace than the mainland which makes everything more relaxing. We managed to spend some time exploring the local shops and dining at a quaint restaurant in the heart of San Miguel. The locals are eager to show you their items for sale and are quite friendly.  The food was amazing in both taste and presentation. We truly enjoyed spending a nice evening exploring this charming city. Don’t forget to also spend some time snorkeling at the largest reef in the Western Hemisphere, located off the coast of Cozumel. Make Cozumel your next vacation destination and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of Mexico!

We hope you enjoyed all of the great photos shared by RCI subscribing members. Be sure to check back with us next week!

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Cozumel – Adventure and Relaxation in One


Kristina W.Walking through the small streets of Playa Del Carmen, the excitement was building. We were heading towards the ferry terminal that would lead to our Cozumel journey. The process of using the ferry as transportation was quite simple and enjoyable. It was a beautiful sight to see the island coming into view as we felt the calm waves of the ocean rocking the ferry. Upon arrival on Cozumel, transportation to the resort was easy. The island of Cozumel is not an overwhelming size as it is roughly 30 miles long and 10 miles wide. There is one main road that circles the island, so if you choose to rent a car it is pretty easy to navigate.

Once you get settled in, be sure to check out the amazing water sport activities, like snorkeling. The largest reef in the Western Hemisphere, the Mesoamerica Reef, can be explored while staying in Cozumel. The ocean is crystal clear which makes for some fantastic sightings such as tropical fish and turtles.

Back on the island, the town of San Miguel offers many unique shopping prospects. While we were visiting, we enjoyed a night out in Cozumel with a phenomenal dinner at a local restaurant. Additionally, Cozumel provides many choices for spa treatments. Whether you are looking for a relaxing vacation, or an exciting getaway full of adventure, Cozumel offers the perfect trip for any family.

We’re continuing to share RCI subscribing members’ Cozumel photos. Stay tuned, there’s more to come!

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Winter Getaway


We took a four day weekend to Door County, WI in February and stayed at The Rushes on Kangaroo Lake. We expected to hike around in some of the county and state parks while we were there. What we didn't expect were all of the extra accommodations The Rushes had to offer. They had a separate room with every size ice skate, snow shoe, cross country ski and poles for our family, as well as our 4-year-old. These activities were complimentary. We tried snowshoeing, but got hooked on cross country skiing! My husband and I wondered why we had never tried it before. Our 12-year-old son had a good time too. We could pick between three different trails varying in length and difficulty. The priceless moment was watching our 4-year-old son and the triumph on his face when he could ski too. New experiences as a family, now that's what vacation time is all about!

-Linda A. from Fond du Lac, WI

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Family Holiday Fun in Mazatlan


What better way to connect with family than to spend a week together in Mazatlan, on Mexico's west coast, and with the Christmas holiday as an added attraction. With El Cid El Moro Beach Resort as our base, three generations enjoyed an all-inclusive vacation, which made sure our grandsons never went hungry! The beach itself provided sunny days of swimming, ping-pong, water sports, and parasailing for a perfect view of the city, the coast line and the nearby islands. Shops and restaurants, within easy walking distance, made life easy for the older generation. One day we all boarded a catamaran and sailed to Deer Island, passing sea lions that lazed on the rocks, oblivious to our squeals of delight. We swam, snorkeled, rode the giant banana, kayaked, and picnicked on the beach until the magnificent sunset told us it was time to return to reality.

Christmas Eve is one of the biggest celebrations of the year. We traveled by local bus to Juarez Street in the heart of the city. Over 100 stalls at the outdoor market provided souvenirs, tee shirts, leather goods, pottery, and every food imaginable from goat to chicken feet (not legs)! The Mexicans shop there every day, but for us it was an unusual treat. Nearby the cathedral shone with its majestic spirals and stained glass windows. Christmas carols pealed from outdoor speakers and decorated Christmas trees reminded us of the holiday. A cantina lodged in the park somehow seemed out of place until we remembered where we were!

We slept with our balcony door open to hear the breaking waves and see the gorgeous sunrises. We were up at dawn every day, as we did not want to miss a thing: kids, parents, and grandparents alike.

-Karen I. from Greenwood, SC

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Family Trip


My wife and I took our son and his wife along with our newly married daughter and her husband on a wonderful vacation to Puerto Vallarta. It was our daughter and son-in-law's honeymoon and they chose to spend two weeks with all of us and one week alone. It was the greatest time and we still watch the videos. We are planning a Hawaiian vacation with the same six, and hopefully it will be as big a blast as the first. The accommodations were fantastic, adding to the pleasurable experience.

-Theresa D. from Regina, SK, Canada

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Great Family Fun in Puerto Vallarta!


We book all of our vacations through RCI and each one gets better than the next! We never did an all-inclusive, but decided to try Club Velas Vallarta in Puerto Vallarta one April. Everything about it was wonderful and far exceeded our expectations. The people in Puerta Vallarta are wonderful hosts! We ate, rode the dolphins, took an island tour and enjoyed the culture of Mexico. Thank you RCI for making it so easy for us to find a perfect vacation for our family of four!

-Patricia C. from Wilton, CT

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Terrific Time at Tamaracks


The Tamarack Resort was a beautiful resort community with lovely accommodations. The condos felt like luxury townhomes with bedrooms upstairs and the living quarters on the first level. My family had the best time using the on-site amenities like the fitness center, swimming pools, and racquetball courts. We barbequed right outside of our condo and enjoyed the spacious kitchen and living room. My husband and I had a great time, and our children were just in heaven because there were endless activities between the Dells' waterparks and the fun at the Tamaracks Resort. We are so thankful to RCI for providing these wonderful vacations for our family to enjoy.

-Carol W. from Chicago, IL

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Family Fun in the Dells


We took a vacation with my in-laws, my husband's brothers and sister, their children, my mom and step-dad, and our kids. Looking back, I have never been more pleased to have taken the trip. Eighteen of us went and had three units at Christmas Mountain Village. It was awesome for all of us to be able to be at the resort at the same time and have the option of eating there together instead of eating out everyday and trying to find room to fit all of us. Now my father-in-law has been diagnosed with COPD and has had a tough go of it and most recently is bed bound. My mother-in-law finds it difficult to get out the house now with her medical conditions. It was our only vacation we every took with all of my husband's siblings and his mom and dad. I am so happy that we have that memory because we could never do anything like that now. We were thrilled that RCI made it so easy to arrange to have so many people come down with us. Thank you RCI. To many members of our family it one of the best vacations they have ever had.

-Julie B. from Sterling Heights, MI

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81 million people in the US live within 600 miles of the Wisconsin Dells, "The Waterpark Capital of the World!®"


Beth SDid you know that more than ¼ of the total US population lives within a 600 mile radius of the Wisconsin Dells?  For many, this is less than an 8-hour drive to a destination that delivers endless hours of activities for people of all ages!

My family of five has been traveling to the Dells nearly every October for the past eight years, and we’re planning a return visit over Fall Break this year.  With three boys ages 3-14 years old, our interests change daily, and the Dells is one of the few drive-to destinations that the whole family looks forward to. Here is a list of what you can do during your trip to the Dells!

At the waterpark:

  • My 14-year old –LOVES the wave pools, surfing, water slides and sometimes a hot tub to (in his words) “chillax”J
  • My 6-year old – He’s crazy about playing basketball and getting his feet wet riding the big kid slides!  With zero-degree entry pools, water guns galore, and plenty of splashing water, there are endless kid-friendly areas to play.
  • My 3-year old – Last year he loved floating on the lazy river, chasing his brothers and gliding down the tot sized slides. 
  • Where can you find all of these amazing water park activities in the Dells?  Our personal favorites are the Wilderness Resort, Kalahari, and Mount Olympus
     

Away from the waterpark:

This week on the RCI Blog, we’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have also traveled to the Dells. Be sure to come back to take a look!

Have you vacationed in the Wisconsin Dells, what other recommendations do you have (for me and the other 81 million people living within 600 miles)?

Here’s a pic of my 2-oldest boys at the wave pool. 

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A Dream Trip to Hainan


Jenny U.As a child, I pictured Hainan as a mysterious and remote island waiting for courageous visitors to reveal its nature. It was not until many years later that my parents planned a spontaneous family trip which uncovered a fascinating and mind-soothing journey in my memory.

We took a ferry to Haikou, the northern point of Hainan. On arrival our family headed directly to a local seafood restaurant where I had steamed red crab meat, juicy shrimps and tender large yellow croaker. Never had I tasted seafood as sweet and luscious. It is said that the pristine south seawater has gifted Hainan with the most delicious seafood. The next morning, we drove alongside the East Coast national road to Sanya Bay. For miles along the road, there were people riding bicycles passing high-reaching coconut trees, cycad and palm trees swaying along the sea breeze.  Behind us, the clear blue sky stretched far to meet the edge of the dazzling seawater.

We arrived at one luxurious resort in Sanya Bay and spent half the day sitting among the sublime tropical plants and vibrant flowers. As far as I could see, I was able to spot two islands amongst thin mist and motorboats sailing around them. People can go angling, a type of fishing, on one island where the best angling club of Sanya rests.  In the afternoon, I took a walk along the bay and touched the warm sea water while fishermen were trawling (another type of fishing) and singing in the distance. People can join in and take trawling lessons, then take their self-caught fish home. Our short stay came to the end as the sun settled below the sea, leaving a golden lining in the sky.

This week on the RCI Blog we’ll be sharing a lot of great information about China. I hope this will help you plan your next vacation to China!

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Hanging With a Local


Hanging With a Local

An iguana we would catch regularly hanging out poolside at the Geo Group at Pueblo Real on our family vacation to Costa Rica. Pura vida.

-Nancy A. from Brooklyn, Michigan

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Family Vacation to Kauai


In May 2011, our family of eight enjoyed a trip of a lifetime to Kauai, Hawaii. We were celebrating our daughter's birthday, our anniversary and Mother's Day. We had a fantastic time at the Wyndham Kauai Beach Villas. The two units we had accommodated all of us very comfortably and the location was superb. Besides enjoying the pool and the beautifully landscaped gardens at the condo, we also enjoyed visiting several beaches, the Waimea Canyon, the Spouting Horn, Wailua Falls and Opaeka'a Falls. One of the highlights of our visit was the helicopter ride we booked through the condo. It took us over the Na Pali Coast and the Waimea Canyon, into an extinct volcano and over several majestic waterfalls. What awesome memories! We'd love to go back!

-Darlene A. from Red Deer, AB, Canada

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Kauai – a great vacation no matter what side of the island you are on!


Elizabeth D

Hawaii’s island of Kauai easily ranks as one of the most beautiful and tranquil places on earth.  For outdoor enthusiasts, both the North and the South sides of Kauai offer awesome activities.  Having stayed on both the North and the South sides, it's really difficult to say which is nicer as they each have a unique appeal.  Typically people shy away from the North side of the island in the winter because it tends to be rainier.  Nonetheless, it boasts lush, green vegetation, beautiful beaches, panoramic golf courses overlooking the ocean and awesome views of the island's many waterfalls. 

The North side of Kauai is home to the start of the incredible Na Pali Coast that attracts people from around the world to hike its rigorous 17-mile trail overlooking the coastline.  Another North side favorite destination is the Kilauea Lighthouse.  It too has breathtaking and is incredible for bird watching as it is located on a wildlife preserve. 

The South side is about an hour drive from the North side of the island. The South side tends to be less rainy and slightly warmer than the North side and is a perfect destination any time of the year.  The South side is home to magnificent beaches such as the beautiful Poipu Beach Park which is known for its excellent snorkeling.  In addition, it’s common place to see monk seals and sea turtles at this beach.  Families find it a great beach to spend the day at as it not only offers calm swimming conditions, but it is also home to convenient picnic facilities.

Evenings are equally tranquil in Kauai as the island offers spectacular sunsets.  In fact, there is no better way to end the day on Kauai than to take in a sunset from one of Kauai’s many beaches!

If you’d like to read more about Kauai and see some spectacular photos of the area, come back to the RCI Blog. We’ll be sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have traveled to this amazing island all week long!

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Bringing My “A” Game


Angela BA few weeks ago I was approached by Christel House to be a guest speaker for Career Day.  I was told I would present to two classes of fourth graders.  I had been to Christel House Academy in Indianapolis several times volunteering, to help with administrative items for teachers, and also for their fall family event, which RCI sponsors, but this would be my first time as a guest speaker.

When I arrived, I was seated with three other guest speakers, one of whom was Josh, an ex-marine double amputee. And I thought to myself, the kids would be in awe because he was a marine and I would really need to bring my A game to keep their attention!

Each class had approximately twenty students. Since I work in the vacation business, and Christel House is one of Wyndham’s Charity of Choice foundations, I wanted to focus my presentation on how we engage our associates to continue to create vacation dreams for our members, and the importance of organizations giving back to the community where they are located.

Since I was speaking to students and RCI is about vacations, I decided to include a geography quiz within my presentation, so that I could reward the students who answered the geography questions correctly.  The photo below is from one of the classes I spoke to, where in the end, I gave each student a Frisbee with the RCI logo on it!

CHA Students

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“Work hard. Believe in yourself. Set goals. Surround yourself with good people."


Becky ABecky A., Director, Christel House Indianapolis

A few weeks ago, I attended the very first graduation for our Christel House Drop Out Recovery School (DORS) here in Indianapolis. It is a program where adults, age 18 and older, can earn their high school diplomas (not a GED) and college credit at a local community college at the same time. We launched the program in August 2012, and in our first year, have approximately 175 students ranging in age from 18 – 53.

Our first graduating class consisted of 5 students, four women and a man. They ranged in age from 19 to 34 and had 9 children between them.  All of them have struggled to make ends meet on minimum wage pay and were searching for better lives for themselves and their families. Life is tough, but even more so when you don’t have a high school diploma. The average high school graduate earns $8,000 more a year than a person without a diploma. That extra $8,000 a year means the ability to put food on the table, buy diapers for babies, put gas in the car and pay the electric bill each month. It also translates into an extra $300,000 in earnings over a lifetime. It has a significant impact on a family’s quality of life and on a person’s own self-worth.

Each of our graduates had a dream to earn their high school diploma. As I watched them march in to “Pomp and Circumstance,” wearing their caps and gowns, I thought about how much courage it must take to return to school after not having a positive experience the first time. All of them juggle jobs, families and school work. It has been an uphill battle, but they didn’t give up. They were not looking for handouts. They were willing to put in the work to improve their lives.  They just needed a place to do that. That place is Christel House.

As I congratulated them, each one told me how hard they worked to achieve this milestone in their lives. The young man told me there were days he just wanted to give up and would think about blowing off class, but his classmates would text him and tell him he needed to come to school. One of the young women told me that she was deeply grateful to our principal, Emily, who was both tough on her and her biggest champion. She gained the self-confidence she needed to understand that she can do anything she sets her mind to do.  That young woman is going on to study at our local community college now.

The commencement speech was delivered by Christel DeHaan, the founder of Christel House and co-founder of RCI.  She shared with the graduates her thoughts on how to live a successful life. Work hard.  Believe in yourself. Set goals. Surround yourself with good people. Good advice coming from anyone, but most poignant because of who was speaking.

I’ve heard Christel DeHaan give that same advice many times before and I’ve seen her live it.  My first job out of college was at RCI and I am fortunate to work with her at Christel House.   You may not know this, but RCI was started in her living room nearly 40 years ago. She set goals, worked hard and surrounded herself with good people. What started as a home-based, fledgling business is now a leader in the vacation ownership industry and a multi-national company that sends millions of people on vacation around the world each year. 

“Work hard. Believe in yourself. Set goals. Surround yourself with good people.” It works. I hope our graduates carry that advice with them throughout their lives.

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Georgia mountains on my mind


Before going on a vacation with my family I always read the reviews. I focus on travelers looking for the same things I do: family friendly, a variety of activities, and great outdoor adventures. In addition, I like to call the resort staff and speak with someone from the area.

I called Country Hideaway at Mountain Lakes and spoke with the sweetest lady. I felt an immediate reassurance that this was the right place for my family and our guests.

Our unit was clean and well stocked, with a wooden deck overlooking a perfect lake. I fished each morning as the coffee brewed. Hummingbirds, ducks and geese were our pets for the week. We had the run of the place with water slides, a country store, a clubhouse with every amenity possible, trails, horses, etc. My son loved swimming in a lake without alligators! The fireworks for the 4th of July (one week early for resort guests) were picture perfect over the lake...we watched from our deck. The area boasts the town of Helen, the Blue Ridge Parkway, loads of state parks and waterfalls...too much to name. We had our first whitewater rafting trip on this vacation; pure joy! We long to return to the mountains...we booked our Christmas Holiday at another resort, this time in North Carolina. I'll let you know how that goes!

-Susan R. from DeBary, FL

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Need a Scenic Escape? Try the Poconos


Karen PI’ve blogged before about the Poconos being a great vacation destination for outdoor lovers and adventure enthusiasts.  But, if you are just in the mood for a relaxing getaway and want to simply enjoy the scenery and fresh air, then a trip to Pennsylvania may be in order.

Lake Wallenpaupack (actually a reservoir in Pennsylvania) is perfect for boating, swimming and fishing, but its shoreline also lends itself to hiking and gazing at wildlife.  I spent many summers on its shores with my extended family, enjoying each other’s company and the natural beauty of the area. I truly cannot think of anything more relaxing.

This week on the RCI Blog, we’ll sharing stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have also enjoyed vacations made complete with stunning lakes and natural beauty. Be sure to come back to take a look! Are you heading on a lake vacation this summer? Let us know where by commenting below!

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The views of Sedona, Arizona


Catherine SI took my first trip to Sedona with my family ten years ago.  From the moment we arrived, I was absolutely in love, and it remains one of my favorite places to visit (and where I hope to someday retire!).

The red rocks are the main attraction in Sedona. There, we took a Jeep tour, which is a fun (and bumpy) way to see the sites up close.  The tour allowed us to get to areas that are off limits for hikers and gave us the opportunity to experience breathtaking views.

Another great place we found in Sedona was the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which sits nestled among the red rocks.  From its perch, it gives a great opportunity to see some of the other well-known formations, including Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock.

Sedona also offers amazing artwork and jewelry from artisans who flock to the area.  I always find something new and unique to bring home when I visit, and need to leave room in my suitcase for my finds!

So until my retirement, when I hope to take up permanent residence, Sedona will remain at the top of my list of vacation destinations, and the place I personally believe to be the most beautiful in the country.

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Unexpected "Thank You" from a Teen


"Mom thank you so much for bringing me on this vacation!" my thirteen year old daughter said as we left the lodge. Nearly speechless, I couldn't say anything else but, "You’re welcome." We had a great time visiting Yosemite National Park and the giant Sequoia trees on the way. We played a family-modified game of miniature golf at the resort and enjoyed some videos they had available for our use. Our white water rafting trip on the Truckee River capped off the experience. While my daughter will remember the things she saw and did, I will always remember what she said. It made all of my planning and paying worthwhile. So often I feel like we are dragging our kids on vacation and they fight and complain so much. It was really nice to hear gratitude for a change.

-Cassandra R. from Cedar City, UT

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