My Favorite Family Getaway
Redefining vacation magic.
By Carol Kim
Some may think our favorite family getaway destination can’t possibly compete with such hubs of entertainment as the Magic Kingdom or other popular resorts. There are no waterslides, hair-raising roller coasters, swimming with dolphins or fine-dining establishments. In fact, the atmosphere of our annual spring-break vacation spot is downright sedate. But that’s precisely why our family has returned to Roddy Tree Ranch in the Texas Hill Country time and time again.
Because after months of sprinting from one after-school activity to another, the stresses of deadlines and work, school and homework, RTR offers the perfect setting for decompression and reconnection. Throughout the years, this peaceful resort has become a safe haven for us. It provides a sanctuary where, now that my girls are in the throes of the emotional and drama-filled tween and teen years, my children can retreat to the comfort of simple pleasures.
RTR offers a break from the pressure cooker of academics and peer pressure, far removed from alarm clocks, standardized tests and trying to fit in. Our children have grown up here—one week at a time—every year for the past seven years. I’ve watched my oldest grow from a little girl to a young woman on the cusp of adulthood. My youngest has graduated from listening to charming picture books to reading lengthy novels by J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins.
RTR is where my girls threw their first horseshoes, learned how to ride a bicycle, practiced layups and roasted literally hundreds of marshmallows. They have learned patience (from fishing), independence (exploring the grounds on their own), an appreciation for nature and the joy of simply sitting on the porch and watching the birds and occasional deer go by.
In a world dominated by virtual relationships, we crave the authentic connections we re-establish here every year. There is something about helping your child hook slimy, squirming worms onto hooks (and then removing those same hooks from countless caught fish so they can be caught again) that creates a steadfast bond capable of overcoming the pull of even the most sophisticated electronic device. Every year, my husband and I would question whether this was the year one of our children would request a trip to a more exotic or exciting locale.
And every year, one or both of the girls would ask, “Are we going to Roddy Tree this year?”
And that was enough to prompt him to reserve, yet again, the same cabin for another spring-break week. Except for next year. For the first time in seven years, we will be taking a different spring-break trip, having managed to secure a prized spot in the lodge at Big Bend National Park. But when we informed our children of our decision to not return, our 13-year-old insisted we at least make plans for a weekend visit next year. And for me, that is clear evidence of true magic at work.
Illustration by Sarah Quatrano.