Now is the time to make precious family memories. Later in life you'll be glad you did.
Summer is that amazing time of tantalizing aromas from the grill, softball games in the backyard, lazy days at the beach and, most important, extended time with family and friends.
At least that’s how it should be, but many of us get so busy that we neglect those memory-making moments. It’s not intentional, but it sometimes gets shoved to the side.
Often we as parents forget something of vital importance—God’s given us just 18 summers with our children before they leave home for college. That's 18 short summers that will zoom by whether we’re ready or not. So don’t waste this precious time. Don’t look back with sadness, not memories, because those days can’t be done over.
As I wrote in my novel, Just 18 Summers, “Sometimes the days will feel really long . . . but just remember, the years are really short.”
And that’s why family vacations and reunions are so valuable. They’re a time to bond with your immediate family—cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents—and even with extended family you’ve never met before. They’re an opportunity to discover physical similarities and mannerisms and traits that you all have in common.
Family get-togethers are a time to share stories and photos from the past, to talk about those who are no longer here, to give your children and grandchildren a sense of their history.
They’re also a great opportunity to talk about your spiritual heritage as a family, to let your children see how faith and family have been important from one generation to another.
And family reunions are the perfect time to pull out favorite old recipes, to share laughter and make memories over a plate of Aunt Betty’s potato salad, Uncle Bob’s famous smoked pork barbeque, Grandpa’s custard-based home-churned ice cream and Granny Bessie’s oh-so-delicious fried apple pies.
So plan a family vacation this summer or attend your family reunion. Yes, it takes work, time and dollars, but the benefits of building a close bond with your family is priceless.
Store all those precious memories in your heart, because someday when your children are grown and gone from your home, you’ll look back and be so glad that you took the time to make them.
The first officially designated national park in the eastern United States, Acadia's 47,000 acres boast woodlands, rocky beaches and granite peaks, among them Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the east coast.
From Mount Marcy, the highest point in New York State, to family-friendly Mount Jo and popular Algonquin, the Algonquin's 46 High Peaks, each at or near 4,000 feet high, provide ample opportunities for hiking and other forms of outdoor recreation.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, the most frequently visited attraction in the National Park System, weaves and winds it way though 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to be enjoyed along this scenic route.
This park, encompassing more than 800 square miles, boasts 150 hiking trails that cater to every interest. Whether you'd like to enjoy a waterfall, old-growth forest, or scenic views, you'll find a trail just perfect for you.
Connecting 14 states from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail is the world's longest hiking-only footpath in the world, covering some 2,190 miles. In the neighborhood of 3 million people a year hike all or some portion of the trail every year.
This lakeshore follows the Lake Superior shoreline for more than 40 miles, boasting sandstone cliffs, dunes, waterfalls, lakes and forest, in addition to beaches and sand dunes. Hiking, camping and a variety of other seasonal outdoor activities beckon travelers.
This Texas-sized park, covering 801,163 acres, features more than 150 miles of hiking trails, with elevations ranging from 1,800 feet along the Rio Grande to 7,832 feet on Emory Peak in the Chisos Mountains. That range of elevation makes for a wide variety of plants, animals, and scenic vistas.
This often spectacularly scenic park covers 415 square miles and boasts more than 300 miles of hiking trails. As you might expect, the park boasts a wide range of elevations, from 7,500 to over 12,000 feet.
Bryce Canyon, a national park since 1928, is best known for its colorful limestone rock carved by nature's forces into unusual shapes including slot canyons, windows, fins, and spires called "hoodoos." Small by National Park standards, the park covers just 56.2 square miles.
This inspiring example of nature's handiwork is 277 river miles, up to 18 miles wide, and, most important for anyone considering a hike to the bottom, a mile deep. A trip all the way down and back up takes more than a single day, but the park offers many day hikes, too.
Covering nearly 1,200 square miles, Yosemite is best known for its waterfalls, but it also boasts deep valleys, grand meadows, giant sequoias and more than 750 miles of trail to explore. First protected in 1864, Yosemite was designated a national park in 1890.
The first recorded proposal of a trail that would traverse Washington, Oregon and California dates to 1926, and in the decades since, many have worked to make that dream a reality. The Pacific Crest Trail, approximately 2,650 miles in length, was named a National Scenic Trail in 1968.
The Three Sisters Wilderness area covers 281,190 acres, with approximately 260 miles of hiking trails. It boasts peaks of more than 10,000 feet, alpine meadows, waterfalls, lava fields and glacial lakes.
This forest's 2.3 million acres extend from the Blue Mountains and rugged Wallowa Mountains down to the canyon country of the Snake River on the Idaho border and include more than 2,700 miles of trails. In addition to hiking, activities such as camping, bicycling, fishing and horseback riding can be enjoyed.
An active volcano, Mount Rainier rises to an elevation of 14,410 feet above sea level, and the best way to experience it is the Wonderland Trail, which celebrated its centennial last year. As park ranger superintendent Roger Toll wrote in 1920: "There is a trail that encircles the mountain. It is a trail that leads through primeval forests, close to the mighty glaciers, past waterfalls and dashing torrents, up over ridges, and down into canyons; it leads through a veritable wonderland of beauty and grandeur."
Click on a picture to enjoy more inspiring photos and stories.
Click on a picture to enjoy more inspiring photos and stories.