Ah, the hillbilly hide-away. Nearly six months later, I can look at these and laugh, but upon arriving at our lake-side camp for our family reunion this summer, my heart sank. For nine years my family has successfully used VRBO type summer rental sites to vacation all over, from Hawaii to Florida and on and on. And they had always been incredible. So pulling into this little spot, strewn with trash and bottle caps, the lawn over grown and construction materials everywhere, I fought back tears and tried to figure out how to make this place paradise for nearly 30 of us, traveling to Maine from as far as the West Coast and England. 

Never underestimate the power of one p.o.-ed momma. We got a crew in to clean it up immediately, the landlord (absentee, of course) quaking in his boots. And as our family arrived that first afternoon, the power of love and togetherness gently pushed the disappointment I was feeling away. The utter joy and freedom the kids had together and immediately was like a magic tonic. So was the beautiful lake water just a 100 yards from our cabins.

The bright-side of such simple surroundings is that we found our pleasure in each other. Every night we all pulled the picnic tables together and ate dinner, we made camp fires and sat around them late into the night, sharing stories and laughing so hard our sides hurt. We played games like telephone and soccer and pick-up. We threw the kids off the dock every night under a tremendous super moon. We made it entirely ours. Glad to call these people mine. Near or far.  

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