Gratitude,  Marriage,  Rest,  Road trip,  Vacation

3 Trips, 2 Countries & a Ring: The Benefits of Travel & How it Can Energize Your Family

Did you get away this summer? Doesn’t matter if it wasn’t a gigantic vacation; even a day trip can get you out of your normal routine mentally and emotionally. 

With the help of two ministries, some friends, and a knack for creative adventures, I visited three places, all of which either energized my heart, mind, or body. Some did all three and left me beyond grateful for the break.

Stop #1: Ensenada YWAM

My niece is on staff at Youth With A Mission, so a few of us went down to visit her. I hadn’t crossed the Mexican border in about three years; felt strange to visit the city near where we lived for almost a dozen.

We laughed hard, ate inexpensive tacos, and made memories. Some family trips to visit family can be stressful, but this one checked all the fun boxes and more. Getting a legit Mexican blanket for only ten bucks and a gigantic pressed juice for less than five? They had some beyond strange titles, but most definitely energizing. 

Stop #2: L.A.

Then we went to the City of Angels. Celebrating the other niece’s 16th birthday with my sister was no joke in a big city. Luckily her girl is as crazy as I am, but I’m here to tell ya… looking for Michael B. Jordan with a 16-year-old for 48 hours is not energizing. 

In honor of Buddy the Elf. I got stuck halfway up, but it was totally worth it.

“Please do not climb on the sign.”

I’m not a city person, but taking in the sights with my sis and niece made it fun.

We even got interviewed by the guys who do spots for Jimmy Kimmel Live! Between my sister’s fake story, my Tupperware breakfast from home, and my niece’s mortification, it was truly an embarrassing experience we will never forget. We won cheap BBQ tools too, so that topped off the whole gong show and basically made us overnight TikTok stars.

Stop #3: The Redwoods

Mount Hermon (the camp where I grew up) was our final destination this summer. On the way there our 15-passenger van aggressively blew a tire on the freeway. 

What could have ended in a tragic accident only ended with a $950 bill for all new tires.

That did not feel energizing.

But we got to stay at Mount Hermon for three weeks and had four different families visit us. Between the ropes course, freezing creek plunges, zip lines, hikes in the redwoods, deep conversations with friends, trips to the beach, way too much ice cream, and great teachings at family camp, we felt mentally, emotionally, and spiritually refreshed.

High school camp as a senior. Lit.

Driftwood fort @ Four-Mile Beach

Family camp with 500 of our closest friends. haha

No shirt, no shoes, no shorts, no problem. (This photo in the wild has been altered for your protection.)


So even though we came home tired, and with significantly less money, we still felt energized. Was it all worth it? A thousand times yes. 

And then the credit card bill came.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s back to work we go…

The Future Mrs. V.

Saving the biggest news for last: I’m getting a daughter!

Meet Hannah.

Oh my gosh, y’all… I was always scared of having my own girl, but a daughter-in-law feels perfect! Besides the fact that she’s beautiful (and a ginger to boot), our son fell for a woman who loves Jesus. 

Amen, hallelujah, let’s eat.

Can I tell you how strange it is to finally meet the girl I’ve prayed for since our son was born? Super trippy and awesome at the same time. We’ve been getting to know her for the past two years and she fits into our family perfectly.

Someday I’ll tell ya the story of how her grandparents brought her dad to camp where I grew up and were already friends with my parents from Westmont College in the 70s but three and a half decades later I never knew her dad’s kids and our son didn’t even know she existed (or that they both had red hair) much less that she had grandparents who knew me since I was a tween back when their redheaded son and his brothers went to camp with my sister and me and then she and my son ended up on staff together at the same camp while she was going to Westmont.

Don’t worry–we’re not related by blood.

So now we’re all in wedding mode (well, the guys not as much) and making decisions about things I haven’t thought about since my own wedding almost 30 years ago.

From planners and pictures to dresses and dances to suits and songs, the amount of work (and pesos) that goes into even a simple wedding is mind-boggling. 

Less than four months to go and I’m pretty sure we’re all gonna need another energizing vacation after this. Haha. Seriously though—how do you stay energized in the midst of feeling depleted?

Have you thrown (or paid for) a wedding lately? Anything you wish you had done differently? Anything that was surprisingly awesome? Any tips for the mother of the groom? Help!

If not, how was your vacation? Any noteworthy summer trips that left you energized and ready to tackle September?

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  • Karen Kahler

    Sounds exhausting for an old person. We did get to spend a week at Hermon. Visited my brother in Texas. Played frisbee golf in his back yard. Laughed so hard I…..well let’s just say it was an accident 😳. Visited friends in Arkansas and came home exhausted. Congratulations on the engagement. Can you imagine how beautiful your grandkids will be with all that beautiful red hair? Love and hugs, Karen

    • Carrie Talbott

      Haha… it was a tad tiring but we paced ourselves. So glad you got a week at Mount Hermon again! Your frisbee golf story made me laugh. 🙂 Happy for you that you got to do so many fun trips as well!

      Thanks–we’re super excited! Can’t really think about grandkids yet, but yes, I love the gingers!

  • Gilbert Mellis

    This summer we went to Seattle, Alaska (with 700 of OUR closest friends, including Chuck Swindoll and Sandi Patty), and then I spent 12 days in Japan with the Seahorse soccer ministry (my 12th and final trip). The whole time managing the sale of our home in Diamond Bar and looking for our new temporary home in Chino (docusigning documents almost everyday and having to call Chino utilities from Japan using Skype Out minutes to get them up and running). So, yeah, just the average summer (haha). The part I love most of your story was how trippy it is meeting the person you have prayed about as a spouse for your child. We remember when both of our girls were engaged, we both looked at each other and said “Yep, that’s him!” We couldn’t imagine anyone more perfect for our daughters then the men they married. So very trippy, but always and forever a great reminder of God’s answer to our prayers. Also a lesson to never stop praying for whatever it is that we want God to answer. Some prayers do take 25-30 years (or more).

    • Carrie Talbott

      Sounds like a cruise! Glad you got to do one more hurrah in Japan this summer. Managing the sale of your home from there doesn’t sound like fun though. Yes–we are so grateful God put Hannah in our family. Good reminder about long-term prayers, Gil. Amen!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thrilling isn’t exactly the word I would use to describe the event, but I’m glad you got a dopamine/serotonin hit. Haha.

  • Shelley Fields

    Oh, my goodness, that smoothie name! 😁
    Congratulations on gaining a daughter, and thank you for the reminder to pray for my sons’ future spouses.
    My wedding tip is for the bride and groom to choose what they want, no matter what the trends say. We are not cake people so did not have a fancy cake. We had an ice cream sundae bar which was a huge hit!

    • Carrie Talbott

      I know! And they’re not even trying to be funny! Hahahahaha. Good tip, Shelley. It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s expected and forget you can do your own thing. An ice cream sundae bar is a great idea! Thanks for chiming in. 🙂


    I can’t believe you were at Mt Hermon for 3 weeks and we still missed seeing you there. After Mt hermon we flew to Texas to visit family and then drove to Arkansas to see more family and a slew of friends we made while living there. Then we put it in reverse and drove back to Texas, flew to Sacramento, and drove home.

    I don’t know how large the staff is at YWAM, Ensenada but we have a distant relative on staff there also, Savannah Taylor. One of her sisters is married to the wife of my grandson, making her an aunt to my 3 g-grandkids. It’s a small world after all, it’s a small, small world.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Oh, I didn’t know y’all were there this summer! Sounds like you had tons of fun too. That’s a lot of driving! I’ll ask my niece if she knows Savannah. Small world indeed!

      • Carrie Talbott

        Oh my gosh, John… Savannah is my niece’s roommate!!! 🙂 And I even met her when I was down there but didn’t remember her name. Too funny.

  • Ann Blankers

    Thanks for the unforgettable memories this summer, friend! Can’t believe you posted that crazy photo of us in the creek!! All good and fun!

    I’m excited for all the blessings, joy and laughter you will have adding Hannah to your family! What a gift! Look forward to celebrating with you soon! Love you!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Haha… so many fun memories! Our freezing creek dips will go down in history. 🙂 Thanks for your kind words about our expanding family. How are we old enough for this?

  • Gidget

    So fun! Me and the boys went to Tennessee for a week to visit my brother and his 2 boys (cousins) with my mom and dad, which was super awesome. This was right before the 4th of July, so we’d hear fireworks, then it would storm up and we’d hear God’s fireworks! Nice to be in a conservative part of the country, we’re people smile at each other and say hi. My brother also has a pet squirrel named Meryl, that just climbs up your body like a tree! And it was firefly season, too! Lots of good memories with the cousins. Unfortunately I’d broken my foot right before, so a lot of sitting down for me. Congrats on the new daughter-in-love! Such a great God wink. Hopefully that’ll be in my future too! Praying praying praying! Love you friend!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Oh my gosh… you had quite the adventure, with a squirrel and all! Glad your summer was full of fun memories. Minus the broken foot of course. 🙃 Yes, here’s to great in-laws! 🤍

    • Tim Foskett

      Well I definitely do not have the ability nor talent to tell stories in print that you do. How I wish I had that skill.

      This year was not full of travel or excitement that you are able to convey. This summer for my family was full of giving back to our region of communities in the NW as my son and I travelled the states of Oregon and Washington umpiring district and state level games of baseball and softball.

      For the whole month of June and most of July, we put on over 4000 miles on the trusty Subaru as we traversed SW Washington and a lot of Oregon with my wife and daughter in tow.

      Not only do we get the best seat in the house as part of the third team on the field, but we get to listen to the colorful chants from the benches and even some more colorful words from the hopeful umpires in the stands. This we do for the kids and the free cold hot dog and warm soda after the games. And to boot, I was able to watch a few of the games that my 14 year old son got to work as well as we usually worked games at the same time as he did lower level games while I did the older kids since it was his first year.

      But it was a great summer as I was able to be on the Championship games that sent teams to their regional tournaments. Then it was a few weeks in August watching as other umpire brothers and sisters that I know and love worked the regionals on ESPN. Followed by being able to see two of my mentors work the Little League World Series games back in Williamsport and other locals. They were both selected to work the plate on both the US championship and the International world championship games.

      Next year, while not having kids old enough yet to be getting spouses, congrats on that as it sounds like you’d be getting a wonderful daughter! We are planning two big trips. One a cruise to Alaska and taking the train up to Vancouver BC to catch the boat. And then in August I am hoping to be getting my chance to umpire in San Bernardino some regional games that will have me on ESPN as well.

      Really enjoyed your quick summarization of your summer trips! I haven’t been back to Amy Hermon for any length in a long time. Though my wife and kids did go last year for a week while I was in San Bernardino for umpire School.