As we all start planning our summer vacations and getaways we also reflect on some of our past adventures. Vacations make for the best memories, good or bad. I've had a few memories that I wanted to share with you and maybe they will spark some ideas for you and your family and your next vacation.

  • 1

    Big Bend

    I had never been 'primitive' camping before, not for any length of time anyway. I had camped out for 1 night before but not camping under the stars for a whole week. Two summers ago my boyfriend his son and I went to Big Bend and spent a week back country camping. What that means is you are in the vast open of the Big Bend National Park. We took a tent but we were moving camps every day to see as much as possible so it was easier to just camp under the stars. I did not shower for a week, there was no bathroom, no electricity. We did take our propane stove so we could have hot meals at night, during the day it was sandwiches. We had a 'meal plan' that we followed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most of it was pre-made and packaged for each day. We would hike different trails and mountains during the mornings and afternoons and when the sun went down we went to sleep. We did a lot of sight seeing and went down to the river and stood in Mexico a few times. We drove to LaJitas, Terlingua, Chisos Mountains, Boquillas Canyon, Ft. Stockton, Davis Mountains (Ft. Davis) and Balmorhea. I was nervous about doing this trip due to my lack of experience. Now I want to go back and do it all again. I had so much fun and I think I would enjoy it even more now with the knowledge of what to expect. Now you can stay in a hotel and still do the day trips and hiking but I don't think you can appreciate the full experience doing it that way. Nature is so beautiful. Watching the sun rise and going to sleep under all those stars. It's absolutely incredible. Do it if you can!

    Shay Hill
  • 2

    Puerto Rico

    Luquillio, Puerto Rico was the coolest beach trip I've been on so far, and it wasn't that expensive. This was a trip for just me and my boyfriend but we plan on taking our family the next time. We rented a condo, on the beach for a whole week. We didn't have to eat out as we had the condo and could make our own meals. We had a view of the beach from our balcony and could walk out the back gate and onto the beach whenever we wanted. Then we would take day trips to surrounding areas. We spent one day in the El Yunque Rainforest (about 10 min. from our condo) where we zip lined, visited a State park area, hiked the mountain trail and checked out some local street vendors. One day we went into San Juan and visited the missions and historic district. We took a ferry to the islands of Culebra and Vieques where we snorkeled and kayaked in the most crystal clear water I've ever seen. It was amazing. We didn't get to take our deep sea fishing trip due to weather but that's on the agenda for next time!

    Shay Hill
  • 3

    First Cruise

    I had always wanted to take a cruise but never thought I could afford it; until KEAN started our annual trips. Our first cruise went to Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica on the Carnival Cruise Liner Ecstasy. It was probably the best and most fun of all the cruises I have since been on. I don't know if it was because it was the first and was a totally new experience but it was my favorite. My mom went with me on this one, her first as well, and we did things that we never thought we would do. In Jamaica we headed into the rainforest for the most incredible zip lining experience ever. Then in Grand Cayman we parasailed and in Cozumel we swam with dolphins. Since that trip we have gone back and swam with the sting rays, visited a turtle farm, gone down monstrous slides at Atlantis in the Bahamas, snorkeled and more! But nothing has compared to that first cruise and adventure we had. I know recently cruises have gotten a bit of a bad rap but they are really a great way to vacation. You'll be hooked after just one.

    Shay Hill
  • 4

    Galveston, Texas

    Galveston Island right here in Texas might not be the prettiest beach we have but it is a lot of fun. My mom and I started taking annual trips to Galveston when I was in my 20's (that's been a few years) and we would find a hotel on the Wall and spend the week just relaxing and pretty much doing nothing. We just enjoyed the beach and atmosphere. We would go to Moody Gardens a couple of days and go through the 'rainforest' and 'aquarium' then down to the Strand for some shopping. We would find restaurants, like Willie G's, with great seafood on the wharf and then make stops around the historic district. It just killed me when Hurricane Ike came through in 2008 and wiped out much of the coastline businesses and homes. The Flagship Hotel was one such historical business that was permanently damaged by that hurricane as were many of the small curio shops jetting out over the water. It broke my heart to see the damage that resulted when I visited the following summer. So much was gone but on the same token so much was being rebuilt. The Island of Galveston, like any other Texas town, picked up the pieces and started putting them back together. It is still a great place to visit. Moody Gardens, Schlitterbahn water park, the Strand historical district and more can be found in Galveston. I also have great memories of a small beach just a ferry ride from Galveston called Crystal Beach. This was my first "spring break" trip as a college student. A friends parents owned a beach house there and a group of us went down and spent the week hanging on the beach. We had the best time and still have great memories and running jokes about that week.

  • 5


    Fishing can be great and exciting (when you're catching them) or boring/relaxing (if you're not catching). It's what you make of it that counts. I've been fishing at the tank at our farm in Potosi since I was a kid, I've been fishing from the bank of the Red River, I've fished at Lake O.H. Ivie, Hubbard, Phantom, Kirby and Coleman but there is one kind of fishing I have yet to do; coastal. I wasn't able to go last summer when my boyfriend and his son headed to Port O'Connor. They caught redfish, shark, trout and went gigging for flounder and sheepshead too. I think I'm going to get to go this year and I'm really looking forward to it, especially the flounder gigging, that's my favorite fish. I would eventually like to do a deep sea fishing trip and catch a dorado or sailfish.


    Shay Hill