We’re 27 days into an extended Christmas holiday and can I just shout “This is awesome, this is fantastic!” even if we seem to have adopted a swaggeringly decadent lifestyle. Like one of those family pop bands, up til midnight (even the 9 year old) gorging on movies, swimming in the night pools then hot-tub hopping, stealing saltwater taffy from the sales desk, little white waxy wrappers strewn around the apartment along with piles of wet bathing suits. Boxes of pink strawberry yogurt coated O’s and chocolate for dinner at 10. Beautiful!

All this to say, it’s fairly clear that all that should be expected from this post is a sand bucket filled chocolate induced haze of a recollection on the beach of the meals we might have had…

From Canadian blizzards to the milder temporary snows of the mountains of Virginia then onto the acceptably warmer sands of the Carolina coasts, traveling for a month with two children, a puppy, a husband, lots of devices with extensive amounts of cabling and sometimes various extended family (cabling not included) is a crazy thing to do, but like they say, sometimes those unconventional ways which at the time seem farfetched, are the events you remember most fondly later on.

On the road, we let our expectations of a meal and what a meal can mean – expand. Breakfast becomes lunch, lunch becomes homemade tomato soup at a cozy diner where the adorable waitress sits down and chats with us the whole time. Dinner becomes a spontaneous group of Mom’s longtime friends around plates of rice and every vegetable in the drawers with a sauce made from a dressing with lots of extemporaneous salad topped with berries and nuts. The children enjoy the nonsensical rhythm of these traveling meals where they never know what they are going to get when (though it better be familiar or at least have cheese on it) and with whom they might sit beside to get it.

It’s the morning of our last day and the ocean is roaring and the wind is wafting through the windows and like all good things that must end, the sting is the weather is only going to get better when we leave. When I ask the children what meal they remember most from this trip this is what they have to say:

Eldest: who favors the familiar in food, but prefers happenstance, remembers a sunny day outside on the patio bowls of macaroni and cheese for lunch hearing the girls just up the street playing outside running over to their house inviting them over then a hike along the river trail altogether chatting with her local friend through the forest trail.

Youngest: who favors the fancy but not the unfamiliar remembers “9” – a new restaurant in Wilmington, North Carolina where we had a New Year’s Dinner at 5pm. We were the first ones there when it opened, the decor warm and pretty windows and couches. The waitress brought foccacia bread with swirly butter and there was a sign saying homemade doughnuts for dessert. Guess what was for dessert to celebrate the New Year?

Andrew’s favorite was an impromptu holiday dinner talking with a surgeon who had lived on a submarine for 40 days outside Russian waters tell about the process to acclimate an injured diver and lots of other complicated things which I can’t understand well enough to write here, but which were riveting in detail.

My favorite meal was the beginning of the trip at the Zees Grill in Niagara on the Lake in the twinkling forested dining room while the children were brought room service, Andrew and I dined on truffled potato angnolatti’s with cauliflower puree with garlic confit, toasted almond and black pepper crumble with crispy kale and soba noodle with house made miso and sweet chili sauce with sliced garlic, bok choy, cauliflower, mushrooms and pickled ginger with toasted cashews, shaved cucumber with a cilantro and daikon salad. Every mouthful was unbelievable! And from my leather seat and bark place mat, I could anticipate our upcoming holiday and do what I love to do: oversee all the possibilities.

But now we are at the end of this holiday journey. Next week we must get snapping… into this 2014 New Year chop-chop-lickety-split, get out the door in your snow boots on time!