No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth. Although taking a week off in radio is the equivalent of 2 months in most other occupations. It seems like I have been gone longer.

Maybe that's because we traded in the 4 bathrooms at home for a bathroom down the flashlight lit path of a campsite.

Now all you avid campers don't need to get too excited. I didn't camp in a tent or anything. I still hold an aversion to the thought of sleeping on rocks and having little critters sneaking a peak through or under some pretty thin looking material.

Yes, I still like the idea of giving a bear or a raccoon a few extra layers of wood to have to tear through to get to me.

Anyway, we packed up the kids, 2 cars, a million dollars worth of fuel, and enough Capri Suns to quench the thirst of a thousand. And we headed for the great outdoors. 5 days in a two room cabin less than a mile from the beautiful California coast (http://koa.com/where/ca/05113/).

In the first 10 minutes we were there, we almost started another California wildfire. My wife hooked up the propane tank incorrectly and when she went to light it...ZOINKS!!

I wish I hadn't been panicking so much because it would have been cool to have run and grabbed my camera for pictures. The flames were two feet high on the picnic table and the look on my face was worth the price of admission.

After a few moments of smashing the table with a box, the flames were out and the rest of the trip was all down hill from there.

We didn't exactly rough it THAT much. My wife and kids brought their Nintendo DS's and we DID order pizza one night. HAHAHA. Ordering pizza when you go camping! Now that's MY kind of camping!! Not being too far for the pizza guy to come find you in the woods!

That might actually be my prerequisite from now on. That we have to be within delivery distance of a pizza place!

Even though we packed all the food away at night, our neighbors didn't and the raccoons and skunks paid us nightly visits. I tried to scare three skunks away and they looked at me like, "Yeah. Right. We've tipped over GARBAGE CANS bigger than you, Bud."

Our adventures ranged from swimming in the pool to spending a day at the world renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, right on John Steinbeck's Cannery Row. Check them out at http://www.mbayaq.org/. Where else can you touch a Bat Ray and pass by historical fish canning factories made famous by one of America's best authors all in the same hour?

We also visited one of the quirkiest places in America...the Mystery Spot in the redwood forests outside Santa Cruz (http://www.mysteryspot.com/). This place is WILD. Everything you know about the laws of gravity and physics will come into doubt. I saw things with my own eyes that STILL make my head hurt.

Our final big excursion was any train lover's heaven...the Roaring Camp Railroads in Felton, California (http://www.roaringcamp.com/). We rode a narrow gauge steam train through thousands of ancient redwoods. It was amazing to think that such a memorable outing could be had in less than 90 minutes.

Nights ranged from warm to freezing cold and always ended with a roaring fire and plenty of s'mores and fun times.

Why is all this a Motivational Monday blog topic? Because it would have really been easy to cancel the whole vacation and blame the mind boggling price of gas for putting a damper on our plans.

But we compromised is all. Instead of a vacation further away and perhaps involving hotels and eating out a lot, we rented a rustic cabin less than 4 hours away from home and kept the amenities to a minimum.

We WERE able to swing it. We just had to make the proper CHOICES to make it happen.

Cut here and there, make a few sacrifices, and you won't have to cancel that family vacation after all. Defy the headlines and the doom and gloom! Go for it!!

Oh and here is a funny close to today's blog. Thursday night, I accidentally left out a hot dog grill basket on top of the campsite's BBQ pit. The next morning it was gone.

I mean ALL gone. Not just the hot dogs, but the GRILL BASKET, too.

It makes me smile to think somewhere there's a raccoon nest stacked to the ceiling with the wares of careless campers.

Maybe they can sell all the camping gear and buy enough gas to leave the woods and visit the city.

I will leave you with Spencer's Camping Tips:

1) Always have at least a wood wall separating you and the wildlife. Tents are for people with death wishes.

2) Screw the propane tank on correctly or you could end up looking like Wile E. Coyote after a bad run in with the Road Runner.

3) There is no such thing as too many showers when you are in a cabin with 6 kids.

4) It's not smart to yell at a skunk when its tail is up to the sky.

5) Make sure everybody hears you when you say "Last call for the bathroom!"

6) Fun is right in front of you, if you aren't afraid to look.