Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Carefully planned vacation packed with sight-seeing


Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Jun 14, 2012; Section:Opinion; Page Number:8A

Carefully planned vacation packed with sight-seeing

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

As I write this, the Wigderson family is on vacation in Chicago, Illinois. I’m looking for a sign in my hotel that says, “Wisconsin State Senator Mark Miller slept here under an assumed name while running from the State Patrol in 2011.” No luck yet.

We’re using the Wigderson conference and training budget for our vacation, but unlike for Mayor Jeff Scrima there is no tax money involved.

Who among his team of smart people thought Scrima’s résumé building at the Harvard Business School was an appropriate use of city funds? Just think if Scrima had gotten the garbage fee passed last year. The city could have paid for an entire MBA program for him.

But I’m not going to let Scrima ruin the family vacation. Our vacations are planned much too meticulously to allow that to happen.

The planning for this trip began pretty much as all of our family trips. My wife, the Lovely Doreen from Waukesha, said we should go to Chicago with the kids and have them see the museums. She picked a hotel with a pool close to the train system, and she found a deal that allowed us to see everything on our agenda.

Now it was up to me to actually plan the logistics. I looked up every location of every attraction we were going to see. I researched how mass transit works in the Chicago area. I picked out some restaurants that the kids might like. Then I carefully plotted everything on a spreadsheet on my computer, complete with maps, times and notes about each destination.

Eisenhower didn’t plan D-Day as well as I planned this trip, and there’s no chance of any of us ending up in the wrong landing zone when we storm the tourist shops.

The first time I planned like this for a trip with my wife she made fun of me. I carefully planned every detail of our trip to Florida to see my family members down there. I created a travel book on a spreadsheet that was publishable, although I’m still waiting on the call from Fodor’s.

The only time that we encountered any frustration is when we deviated from the plan and I could not find the restaurant my uncle picked. He screwed up the plan. It was all his fault.

On our Washington, D.C. trip, my wife and I relied upon our master planning to cram several weeks of tourism into one. Every train, every restaurant, every boat, every museum, was tucked neatly into a schedule that was so busy it almost killed us. But we saw everything on our list.

Somehow the master plan did not include the words, “the hottest days of the year.” If it had, we might not have taken the unscheduled trip the wrong way around the tidal basin at the Jefferson Memorial. If it’s not in the plan, it can’t be good.

The following year my wife and I took a more relaxing trip to Galena, Ill., with no real plan other than a couple of appointments. It was fun and relaxing – everything a vacation should be.

Of course, we had to get the ghost tour in, we had dinner reservations, then there was the visit to the historical society, and don’t forget the tour of President Grant’s home which is only open at certain hours. But it was a very unscripted trip. Really.

On this trip we have the kids along and I can’t afford for us to get lost in downtown Chicago. It’s one thing if I accidentally get on the wrong train. I’m used to making errors like that.

Taking two kids and my wife along on a wild goose chase is not going to get us to four museums and the Willis Tower before this vacation is over. The five extra minutes waiting for the Blue Line train today almost cost us valuable souvenir shopping time.

So my wife leaves it in my hands to make sure that every detail is planned ahead of time. You’ll have to ask her if it’s because she likes our trips that way or if it’s because she can’t stop me.

I don’t have the time available on the trip spreadsheet to ask her myself.


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