As a family, the Marxes have traveled together for more than three decades, never missing a year.
The first trip was to the Caribbean on a Windjammer cruise, known as the “barefoot cruises” because we remained barefoot the entire week, living in a tiny cabin and never worrying about what to wear. Every day we donned the same clothes: T-shirt and shorts.
I was invited along, having become Albert Marx’s girlfriend. Because we couldn’t control the air conditioning in our cabin, we often slept on deck, falling asleep under the stars and waking to the smell of fresh doughnuts and coffee.
We would dock at a different island each day, maybe go for a swim at a beach or check out the island shopping, and later watch the sunset as we sipped our rum swizzles. It was a true tropical paradise with no worries.
That first trip would be one of many, some that included grandchildren and some that were just for Albert’s children and their spouses and later included my daughter and her husband.
One trip we learned to ski at Grey Rocks, a Canadian resort with phenomenal ski instructors and even better French cuisine. We loved the Quebecois food so much that we often left our ski run to indulge in the amazing lunches.
We cruised with Holland America to see Alaska one June — the warmest time of year, we were told. But it rained almost daily, and the temps never got above 50 or 55. Nevertheless, we made the most of our trip and enjoyed the antics of our barista when we reconvened each happy hour to compare notes about our day.
Another summer found us in Alberta, visiting the ice fields and gorgeous scenery around Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise, where glacier runoff created sparkling aqua lakes.
The Galapagos has to be one of the highlights of the Marx family trips. Marco led us around many islands on our own little yacht to swim, hike and explore the islands. Then he took us out in a dinghy to snorkel twice a day and check out reef sharks, penguins and sea lions.
Once while snorkeling I was eye to eye with a magnificent sea lion that was not fazed by my proximity. After all, there have never been predators on these islands, so the inhabitants, such as blue-footed boobies, cormorants and albatrosses, have no fear. The same goes for the sally lightfoot crabs that skitter over the rocky shore and the marine iguanas, which recall prehistoric life with their craggy armor and quick movements.
Twice we spent a week on a Western dude ranch: once in Wyoming and another time in Colorado, where we honed our horseback riding skills and Diablo threw me out of the saddle. For the Wyoming trip, we took the grandchildren, who were very young but made wonderful little actors in their Western skit.
Rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon was one highlight of our American trips, as was last year’s gathering in Yellowstone National Park. Seeing a national park up close, away from iPhones and other distractions, is truly a gift.
The Grand Canyon meant bathing in a 42-degree river and being treated to wonderful dishes like bananas Foster and guacamole, prepared in the middle of an American wilderness.
In Yellowstone, we stayed in rustic cabins and the Old Faithful Inn, overlooking huge bison that took naps below our window and blocked traffic in the park. Each day our guide would set up scopes and aim them at whatever critter he spotted: elk, bear or bison. Eventually it became commonplace to see elk behind the cabin or watch an elk being born.
The geysers and hot springs were amazing, each more colorful than the next.
The same thing happened in Africa. Kenya offered us a window into nature that few experience, introducing us to unusual birds and wildlife as well as those we knew. Spotting a leopard in a tree was a special treat.
We were fearful watching elephants emerge from the river into our camp. The minute we made the event known, however, someone appeared and scared him away. And the camping was deluxe, better known as “glamping,” with a cushy, king-size bed and spacious bath in the middle of the Masai Mara.
We’ve spent time on the beaches of the Mayan Riviera, Antigua, Turks and Caicos, Cozumel, Zihuatanejo, Belize, the Dominican Republic, the French West Indies (including St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin, Nevis, St. Bart and St. Kitts). We saw volcanoes and colorful birds in Costa Rica and cruised the beautiful islands of Hawaii.
This summer we’ll be going on our 32nd family trip. Destination: Iceland. There will be 23 of us. As the older grandchildren grow, so do our numbers. Thanks go to my husband, Albert, who began this annual tradition, which keeps us connected in a special way.