Surprise Vacation 2016

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It's my most favorite time of the year!! SURPRISE VACATION is a few weeks away and it's time to put on your detective hats!

Surprise Vacation with (@whatsgabycookin)

For those of you who are new here – let’s start at the beginning. Surprise vacation has been a longstanding Dalkin family tradition since we were kids. It started when I was 9, my sister was 6, and my parents would throw us birthday parties. Now that I’ve thrown a party or two, I know how much work they can be, PLUS add in some screaming and crying children, ummmmm NO. So my parents decided to do away with the birthday parties and instead they’d plan a surprise vacation for us each year.

So what’s a surprise vacation you ask? IT’S A SURPRISE. And it’s basically the highlight of my year. I even like it more than my birthday/birth month which is really saying a lot. I’m obsessed. They plan a vacation for us and we get somewhere in the realm of 8-10 clues each year and we have to figure out where we are going. Some years we’ve figured it out, others we’re totally surprised. One thing is always certain…. I’m always wrong. My sister sometimes figures it out, my husband has been known to do the same… but I’m always, without fail, 100% wrong. I think it’s because I have this burning desire to go on safari in Africa and no matter what clues my parents send over I somehow make them fit into an African safari. BUT... that will soon be resolved because we are going on safari next spring. So it's safe to safe we can rule out Africa for this years surprise.

ANYWAYS… since we were kids, we’ve been getting everyone involved. My tennis coach, friends of friends, parents, professors, you guys!! I mean, it’s basically a puzzle for anyone I know. So I’ll be sharing the clues here as they roll in (roughly one a week) and I’ll just continue to update this post so you don’t have to search high and low for the latest clues. Ready… Clue’s are officially rolling in:

Clue #1 Getting There, Getting Where?: Flying always has a cost; maybe I can get it waived.

Clue #2 The second half of an abbreviated Very Wise Night, thus short but sweet.

Clue #3 Yea, Yea, Yea, Blah, Blah, Blah; go fetch. Always a great day.

Clue #4 He wasn't totally wrong, nor one of the pair, but he integrated well.

Clue #5 Ex Top Dog TJ's and the Jim's neighbors, down the hill amongst the trees; and arriving ahead of schedule. Always a good time!

Clue #6  A city, town, village, municipality or other? I don't know but : It makes watching grass grow more exciting, especially looking down at it from the hills.

Clue #7 Next to Peter's Pointer, then all together something like "You've Got Mail"

Clue #8 After the winter thaw, they come outside to enjoy the sun and warming weather. More than a dozen of them, frolicking and playing, a wonderful spectacle for all who want to enjoy.

Clue #9 We cannot have a Christmas-time Surprise Vacation without a Christmas clue: The three Magi, on the back of their mounts, following the star above the mountains, into Bethlehem to see the babe.

A bit of inside scoop:

We're going over winter break for about 7 days. That includes travel time.

Here are our surprise trips from the past so we can cross those off the list as we think of ways to decipher the clues.

2015 - Costa Rica - (click on over to see clues and my parents clues and commentary on this trip!)
2014 - Orcas Island + Vancouver + Whistler (click on over to see clues and my parents clues and commentary on this trip!)
2013 - Nat Geo Cruise through Alaska (click on over to see clues and my parents clues and commentary on this trip!)
2012 - Road Trip through France (click on over to see clues and my parents clues and commentary on this trip!)
2011 - Bahamas
2010 - Skipped a year and went to Berlin, Prague, Budapest and Vienna but it wasn't a surprise
2009 - Banff, Canada
2008 - none of us can remember where we went this year! whoops 🙂
2007 - Italy
2006 - Turkey
2005 - Greece
2004 - England + Scotland
2003 - Cancun, Mexico
2002 - Hawaii (Big Island)
2001 - Napa / Sonoma
2000 - Los Angeles
1999 - New York
1998 - Washington DC
1997 - Las Vegas
1996 - Texas
1995 - Disney World

2016 here we come!!!


  1. Ok, totally on board with Arizona!

    4) FLW museum & school of architecture is at Taliesin West
    8) MLB Spring Training - after winter thaw & the Cactus League has 15 teams

  2. If not Phoenix or Scottsdale, AZ, are you going to Sedona? Those cities are fairly close though so I would think by mentioning one already it would mean AZ-Phoenix and surrounding areas! Still thinking...

  3. Hello to all on this Christmas Eve from the Clue Master

    Clues everywhere: '"lads - referred to Lizz, Annie and Diana (L A D ) as they were the warmest - downright sizzling for some (Annie)!!!!!

    Clues 5 and 9 have been solved, 4 and 7 so very close. Use those to figure out the rest!!!!!! Clue 5 is a bit of a deception because it does not make specific reference to the Surprise site, just others that will be there as well.... ( Earlysville hit the bullseye!!).

    Clue 4 - broaden your possibilities for FLW in the area.

    Clue 7 - put it in the context of the area where we are going and pick some more....

    Clue's 1, 2 and 6 - Clue Master Specials - takes a GENIUS level puzzle solver for those - but if you can get some of the rest you might get lucky!!!

    Clue 3 and 8 can be solved if you consider the area we are going like #7.......

    You will LOVE these when I divulge on Tuesday !!!!!!

    I am sure I can convince Gaby to have a Giveaway for anyone who can solve them all!!


    The Clue Master

  4. 4) We know this clue refers to Frank Lloyd Wright, but perhaps we're taking it too literally. His most famous building is called Falling Water...maybe this could point to a famous waterfall (Niagara Falls? but seems too cold for that) or "Rain" or "Snow"
    5) Again, maybe Virginia is too literal of a guess. If you think of the US Presidents in order it goes: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy TJ & "the Jims" (both Madison & Monroe are James) both have "neighbors" named John Adams.
    9) I thought 'camel' for the Magi's mounts - there's Camelback Mt in Phoenix or a place called Camel's Hump in VT.

    Gaby - Does your family ski? I figure this time of year it would make sense if you went somewhere warm unless you guys like snow sports or have family to visit. 🙂 Also, do you know what day you'll find out the destination?!?!

  5. in reading your previous trip clues & commentary i am not even going to attempt to help haha this is insanely tricky clues!

  6. I sort of feel like this is a North American cruise... you know there are some that run from New York (one clue-guesser mentioned NY) stop in Jamestown/Norfolk (lots of VA references) and end up in Turks & Caicos/St. Thomas area....Now I'm hooked! Off to investigate.

  7. Clue #2 The second half of an abbreviated Very Wise Night, thus short but sweet.

    Very Wise Night > Epiphany > abbreviated EPNY > second half = NY = New York?

  8. For clue #2, the second half of x-mas is mas. Sweet Mas is a cafe in Barcelona.

    Could you be going to Spain?

    There are also some Sweet Ma's restaurants in the US as well. Maybe North Carolina? Can't wait to find out!

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