Well, we have reached the end of another summer and so, my plan is to dedicate my writings in the month of August to the incomparable “Family Vacation”!
Come on, we have all taken them. Whether it was as a child or as an adult with our children. If you ever sit and listen to my children, the stories are unforgettable and cause my stomach to ache from laughing. To start with, whoever dubbed the meaning of RV as “ruined vacation” was a genius. But you don’t need an RV to experience what some might declare as a ruined vacation and hopefully most learn to laugh.
Always begin at the beginning so please allow me to go back to some of my earlier vacations as a child. At least what I can remember. When I was younger, our family got into camping with a group of people that my mom worked with. My parents went first on their own to see if they would like it before subjecting us to it. Turns out there were some pretty fun vacations when we camped. We always found campgrounds with pools and horseback riding and hiking. So there was plenty to do. At first we borrowed equipment and finally my dad bought a pop-up camper. However, being the frugal soul that he was, he opted for an homemade one. It was cool, but not as elegant as the ones you bought at the store. One of my earliest recollections is when we hauled that camper with mom’s old Cadillac (60’s, I think). We got to the campground and began to set up. As I recall, dad unhooked the camper from the car and the Cadillac began a slow roll down the hill. My mother went running after it to try and jump in as the driver’s door was also open. What was she thinking?! My mother was not an athletic soul! She did manage to jump in though just after the car hit a tree and came to a sudden stop! Did I mention that my dad was frugal and took meticulous care of his belongings? That smashed fender/bumper was not a shining moment. There were arguments about who didn’t set the emergency brake and then my memory blacks out!!! I think that starts out as a potential ruined vacation, don’t you. After several days, we got back on track and actually did have some fun.
Another memorable vacation was a trip south for my cousin Ron’s wedding in Alabama. My parents decided to combine it with a trip to newly opened Disney World. We stuffed luggage, two grandmothers, three children and my parents into dad’s station wagon. Back then, kids did not have to wear seat belts or use car seats. That was what my mother’s arm was for. (No wonder she eventually had problems with a dislocating shoulder!) We would fight over who got to sit in the rear facing seat of the wagon. When we first went to Disney you bought tickets for the park. The rides were rated as A, B, or C. You bought ticket packets that you would use once for each ride/event. Packets were priced according to how many A tickets (the best rides) and how many B and C tickets. A “C” ticket let you climb up the Swiss Family Robinson tree house. Did I mention that my dad was frugal? It was shear agony to have to wisely choose how you would use your tickets.
I remember the summer the “Gas Wars” were on. We traveled everywhere on $20 because gas was less than 25 cents a gallon! We rarely ate out when we traveled. Mom would spend days frying chicken and packing a cooler of sandwiches and drinks. Ever wonder why they have picnic tables at rest stops? Sure, today you figure those places are simply for bathroom breaks. “Back in the Day” you did stop for a bathroom break (only once or twice a trip – I maintain that habit to this day!) and then you would virtually unload most of the car and carry the cooler to a picnic table and prepare a full lunch of sandwiches, fried chicken, potato salad, etc. Dad might enjoy a beer (because that wasn’t illegal back then either). We would load back up and drive until we got to our hotel for the night. That meant ALL of us crammed into one room. We were required to order off the children’s menu, no questions asked!
Souvenirs! Ah, what memories I have of those! No I don’t really, that was always considered junk by my dad. We would maybe be allowed to pick one thing during the vacation. That is a habit I do not maintain, especially with my grandchildren. My kids might argue that I was a little stingier with them. By the way, my children were shocked to open a box in my “jewelry drawer” one day when they found a piece of a lobster claw. It was my souvenir from our vacation south. Grandma got to order a lobster for dinner, and I begged to keep the claw. I also have a small piece of glass that I imagined was a jewel of great rarity. My kids all tease me about the sadness of having a lobster claw for a souvenir. However, one year, Daniel vowed to eat and build me the rest of it, piece by piece. That lasted right up until the dog got ahold of it! I still have that claw. We will see who fights over it when I am gone!!!
Oh, for the good old days. Sad by today’s standards of spending, but rich in so many other ways. This whole silly virus thing has taken us back a little to older years of spending time together and finding simpler things to do. I am not sad about that. I hope God walks with us as we continue to rediscover Him and the blessing of our families. More vacation stories to come!
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!