Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Family vacations

Just got back from a week of fun in the sun with the family, hence the lack of posts.(No, I don't own a laptop and even if I did I wouldn't take it on vacation. The whole idea is to get away; be incommunicado. I can live without the internet for a week). I'd have to say this was one of our best vacations ever. We did almost nothing all week. The weather was beautiful, the kids were happy and I didn't think about work one time. Days were spent at the beach, playing in the waves and building sand castles, or at the pool, floating on a raft with a glass of Foster's or Bass Ale in hand. We stayed up late watching movies, slept late every morning, ate lots of good food that we didn't have to cook and were generally lazy. Now that's my kind of vacation.

That is not my parents kind of vacation.

My folks don't understand the term "relaxing vacation". They don't get the concept of "doing nothing". They can't figure out why someone would want to sleep past 7 A.M.
"Get up at 10 A.M.? Why, you've wasted half the day!".

Want to know what my family vacations were like as a child? Think, the Griswolds in National Lampoon's Vacation. That comes pretty close.

Every summer my dad would take two weeks off and we'd pile in the van and take a driving trip to some part of the country. This was in the 1970's. We had a large conversion van with a fold down bed in the back. It was a lovely shade of brown with large orange and yellow stripes painted down the side. A true 70's masterpiece. It was dad, mom, me, my two sisters and my little brother. The six of us driving cross country. No DVD player. No video games. Just an 8 track tape player with a limited selection of choices. The rotation consisted of: The Statler Brothers, The Mills Brothers, The Manhatten Transfer, Abba's greatest hits and the soundtrack from Grease. Ask me to sing any song from any of those tapes. Go ahead, ask me. I can do it.

These were not relaxing trips. They were sight seeing trips. They were educational vacations. Up at the crack of dawn, into the car and we're off. How many interesting sites can we see in one day? A different motel every night. 6 people crammed into one small room. 2 double beds and 2 cots with suitcases everywhere. No room to move or stretch out. No privacy. Loading and unloading the car again and again. Hoping that the next motel would have a pool (which it seldom did and even if it had one was too disgusting to even think about going in). The kids teasing each other, fighting in the back seat, complaining "When are we gonna be there?". And dad with his "Settle down back there. Don't make me pull over. If I have to pull over you're in big trouble mister".

Another thing that added to the enjoyment was the fact that to varying degrees, everyone in my family suffers from motion sickness. Every morning my dad would break out the Dramamine tablets and break them into halves or quarters and we'd all take them. It seldom worked. We were constantly stopping at the side of the road for someone to vomit, or better yet, roll down the window while moving and hurl all over the side of the van because there just wasn't enough time to stop.

Now admittedly, some of the stuff we saw was pretty cool. The Grand Canyon was impressive. Mount Rushmore was nice. Caves were always popular. Amusement parks were always fun (except for the vomiting; motion sickness again). But some of it was extremely boring or just plain stunk. Williamsburg Virginia. Art museums. These don't hold much interest for a 10 year old. A 4 hour trip to see the second largest ball of twine in the world. It's a good thing he didn't know about this or we would have driven 3 hours out of our way just to see it.

How about some of these other attractions:
The Skinny Indian
Worlds Largest Muskie
Giant Hercules Beetle
Thermometer we saw this on our way to death valley
Carhenge looks pretty cool. I might actually go to see that.
South Of The Border is more typical of some of the cheesy places we visited.
I've been to Garnet Ghost Town. Guess what? There's nobody there. It's a ghost town.

Maybe Muffler man and Giant Girl should get together. Looks like a match made in heaven.

These summer exursions of ours were often long, slow, painful, exhausting torture sessions in an automobile. If the U.S. government wants to find Osama Bin Laden they just need to take one of his leutenants that's already been captured and send him on a car trip with my parents. He'll crack after the first day. I have vowed never to subject my kids to that kind of tourture. That is, as long as they behave. If they start disobeying me I might do it as punishment.

"Kids, if you're good we'll go to the beach this summer. but if you're bad we'll go here":


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