Monday, July 11, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation- Educating through family adventure

The annual family weekend is quickly approaching. Twenty-three people sharing 3 bathrooms and limited sanity. Bring the pain…

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Contrary to the common usage of the above words, I will not be sober during this time. As a matter of fact, I hope/plan to stay at least moderately buzzed each day from like 1 PM (hey… it’s a family event!) through bedtime. So bring the pain AND the vodka, beer, wine, rum, Southern Comfort punch, and whatever else it takes for everyone to be happy for 2 days.
When we were growing up, family vacations weren’t a big part of our summers. We all had jobs, fair projects, etc. and to be honest, we didn’t have enough money. Trying to plan a vacation for a family of eight isn’t easy and it isn’t cheap. I can recall 3 trips we took as a family.
1.       Weekend of school shopping in “the city”-  For any small town or rural kid “the city” is the nearest town with a mall and a minimum of at least 3 chain restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, or Hardee’s. Ours was Omaha, Nebraska. This weekend trip included our family as well as our aunt, uncle, and cousins. We had a day at the Zoo, swimming in the hotel pool, and a full day of shopping. We felt like we were rich. Rich people stay in hotels. We had to be rich because we were staying at the Ramada. How much fancier does it get? Plus we went shopping. That trip ROCKED!

This trip was about learning the importance of family. It also taught us that 13 people can share two hotel rooms which taught compromise, patience, and budgeting.

2.      Minnesota Lake Cabin/Canada- Looking back on the horror stories about the lack of safety precautions in the 80’s always makes me feel like I won some sort of Darwin award. If you made it through the years when automobiles became mobile death delivery systems, you probably deserve some sort of special recognition. For us, that award winning trip involved 2 adults and 6 kids in a Volkswagon Rabbit pickup (with a topper of course). That, kids, is 8 hours of pure sardine can enjoyment. Fortunately, for the most part there were only 5 of us in the back of the pickup (along with 2 coolers, a TV, luggage, bedding, and groceries for the week). My youngest sister was still small enough to sit up in the front with the parents. She was passed back and forth through the sliding window as needed. This was a week of fishing, bitching, boating, moaning, and crying. Hell that was just ME. Then we took our little family circus north of the border. That’s right… we went INTERNATIONAL. Hellooooo Canada. I’m sure if we’d had a gun rack we would have pretty much shored up all of the stereotypes the Canadians have about Americans. Now close your eyes and picture us stopping at a Canadian McDonald’s. That was BITCHIN’!
“Don’t look now Sally, but I think those are Americans.”
“How can you tell, Bill? “
“Well, it’s a pickup for starters… and just look at them!”
“I see what you mean.”

This trip was about teaching effective packing techniques and conserving fuel by driving a very small vehicle. It was also about experiencing other cultures.

3.      Tennessee- This was another one of those trips that involved extended family. This time we were slightly better prepared. Six kids and four adults but we had a conversion van. That beast was SWEET. Baby blue with blue velvety interior. Carpeted floors, wood trimmed walls, two kick ass bench seats in the back that converted into the worlds most awesome bed, captains chairs, and curtains. Grandpa and Grandma came along for the ride and we headed south to visit an aunt and uncle and some cousins (different ones this time). The most memorable thing about the trip was the tragic moment when Grandpa was driving the van and thought we were all aboard. As he put the thing in gear, he failed to notice his wife still attempting to get in the sliding door. As she toppled out, you couldn’t help but stare open mouthed, then bust out laughing. She was fine and far too kind about the whole situation.

This trip was about moonshine. Call it what you want… but I’m pretty sure we brought back illegal hooch.  

Where did your family take you as children? 


Anonymous said...

For any small town or rural kid “the city” is the nearest town with a mall and a minimum of at least 3 chain restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, or Hardee’s.

From one small town kid to another, it's refreshing to know I'm not the only one in the universe who defines "the city" that way. Except that our nearest "city" doesn't have a mall, and there's only one McDonald's there that I know of...

Angie said...

THE HELL YOU SAY! One McDonald's? :( We only have one fast food chain back back home right now... but the only dept store is a Pamida. It's a sad sad situation. LOL

Meg said...

My hometown just got a Subway and a Dollar General, they're living large!

I come from a family of 6 kids, but we were a blended family. Like you, we rarely went on vacation. I remember our parents sitting us all down to tell us we were going to Disney. We were so excited. The next time they sat us all down, it was to tell us they were having a baby. I remember being disappointed we weren't going to Disney again. Still not sure I've forgiven them.

Angie said...

LOL Meg, we might be from the same town. I was just informed that we have a Subway back home too AND a Dollar General. I completely understand the blended family thing. We're a His/Hers/Theirs family too!

TessaLeFae said...

I did a vacation in the back of a pickup with a topper. Thank goodness for the siding door. I got to bring my stuffed animals in a round Guy's potato chip box. They are better company than siblings I suspect.

Angie said...

Tessa, there were a few times as a kid I would have agreed. The older I get the more glad I am that I didn't trade them in! :)

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