Sunday, June 7, 2015

I Should get Royalty Checks from National Lampoon

Back in 2001, BC  - which for mothers everywhere means "before children" - no disrespect to the church calendar, but that is how life is really divided for those of us in the Parenting Trenches. Just as Christ changed the story of the world forever, so have children ruined changed life for us forever. 

Anyways, in 2001, BC, on a fine March day, I hitched my wagon to Preston's, and we spent about six years driving those wagons all around the world. (We are currently reading On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Sorry for the wagon references. I couldn't help it.)

When Preston was a kid, his parents both worked full time without the luxury of summers off, and they didn't travel a ton, although there is a hilarious picture floating around of his family in some seriously neon clothes and fanny packs at Disney World sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. It's like they said, "We are going to Florida? Buy all the things with Disney characters! In all the brightest colors! And pull your socks up to your knees; no, up to your glow in the dark Mickey Mouse fanny pack!"

(That family has now turned into quite the world travellers, what with Preston's sister actually living overseas since college and now raising a family there. If you ever want to go to Middelburg, Holland, I can hook you up. My MIL actually had a fender bender somewhere in Belgium. Or maybe Austria. Or France. Somewhere in the EU.) 

I, on the other hand... Well, my family used to take a long trip about every other summer. I can say that now without crying. 

My dad was self-employed, and my mom was of the SAH type. (I feel I need to type that out for my dear mother - it means "Stay at Home" and sometimes is written SAHM which means Stay at Home Mom. She thinks LOL means "lots of laughs" or "lots of love." For real.) 

With parents who had flexible schedules, we were able to stay gone for roughly two weeks, taking trips my genius brother had mapped out using the 1984 World Book Encyclopedias he would get up and read at 6 am. (He is surprisingly well adjusted and has turned out handsome and successful. No one would have guessed.)

These trips usually involved us flying somewhere, Denver, Boston, Seattle, and then renting a car to drive even further. When you go to rent a car, you should be really, really specific about what your needs are. One category says "full-size" which we discovered basically means you get a whole car. All the parts will be there. But it will be so small you cannot get everyone's everything plus golf clubs in it, so you must choose one or two family members to leave at the airport. People always voted for me, saying I was the loudest, but I was also the most forceful and wasn't having any of that crap. 

One time upon arriving at the Hertz counter, we were laden with suitcases for five people for two weeks, two large sets of golf clubs and five people. The nice Hertz man showed us to a "mid size" Volvo sedan. I thought Dad's head was going to explode. By this point in the day his impatience had inevitably kicked in from having his small pocketknife confiscated by the airport security (Don't bring it! Leave it! You know what will happen!) and then having to wait at the gate for five hours for our on-time flight. 

My dad has an obsession about being early. Like, seriously needs counseling. He's always saying things like, "What if there's a wreck? What if you have car trouble? What if you realize you forgot something and need to turn around? You need to leave at least 86 hours early!" And I'm all, "Dad! I'm just going a mile to the gas station!"

Because of Dad's OCD earliness much of our initial travelling day was always spent sitting in airports. Only one time did we almost miss a flight, which was a connecting flight, and it was because the flight attendant had the incorrect connecting gate information, and we literally went to the TOTAL WRONG SIDE of DFW and then had to sprint to the correct gate. We made it, but this reinforced my dad's "early or die" philosophy and is the story now used to back it every time someone tries to talk him down. 

He also has no patience for stupid and has a thing about standing in line to spend his money. He's not going to wait for someone to take money he worked his butt off to earn. I was on a date back in high school, and the hostess was like, "It will be ten minutes before we have a table." So I was like, "Ok, see ya." My date was confused. I was blown away that people actually waited.

And don't get Dad started on those lines where you check yourself out. He hates them, and if they are all the store has open he will walk out and take his business elsewhere. He wants someone to greet him, be courteous, and thank him for shopping there.

I actually have a lot of this in me, too. This article circulated recently about how you are not running late; you are rude and inconsiderate. I tend to agree with 100% of it, but it makes me feel mean to say that, so let's pretend I didn't. Grace for late people. (yea, right)  

Anyways, back to that Volvo. Dad and my brothers packed that "full size car" with all we had, and then greased everybody up so we could slide in there. The whole trip Dad referred to it as "the tin can." We drove 63 million miles in that thing over the next 13 days.

One time we got a minivan with zero storage room, so the back seat was mostly luggage with a tiny spot left for someone to sit. That spot was "the hole" and you might as well have been in solitary if you got in it. If you tried to speak and add to the conversation you were swiftly admonished to "Get back in the hole!" Wait a that I think about it, that happened to me on more than just that trip... What the heck???

But really, on the whole, I have amazing memories of childhood trips. We played tons of cards in the hotels at night, we saw geysers and had to wait while a herd of wild buffalo crossed the road in front of us. We saw something called "Hell's Half Acre" which is beautiful in it's extreme ugliness and barely made out the Golden Gate bridge through the fog. I threw up on my first long flight ever from DFW to Honolulu, and then proceeded to eat a steak in a restaurant where all the walls were actually an aquarium. I was forced to walk along as the golf crazies I lived with played Pebble Beach, and I rode a jet-ski with Dad. (Who fell off, was unable to get back on, and had to be towed in. Talk about humiliating to the preteen.) We saw the most beautiful place on earth, Lake Louise, and canoed on the frigid glacier waters, so blue-green they look like they were dyed with food coloring. I almost caught a fish in Pike's Place market, and ate lobster in Maine. Great times that cannot be tainted by tin-can memories.

It's Pebble Beach!!
Who cares????

Waiting for Old Faithful. Because even though it erupts on a schedule from which it hasn't deviated in millenniums, we got there early...just in case.


I also have fabulous memories of our early days of marriage when Preston and I travelled a lot. Being teachers and having entire summers off, we used to take a good two or three trips per year. We saw places both foreign and domestic and rode lots of roller coasters. We ate on the beaches of Mexico and took our picture with the Hollywood sign. (We also semi-stalked the "Friends" characters on that L.A. trip, but if we don't get within 500 feet of them we can still have good memories from that vacation.) We walked on glass in Toronto and ate lunch at Giordano's in Chicago. We spent several days in Montreal and snowmobiled through Utah. We walked the Freedom Trail in Boston and toured all of everything in Washington, D.C. Those were the BC days. 

But then the C.

For years we could not handle anything more than simply getting to the beach house, where we would unpack thousands of diapers, set up two pack and plays, and try to survive hazards like children who hate sand and diapers grown to eleven times their natural size because if we can just NOT STOP again on this 8-hour-turned-14-hour road trip we might get to the beach house before our week is up.
Yea, he might sit in that mess, but not me,
I tell ya.
Um, what is this stuff? It's sticking to me, and I feel sure it is NEVER coming out of my curls.

No, Daddy! Don't pull me into the scary pool! Look! You let Eva drown!
But our family is now at the point where the girls no longer ruin everything need naps, are potty trained, and still think we are awesome. No smart mouths or teenager attitudes yet. Old enough to enjoy travel and young enough to think everything is super cool. Our European Vacation last summer was enough for the travel bug to bite us again.

"I Amsterdam"
The worst grammatical error ever turned into the most well-known landmark in Holland.
We kept pronouncing it "Lou-vray" to be funny. Bet you wish you had been with us.
Lillian: "This place is crap.
The statues are broken."
So we are ready to make some vacation memories the girls will blog about someday.

And since PE teachers make serious bank, we are planning on travelling the world first class all the way, baby. 


Really, our plan is to camp.

I just threw up a little. 

I like the outdoors; I like being dirty; I think bug spray smells like summer. 

But camp....this I do not do.

Preston figures we can show the girls the world, or at least a lot of our continent, if we can just get this camping thing down.

We have a big trip planned for Summer 2017. We want to take about 4 weeks of our summer and drive out west. There is a map that people post to Facebook every once in a while showing the best way to drive all across America, so the Western half of that is what we will be doing. Roughly. We still have access to those 1984 World Books, so we might call on my brother to help us plan some. And we are going to change the route a bit, seeing friends in Colorado and lots of family in Phoenix.

Camping all the way.

I had a conversation with a colleague of Preston's yesterday about KOA campgrounds, I am learning about the best ways to cook while camping, and also the wonders of bathhouses. Not the Roman kind. Cinder block ones at state parks that all sorts of gross people have used. Oh, my word, I think I'm having a panic attack.

Anyways, we are going to start making reservations next summer, so we are going to use the next year or so to make sure we can actually camp. 

We are going to start with our yard.

And I will sneak in and sleep in our bed.

No! No, I won't! I will stay in the tent. 

I probably won't. 

Grace for Summer Vacations,

P.S. Since everyone posts pictures to social media of their family in white shirts on the beach looking so beautiful, and we all know there were threats of early bedtimes, no dessert EVER and selling the Xbox in order to get that photo, can we please all agree to post real pictures, too? Like the ones where no one is having a good time and everyone is wondering why we thought vacation would be fun? Or when your van window gets shot out and ruins your trip home? Those are my favorites. And it actually makes me like you better when you toss a few of those in because then I know I am not alone

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your own craziness here. We are all in this together. Let's laugh about it.