Friday, September 28, 2007

Farther Down the Road

As a child, we went on a family vacation every summer. After 3rd grade, our car was always the same...a newer model of the Ford Taurus every 4 years or so.

My mom (who does have OCD) and my dad, who probably does as well, but prefers to be called meticulous, planned great vacations for us, always with the destination being a long, long, long way from our home to visit one relative or another.

I am probably one of the most impatient people I know (prior to becoming a knitter) and also didn't tolerate heat very well...until I moved to the East Coast and just had to embrace it. Fortunately, most of our vacations were road trips to the surface of the sun (translation; Phoenix, Arizona). On the way to our destination were always a plethora of natural wonders, such as the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, The Grand Canyon and The Petrified Forest.

The last thing that I wanted to do as a too-cool-for-school 16 year-old was get out of our air-conditioned car (which finally no longer had 6 family members crammed into it, due to my parent's creative age gap between children) and look at a bunch of chunks of wood that looked like rocks. I said as much to my mother and she, thinking she was punishing me, said "Fine, you just sit in the car and wait for us." Ooookay, I'll wait in the air conditioning while you guys traipse around this place. Man, I'm really sad about that!

One of my most memorable trips, however, was also to Arizona. Every year that we went, we would stop at my aunt's in Salt Lake City, and go to Wild Waters one day and the Zoo the next. I never tired of looking at the elephants and who could pass up a day at the water park?

We generally took three or four days to get to Arizona from our home in Oregon, because our family started out with six members (aka lots o' stops), but there were just five of us on this particular trip. We spent the first night at my aunt's and then would move on and the highlight was getting to sleep in a Motel 6 the next (which was so exciting for us, due to the whole pool and hot tub thing.) However, on this particular vacation, each motel that we went to had no vacancies. My dad just kept driving and driving, and you could sense his building panic.

At one point, he considered driving through the night, but this was back when he was the only person who drove on vacations, so that was out of the question. Finally, my parents came upon Lake Powell at about 8:00 at night, and found a resort there. The only room left was a suite, which was very nice and my sisters and I were so excited, talking about how cool it was that there were pots and pans and stuff already in the room. My parents didn't say one word about how this night at the resort must have put off their budget for the trip, because they didn't ever worry us with money. I still remember how beautiful the sunset over the lake was from the balcony of our room.

Looking back, I know that it must have been tight. I grew up in a very middle class family, with a mom who stayed home with us until my youngest sister was in first grade. Our family vacations were a really big deal, and they were planned and executed to the smallest detail. My dad always mowed the lawn the day before we left so that it wouldn't be too long by the time we got back, and we were all required to have all luggage packed and sitting by the front door before we went to bed the night before leaving.

My dad would then pack an inordinate amount of stuff with Tetris-like precision, fitting all of our "necessities" in the trunk often muttering an "Oh, Man, do you girls really need all this?" Stopping at rest stops along the way, we'd get an orange juice or a pack of gum, but all the real snacks were pre-packed and sitting at my mom's feet in the front seat. It was a treat that we all looked forward to; going shopping for our "trip treats" the day before we left.

We played games in the car, with my mom pointing things out to keep us from going out of our minds with boredom during the stretch through Utah and Nevada. This was long before portable DVD players, and we had the luxury of "walk-mans" only when we were older. Mostly, we listened to the set of tapes that came from the Shell representative; "Farther Down the Road". This was a sweet collection of country music, both classic and contemporary that got played over and over and over. Either that, or Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and other stars that made appearances on Hee-Haw.

Our trips were definitely about the journey. I still have never been to Disneyland, and can't say that I'm terribly sad about that. My parents made sure that we had a family vacation every summer. For better or worse, we were together for about two weeks of quality time every summer, and I can't even begin to categorize all the memories I have from them.

I can say that, had my parents had a resource such as PickPackGo, I may not have had my first "resort experience", but my mom and dad would have been saved some stress. For those of you that have read my first post, you know that my husband and I recently traveled by car from Oregon to Massachusetts with our toddler, by car. While it was a long trip, it made me nostalgic for the vacations of my childhood, and made me realize that I will definitely be treating my kids to that someday. To make the destination as fun as the journey, I'm sure that PickPackGo will be utilized, so that we don't have to keep driving farther down the road in search of accomodations.

This blog was inspired by the latest blog blast from Parent Bloggers Network, and PickPackGo. For a chance to win an 8 inch portable DVD Player, check out the PBN website for details.

No comments: