Just got back into town after 5 days in Sonoma where I think I surpassed my personal best in laziness. I made sloths look like speed freaks. Hung out with my sister and her family and on the drive home, I thought about all the family summer vacations we took when we were kids. There were some crazy times but as with most things from childhood, I remember them fondly.
- My father bought a tent for us to go camping our first summer in America but didn’t realize we also needed sleeping bags (there’s no camping in Viet Nam). So all eight of us crammed into it at night, lying every which way on the ground with no padding or covers, waking up with indentations of rocks on the side of our faces or twigs jammed into our backs. We couldn’t understand the allure of this American pastime.
- We were once at a site with shower facilities but no hot water. We kids would sit outside and laugh at the shrieks from people taking cold showers inside. Until it was our turn.
- My aunt walked into a gift shop on Virginia Beach right after swimming in the ocean. Since she was still dripping water, she asked the store owner in her limited English, “Okay I wet here?” The owner, seeing the small puddle at her feet, asked us to leave.
- One year, we went to Busch Gardens amusement park in Williamsburg. My uncle took one look at the Loch Ness Monster roller coaster and declared it wasn’t the least bit intimidating. After he got off the ride, his face was devoid of color, he was listing to the right and promptly vomited. As usual, we kids pointed and laughed.
- My mom always brought rice on our trips, rolling it into balls so we could eat them with our fingers. She tried to cook it in a pot over a campfire once but that didn’t turn out well.
- We rented a mountain cabin one summer but the electricity went out during a storm so we had none for a day or two, except for the static kind on the toilet seat that zapped us every time we sat down. We were so cold at night, we’d put on every item of clothing we brought (I wore 5 shirts and 3 skirts) and all sleep in the same bed for warmth.
- My law-abiding, 55-driving dad would sometimes rent a car for our road trip, then proceed to take corners on two wheels, zigzag through traffic on the highway, doing 80 and beyond. When Mom, hanging on for dear life, asked why he was driving like that, he’d say, “It’s a rental.”
- Every Fourth of July, Dad loaded us into the Ford LTD station wagon to go see fireworks on the National Mall. It always took 2 hours there (the drive into D.C. normally took only 15-20 minutes from our house) and 3 days back due to traffic, but there’s nothing like seeing fireworks explode over the Washington Monument.
One of my best friends once told me part of her job is to create happy memories for her children. My parents certainly did their job and then some.
What are some of your favorite family vacation memories?