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Trips down memory lane — and other unlikely vacation spots

When it comes to vacations, I’m an armchair traveler.

There is no place like home, with my bed and all my things.

I know lots of people thrive on traveling, and I love the idea of experiencing new places (a la my friend, Kristen, who went to China last summer and this week leaves for two weeks in Ghana), but when push comes to shove, I’m happy to stay home.

This predilection doesn’t make me a bad person. On the contrary, I think it’s one of my charms. Basil doesn’t always agree, but hey. …

Growing up, we didn’t take many vacations,¬†but two stand out: the 1978 trip to the Poconos and the 1981 trip to Williamsburg, Jamestown and Washington, D.C. Both are memorable for all the reasons most family trips are reminiscent of National Lampoon’s “Vacation“: They involved chaos and angst every bit as much as family bonding.

On the Poconos trip, I got to ride the Alpine Slide:

This is a Polaroid of me on the Alpine Slide. The red tie on my arm told the ride operator that my parents had paid for a photo. Don’t you love my puka beads and knee socks?!

And spend time in Magic Valley:

I’m really not sure who is happier in this photo: Me or the camel.

(No, I don’t know why I was photographed with a camel.)

I believe this was also the trip when my sister got a stomach flu and my mother was forced to sit up with her all night. (It’s been made quite clear that Dad and I slept through the whole event.)

The trip to Williamsburg, Jamestown, etc., was more notable.

Well, first, we got to put my parents in the stockade:

Dad and Mom in Jamestown. Traci and I got a big kick out of this at the time.

Washington, D.C., was our last leg of the trip. We found a place to stay, talked excitedly over dinner about all we would see the next day, and then Dad and I took a dip in the pool. A great commotion caused us to pack it in for the night. You see, a car in the parking garage had its tires stolen.

We looked out a hallway door to see that “someone” was us. There was our sedan, listing more than a bit.

I do not know exactly what happened at the police station. I have no idea how my father convinced the desk sergeant that the tires he wanted to save for evidence were to be returned to our vehicle, but somehow they were.

And with that our vacation ended abruptly (the motel at least cancelled the bill, which meant dinner wound up being free — still, it was a cold comfort at the time). Traci and I dozed in the back seat while Dad drove like a bat out of hell all the way home through the night.

Thank goodness we stopped once — another motorist noticed that the recovered tires were a little wobbly: The nice people in our nation’s capital hadn’t bothered to tighten the lug nuts properly. Ironic, huh?

At 5 the next morning, we scared the hell out of my poor grandmother who was house- and dog-sitting for us, and in those pre-cell phone days had no idea we were coming back early.

Although Basil and I have had our own vacation craziness from time to time (broken fuel pump, motel swimming pool that turned Catherine’s feet blue, an air conditioner that was so filthy it started an asthma attack and once having to jerry-rig a visit from the tooth fairy in South Yarmouth, MA), no traveling moment has eclipsed the Salvatore Washington, DC story.


A friend returns today from a week in Martha’s Vineyard that was apparently populated with more chaos, ticks and spiders than fun in the sun. He says he feels a little like Chevy Chase‘s character having arrived at a closed Wally World, and he needs a vacation from his vacation.

That never happens with armchair travel.

About Terri S. Vanech

Wife, mother, communications specialist, Jazzercise instructor and recently reunited adoptee. I'm living out loud -- and trying to make it all work -- in midlife. Having a sense of humor sure helps.


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