Vacation Dreamin’

I wrote this about two months ago while we were on vacation.  

It’s a record-breaking 102 degrees here in Philadelphia.  Michael and the kids went off to the Jersey shore with friends.  I stayed behind so they could take the smaller car that has air-conditioning.  Really I’m just not a beach kinda girl.  Also, I mistakenly brought a bathing suit that sags in my bum area- after spending yesterday afternoon on the river the kids are so over witnessing my saggin’ sack.  

 

Growing up, my Mom loved loading us up and taking us on different vacation adventures.  When I was a toddler she thought it would be a blast if she took me, my brother and sister on the train from Albuquerque to Chicago and then bus on over to her parents in South-Eastern Ohio.  As an adult I have never been able to conjure up what kind of  ‘fun’ she thought it was going to be- traveling cross country by herself with three small children- but we had a good time.  She rationalized that the trip was affordable because kids rode for free on the bus.  Of course the bus filled up quickly and there were no seats left for the paying customers.  The bus driver insisted that we sit in her lap.  She had one lap for 3 kids….I ended up in some stranger’s lap for the duration of the trip.  When my Mom arrived with us at her childhood home and started regaling her family with tales of our recent adventures traveling halfway across the country my Grandmother put her foot down and insisted we go back on a plane.  I can’t imagine having a kid like my Mom.  I would have torn my hair out.

(L-R) Molly, her sister, her brother; Molly's mom is standing just above them with her mom to the left.

For much of my childhood we had a 1969 VW camper van.  It was luxurious.  It had a sink, a refrigerator and a small closet.  To keep us occupied on the road my Mom ‘let’ us do the dishes while she drove.  She would have my brother run along beside the van as we cruised through the rest area parking lot to burn off his excess energy.  When we complained about being too hot in the back seat my Mom somehow convinced us that air conditioning made us car sick.  I was so glad I was only stuck to the vinyl seats rather than being car sick.  Turns out we never had air conditioning.  You didn’t want to sit in the “safety” seat which faced backwards cause you were sure to get car sick. Our van also had the “sorry” seat.  It was a square stool that fit perfectly between the passenger’s and driver’s seats in the front.   You had to sit there if you were acting up too much in the sweltering back.  It was like an amusement ride since the the stool wasn’t fastened to anything but you were sorry every time the van started, stopped or turned.   We spent weeks on end on the road as a family. If my Dad had to stay behind and work my Aunt and cousin would join us.

My Mom and her sister can be a scrappy pair.  Together they can accomplish just about anything needed in the wild but how they go about doing it is not by any standard taught in the Boy Scout manual.  When the tent went up at night it was always in a different configuration.  If you were to correct my Mom she would look at you as if you were the crazy one.  Why get caught up in the details is her mode of operation.  In the end we had shelter and hand knitted socks to keep us warm thanks to my Aunt.

When my brother got his driver’s license he took the van out to the mesa (think big expanse of dirt) next to our church and did donuts.  Somehow my parents put two and two together and promptly sold the van.  It’s replacement was a 1981 Ford F150.  This did not stop our camping trips, and god forbid we get a camper top.  No, my Mom tossed us in the back of the pick-up (with a sheet over me so I wouldn’t burn) and took off for six weeks in Southern Colorado.

As a parent traveling with kids I find the stress can intensify fast.  Getting from point A to point B can take for-EV-er and get expensive quick.  Stuff like that never seemed to get to my Mom.  She rolled with it and made a game out of most situations.  If it was hot it was because it was supposed to be, if  we had to sleep 3 to a bed it was so we could have some time to really get to know each other.  She’s always been one to work with what she’s got.  I tease my Mom  for her laissez-faire ways but when things get hot and sweaty on vacation I try and get my Mommy Sha on.

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11 Comments

  1. Posted September 21, 2011 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    Lovely blog Molly. Looks as if you had a great time.

  2. krustyonchrissy.wordpress.com
    Posted September 21, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    OMG this is so awesome! I’ve always loved your mother, Molly, but this piece gives me so much insight into her, into you and your childhood, and into you as a mother. Plus, it’s hilarious. How your brother got a 1969 VW camper van to do donuts is beyond me, but still… Also, I know the Ford and have been in it/driven it, so I just love the idea of the whole family piling in for a “vacation.” Great read.

    • Posted September 21, 2011 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      Ya know, that was the truck I learn to drive in! I think they replaced the clutch at least 3 times in about 3 years! They just sold the old truck last year 🙁
      BTW- I’m sure you could figure out how to do doughnuts in a van- didn’t you have one when we first met?
      Lise (my sister), on the other, hand did a doughnut in my Dad’s 1968 Triumph Spitfire to make me laugh one day. It worked! Why the hell he ever let her drive that car I will never know!

      • brother
        Posted September 28, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        The Ford was good at doing donghnuts too.  Just didn’t look like it was about to tip over like the camper van did!

  3. Posted September 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I was actually just talking about the same thing with someone recently. We took a few really long, cross-country trips when younger. You just got in the car and went along, and dealt with the inconveniences that went with it. It was almost a rite of passage in some families.

    These days, many parents (I’m a parent too) don’t have the patience that our own parents had. Or, maybe our lives are already busier and more demanding? Anyway, I still want to do one of those summer tips with my kids sometime. If anything, there could be more distractions for kids now, in terms of watching movies in the car and the like.

    Some of my best memories from childhood were from those trips. Or, is it that they just seem so much better now when older, as we look back? 🙂

    • Posted September 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      It just seemed better! I can still remember the fights with my sister and cousin on who’s turn it was to sit up front in the truck cab. Laying in the back open to the elements sucked!

  4. Kristinasakamoto
    Posted September 22, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Molly, this is brilliantly written. Oh Sharon! No one else quite like her!! And I totally remember your van. We were so jealous of you guys! We had to drive to the midwest in our beat-up red Volvo, also no a/c, but at least you guys could run around inside your vehicle. I always got car sick too, and my Mom loved to suck on spearamint certs during car trips. Even now whenever I get even a wiff of anything spearamint it brings on that carsick feeling from my childhood. The things that stick with us for life!
    love, Kris

    • Posted September 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      I think they broke the mold after Sharon.
      Spearmint is to you as ginger ale is to me! The Volvo was the best- it was so sophisticated, so European, so Swedish 🙂 !

      • Kristinasakamoto
        Posted September 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        Oh yeah, the red Volvo was  sooooo classy! 🙂 Except by the time I was driving it in high school nothing on the dashboard worked and so I had to keep a gallon container of gas in the trunk because I never knew if i was about to run out.

  5. Posted September 22, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Loving the idea of the tents in a different version every week, and Molly, this does explain a lot about you! I think no matter what, family vacations evoke a lot of memories. I just remember hours and hours in the car, and now love all the thinking I did and the landmarks I looked for on the 4-hour trips to my grandmothers. I think I hated it at the time though. Oh well

    • Posted September 23, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Explains WHAT?!
      Michael’s mom has the best car games. She’s awesome with the parlor games too 🙂

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    […] tried to pack in as much adventure as possible.  We went to DC Cupcakes, the Delaware river, the Jersey shore, the public swimming pool in Central Park and Momofuku’s Noodle […]

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