Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Word to the Wise About Family Vacations

This is the story of a Family Vacation. Due to the nature of "family" and "vacations," please use your discretion when reading this to small children.  Names have not been changed, for no one who ignores National Lampoon's warning can be judged innocent:

Scott and I are no strangers to travel, nor was this our first overnight excursion with our family.  Needless to say, we ignored all the warnings and approached this endeavour with a "we-got-this" attitude.
The first incident came only moments after leaving the house, in one of those places where you are close enough to think about turning around, but far enough to know you are risking mutiny if you do.  "I forgot my bathing suit!"  Going to the beach?  Really?  "No worries, I'll buy one on the boards."  Later, while unpacking:  "You know all those new shirts we bought for the trip?  Well, they're hanging in my closet at home.  How much do you think shirts will cost?"  Then there was the milk, and the DVD's and eventually, the phone charger which I left not at home, but plugged into the wall right next to the toaster in our cute little apartment by the beach.  (Which became, by the way, more little than cute after three days and more rain than we'd ever anticipated.)
Check-out required us to vacate our free spot on the lot by noon; at 10:30 AM we began our search for alternative parking so we could walk the boards one last time.  (Why is it, my husband and I would never dream of visiting the same mall twice in the same week, much less four times in three days?  One more screen-printed tee and I'll...)  On the bright side, I have to say our fifteen minute search for parking was better than the thirty minute search for dinner, due to an address typo, the night before.  Problem with metered parking, it requires an unlimited supply of quarters; the girls coughed up 45 of the dollar-45 and we were on our way.  Bicycles, fatigue, and drizzle drove us to the car shortly before noon.  "Tell me again why we left our free spot only half a block from the beach?"
Sun burnt and longing for home we felt our spirits lift as we crossed the Walt Whitman into Philadelphia.  That is, until it all unravelled.  The driver's window refused to go up after passing through the tollbooth, Scott began yanking on it in frustration, I sniped at him to wait until we got home before he broke it completely or killed us all and then, she died.  Yep, my poor truck could go no further.  Just a week before vacation we'd had so much work put into it, the service writer at the dealership signed us up for a rebate program -- and, at 5%, we got a sizable rebate!  Now, here we were sitting in a black truck under skies so hazy, with skin temperatures that would rival a pack of iguanas, waiting for a tow.  By God's grace, Scott had talked me into joining AAA just a month or so ago.  The representative assured us help would be there within thirty minutes, and there'd be no need for a vehicle to pick up the family -- this driver had a "really large truck."  Perhaps her definition of large never accommodated a 6'1" man and his four ladies.  With no desire to subject our hero to fines unimaginable, I'll just tell you he got us home, and my Pig Mobile back to the dealership where it was greeted with shaking heads and gaping jaws.

As with all fairytales, this one has a happy ending.  It may not have been what the Go-Go's had in mind as they bopped around stage singing, "Vacation -- all I ever wanted," but I can't say it was as bad as anything Clark Griswold experienced.  Without sounding too cliche, we're home, we're healthy, and we're happy.    

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