If you live near one coast or the other, it might mean a week at the beach (or shore, if you live on the East Coast). Families in the upper Midwest go up north to the lake - any lake. But I grew up in the dead center of the country, Kansas City. To get away to any place other than flat farmland, we had to drive hundreds of miles.
Every summer, my father would take a week off from his law practice, load our family of six into our Chevy station wagon, and drive thirteen hours across Kansas to the YMCA camp in Estes Park, Colorado. I can't imagine doing that now, but we didn't think anything of it at the time. Before we left, my three siblings and I decided on our seats for the trip. As the eldest, I got first pick and always chose the passenger-side window in the back seat. My brother was relegated to the way back with the luggage because he was the only boy and the most rambunctious. This was the 'sixties, before seat belt laws, when the state patrol wouldn't stop you for having an unrestrained child bouncing around the back of the car. It's a miracle we all survived.
Our car had air conditioning, although it quickly lost effectiveness the farther back one sat. But today's children would be stunned to learn we had no DVD or gaming system. I could never read in a moving car because of motion sickness, so I spent most of the time gazing out the window and daydreaming. Maybe those hours nurtured the incipient writer in me.
After the suffocating heat of Kansas in August, Colorado was always a welcome change. I loved the rugged peaks and crisp mountain air. I learned to ride horseback and fish for trout in crystal clear streams. I haven't done either of those things since, but I do have fond memories. I was pleased to learn that my recently widowed, eighty-three-year-old mother has the opportunity to go back to Estes Park with a group from her church this month. I'm sure it will be a wonderfully nostalgic experience for her.
Do you have favorite memories of family vacations?