Thursday, August 15, 2013

What Does "Family Vacation" Mean to You? by Alison Henderson

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?


Margo Hoornstra said...

Great memories, Alison. We'd make the annual trek from Michigan to Florida for a month. Not in summer. The dead of winter. We did the cabins up north in summer.

Jannine Gallant said...

Camping. When I was really young, we drove miles up into the woods around our home (riding in the back of the pickup) and pitched a tent. As a teen, my parents bought a trailer, so the camping was mostly to state and national parks. With my husband before kids, backpacking. Later on with kids, more tent camping. Hmm, I'm seeing a trend.

Alicia Dean said...

Alison, sounds like you made great family memories. We didn't take regular family trips. My mom and dad didn't have a lot of money and there were 5 of us when we were smaller, but eventually, there were 6. :-)

We did drive from Oklahoma City to California, and stopped in Colorado. It August of 1969, and we were actually there when the Manson murders took place. Creepy, huh? My 3 kids and my niece and I recently took a trip to Atlanta in an SUV and we had severe luggage issues. (There were four females and one male). It made me wonder how my mom and dad, and five of us kids, drove all the way to California in a station wagon. WHERE did we put our luggage?

Thanks for the fun post!

(By the way, I lived in KC from 2006 to 2009, and I LOVED it!)

Barbara Edwards said...

When my children were small we had no money for vacations so our big option was camping. I remember camping through a late season blizzard, the remnants of a hurricane and hot august nights with no air conditioning. Gosh, I wish I could do it all again.

Alison Henderson said...

It sounds like we all had pretty memorable family vacations - one way or another! But it was all fun, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Diane Burton said...

Vacations were rare until I was in my teens. Our family of nine squished into the red Ford station wagon along with supplies and tents and we'd head Up North--yes, I grew up in Michigan. LOL

Leah St. James said...

My closest friend lives in Iowa, in the Quad Cities area. I remember being there one (ghastly hot) summers with my kids, who were small (maybe 4 and 8?). At the time my friend had a house on the Mississippi (although there was a roadway and I think a railroad track in between the house and the river). She had a giant picture window overlooking the river, and I remember seeing eagles and all sorts of things...including these disgusting insects she called "river flies" (I think) that swarmed one night. We were out looking at the locks (cool stuff) and had to cover our mouths and noses so we wouldn't breathe them in. I can honestly say it was one time I could say I preferred the Jersey mosquito. :-)