For starters, I haven't gone anywhere for more than a long weekend since, oh, 2006 or so. And that was a somewhat misguided trip involving the World's Largest Manmade Illuminated Star, a Ford Focus that I kept losing in parking lots, and an accidental visit to an illegal off-track betting parlor. (Oh, wait, that trip was AWESOME.)
But mostly I think of the summer trips of my childhood. What's funny is that I can never remember where we went, what we did, or who we saw. My parents could mention that time we went to Upper Caledonia in the Zebulon Galaxy and battled three-headed cross-dressing Amway representatives, and I would not recall a thing.
Instead, this is what I remember:
I remember my mom's AMC station wagon, which was wood-paneled in homage to the Family Truckster. This was way back when booster seats and child seats were yuppie fripperies for the weak of spirit. (If I were a child today, parental paranoia would demand I wear a helmet and some bubble wrap.) My sister and I sprawled across the storage area on a pile of blankets, while our luggage was comfortably ensconced in the backseat (you know, where there was actual seatbelts and safety features, well, such as they were in the early 80s). I remember the gooey plastic ceiling cover which would melt and land on us in disturbingly vomitous chunks.
I remember the endless loop of our only two 8-tracks, Olivia Newton-John and ABBA. I remember being the only girl at Casita Elementary who knew all the words to "Fernando", which may have marked the beginning of my plummet into nerd-dom.
I remember the endless driving from hotel to motel to resort, as all lodging options in town were exhausted due to my dad's philosophical objection to making reservations.
I remember the endless driving as the source of my endless horking by the side of the road, at rest stops, and sometimes I-swear-it-was-an-accident onto my sister.
I remember leaving my favorite doll on the roof of the car.
I remember leaving my retainer at a Burger King.
I remember the time we returned to find my pet parakeet Sydney had committed suicide by trapping herself behind my dresser mirror. Upside down. And staring directly at me. Gross.
I also remember the time we returned to find a pescetarian Jonestown, as all of Skye's fish had jumped out of their tank in the week we were away.
I remember the funny way my dad would stick his tongue out just a little when we'd pass the same intersection half a dozen times from a dozen different directions. (The laws of physics never seemed to apply to my family in any real way. This is how we'd visit four states in an hour but teleport back from Tijuana.)
The one trip I do truly remember, we aimed for the Finger Lakes and landed in Montreal. I met a lottery winner and saw Turner and Hooch.
It's funny how family vacations have achieved a sort of American mythology. The food, the accommodations, all of it, is usually...just plain bad. It's all about bickering, getting lost, getting all the way to Wally World only to find out it's closed for repairs. But it's still something we do.
And I'll be damned if my hypothetical future kids, Union Carbide and Enron, get out of this fine American tradition of intergenerational torture. I may even drive a custom-built Truckster.
In the comments, tell me about your summer vacations.