I get it now. I understand my Father. Well, I understand some of his motives, anyway. The man may have done some strange things while I was growing up but yet, though this be madness, there is method in’t. Now, your typical everyday American nuclear family with its 2.4 kids customarily takes a vacation during the summer. I know there are those that skip the idea whether it be a monetary issue or whatever, but for the most part, a family vacation is woven into that tapestry of Americana upheld by the our forefathers like Clark W. Griswold.
However, for as many summers that I can remember going on vacation there were twice as many when we did not. For awhile, I thought we always went somewhere each summer but the gaps in my memory kind of blended together forming this one long running vacation that lasted three or four years. That’s the thing about being a kid. You tend to think a week’s vacation, lasts a lot longer than it really does. Whereas adults find themselves getting completely unpacked and settled only to get back in the car and head for home.
So, there he is, my Father, the master packer of a truck or car or camper and he doesn’t like to go on vacations. Why? These reasons only became clear to me in the last ten years. When I worked my previous position, I was responsible for day to day activities regarding customers individual events. I could go away for a week, return, and the work would have been done while I was gone. Now, I have a more long term responsibility towards my customers and that means that whatever work I leave will ultimately be there when I return. I’m not really getting away from it all, as it were. My Father understood this.
He’s in insurance and those people that you build up relationships with over 30 years tend to feel comfortable calling you at home and it would be nothing for me, as a preteen, to answer the phone from someone who had just been in a car accident or had a tree fall on their house and write down all the particulars to be handed off to my Dad. Usually he was away at some other activity whether it be Lions Club, the Municipal Authority, or helping to take care of the family farm where he grew up with his brother. Even though we were technologically behind with cordless phones and answering machines, there would be a stack of messages for him when he got back to the office after our trip. It became more of a hassle to go away for a week, then it would to just stay home.
But what is the fun in that? Anybody can spend a week at the PorchView Resort but only the bravest few will attempt to wrangle a family together and plan a trip that will go down in the annals of recreational escapes. Again, my Father understood this concept.
It’s hard enough coordinating a weekend at home with a two year old let alone having three kids between the ages of 10 and 20 to deal with in terms of travel. First of all, where the hell are you going to put them? We didn’t have a minivan in those days. We had a Chevy Custom Deluxe with a few slight modifications in the form of a homemade insert that my Dad made for the bed of the truck that could act as two bench seats with a table or fold down into a full sized bed. In those days, no one thought about safety issues and the three of us kids would sit in the back of the truck for seven to ten hours playing Tiger electronic football or Trivial Pursuit.
As my siblings got older, we could downgrade to the family sedan since they opted to drive themselves in order to head along with their friends to another destination afterwards. While my parents did show concern over having another vehicle drive on major highways to other states by persons under the age of 25, being in insurance after all, they weren’t paying for gas so they didn’t mind as much. It saved them money having to take a vehicle with less fuel efficiency. Still, there is a lot of planning involved. What do you take? What can you get there? What do you really need? Are you even going to need slacks and a nice shirt? I tend to come from the school of thought of packing 5% extra clothes, 10% extra underwear, one pair of jeans.
Then there is what you leave behind. What about someone to conduct mail pickup, look after the yard, any pets you might have, and or even just leaving an empty house in general? The possibilities are endless for someone who thinks too much about the negative. But it does happen. Freak accidents cause your house to become damaged, a pet to escape, anything and everything can happen while you are supposed to be relaxing.
So, yeah, my father didn’t like taking vacations and now I am heading in that direction. I am currently getting ready to head for the Outer Banks and that in itself is always packed with drama. The last two times I was there I faced a hurricane and some strange dead alien looking creature on top of a cigarette vending machine. To add to the mix is the addition of my two year old daughter. This will be her first trip to the beach. This could totally throw her world into chaos and for that matter, ours.
The trip prep is crucial. We have to have the house ready for a week of no one really taking care of it. We need to shop, of course, for new things to drag 600 miles away to use at the beach and then back home, which will conclude their usage. For the next trip will probably buy more of the same forgetting that we already have those items, much like Christmas lights. You have to go online and check out all the activities in the area and order a beach guide so you can do your homework. And of course, for every road trip, you have to have a soundtrack and I’ve been trying to update my iPod for this year. I hope you kids see what a silly waste of resources this is.
Then, there is my in-laws. My wife’s sister is getting married on the beach, which is what prompted this trip. They are travelling separate but I will have my wife’s parents with us in a house. I’ve had to work on securing a rental vehicle in order to take all of us. I’ve had trouble explaining to rental agencies that an SUV won’t cut it because while I have only five passengers, I have a two year old whose Earthly possessions take up a lot of space. Also, we need to make allowances for my Mother-in-Law who recently had brain surgery and has to keep her feet elevated to alleviate swelling and we’ll be stopping periodically to keep her from having issues with blood clots.
I’ve had to find a house that will fit our budget and our needs. My Father-in-Law has an artificial hip and will need to have close access to the beach and amenities at the house. I have to take into account safety for my daughter, crib arrangements, chair and umbrella rentals. These are all the things you need to consider when taking a large group to the beach.
After a whole week of that, I will come home and then have to pick up the pieces of the outside chores as well as some inside. Granted, we are having someone house sit so out cats should be in good hands but I don’t expect anyone to have to cut my grass. My hill is a test in Eustachianary fortitude as well as a test of footing.
Still, I will do it and I will enjoy it. I probably put ten times more effort into the planning of this than is necessary. I give myself heartburn and ulcers and white knuckle my way through 12 hours of bickering and screaming for fun. I will listen to people complain about issues that are so far away from being important because they don’t ultimately understand that this is supposed to be fun and somewhat of an escape from suburbia. Why? Because I am the Great American Vacationer, like my Father before me. We are a dying breed. We must preserve our heritage and continue to do things the way our ancestors have for decades. This above all: To thine own self be true.