Ah yes, the family vacation. Time to pack the chitlins in the backseat and the luggage in the trunk and hit the road forward a sunny location.
There is nothing quite like spending every family vacation visiting, well um, family. Every time we attempt to take a family vacation somewhere else, guilt sets in and we change courses for a family get together. I suppose that is the bane of having family living in various parts of the country.
At first visiting Florida was fun, but after the umpteenth visit or so it really gets a little old. Just how many times can you do Disney and make it feel fresh? We've done every park, nature preserve, lake, ocean, decent restaurant, and shopping mall within a 90 mile radius around my parents house and to be honest, there are very few exciting or even interesting activities left. I speak from experience when I say that there is nothing, absolutely nothing that makes you want to blow your brains out faster than getting stuck in It's a Small World for two hours. For realz. People were shouting, "Will someone please turn that off already?"
Then there is the enjoyment of getting there and home. Hours spent driving from location to location just to find something, anything, new, fresh and interesting. We once took an out of the way path through Louisiana and drove for 26 miles on a bridge over the bayou to nowhere with more dead dog road kill than I have ever seen in my life, twice over. However I have discovered it is a good idea to research hotels little better when we stopped off in New Orleans once at a hotel attached to a Chinese food restaurant. Suffice to saw we left in a hurry. #roachmotel
Then there are the obligatory po po along the freeways; hiding between trees or sitting on overpasses along the route, I'm surprised they aren't just making the state police vehicles camouflage by now. Suffice to say, they make travel painfully slow. I'm an 80s kind of gal. No really, give me 80 mph all the way there and I will be ecstatic. Remember the days of 55 and 60 mph? Trips were absolutely miserable, and let me just say here that you seriously don't want to be caught in some of those little backwoods towns doing lickety split.
There are the hotels along the way. I know I shouldn't be surprised since I live with 3 dudes and all, but I am still stymied after every mad toilet rush upon check in, that it seems they suddenly forget how to aim. I don't believe I have stayed at a hotel in 20 years where I didn't use the bath mat as a contour rug. Note to self, wash boys contour rug when I get home. Better yet, throw it away.
Of course there are the people at every destination. New Orleans is a mainstay on our travels so you can imagine how horrifying it was to see a 70 year old woman walking down Bourbon Street in tassels as my 12 year old pointed her out, laughing hysterically, finger-pointing and all.
For you germaphobes out there, I still recall the time at Universal Studios when a woman walked past me and her elbow rubbed mine, all wet and sweaty. Oh my gosh, still gives me the heebs.
The last two times we have made the trip to see our parents, we decided to eat our way through Louisiana and I had the luxury of reaching my destination with swollen feet from all the salt.
Don't even get me started on the trip to Michigan. If you thought the Texas panhandle was bad, try 3/4 of a day staring at cornstalks. Nothing makes you want to shell out money for plane tickets faster.
Still, all in all, even with the higher gas prices, we have found driving to be way less expensive than flying to our destination and it was a way for us to show our sons their country, up close and personal rather than shooting over it in the air. Plus there is always the laugh I get when I quickly turn around while saying, "Next time blindfolded."
This is probably our last trip as a family. It was incredibly difficult to find time to visit my parents this summer with the busy Garland Summer Musicals schedule for my youngest, and the realization that they will be holding down jobs as well as the responsibility of school which takes precedence.
Here's to new romantic vacation destinations which are finally on the horizon, and not having to have the chitlins in tow.