I have been on some pretty sweet vacations in my life. However, the most exciting one wasn’t my recent trip to the Pacific Northwest or anything free I’ve gotten with credit card points. It wasn’t my first trip out of the US. It wasn’t my trip to Italy. The most exciting vacation I’ve ever had was the very first one my family ever took when I was in second grade.
I remember that vacation like it was yesterday, although it’s kind of funny to think about it from an adult perspective. As I’ve mentioned before, my Mom and Dad don’t travel. My Mom would have spent her whole life never getting on an airplane if I hadn’t moved so far away. They have no use for vacations, but for some reason my Dad came home one day and said we were going to Florida, in a few days!
My sister and I were beyond excited. If you grew up in my hometown in Southern Kentucky, almost everyone who vacationed went to Florida or Myrtle Beach, but I never thought I would get the experience. Being the workaholic that he is, my Dad decided to work one more day. Then, we would leave after work, drive all night, and get there by morning.
Who Needs Sleep?
Did I also mention that my Dad is one of those drivers who never asks directions or lets anyone else drive the car? My sister and I were laid out in the back seat with the instructions to go to sleep. I don’t believe our car had seatbelts back then, so she had her half, and I had mine.
Sometime in the middle of the night, my Dad drifted off to sleep, and we went off the side of the road. My mother, the human alarm, starting screaming, and he somehow was able to correct the car before we flipped over. My sister and I were too little to be scared and thought it was fun, but my Dad was shaken up enough to let Mom take over the wheel while he had a little cat nap.
I remember her asking which exit to take, and he told her to keep driving, because he wouldn’t be asleep that long. I guess Dad was more tired than he thought, because when he woke up, we were 80 miles south of our destination!
No Room At The Inn
We eventually did make it to Daytona Beach. Did I also mention that Mom and Dad didn’t make any reservations? They thought it should be easy to drive up and get a room. Well, I guess all our neighbors were already there, because everything in the vicinity was full except for this seedy little motel called the Shoreline.
Aside from the mattresses that were tilted so you almost had to hang on to keep from sliding to one side and the very minimal amount of cockroaches, it was an excellent place to stay. You know, to an 8 year old, it was the most amazing place ever. We got to go the beach and the pool. Mom took us to a water park that had dolphins. It was cool to get to go to a restaurant and order from your own menu. You don’t have to do much to impress your kids. I’ve learned that you can plan all kinds of fancy activities, and your kid is likely to find entertainment playing with rocks.
I guess to the seasoned traveler, we might have looked a little bit like the Beverly Hillbillies. I’m happy to say that we went twice more to Florida before I left home for college, and both times we made a reservation beforehand and didn’t see a single cockroach. Dad also let Mom and later, me, have a shift at driving. Mom has never let him live down that first experience, so he has tried hard to compensate over the years. However, that first vacation as a child, obstacles and all, will still remain the most exciting one I’ve ever taken.
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