Saturday, January 13, 2018

Vacations

I didn’t always take my mother’s advice and truth be told, we didn’t always get along. However, there is one thing that she said that I never forgot. She said to take trips, enjoy vacations, and go places because you can’t take back a memory. She was absolutely right.

Growing up, we weren’t wealthy by any means but my parents would save up all year long to take a trip in the summer. Some years it was heading “down south” to one of the theme parks and other years we would head up north as far as Tennessee or sometimes all the way to New York.

We’d always have to get up before dawn to head out so my dad could drive during daylight hours. The night before, my mom saved money by cooking things to take on the trip like potato salad and fried chicken carefully packed in tinfoil. For hours you could smell the scent of fried chicken and the tin foil would make popping noises from the heat. Somewhere along the way we would stop at a rest stop and have lunch, which was like the best picnic ever.

We never stayed in the actual town we were visiting because motels outside of the city limits were cheaper. So after we arrived, the next morning would mean another long drive to the actual destination. I also remember them getting lost sometimes because back then we didn’t have GPS systems or Smartphones – we had a map that my dad would use to carefully highlight the route the week before. There was also a lot of stopping at gas stations to ask for directions.

Sometimes it was a magical trip and sometimes the transmission might go out and you were stuck at a repair shop all day long in the middle of nowhere because cars never break down next to Pep Boys, only in small towns where the people are friendly and there’s nothing to see but dirt roads and trees.

When I was a kid I’d get crayons and coloring books to keep me entertained and I remember it getting so hot in Orlando that my crayons melted all over the dash of the rental car. As I got a little older, I was taken to the store to pick out books to read. I loved reading and would sometimes read a book or two every day so this was one of my favorite parts of the trip. As a teen, it was headphones and my radio and when I say headphones I mean one tiny little earbud on a flimsy white cord so only one ear got to enjoy the music.

One memory that still stands out is hearing “City of New Orleans” by Arlo Guthrie. Back then I thought it was about the city itself, not a train ride but whenever I hear that song, which I still love, I think back to riding in the back of the car on a trip to somewhere.

Take those vacations – take photos, do things that are a little different than they are back home, eat food you wouldn’t normally enjoy, and meet people – some who you’ll never forget.

I know that not everyone can afford to take a trip. Some people can barely afford to pay their mortgage or buy groceries – believe me, I’ve been there. The point is that if you can, then do it. You won’t ever forget the places you’ve been and the memories last a lifetime. If you’re lucky, you get to visit a lot of places but whether it’s just down the road a ways to get out of town or you can go to another country, the trip is always worth the ride.


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