Having a busy week, so thought I'd throw a rerun in here for the newer readers... apologies to the old faithfuls who have seen this already!
In 1961, my parents decided that they wanted to drive from New York to California and back. My father saved up his vacation and sick days, we packed up the '57 Dodge Coronet, our AAA books and Triptiks and took off for a six-week adventure. (That vehicle had a grapfruit-sized hole in the floor, so we fondly remember it as "The Flintstone Car"). Marge and Sal in the front, three girls in the back. In case you've wondered where the cliché comes from, we were no more than 5 blocks from home when I asked, "Are we there yet?"
I have enjoyed taking my own kids on vacations, wanting to make great memories for them. But sometimes, when I think of the things that made the BIGGEST impression on me from this trip, I wonder what they'll really remember in the long run.
Here were some of the high-points for me:
~ I was 5 and my sisters were 9 and 14. To pass the time, they would administer "lie detector tests" to me by asking "What did you learn in kindergarten?" When I'd answer, "I learned to drive a car", they'd draw a big spike on their graph and make a whooop! whooop! sound.
~ We'd have to duck down in fear every time my dad would flick a cigarette out the window, or worse...spit.
~ When it was my mother's turn to drive, Sal would go to sleep but not before telling us, "YOU watch the signs, YOU watch the road and YOU watch the speedometer." I guess he thought it took 4 women to drive a car.
~ The most important factor in picking a motel was whether or not the pool had a slide.
~ My mother had to scrape turtle crap off the bottom of my shoe at Knott's Berry Farm. My father must have thought that was memory-worthy as well, because he kept the movie camera rolling.
~ I thought we drove through "See the Rabbits", Iowa, and also couldn't figure out what was so damned funny every time I said it. (I also thought the Toronto hockey team was called "The Make-Believes".)
~ Because of the previously mentioned hole in the floor of the car, we spent much of the trip terrified that my dad would drive over roadkill.
~ My middle sister was a thief. She took "souvenirs" from the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert and picked flowers from the Los Angeles Arboretum. She made it to adulthood without going to prison, but she IS married to the biggest asshole on the planet. Justice prevails!
~ That same sister had several episodes of car sickness, and spent much of the trip wearing a "Got Puke?" moustache.
_ We were gone for six weeks. My mother never called home to check with her parents or sisters and see if everyone was ok, or to let them know that we were.
~ My parents were much nicer when we traveled. I hated coming back home.
~ Five years later, when we sold the car complete with the travel decals and bumper-stickers from this and several other trips, I cried bitterly as the new owner drove away. The imposter! Now everyone was going to think that HE went to "South of the Border"!