As the July Fourth holiday quickly approaches, many of my friends are headed out on family vacations that would make Clark Griswold envious.
Too bad they couldn’t rent a Family Truckster to take them there.
If I had kids, I would certainly want to recreate many scenes from the 1983 classic comedy “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” Except the part when the Griswolds show up at the amusement park to discover it’s closed. That’s no fun. Unless John Candy was actually there.
He had me at “Uncle Buck.”
Many of my favorite childhood memories stem from my own family’s vacations, mostly as we traveled down to Florida from Indiana to a quiet little spot called Longboat Key. We always drove, which meant sharing the backseat with my older brother. Anyone with a sibling might remember how fun that could be when the only entertainment was a game of Slug Bug.
Luckily, I don’t bruise too easily.
Of course my brother and I had to draw the very important imaginary line on the backseat that separated us. I believe I instigated most of the crossing over to the other side.
Then I probably told on him because I was the annoying little sister like that.
I was also one of those kids who became carsick if I read a book or played a game while riding in the car. That made the extra-long road trips special. Sometimes I would show my weirdness and sleep on the floorboard of the backseat to get my stomach to settle down a bit.
That’s certainly better than being strapped to the top of the car.
I’m sure I was especially annoying when I bugged my dad about stopping to eat a lot and needing to go to the bathroom every time we came up on a rest stop. If anything illustrates true patience, that would be my dad driving us around on family vacations. When I think about all those resilient and brave parents from the past on family vacations before DVD players, texting and portable video games, I wonder how they made it without someone riding on the roof.
It had to be the road trip bingo.
I’m feeling a bit of vacation envy toward my friends embarking on trips, taking them to different parts of the country where they will help create memories for their own kids. They’ll be driving around to different scenic areas, hitting rest stops and roadside diners and dodging the ultimate family vacation question, “Are we there yet?”
In my experience, the answer is typically no.
One friend is taking the Griswolds’ Truckster route in the form of a rented RV, transporting her family on a memory-making journey to Western sites including Yosemite and Coors Field. The road trip will feature baseball, fireworks, mountains, rivers and everything that makes America so beautiful. The 12-day trek is the chance to show her boys the importance of family vacation time, as she learned from her dad, while seeing parts of the country best viewed on four wheels.
And from the stands of one of the best baseball venues in America.
Another friend is vacationing with her husband and triplets on a Midwest road trip that will take them to Cedar Point, Ohio, to ride roller coasters, eat snow cones, and play at the water park. There will also be a trip to the Henry Ford Museum to see the cars and learn a little about American automotive history. With three kids, I’m sure there will be a few are-we-there-yet moments and stops for bathroom breaks. Hopefully, no one will need to draw imaginary lines in the backseat and there will be a lot less motion sickness than my parents had to help soothe. There will be fun for the kids and hopefully they play a little road trip bingo for old times’ sake.
Maybe somebody will sleep on the floorboard so I’m not the only weird one.
— April E. Clark is California dreaming. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.