How I Spent My Summer Vacation

01:00 August 26, 2013
By: Debbie Lindsey

Remember when September would come along all too soon, and with it, another school season? Your new teacher would write her name on the blackboard and that first dusting of chalk would fill the air. Then, following her name, she would write your first assignment—“How I spent my summer vacation”.

As a kid, summer in and of itself was enough. Adventure and freedom were a mere bike ride away. Nevertheless, sometimes within those three months, a trip requiring a car might happen. I can’t speak for my sister, but those family vacations were kinda lost on me…except for the pools. I might have slept, whined, or fidgeted through the Blue Ridge Mountains, but I sure remember the swimming pool at the motel. We toured the White House, and all I noticed was the Oriental rug I nearly threw up on (Cranky Child Flu). Vacations, as well as youth, are wasted on the young. I was the only kid ever that did not want to go to Disneyland. My parents ended up going by themselves many years later.

Through the years, long after my childhood and family vacations, I watched my parents plan each trip they took. They doted on the details and relished each reservation made. Afterward, the cataloging of photos kept the moments fresh. The trip may have lasted only a week or two, but the mileage in memories was vast.

In my earlier adult years, vacations were not affordable, or I’d opt for something seemingly more sensible. There was the year I bought a dishwasher and showed all my friends pictures of it whenever they shared vacation photos.

Finally, I began to travel places farther than Gulf Shores, and Dad was so happy for me. He knew that getting away from the familiar and taking in the sights of places elsewhere was important; necessary, even. He knew not only the value of having something to look forward to, but the need for something to look back on. Since travel opportunities were limited, I made the most of every trip, and would add to my “list of places I had been” any city where my plane landed—even if only to refuel. And of course, any city I could see from a plane, bus, or train counted. I was so eager to add the Grand Canyon to my list, but I was too high up to view anything but clouds. Rule One: I had to actually see it. My status as a world traveler was greatly enhanced when I made it to Vancouver for a day trip while visiting Seattle. Belize and Cancun (Cancun, so Americanized that it really shouldn’t count) further established my worldliness and gave status to what would otherwise be dreary intestinal distress if encountered in the States.

Thanks to Boyfriend, I have been places and seen sights I never would’ve been able to visit on my own. I don’t drive, and you really wouldn’t want me to. Fear would turn me to stone behind the wheel. Boyfriend, on the other hand, likes to drive and leaves me to navigate the road maps. I make an okay co-pilot when I am not white-knuckling the dashboard, clenching my teeth and forgetting to breathe whenever we pass a semi truck or hit rush hour on a freeway. Fortunately, Boyfriend prefers the more scenic highways, with their slower MPH.

We road-tripped to Austin; Savannah and the coast of North and South Carolina; the Natchez Trace to Memphis and Elvis; and regularly to Fairhope, Alabama, by way of Old Highway 90. And then there was the road trip that gave me my first hands-on, feet-on-the-ground, full experience of the Grand Canyon—but it came with great expense. The cost: Katrina.

When we finally got the hell out of Dodge, after six rather unpleasant days, Boyfriend just drove west until we ran out of highway. On our return to New Orleans, we treated ourselves to the Canyon, to something bigger than Katrina. It was important to see a creation of beauty by the forces of nature.

Planes and trains have also carried us to Chicago, New York, and San Francisco. But we got all continental and urbane when we took in London and Paris five years ago. It was great, but I’m here to tell you that vacations are not for the faint of heart. I am a creature of habit that needs to be prodded into enriching situations. There’s lots of work, time, money (and more money) and muscle that go into a trip—especially international travel.

Thanks to those nasty terrorists, we no longer get to: linger at the boarding gate with loved ones for last-minute hugs and kisses; pack our own booze; or leave luggage unattended. Travel requires patience and the ability to tie your shoes while repacking belongings on a conveyor belt. Once airborne, you are wedged in, buckled up, served a few drinks, and then your bladder shrinks and you need to pee constantly (airplane restrooms are smaller than a Jazz Fest Port-O-Let). Sleeping while crossing the Atlantic is possible, but only in a pretzel position.

However, the experience of those two cities was worth it, and set the stage for more. And finally I come to the title of this story— this summer, Boyfriend and I spent our summer vacation in Italy and Sicily. I thought of Mom and Dad a lot and wished they had been able to plan this. I think they would be proud to know that their cranky kid was now enjoying the places they hadn’t had the chance to visit. And like my parents, we will relive this vacation, this experience, over and over until it’s time to plan another.

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