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Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

My father's idea of vacation was the two - three weeks we had to travel between duty stations. Here's his "vacation" schedule:
06:00 - all hands on deck
06:30 - car packed and inspected
06:35 - all hands in car and heading to restaurant
07:20 - all hands back in car for the required number of miles to be driven before lunch
12:20 - lunch
13:20 - all hands back in car for the required number of miles to be driven before supper
15:00 - possible bathroom stop
17:20 - designated motel

My father was disciplined - if he decided the goal was 500 miles before lunch, then by god, we were going 500 miles - never mind if we passed up the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or the world's largest ball of string.

Lord help us if the car made a noise or some other thing, invisible to us, happened.
His jaw would clinch, a sure sign of displeasure, and my mother would fold up the map and look back over the seat at us, pleading with her eyes for us to be quiet for a bit.

Which was my sister's (middle child) cue: "I need to use the bathroom! Is something wrong with the car? Is it going to break down? Will we be stuck here forever? Are we stopping? Is Daddy mad? Why is his jaw doing that? Mommy, why are you hitting my leg and telling me to shush? I think Russ is going to throw up. When are we going to eat? Can I have some gum? Kim's looking at me! I said I have to use the bathroom!"

My father was not a hitter or a yeller, when the jaw started clinching, he stopped talking.
To everyone.
For weeks.

Not exactly what you want to have happen on vacation.

But in spite of all the years of traveling with my dad, one year my mother insisted we were going to have a REAL vacation. Disneyland. Sea World. The San Diego Zoo.
We hooked up a rented trailer to the back of the Ford Galaxy and headed south, full of ignorance and bliss.

The first night on the road my brother threw up. Since he was in the top bunk, we were in the bottom and there's this thing called gravity...well you can imagine the rest of that little interlude. Also managed to hit my dad's shoes dead center. No problem.

Things go well at Knott's Berry Farm. And Disneyland.
My sister and I are getting along, having fun even. That's akin to peace in the Middle East.

Then at Sea World, it all comes apart. Dad had spied a restaurant that employed a tram going over the water to transport you to their establishment. My sister, who was petrified and white knuckled on the Disney Monorail, turned a whiter shade of pale and really didn't want to go.
Well, that was that. Even though she said she'd do it. My dad was done. Turns out you could drive there as well but no, my dad would not be moved.

For the rest of the vacation he did not talk to us unless he had to.
At the San Diego Zoo, he decided to punish us by sitting by himself at the entrance all day. He'd show us!

The rest of us had fun without him.

We never went on vacation again. Guess we'd all learned our lesson.


  1. HaHaHa...that was your brothers solution to a vacation too...traveling between stations. lol

  2. Yeah, the words apple and tree come to mind. :)

  3. Sigh... something else we have in common. My dad was nearly always uptight. A jaw clencher from way back. But he wouldn't 'not speak to us' for more than a few minutes. He'd bottle things up and then explode. Maybe the silence would have been better....big sigh... I'm only thankful the man I married is very, very different. Very, very different. Blessings, Debra