Okay my beloved blog readers (if there are any of you out there…hellllooooo?), it’s summer vacation time and I wonder if any of you would like to get-away with me? How about a car camping vacation through six states in the US southwest? Sound appealing? Don’t worry. You won’t have to save up for it, or pack your clothes, or do any planning. You won’t need reservations, or camping gear, or a reliable car, and you won’t even need to take time off work. Just dig out your dandy little neck pillow, recline back on your sofa or office chair, and tag along with me (with my family – all of us)…on a virtual vacation of our REAL vacation.
This very memorable trip has been sitting and collecting dust in my closet for….oh….a pretty good while now, in a plastic tub, over stuffed with notebooks, photos, and hand drawn maps. For whatever reason, I drug it out today and now have its contents spread all over the living room floor. Turns out I kept a pretty good journal of the whole thing and am utterly gobsmacked that I was smart enough to write on the backs of all the photos, after I got prints made, of the places where each shot was taken. Genius! ‘Cause otherwise I’d have totally forgotten by now the locals of each.
Oh my friend, I have my head in the clouds reliving these moments this morning, as if they were yesterday, and it just so happens there is an extra seat in my time machine, if you are interested. <Patting the seat beside me and scooting>
Buckle up buttercup. The transmission’s in drive and you’re about to embark on every darned tootin’ Jim Dandy mile of our fabulous adventure, if you’re up for it. Here we go!
First, let me introduce you to my family and your traveling companions.
This is Dani, our oldest. She was getting ready to be a senior in high school this year, or was it a freshmen in college? I forget:.
(She looks thrilled doesn’t she? This was probably picture #109 where I asked her to produce the “smile for the camera” face. She’s actually a hoot. You’d love her).
This is our youngest, Gracee. She was in Jr. High School at the time:
(Oh dear, I think she is a little dolly in this picture, but you know how we all hate, loathe, abhor ALLLLLL pictures of ourselves from Jr. High. Eeeks. Well, hopefully she will forgive me).
This is our little dog, Pete. A little rascal of a Jack Russell Terrier. Sorry I don’t have a better picture – this one’s kind of blurry. Man, be thankful you can keep your distance from this one – he’s a biter, especially on this little cross-country jaunt. Poor thing. He had issues.
This is hubbie and me.
(You know, I thought at the time this was a really rockin’ hairdo. Hmmm…not so much now. It looks a LOT better on Lisa Rinna. Do you know how many times I burned my ear or neck, or belly – it’s a long story – getting those locks to flip out? Hubbie looks good though). 🙂
Now, don’t you dare worry that pretty little head of yours…that this vacation story is going to be all show-offy and pretentious. (Honestly, I really don’t know how you could ever jump to that conclusing, for heaven’s sake, look at how we are dressed). But just in case you were having that little twinge, I don’t want you to dare imagine for a minute that we are people of wealth and means, living charmed lives, and that this little walk down vacation-memory-lane is going to be a way to brag and make you nauseated with envy. Good grief NO. We are just normal, hardworking, lower middle class folks barely scraping by, with a lot of class – but it is all very low – Ha! – drum roll – ching. (It’s a comment my father-in-law used to make all the time). Think Griswolds. Seriously. Only I promise we won’t be dragging the dog by his leash off the bumper for several miles along a busy highway. We aren’t stopping for the world’s largest ball of twine. We aren’t going to Wally World. And, thank God, we shall not be wrecking the car off the end of an unfinished road in the middle of nowhere while one of the kids in the back seat was picking her nose and thinks she may have poked her brain, although it’s possible we may have been in the same vicinity.
Truly, if it wasn’t for my parents-in-law our little family would probably never have been able to take a family vacation. We just never had the money. Perhaps if I had chosen a better career path than teaching assistant, or been better at managing our budget and setting money aside, but I could never find any extra to set aside. There was always some something with the car or house or our persons that needed fixed or replaced, or a doctor/hospital bill happened, or the kids needed stuff for school. It was just always something. But, about once every few years Matt’s mom would send us a check for airfare so we could fly out there to see them.
And bless their hearts, they also came to visit us about once a year, and often had someplace they wanted for us all to go. They liked where we lived and they wanted to see it all. They were retired – her from driving school bus and him from the Highway Patrol. We got to see a lot of pretty country because of this, and I will forever be grateful for their enormous generosity and youthful get-up-and-go.
This year, instead of using mom’s money for airline tickets, I talked the family into doing a road trip instead. We were still going to use the money to go see them, but instead of spending it all on airfare, I thought it would be fun for everyone (for once) to get to see all the things between here and there, from ground level.
Another thing that always had us anchored at home was that we never had reliable transportation. Are you in the same boat? We had hand-me-down cars that we purchased second hand. They were great for getting back and forth to work and school, but not for going out-of-town. Until our nephew went to work for a national rent-a-car company. That’s when a whole wonderful world opened up to us. Through him we got a “friends and family” discount – a significant discount. After taking advantage of this on several occasions we wondered why on earth we would ever want to buy a car. It was tons cheaper to drive old beaters, have no big car payment, and no big new-car-insurance-premiums. Once we saw how gloriously this new benefit worked, every time we wanted to travel out-of-town, we just called him and he got us a car all set up. It cost us about the same price as a couple months’ worth of new car payments, but we were always in a brand new car, never worried about a breakdown or how much mileage we were racking up, and the rental company had all the insurance worries.
There was another rather selfish reason I wanted to do a road trip this vacation. Our oldest daughter was going to be going off to college soon. It would not only be out-of-the-ordinary and hopefully very memorable, but it might be the last opportunity our family would ever have to do this sort of thing together, maybe ever again in our lives. And, instead of kenneling the dog, like we always did, this vacation we could bring him with. It would be less expense for us and lots less stressful for him. He was kind of a nervous little dog anyways. He had issues. Several issues.
So, with everyone on board with the idea, I began planning our trip months in advance. I could just picture it as big as life on the big screen of my imagination. Yep, it was going to be the Griswold’s station wagon vacation to end all station wagon vacations, minus the Aunt Edna experience, I hoped.
See Monument Valley
See the Grand Canyon
Travel Route 66
See the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City
Attend the Comic-Con in San Diego
Camp in the Redwood Forests, and see where hubbie was a fireman
Play on the beach at Santa Cruz
Spend a day in San Francisco (Fisherman’s Wharf)
See Lake Tahoe
Meet a friend in Reno
And savor every mile in between, stopping all along the way, taking pictures, pictures, pictures, and eating out of a cooler! Cheap cheap cheap as possible.
***So there you go. That is the set-up.
Click HERE for part two of our FaBuLoUs cAr CaMpinG AdvenTuRe!!!!! Hope to see you soon. I can’t wait!
“A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV)