….but laugh at now…
We have gone on many vacations over the years and like family vacations tend to go, we’ve had our ups and downs. Overall, I’m hoping the kids have fond memories of them but looking back at my childhood family vacations, I’m realistic to know that some less than pleasant moments will linger in the minds…..maybe forever.
Here is a look at my top 10- I have not polled the kids on this one but I plan on doing it soon. It will be interesting to see what their lists contain.
1. Deer Park, Sandusky Ohio(2000) This was the first vacation we took with all three kids, Michael- almost 10, Kris- 7 and Andrew- 4-1/2. We went with my sister- 7-1/2 months pregnant, my brother-in-law and my nephew- 5. Everyone was very excited about going to Deer Park and feeding the deer. We ignored the weather reports and headed out, also turning a blind eye to the dark heavy clouds that filled the sky. By the time we got out into the park, it began raining and before long it was a torrential downpour with all of us soaked to the skin, mud splattered and huddling under a shelter with hundreds of wet (and hungry) deer.
2. Kings Island, Ohio (2000) Have you been to Kings Island Amusement Park? It’s known for its roller coasters. While my husband, brother-in-law and Michael were having the time of our lives, my sister and I were dragging around a wagon full of hot, crabby kids. My sister couldn’t go on any of the rides because she was pregnant. We were really tired and it wasn’t long before all 5 of us were wandering around grumbling. Someone whined, “Where’s Daddy?”
“If there’s a God in heaven, we will find him soon.” I’m not sure if it was me or my sister that said it.
The crowd parted, I’m pretty sure the sun shined straight down, and there walking toward us were the dads. My sister handed the handle of the wagon to her husband. I turned to my husband and said, “Have fun” and we walked away.
3. Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom, Disney World (2002) “We’re scared!” On our first trip to Disney World, (Michael-11, Kris- 8, Andrew- almost 6), we made the kids get in line for the Haunted Mansion. This was before the days of Fast Passes and we were in long for awhile. Kris and Andy did not want to go in. As time passed, their protests turned into crying until we nearly reached the door. Their wails of terror were entertaining everyone in line. We kept reassuring them that they would not be frightened. I’m sure at that point they thought we were the meanest parents ever. (It ended up being one of their favorite rides and one of the memories sure to bring a smile to their faces.)4.
4. Colorado Cabin (2004) “Remember the time we were wandering around the mountains…” We rented a cabin in the Rocky Mountains when the kids were 13, 11-1/2 and nearly 9. To reach the cabin, we were supposed to meet the owner at a locked gate at the bottom of the “subdivision” somewhere in the hills. When we finally found our destination, no one was there. We had been driving around lost for hours so while my husband waited for the owner to show up, I took the kids to wander up the road to find the cabin. I left my purse, phone, water….. all in the car and off me and the kids trudged for nearly an hour. I’m not sure what I was thinking. Not the smartest move on either my part or my husband’s.
5. Pikes Peak, Colorado (2004) I don’t tolerate any kind of altitude well. Driving up to the top of Pikes Peak, 14,000+ feet almost did me in! As the family enjoyed the view and took tons of photos, I staggered around the gift shop, lurching from a rack of t-shirts to a shelf a souvenirs. Andrew, who was nearly 9, had seen enough and decided he was heading back. Back where? We will never know because when we ask him, he’s not sure. He was just done. That was one of the biggest scares we ever had as parents- losing a kid on Pikes Peak.
6. Denver/Breckenridge, Colorado (2005) A year later we were back in Colorado on a vacation/business trip. This entire vacation quickly became one we would like to forget because it was an unpleasant combination of my altitude sickness getting worse each day and my husband spending long stretches on his phone, leaving us sitting at one site or another much longer than we would ever want to be. At one point, we were all in a hotel room trying to sleep while my husband was on the phone in the bathroom trying to fix some work related issue at 2am.
7. Magic Kingdom, Disney World (2006)- “The Happiest Place on Earth!” Our second trip to Disney World found us with Michael- almost 16 with a girlfriend, Kris- 13, and Andy- 10-1/2 and along for the ride were my parents. It was Florida and it was June so there was rain but this was the year of the hurricanes and we were lucky to experience the tail end of a bigger one. When it rained, it poured. But that wasn’t what made this vacation memorable. This time we can thank Michael, full of teenage angst. He was full of “piss and vinegar” to quote my father and after a week of his attitude, I was DONE. We were in a gift shop in the Magic Kingdom and I had just spent 10 minutes arguing with Kris over some impossibly overpriced souvenir while a bored bystander, leaning against a nearby display watched in open amusement. After being told to have a “magical day” by a cast member at the register, I was in a foul mood. As our group walked down Main Street, strung out over half a block, I heard Michael mutter, “This is the last vacation I’m going on with this family.”
I spun around and snapped, “Who said we were even going to ask you next time?”(It would be 6 years before Michael took another vacation with us and guess where we went? You got it- Disney World!)
8. Epcot, Disney World- any year “Rain, rain, go away….”We went to Disney World a number of times and we expected rain to play a part in our days. What we didn’t expect was that every time we went to Epcot it would pour. But that’s what happened each and every time. And it wasn’t the pleasant sudden rain shower that clears up to sunshine in a few minutes. It was that non-stop downpour where you are soaked to the skin. Every single time. Despite the forecast or even how the day started out. We were finally granted a reprieve this past June when we only had a short sprinkle- it was truly a Disney Miracle!!!
9. Niagara Falls, US (2014) Andrew and I spent a lot of time on the road this year while he was auditioning at colleges. On one of our trips we found ourselves with some free time and we were only an hour from Niagara Falls so we decided to head on out to see it. What we did not realize was that it was 20 degrees below the average temp for that time of year and with the wind chill it felt like -10 degrees. I’m not sure we even saw the Falls, to be honest. The ice pellets stung our face and the sun was so bright we were blinded. Our fingers and toes were frozen for hours afterward, not to mention our nerves being frazzled by the treacherous ride back to the hotel in an icy snowstorm.
10. Disney World Resort Parking Lot (2014) “F-ing Disney World” On our recent family vacation to Disney World, we experienced a few tense moments. Michael and Jasmine were struggling with CJ, who was going through a tough time- testing their patience at every turn. It wasn’t until we were loading up our cars and preparing to leave that “it” happened. Our cars were separated by a few empty spots and my husband and I were sitting in our car when we noticed a commotion over at Michael’s car. We could hear yelling and when we got out of our car, we heard CJ screaming and crying. We looked at each other, not sure if we should step in or not. That had happened a lot over the course of the past week. (It’s a fine line- if you have grandchildren, you know what I mean!) And then as we were still not sure what to do, we got our answer. Michael’s voice carried loud and clear. “I don’t care if it’s f-ing (feel free to fill in the blank with your favorite f-word) Disney World, I’ve f-ing had it!” My husband marched over, snatched CJ from his parents, and buckled him into our car, not saying a word.
Michael’s brothers were really bummed to have missed him dropping f-bombs all over the place while they were off getting coffee.
But if you ask CJ, he will tell you it was the best vacation ever. (Thank God!)
We really did have fun on these vacations, too! I swear we did!!! But let’s be honest here- anyone who has taken children of any age on vacation will admit there are usually a few of these moments thrown in to mix things up.
What are some of your most memorable….or unmemorable vacation moments?