Weekend Question Thread

Did you take family vacations or trips when you were little? Where did you go?

My family used to do a lot of camping out West. We’d all pile in a car, cousins included, and drive and drive until we found a good spot to stop. One of my earliest memories is of my mother waking me up in the middle of the night in our tent in Yellowstone (I think) to go sleep in the truck because she’d just seen a bear wander through the campsite. How I became such a total wuss about insects and the outdoors is a mystery to my relatives.


18 thoughts on “Weekend Question Thread

  1. Yes! We went to Daytona Beach FL when I was 8. Also drove the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way from Asheville, NC to Skyline Dr in Virgina when I was 7. My brother (I was an only child until the age of 11) was born then, and we stopped taking long vacations and would do a lot of camping and boating on Pearl River in Mississippi and the bayous of south Louisiana. We also lived in New Orleans so we could have an adventure just taking the bus to the French Quarter. Good times… I’m now almost 65, so they are precious memories.

  2. I grew up in California and my father liked to take road trips through the Western states. He hated stopping, it’s a miracle that I didn’t pee my pants.
    The longest road trip we ever took was a cross-country trip to see family in Chicago, Wisconsin and DC when I was 6.

  3. Yes, we took big road trip vacations. Illinois to Texas, over to Califonia, then back home to Illinois. All visiting relatives. I loved the in between nights when we stayed at motels. Especially if they had a pool. Little kid heaven. My parents realized small children get bored easily, so we stopped at many roadside attractions too. Caves in the southwest, largest ball of string, etc…
    To this day Ilove roadtrips. If I’m not in a huge hurry, that is.

  4. Let’s see…there was always a major roadtrip, at least 75 mph the whole way from Houston to Knoxville, when I was a kid, with the only stops being for gas and if I really really jumped up and down, to go to the bathroom. Dad kept wanting to make the trip in fourteen hours or less to see his in-laws.
    We’d always drive down to Galveston on most weekends to camp under the overpass at San Luis Pass and fish for trout. I loved the camping on the beach part and didn’t like fishing for the copious amounts of trout Dad was hell bent on bringing home, because I didn’t like eating fish. I did, however, love the shrimp Dad would buy at the bait shop on the way to our camping spot. Oh, yeah, he was raising a good Jewish daughter there.
    One summer, over a July 4th weekend, we went to Padre Island and camped out there. Can’t remember which family friends we went with, but all us decided to get the best roadside fireworks we could find and have a show right on our stretch of beach. It was a pyromaniac’s delight, complete with a moment of peril when a pinwheel failed to go up in the air and instead spun madly on its edge through the sand and nearly through our camp. It was still beautiful, though.
    And I still love the beach to this day, though you won’t catch me with a rod and reel.

  5. The farthest we ever went on vacation was from our home town, Poplar Bluff, Mo. (hometown of Tyler Hansbrough for any college hoops fans) to St. Louis for fishing trips at my grandparents lake house near Six Flags St. Louis. My dad hated the noise of me and my sister fighting in the car and refused to go almost anywhere. On the contrary, my wife insisted we take our six kids to Walt Disney World in Florida. I was dreading the trip from the very beginning, and although the drive was difficult (and going through Atlanta was a high-speed traffic nightmare), the week in Orlando was the most fun I’ve ever had. We’re planning and saving for a return trip in spring of 2011–but this time, we’ll go through Alabama instead of Georgia!

  6. We usually went some where for a week. Once we drove around Lake superior. Funny thing is we met Cato Caitlan Yes of OJ fame and hung with their family for a couple of days. Five scrunched into a two door Buick Skylark…

  7. Dad didn’t take vacations unless we had to go to Spokane for eye exams. Too many of us (8) to haul all over Perdition. But we did go on lots of day trips, picnics around Eastern WA. Got to know Grand Coulee Dam, Dry Falls, lots of squirrels and chipmunks.
    As we got older, some of us went camping on our own. Almost spent as much time in the woods as Dad did, he worked there. My brother and I hiked into the Pasayten Wilderness for a couple weeks, that was real cool.

  8. I learned to love auto travel with my folks, just like a lot of the commenters above. At least every two years we’d head west to Kansas to visit my dad’s brother and my cowboy cousins in Yates Center (The Prairie Hay Capital of the World!) and his cousins in and around Emporia; not to mention my mother’s cousins in the Abilene area, the descendants of her great uncles who had moved west in the 1870s. We also went fishing in Wisconsin regularly with my parents’ best friends, staying at tiny resorts in screened-in cabins.
    In 1960, we went all the way west to Denver and I got to see Pike’s Peak and a bunch of other really cool stuff including The World’s Largest Swimming Pool at Garden City, Kansas (which was, by no means, a garden spot at the time). It always seemed as if the whole country was under construction as Dwight Eisenhower’s interstate highway system was being built, and in those pre-air conditioner automobile days, traveling through dry, dusty Kansas could be a real trial. But every once in a while, we’d find an air conditioned motel to spend the evening. And we’d stop at the roadside stands selling ice cold watermelon slices, eating at a picnic table under a spindly tree. On the whole, the food was wonderful, with restaurants along the way catering to the custom combine crews following the wheat harvest up from Texas. That meant gargantuan helpings of really great food and delicious desserts.
    It was a great experience for me; one I introduced my children to when they were growing up. And with them grown, we still mostly go on road trips where we stay at least a few nights with relatives and friends. Most recently that was a 4,000 mile swing from Illinois to Arizona where we visited with long-lost relatives of my wife in Tucson and high school classmates in Tempe before enjoying the ancient Native American sites in the Four Corners region. It’s really the only way to travel…

  9. The nuclear family went on one long car trip,from TX to Yellowstone. I was between 4th and 5th grade. No camping, we did hotels. And yeah, we got excited about any little swimming pool we could take a dip in.
    All the other trips were in Texas or New MX or Louisiana, usually to a grandparent or other family member’s house. One fun trip was hauling a bunch of the clan out to Ruidoso, NM to go to the horse races to celebrate my Grandfather’s 66th birthday. We got to gamble. My grandfather, who had never been to a big track but had been around horses his whole life, picked 6 winning horses just by looking at them.

  10. Heh, RAM, I had a Garden City, Kansas encounter, too, though we didn’t see the swimming pool. Ours was on a trip to Knoxville for the World’s Fair. We were going in two cars–my parents, my brother and I in our VW Campmobile, and my aunt, uncle and cousin in their truck. We’d gone all over in the Campmobile–across Canada, through New England and back to Colorado, up to Alberta and over to BC and back, but this was a trip too far for the bus. It broke down in Garden City, we camped in the mechanic’s lot, and my dad and brother ended up driving it home while the rest of us went on.
    The bus did do one other cross country trip, when I was 16, from Colorado to Atlanta, to DC, and back again. That trip included as highlights three blown tires, three bouts with vaporlock, one accident which rendered the side door inoperative, and a full breakdown in North Carolina (in the company of multiple VW mechanics–long, but very lucky story). There was also an encounter with a randy bisexual park ranger and an Arkansas state trooper who was convinced the ear cuff one of us wore meant we were drug dealers.
    My brother and I both still have a soft spot for the bus (which died a fiery death in Denver). My brother almost bought another one this summer (he opted for the infinitely more practical Scion XB).

  11. I was spoiled.
    Both my parents had good union jobs with lots of vacation time so we managed to do Europe On Five Dollars a Day for eight weeks in a buy it there, ship it home Volkswagen Beetle. We saw Brussels, London, Paris, Nice, Florence, Rome, Venice, Zurich, Lucerne, Vienna, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam. I was only 11, but I did the bookkeeping, so I know we did it on $5 per person, per day, and that included buying the car. To this day I offer thanks to my parents, DC37, the UFT and Arthur “Fleabag” Frommer. (My best friend’s family was less well off, but they did a European camping vacation that made us look like Rockefellers, and my friend had just as good a time or better.)
    Thanks to a bet on Bulova and the Accutron watch we managed a second European vacation which included a stop at a Bulova factory in Switzerland. All the Italians who worked there were on vacation, but I thought it was neat. Switzerland was surprisingly modern and almost un-European. My mother loved Hemingway, so we went to a bullfight in Madrid, and my parents got to dance in the street on Bastille Day.
    My father loved to drive, so we also did road trips in the US and Mexico. I missed the moon landing coverage because I was watching the stars at Grand Canyon.
    As I said, I was spoiled.

  12. My parents never took a vacation until after I was out of college and persuaded them to drive around the west with me. Our only trips until I was in high school was a 200 mile trip to near St Louis so my dad could work as a guard in an explosives factory (during WWII), and back home after a year. In high school my parents, brother and I took two 400+ round trips to see St. Louis Cardinals baseball games. My dad didn’t drive, didn’t have a car, so we always went with a neighbor – 6 of us in a normal size car, so it was crowded.
    But, I grew up aching to see the USA in my Chevrolet, and did so several times, even if only one time was in a Chevrolet, and three of those times I took my parents along.

  13. …every year, from my earliest memory to my 17th summer when I had a job I couldn’t leave, there was the 9 to 11 hour drive (at speeds well beyond those legal limits seen on rural freeway these days) on a collection of rural highways from Central Idaho to Bremerton, WA, to the home of the maternal grandparents.
    Mom was a frugal child of the Depression, so we never stopped at a restaurant or drive-in; not that there was anything remotely resembling a MacDonalds or a Denny’s on our route in any case. She made snacks and sandwiches, which we ate at roadside rest areas (which were frequently just a picnic table in a copse of trees next to the highway) from Washtucna to Cle Elum whilst other travelers glanced in horror at us (at least that’s what I thought I saw in their eyes) as they sped by on their way to the nearest Mom-and-Pop restaurant that had real live rest rooms but lacked the bugs or cold foggy misty rain or brutal beat-down sun that we were experiencing, depending on the part of the summer in which we were traveling or where we finally stopped to eat…
    The front-end trip was, despite all that, truly magical, offering the promise of – at its end – a ferry boat ride across Puget Sound and two weeks of hangin’ with Grandma and Grandpa, with a trip to the coast thrown in to draw stark contrast to the mountain-hemmed wheat fields that otherwise defined our lives. The back-end trip was a return to the grim, sad reality of our small town Central Idaho home, which to a kid was nowhere near as magical as the whole Pacific Coast/Puget Sound experience…

  14. We used to drive from Connecticut to Flagler Beach, FL when I was a kid (early 70s) in a Ford LTD wagon. There wasn’t much there at that time other than the beach.

  15. Seneca, MO to either Petersburg or Meadow, TX, two, maybe three times a year: once before summer got really hot (around Easter), once for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, and once for somebody’s funeral in between …
    Early on I got to ride in the pickup bed of a ’56 Apache, with home-made sideboards and a tarp over it, and enough quilts in back for a pallet. Later it was a ’64 Studebaker Commander, sharing the backseat with siblings (and once, a piglet in a crate).
    The next-to-last trip was the worst: going back from a funeral, we left Arlington one January afternoon. The heater core in Dad’s ’68 Satellite malfunctioned, and from Durant, OK all the way home the AC was stuck full-on, recirc. Never seen so many snowbound trucks in my life, and that was a cold ride.

  16. We always took long road trips – Dad refused to pay to fly, esp. since we’d need a vehicle at our destination.
    In spring of 1973, M&D planned a road trip across Canada with their best friends from college: we would drive from our place in FL to the Howell’s central Michigan home, and from there drive in tandem from Ontario to the Pacific in the two family station wagons.
    But then came the Arab oil embargo, and the two Dads decided that (instead of changing our travel plans) we’d all pack into our family’s brand new chartreuse Ford Country Squire for the trip.

    And so began the adventure of 4 adults, 5 kids (aged 5 to 10) and one amply-shedding border collie named Lucy, hurtling toward British Columbia in our Jode-mobile (which, given the passenger load, was attractively topped with two vinyl cartop carriers and two massive steel Igloo coolers). Its amazing that we didn’t snap an axle.
    Of course, the adults – and one of the two kids lucky enough to suffer from carsickness – commandeered the front and center bench seats. The remaining 4 kids and Lucy were arranged like sardines in the “way back,” at least a yard from even the whisper of A/C breeze.
    That’s how childhood memories are made.

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