Should you combine your family vacation with the family of another? That is a difficult decision to make. Sometimes the experience can be great but there is always the chance it won’t be. I am sure after our first road trip my parents experienced some regret over how aspects of our vacation played out. Children on the other hand, are resilient and sometimes have a completely different outlook on things. For my sister and me, it was the first of many great trips but the only one we ever made with another family!
Vacationing With Other Families and the Domino Effect
With Spring break right around the corner, many families are planning their vacations. Opportunities to share your vacation with a friend or another family might arise.
When I was 7, my parents bought an RV. I remember the excitement this generated in our household. We referred to it as our “truck camper”. The base of the beast was a blue Chevy pickup truck. I remember standing on the sidewalk, watching in awe as my father would back the truck up under the camper. After the two were secured as one, we would start loading it. The bicycles were the last items to be wedged in, between the “dining area” and the bathroom door.
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My sister and I rode on the upper bunk. We had a perfect view of the road below. Back then, it wasn’t considered dangerous and I remember pulling up to toll booths or into campsites and seeing other kids peering out the front window of their campers too. When my sister or I needed anything on our journey, it was my duty as the oldest to climb down from the bunk and pound on the window that was lined up with the back window of the truck. My mother would eventually hear me and within minutes my father would be pulling over.
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I don’t know how my dad did it. He took one vacation a year and I don’t know when he slept. My mother wanted to see all of the sights along the way and wanted my sister and me to experience them as well. My Dad wanted to make “good timing” and travel at night. I remember waking to the rolling wheels and falling asleep to them as well. We didn’t just go around the block. We went to New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida and then there was that trip to Texas when I was a teenager but that is an article in itself! We also did a great deal of camping throughout my entire childhood at Lake Meachem, a State campsite close to our home.
Needless to say, on most of our trips my sister and I spent hours and hours on the upper bunk peering out the window. We didn’t fight because I was clearly the boss and she knew it. We colored, played road games, looked at picture books, read, and told stories to each other.
All of that changed the year my parents invited another family to join us or as I overheard my parents say to one another, they invited themselves on our first road trip to Florida.
They were on the verge of divorce and looking back, I now know the trip was probably the clincher for them. I remember stopping at rest areas and jumping out of the camper only to have my mother huddle us back in an attempt to prevent us from hearing the arguing or from seeing the antics. The feuding couple had a child my age that ended up riding with my sister and me the majority of the trip. Of course, we thought it was fun! The whole experience! We giggled at the thought of how crazy her parents looked arguing. She imitated the gestures they had made at one another and we all mimicked the facial expressions we had seen exchanged between them. We wondered what the word “divorce” meant because we had heard the word uttered at nearly every rest area along the way.
We eventually arrived in the Sunshine State, the official start of our vacation.
I got a severe sunburn the first day and was destined to wear a huge hat the remainder of our stay. My mother lost her diamond ring while taking a shower at a campground and that same night, I learned the hard way that black coals in a charcoal grill are not necessarily cold.
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We went to some awesome stores and while my mom was inside one with my sister buying groceries for us to have during the week, my dad intercepted an armed burglary in a neighboring store. He had been staring across the parking lot when he suddenly jumped out of the truck, locked me inside and told me to stay put. It was absolutely exhilarating for me to peer out the window with my face pressed firmly against the glass with complete curiosity, totally oblivious to what was really happening.
We didn’t just eat in our camper or at the beach. We went to restaurants and drive in places. I recall a really great place with a checkerboard theme. My friend, my sister and I had time to count them all as we skipped around the outside of the building while my parents dug through the garbage in search of the truck keys my mom had accidentally thrown away!
And the Magic of Disney, well there are not even words to describe it for a 7 year old. There was so much to see and I saw a great deal of George Washington. As my mother walked ahead of me with the wife of the arguing couple, my dad and the woman’s husband walked behind. I guess my parents assumed the more distance between them, the better the day may be for all. My friend and I were holding hands, walking in between. Suddenly I was swept up with the crowd and corralled into the Hall of the Presidents. It wasn’t a big deal to me; I was rather fascinated by the looming portraits of all the men with curly white hair. When my dad found me, I was fine but the experience had taken a toll on my mother.
The trip home was very similar to the trip there, with one exciting exception. My dad was pulled over for speeding on the highway. I couldn’t imagine what his hurry was to get home! My little sister and I thought it was a glorious vacation and didn’t want it to end!
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