OT: Family vacation here I come…

For the past two decades, since my grandmother’s death, my far flung maternal relatives have assembled for a family reunion every other summer.  We are a good sized group.  My mom is one of ten children.  All but two of her siblings have children of their own, and most of those children now have children too.  At last count, over fifty of us will descend upon a Midwestern lakefront resort for a long weekend of camaraderie, reminiscing and, of course, eating! My maternal family lives in various places all over the US, and we’ve made it a practice to take turns hosting the event.  Every other reunion one of the group who still lives near the “homestead” in Wisconsin hosts, but in other years we’ve travelled to all different locales – Florida, Georgia, West Virginia, Washington State, Colorado.  Travelling to these events has become part of the vacation schedule for my immediate family.  Next week, I will climb into a mini van, loaded with a car top carrier, with my husband, my two children and my parents to make the seven hour road trip to our designated location.

Ready to hit the road...

Ready to hit the road…

As road trips go, this one is pretty short, but I predict it will not go without incident.  In an effort to conserve fuel, we’re all going together in one vehicle – fortunately, my sister was banned from family road trips several years ago (actually, I volunteered to pay for her plane ticket…her + my kids + extended car trip = DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA!)  My husband is a new addition this year – he’s been unable to go along on the past trips – we’ll see if he needs a plane ticket next time too.  Now that the cast of characters has been established, the first thing that will happen is that my dad and my husband will pack the car and say, “It won’t all fit!”  This will require my mother and me to unpack/repack the car…and not say “yes, it will!”


So here we are, ready to get underway…well, not quite 🙂  Now comes the people loading…under no circumstances can the two kids sit next to each other, unless we want to have a stop after 15 minutes of driving to pull them apart.  The teenager sits in the very back row…the little one sits immediately in front of him, a cooler under her feet – they have to sit on the same side of the van since that’s where the power outlets are and Lord knows they cannot go without their electronic devices on a car trip.  Actually, experience tells me that it is essential that they, (the teenager especially, since apparently the sound of his sister’s voice provokes him to immediate snark about said voice) be plugged into ear buds and electronic media.

A Griswold sing-a-long

A Griswold sing-a-long

I have ceased pondering this really.  I know that “in the good old days” there were no such things.  My sister and I rode all over the country in the back of a station wagon (not unlike the Griswold’s) with nothing but coloring books and crayons to amuse us.  We counted cows (that gets old FAST in Wisconsin), we “collected” license plates or played alphabet games, and sang road songs (never once questioning if it was appropriate to sing 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall), etc.  Of course, the outboard motor and the tank of gasoline in the back may have had something to do with why we slept a lot along the way!  In lieu of inadvertently anesthetizing them with fumes, I’ll settle for having my kids plug in if it maintains harmony for all passengers.

Ordinarily my parents would insist that we leave at stupid o’clock in the morning to “make the best of the daylight,” but due to extenuating circumstances, we’ll be leaving in the early afternoon and having a stopover by early evening.  This will necessitate another time honored horror – the family hotel room.  Thank heaven for legal requirements that won’t allow a hotel to cram all six of us into one room.  Otherwise my mom would totally argue for this in the spirit of frugality.  In the spirit of at least one person getting some sleep, we  are definitely getting two rooms, and I still predict that someone will end up spending at least part of the night in the van!

No really, I'm fine!

No really, I’m fine!

Now that we’ve gotten ourselves settled, we have to figure out where to have dinner…always a challenge between my son who eats from three food groups:  pizza, chicken tenders, or mac and cheese to my dad who maintains that any and all fast food will make him instantly sick to my daughter who is always a wild card.  This takes at least an hour to plan which will set us up to get back to the motel thirty minutes before the pool closes.  Forgetting that there is a pool at home, this generates a mad dash on the part of the seven year old to get changed and into that over chlorinated human stew for at least 20 minutes before she has to be dragged back to the room and showered before bed.

It's definitely not a waterpark...but...is that a hottub?

It’s definitely not a waterpark…but…is that a hottub?

Bright and early…at stupid o’clock…the next morning, we’ll be underway again.  I imagine we’ll arrive at our destination sometime around midday.  Ahhh, time to relax and let vacation begin right?  Wrong!  We are on for group meal numero uno – fish fry.  Part of the reason we needed the car top carrier was to make room for the giant fryers and coolers we need to bring along to lay out this spread for fifty.  My dad will be like a whirling dervish within minutes of arrival…I predict he’ll have the car unloaded and be breading blue gills in less than 20 minutes – woe onto anyone who gets in his way, or offers advice.

Fish fry...where are the french fries?

Fish fry…where are the french fries?

Doesn’t this sound like fun?!  Actually, I really love these trips.  The small trials along the way are nothing compared to the laughs that we have together, the places we see and the people we meet along the way.  Happy travels Armitageworld!

23 comments on “OT: Family vacation here I come…

  1. Servetus says:

    Are you catching the bluegill there, or bringing them along?

    • obscura says:

      Bringing them along (and supplies to make pizzas – did I mention we like to eat?)…Dad caught them on his annual brotherly love fishing trip ‘up north” this spring…only up to the legal limit of course officer 🙂

  2. kelbel75 says:

    *laughs* your description of traveling sounds exactly like my family, especially the kids, 100 % !!

    • obscura says:

      I love road tripping…the last one we went took was started less than 12 hours after I got off an transatlantic flight…that one was rough 🙂

  3. Leigh says:

    A long time ago, we did road trips for things like weddings and Christmas. It invariably involved “indoor camping” and other torturous traditions. *shudder* I’m glad those days are over. Your plans sound challenging, but a lot more fun.

    • obscura says:

      I think my husband may be the wild card on this trip…he hasn’t been on one with the whole crew since the 7 year old was a baby (much less bickering with her brother that trip!) Time will tell 🙂

  4. guylty says:

    Enjoy your weekend. I had the family weekend a couple of weeks ago. Well, I’m the blow-in on that one, it’s my hubs’s family. Coping strategy: I always have my camera with me which means I have an excuse to fall behind on walks, to leave at any time to catch the best light for a quick photoshoot and to generally hide behind the camera when things get sticky. “Oh, I’d like go take some pictures!” Anyone can do that, as long as you bring a camera. And they’ll all love you for it because they want the resulting images as mementos of the trip. Go for it. Otherwise: ommmmmmm 😉

    • obscura says:

      There is always someone running around with a camera – or worse, my uncle is an avid videographer! I am usually actively avoiding being captured in my swim suit or yelling at my kids on camera – I find that staying in the kitchen helps with this – no one wants to be roped into food prep (I actually enjoy it, so win/win for me!)

  5. marieastra8 says:

    Sounds like fun! Sounds like my family. It’s all about the food. LOL! Hope you have a great time.

    • obscura says:

      We have had the hardest time convincing my cousin who is organizing that communal meals are central to the whole gathering. She doesn’t want people to be tied to the kitchen…I get that, but there is a lot of food memory in our family, and it is also not a good idea to “wing it” when it comes to feeding 50 people – especially many who suffer from what we call PFS (Pre Food Syndrome – it is not pretty!) We’ll see how it goes 🙂

  6. As everyone else is saying, it sounds like my family too!! We did the same road trips as kids, with the fumes in the back of the car, and counting cows, and road bingo, and the alphabet sign game, and singing songs, and… kids today have. No. Idea. … None. :}

    I had a wonderful grandma who, on road trips, was prone to whipping foodstuffs out of her purse. Her traveling larder was legendary. Once she had Cheez Whiz in a spray can, Ritz crackers, and a sausage in her purse, and brought them out for snacking when we got stuck in road construction! She was amazing. ❤

    • obscura says:

      Your grandma sounds awesome…my mom only ever had punctured packs of restaurant jelly and cough drops in her purse 🙂 One other challenge with the kids, especially my seven year old is keeping her from infiltrating the snack bag and free feeding for hours on end!

  7. katie70 says:

    I hope you have a great family reunion this weekend. Safe travels both ways. The fun of traveling with family, on a trip for one of my husbands aunts 50th anniversary to Chicago my BIL taught son1 ( he was 6 at the time and the only child) to say ” are we there yet” we where 5 miles from home the first time and for the next 6 hours we had to listen to them.

    I hope you have a fun time seeing your family. We are having a family reunion on my husbands dads side the family in August. The family will travel to Wisconsin as one of the many cousins is hosting, we still will have to travel about 3 hours or so. It is always great to see everyone and the aunts and uncles who are not getting younger ( the oldest aunt will be 95 and the youngest uncle 75 , there sister and brother) but to remember who is no longer with us. We hosted 10 years ago (at our old house in the town where is grandparents raised there family ) which was to be one family but word got out and since no one had got together since my FIL funeral, a lot of the family came. I cooked the main meal the reunion day and the next day we all met for leftovers, as I cooked so much food ( I say we had 82 that time).

    I hope the road trip goes go and the children get on well. Son1 is plugged in so he don’t have to listen to dad’s music ( he don’t like country) son2 will read ( any reason to read) or sleep and son3 will draw or chatter the whole way and ask for snacks. The fun of it.

    • obscura says:

      It always ends up being fun…my sister is already stressing it, but as I have told her, “You can’t pick your family, and this is the only one you’ve got…roll with it.” We are staying at a huge resort – there’s plenty of room to find a quiet place.

      I’m mostly hoping for happy trails…after the road trip to Colorado (with my sister) Minnesota will be a breeze (I think) Here’s to ear buds for all!

  8. phylly3 says:

    Family reunions are great! — if they are short and sweet. 🙂

  9. All these stories bring back memories of traveling as a child, and pleasant thoughts about trips with our children. In reading these, it did strike me – in a good way – that so many still have family reunions and/or family road trips. Kind of restores your faith in family and community. As for my immediate family, the Griswold analogy has always held true. We haven’t done the dead aunt on the roof rack, but there have been so many “Griswold moments,” as we call them. And it must be hereditary. All 3 children are already reporting Griswold moments with their significant others. Oh, my, what have we done?!

    Happy and safe travels, everyone! 🙂

    • obscura says:

      Some of those moments make the trip over and over again. When we drove to Colorado about ten years ago now,my mother got her way and four adults and my son crammed into one room..I ended up sleeping on a blowup mattress in the “closet”. It was a Motel 6… Closet = clothes rack next to the bathroom outside the bathroom. Would have been fine except that the mattress deflated and somehow I ended up laying in a puddle of water because someone left the plug on the cooler open. Ah, good times!! 😀

      • Ah, yes, the deflating air mattress – we know it well! Wonder if any of those will hold air all night? Talking about the “closet” reminds me of many late nights on the road when husband and I decided to have a glass of wine. The only way to do so without waking children was to sit in said “closet,” and “bathroom outside the bathroom,” or, in what seems to be pushing the limits of sanitation, in the bathroom itself!

  10. […] Ancient Armitage gets ready for the annual family vacation. […]

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