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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!