Growing up we took a lot of vacations – we were blessed I know. My grandparents made a point of taking a couple of us at a time and going someplace in Florida to explore. We loved the hotel pools, and seeing the local sites. It was such a treat. These were not elaborate vacations but simply spending time away from home with family. I loved them.
When we got a little older (I was around 12) they bought a pop-up camper for us to share with our cousins. We began to take camping trips about once a month. We camped near Juniper Springs which as not too far of a trip, but it was a trip I can assure you. We jumped in the icy cold water and looked for the white eels that were lurking in the natural spring pool. It was wonderful and we felt brave.
We met up with family friends and camped in adjacent campsites – Cape Canaveral, Fort Wilderness, Ocala…anywhere we could and we just played outside all day. We didn’t bring our favorite toys and we didn’t have ipods/ipads or in-car videos. We just made up games while running around outside. What adventures we made up too!!
We sometimes went to Indian Rocks Beach for a week. That cracks me up a little since it is also an easy drive to go out to eat. But now I get it. It wasn’t home, it was on the water and since another family friend owned it – the price was right. We did that so much that we practically thought that place was partly ours! 🙂 Wonderful family who owned it – showed us neat things about coquina shells and other wonderful exploration-worthy items. Again – we didn’t bring toys from home, maybe the occasional shovel and pail – certainly we had rafts to ride the waves – but all of the entertainment was outside.
In the summers, we would drive up to Michigan and stay with … yes family friends. It was a theme in our lives and we LOVED it. The friends up there had a 100 acre farm – talk about adventure!! We would stop on the trip up at KOA’s and visit national parks and other sites along the way. We participated in campground dances, cookouts and met new ‘friends’ at every stop.
One summer we went up to Virginia – that wasn’t our final destination but it is a huge highlight. We blew a tire in our station wagon while pulling the pop-up camper. Picture this: 5 girls between the ages of 8-17 in the back of a station wagon. We all are in our “assigned” places not touching one another…when we realize the tire might blow because pieces are flying off. We start screaming and ‘preparing’ for the inevitable blowout which will surely send us over the side of the bridge we are on…it will then surely jackknife the camper into the station wagon so we need to plan our exit strategy…chaos is putting it mildly. We finally made it to the other side just as the tire blew…BIG BLOWOUT! It broke the axle. So we pulled over. Dad walked up to a strangers house (no cell phones) and asked to use the phone. He called a tow truck. It was pitch black. I have a picture in my head of him using a public phone but I don’t recall how that took place. I recall, however, him looking up an old friend he knew in Jr High – calling him on the phone and after my dad said hello – just hello – the words ” WELL LAMAR MACNUTT” bellowed back at him. I thought that was so incredible. So Billy Kyle came to get us. We were saved. We spent the night at their home and the next day he sent us to Busch Gardens in a spare old car he had. He was the Reverand Billy Kyle and Busch Gardens employed him as such. Yea! We got in this cool old car and went off to Busch Gardens. We pulled into the parking spot and my dad made some ‘uhoh’ type sound. Turns out – the car ran without a key in it. Yep – no key! 🙂 Adventures for sure.
When we returned from that trip, my dad went out practically the next day – and got a motor home. No more bathroom stops, no more stopping for crappy food, and plenty of space to send 5 arguing girls to opposite ends of the vehicle. Even to “bed”!
The adventures were many and I will continue this in a part 2…maybe more. Things are so different in today’s vacations. I’d like to find a happy medium.