When I was growing up, vacations typically meant loading all the kids (I really can't remember how many there were at the time — there were fewer than there are now, but it was still a lot) into our 1982 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon, kids all piled in what we called the "back back" (courting danger, scoffing at seat belts), tents and laundry and groceries jammed into the luggage carrier cinched onto the top with mismatching nylon straps. Sometimes we vacationed with another family, and if we were lucky, our parents would mount CB radios on the two station wagons (theirs almost a direct match to ours) so we'd be able to communicate when it was time to stop for a meal, or for a bathroom break, or to air out because the family dog threw up in the car.
I remember the gas cap being left on the roof of the car one time as we drove away. (Whoops.) I remember the amusement park we'd driven an hour or more to get to being closed upon arrival. Before you start cracking National Lampoon's Vacation jokes, you should know that the actual, real-life name of the theme park was, if memory serves, Wally Land. I remember the lake at the park we went to one year being closed, because it was the end of summer and all the lifeguards had gone back to college.
Come to think of it, I think everything I just mentioned happened in just a single trip.
These are some of my most priceless memories from childhood. Sure, I remember the perfect days too, but the imperfect moments have burned themselves on my brain in such a way they're the ones I value the most, the ones that always start with "Remember when..." and end in laughter.
We just returned from a week's vacation on a small lake in Northeastern PA. We have fun, you can see. Yes, that's a trebuchet. Yes, those are Storm Trooper costumes. Yes, Aunt Mindy oversaw kids' art project time. Hopefully these are the moments my kids will cherish in 30 years.
For those who care: Shot on film to imperfectly capture moments as they should be. Nikon F100, 35/1.4, Tri-X pushed to 1600 and Fuji Neopan Acros, processed in the dark recesses of my basement.
Left: Video games a morning ritual. Right: Removing a splinter.