I guess I thought EVERYBODY took Road Trips for vacations. I didn’t realize that most people just went to a resort somewhere and lay around a pool doing nothing; Or maybe played round or two of golf or a game of tennis. As a child, our family took vacations that were work. We logged miles, saw lots of the country, EVERY historic marker in the Midwest, EVERY stand of old growth pine trees in Northern Michigan. And NO, I am not exaggerating.
Dad was a history teacher both by profession and deep down into his very soul. We could no more not learn something on vacation than we could fly to the moon. Now, don’t get me wrong, we did fun things like always stay at a campground that had at the very least a swimming pool and if everything fell perfectly into place, horses to ride. But we visited mines and ghost towns and national monuments. We went to museums of minerals and museums of dinosaur bones. We canoed and hiked and rode through the Soo locks. I have been to the Wisconsin Dells, the headwaters of the Mississippi, the Badlands, the Appalachians, the Mohave Desert, and Mackinac Island. I have wandered Washington DC and Colonial Williamsburg and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I have been to Art Galleries and Forts, cities big and sprawling and towns small and quaint. I truly believed that it wasn’t really a vacation unless you spent 3 – 4 hours in a car, preferably 5 – 6 every few days. We would be on the road for a day and then stay over to see the sights for a day or two and then move on. And there were SWIMMING POOLS and HORSES!
Now, I actually LIKE those kinds of vacations. And when Stubble was about 5 going on 6, we took him on his first Road Trip. This was the road trip where Stubble decided that his favorite thing in the world to eat was Clam Chowder. And eat it he did, morning, noon, and night. The entire trip he smelled vaguely of fish. We travelled up the Central Valley of California to Sacramento and the California State Rail Road Museum and the surrounding Gold Country, then across the state to San Francisco to eat our way across the city and enjoy everything that is wonderful about Fisherman’s Wharf, and then down the coast through Solvang…he had a GameBoy…we had LOTS of extra batteries: we were set. And DANG, heading up through the Central Valley, I never saw so many trucks of tomatoes in my life! Truck after truck after truck piled high with tomatoes; long convoys of them. And the condition of the road spoke to exactly how many trucks travelled that route daily. And DANG, Boys both big and little certainly appreciate trains…I thought we’d never get out of the rail road museum. And DANG, the Boys also like boats and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park was another day long affair.
This was also the vacation where Stubble flagged down his first cab. We had been told that the Imaginarium was not to be missed. And it wasn’t. An entire building filled with science toys. On the map, it didn’t appear to be very far from our hotel on Fisherman’s Wharf. We had spent so much on food and fun that, being extremely frugal for the moment I suggested, “Lets walk”. Well, the map should have been labeled as “not to scale” because it was an hour long walk to the Imaginarium. We spent most of the day there – just give us something that holds our attention and we will stay forever. It is how we get our money’s worth out of the entrance fees. The Bearded One probably had the most fun of all of us playing with prisms and mirrors and all sorts of fun physics inspired displays. For Stubble there were plenty of buttons to push and knobs to twirl. When it was finally time to walk back to the hotel, we realized that we would be walking all that distance into the wind and I decided that we were all TIRED. TOO TIRED TO WALK ALL THAT WAY. We tried calling for a cab with no luck and finally, reluctantly started trudging back to the hotel. Cabs went by, but they were mostly all full. One was empty and when The Bearded One raised his hand and waved, the cabbie immediately flicked on this “out of service” light…even though he was headed in the same direction that we were going. Guess he had a hot date. I had given up on getting a cab, but Stubble hadn’t. When he would see one go by, he would step over to the curb and raise his arm in a prefect imitation of his Dad. I tried to tell him that wouldn’t work when they all had passengers already, but he still believed that he could get a cab. And then, suddenly, a cab pulled up from behind us and the driver asked, “You guys need a cab?” He had seen Stubble trying to hail a cab and after he dropped his fair off a few blocks away, came back around for us. The Cab Driver got a BIG tip that day and Stubble was all swelled up with pride for hours. Sometimes all you really have to do is BELIEVE hard enough.
Toward the end of the trip, The Bearded One mentioned the fact that this was one of his best vacations ever. I asked what kind of vacations he had taken as a child. “Oh, we went to somebody’s farm”. Now what on earth kind of vacation is that?