My parents took summer vacations very seriously. They both worked full time jobs so we had very limited family together time any time of the year but summers were worse because they had to keep me occupied during the day. I was often sent to spend time with both of my grandmothers, one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and one in Pomona, California. I enjoyed spending time with the Ingrams’ in Baton Rouge and I always learned a lot. I did not enjoy spending time with the Barnes’ in Pomona because it was always hot and smoggy and it made it difficult for me to breathe. There was never enough to keep me occupied in California and always too much to do down South.
My parents, however, always insisted we travel by car at least two weeks every summer. They loved car trips. They loved the United States. Boy, have I seen a lot of America (48 states and counting – missing Wisconsin and Minnesota) and Canada (missing only two provinces – Nunavut and Labrador). I’ve seen them by car, plane, helicopter, railroad, boat, ship, bicycle, motorcycle, hot air balloon, finicular, horseback, camelback, horse-drawn carriage, trolley, subway, ferry, monorail, bus, truck, tram, canoe, raft, catamaran, dune buggy and zodiac. What I am still looking forward to are dog sleds and an elephant and camel adventure.
My father, and eventually Mom, tried keeping scrapbooks of all the adventures. The biggest problem was that when we returned from the trip we scattered very quickly. We travelled from the Friday they were off until the Sunday night before they had to go back to work. We emptied our suitcases and all the postcards, photos, souvenirs, etc. went in a pile on the dining room table. It stayed there until a holiday was coming up and we were expecting company (we ate all our meals in the kitchen – we only at in the dining room with company). By the time it came around to moving the pile, several sets of relatives had been through the pile, my mom had at least put the postcards in order with the photos and taken it to work a couple of times, my dad had done the same, and I would take a peek every once and awhile to help me remember what to tell Sister when she asked what I did on my summer vacation.
It would be in the dead of winter, after the Christmas decorations were put away, that my dad would decide to work on the scrapbook. We all chose our favorite photos, postcards, and memorabilia to be included. Then my dad would start a page a day (or more for the really big adventures) and it was very impressive when he was done. Sometimes there are maps, little booklets, snipets of brochures, etc. There is the obligatory photo of us when we left and all the stuff in the trunk. Most times the family dog was with us, sometimes a set of grandparents, and always, always, always my Ted E. Bear. He’s the most travelled bear ever and he only recently retired due to 9/11 regulations (he might contain a bomb so he is subject to a cavity search and he would never recover from the humiliation) and he now anchors my bed forever. I still have the scrapbooks. I also have the last several trips that Mother and I took that never made it into books (bags and bags of trips). Hopefully, I will finish the books yet to be done and at least once a year, during the summer or early fall, review again what I did on my summer vacation. I will need it fresh in my mind to write Sister that essay.