The other night, my family got to talking about family memories, specifically vacations on a frugal budget. While the stories were mostly memories about how my Grandma made vacations (and life) special on essentially one income to raise seven kids, I have to say that my Mom and Dad made some amazing memory magic of their own, too. You see, my dad is a pastor. Not sure if you know, but that’s not up there with the income of a doctor or lawyer…or most other folks. We had some amazing times, though, and I figured I’d share five of my favorite moments vacationing while growing up.
1. Disney World – Other than the fact that my dad was gifted a week at a parishoner’s timeshare in Orlando, I have no idea how we swung this trip. The four of us (plus Aunt Wink’s family) flew to Florida to enjoy not only Disney but also Kennedy Space Center. I remember that we packed our snacks and lunches, and returned to the condo to eat dinner at home. We visited all three parks (at the time, that was Disney World, MGM, and Epcot) on a hopper pass, and the parents split us all up to do the things we wanted to do. Dad and I went off to Epcot to feed my inner nerd in the “Worlds” (just look at me, if you can’t tell, I am on the left). Jack and Russ enjoyed fast rides, and Sally, always the ‘lil one getting left behind by the big kids, got to enjoy time on smaller rides. We even got “the hats”–mine was the Minnie head–and I still have it (and, as a frugal mom, plan on giving it to Arianna when we go next year).
2. African Safari Wildlife Park – During one (of many) conferences that my dad attended, we took a trip to Port Clinton, Ohio’s drive-thru safari. Although I don’t have a photo of this, I would be willing to bet that somewhere there’s a video of it. As a kid who loved animals, it was pretty cool to drive through an area where giraffes and zebras roamed. A bit scary, a bit crazy, but 100% fun. I look at the prices, and again, I am not sure how we did it, but we did.
3. Camping at Pymatuming Lake – My family has had lots of experiences camping, but the best has to be when my family took a weekend and (most of us) headed up to Pymatuming Lake. Uncle Matt was still alive, and he and mom spearheaded tent setup. Monica and I rode our bikes all over that park, and even taunted our (older) teenage cousin who was there with her boyfriend. Stale bread was bought, carps and ducks were fed. We rented two (what I recall rickety) plontoon boats. One was for fishers, the other for those who wanted sun. Hilarious stories were shared around the campfire. As we cleaned up the campsite, I recall lightning tearing through the park and Jack and I hitting the floor in the laundry room for fear of being struck. I vote for another family camping outing, stat.
4. Myrtle Beach – My heart belongs in Myrtle, I tell you. Since Grandma and Pappy lived there, there was no cost for staying. For the most part, my family vacationed there in December, just after Christmas. My memories are not of going to the beach to swim or enjoying the water parks or eating at one of the many restaurants there. They are of late nights playing scrabble, waking up to the smell of coffee and danishes, reading the Sun News (perhaps including articles written by my future father-in-law), playing Bingo at the Oceanside Village clubhouse, and peering in at Pappy watching sports. These trips pretty much just cost my parents gas and some food, if I were to guess.
5. Christmas Cabins – When we were not traveling to Myrtle Beach, we were renting a state park cabin the week after Christmas. Again, a simple yet memorable trip. (One stands out because Jack had just fallen down the stairs and had a black eye the entire week.) We would sled ride, play Pass the Pigs, enjoy fireside chats. There is something magical about spending Christmas in a cabin, surrounded by pines and eating holiday leftovers.
These are just five of my favorite vacation memories while growing up. Now it’s your turn! Comment below — What is your favorite childhood vacation memory?