Many of our most pleasant memories are of travel to many varied destinations and experiences that have given us great joy and are the subject matter at many family gatherings or conversation while on another one of our road trips.
Clam-digging, extreme sunburns, first love and deep-sea fishing in Cape Hatteras; delicious beef-in-beer ribs and my young brother Rick’s encounter with a magician at Busch Gardens (“I saw how you did that!”); the giant Ferris wheel, roller-coasters and vanilla custard with French-fries and vinegar at Cedar Point; Pirates of the Caribbean and watching my brother Phil hula at the Polynesian restaurant in Disneyland; Thanksgiving turkey legs on the curb to watch the Electric Light Parade at DisneyWorld; running from “monsters” at Knott’s Scary Farm; wolves outside the tent, bears in our food and trying to make Chinese noodles by twisting and banging rather than cutting in Mammoth; taking the train to Grand Canyon and getting upgraded to first-class; our son and his Grandpa driving to Oregon for college; and watching thunderstorms then wimping out for a motel room at Cave Lake are a few of our many cherished family adventures.
Coming from a small town where extensive travel was not the norm, we boasted about our quests to those less adventurous than we. I suspected that many envied our sense of adventure and experiences. It occurred to me, many years later, that what they really envied the most was our unique sense of family and togetherness. I credit those trips as part of the glue that kept us close in a time when divorce and estrangement became popular alternatives for many. Those
experiences shared and challenges met helped us understand and support each other and to be tolerant of our differences and to celebrate our accomplishments and band together in trying times. They helped build many strong bonds that have served us well over many years to follow. While expanding our interest and understanding of other regions and people, we learned the importance of coming home.
We never understood how very special those bonds of love, home and belonging were because they came rather easily to us all. I credit our parents for that. It was important to them that we worked through the bad times and worked equally hard at creating good times. Not until I was a parent myself, did I even begin to appreciate how difficult and special those values really are.
We try to generate more lasting memories by taking an annual “family vacation” and also to take shorter jaunts together throughout the year. Yes, we have to coordinate schedules and vacations and we sometimes run into a rough patch when personalities clash, but all in all, we pull it off and enjoy each others’ company. My Dad and I are both now retired and have the luxury of taking more continuous time off to take cross-country excursions. Many memories and bonds are formed during those trips and I will be sharing some with all of you in the future.