I recently returned from a (somewhat) electronics free vacation. I still had all my devices with me, I just resisted the urge to use them for work purposes. The iPad was for reading books, the phone was for the camera & maps. It helped that 1) the reception at the rental house was non-existent until you registered your device with the Wi-Fi, and 2) that I had turned off the settings for email and calendar the day before we arrived. And they stayed off. This was a first for me.
It was also the first time we vacationed with another family. And this particular family is why I didn’t post to my blog during vacation – everyone got along great, we had fun together, kids only annoyed their own parents – in other words, no blog fodder. This is in stark contrast to my childhood vacations which have material I can mine for several years at least.
Both of my parents were scoutmasters which meant all vacations were camping. This is also the cheapest way to have a vacation with six children two adults and a dog. When I was about 10 or 11 my dad made friends with another scoutmaster who I will call “Mr. Perry” because that was his name. My mother became friends with the wife, who everyone called “Mother”, including her husband. That forced us kids to be friends with their kids who were roughly our ages.
My one brother stopped going on family vacations when he was 14 and learned how to run away effectively. My other brother was already married and expecting his first child, so that left me, my two sisters and my little brother to enjoy family vacation.
My first clue that we were camping with aliens was at dinner when one of the kids looked at the discarded corn cob on my plate and said “You gonna finish that?”, snatched it up and started chewing it clean. The second was when Mother cut up all of Mr Perry’s food, including the corn off his cob, because he said “it was easier that way”. No doubt.
We vacationed with this family several years in a row, and no one seemed happy about it but the dads who would canoe while smoking cigars. We camped one year at a park that had musical acts and got to see Eddie Rabbit (pre “I Love a Rainy Night”) among other country stars I couldn’t name then or now. We also went to Yankee Peddler, a festival of colonial living, food and fun. How subsistence living could be fun is still a mystery to me. I’d just like to say for the record that I hate both maple sugar candy and rock candy on a stick. Their olde tyme-ness does not improve the flavor or equal a colonial experience.
One night after we had returned from another stone drag potluck dinner at the Perry’s house, where their contribution was hot dogs and jello molds and my mother’s was lasagna and yellow cake with chocolate frosting, my mother started complaining about how for years they bring crap food and then eat all of ours and she was sick of it. My dad yelled back at her saying something like ‘well she’s your friend’, and my mom replied, ‘no he’s YOUR friend’, and within minutes they discovered that neither of them liked the couple but had never said anything. My sister said ‘none of us likes their kids’ and that was that, we never saw them again.
My family vacation 2012 did not include camping, extreme hardship to build character, or odious people. It was lovely.
And there was one photo we took that reminded me of the 1970’s. In a good way. You can almost see the Go-Karts at the end of the track…