Seems everyone has a bad vacation story … it’s just that some are worse than others. At least these readers can laugh at their tales of family trips gone wrong (and so can we). For forging on with their journeys despite natural disasters, open wounds and close encounters with the Secret Service, each of these readers will take home a Family Tree Magazine tote bag as a souvenir of those turbulent travels.
Road to Recovery
My dad and I planned a car trip to Las Vegas, as I always think driving to destinations is more fun. Well, it would’ve been more fun except that I had my appendix removed less than a month before we were to leave.
I was determined to go on the trip, and I wasn’t about to cancel it. I told the doctor post-operation about the trip, and he gave me the choice of having the incision sewn up in the operating room or having my dad change the dressing for the entire trip. I chose the latter because I didn’t want to be in the operating room again.
During the entire trip, my dad played nurse and changed the dressing each time we stopped for the night. I couldn’t drive or go swimming, but we still had a good time, despite leaving remnants of the bandage changes in each motel.
Jackie Fry, Chicago
We were going from Indiana to Washington, DC, via the mountains of Pennsylvania in an old Chevy station wagon pulling a pop-top camper. My father was the driver.
After constantly using the brakes on the steep mountain roads, my father didn’t know how severely he’d worn them until we were in downtown Washington—hurtling headlong into Lyndon Johnson’s presidential motorcade. Thank God my father knew how to use the emergency brake.
Michael Morris, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Where’s a Fairy Godmother When You Need Her?
When my two children were little, we took a trip to Disneyland with my mother-in-law. The day was winding down and the famous Disneyland parade was about to start. My husband grabbed our daughter and ran off to get a good spot, leaving me with Grandma and our son, who was in a stroller.
I’m short and Grandma’s even shorter, so we couldn’t see over the crowd or find my husband and daughter. We made our way to Main Street and saw some of the parade, but there was still no sign of the others. Grandma decided to look for them, even though I pleaded with her not to—I didn’t want to lose her as well. But she wandered off anyway, and soon disappeared in the crowd.
I waited around (this was before cell phones) and finally walked to the exit, figuring everyone would have to get there sooner or later, and indeed they did. Eventually. Then we waited for the hotel shuttle, which never came, so we stowed away on another hotel’s bus and called our place from the lobby. Turns out that bus wasn’t working. We’d have to take a taxi. We finally made it back, but whenever I hear “the happiest place on Earth,” I think of that day.
Nancy Dorfman, Woodland Hills, Calif.
My husband and I got married in Illinois May 18, 1980, the day Mount St. Helens erupted. The volcano is in Washington and we would be there soon, too: My husband was to begin work in Seattle two weeks later.
The morning after we stayed in Portland, Ore., we drove north toward Mount St. Helens, which had erupted again. Ash rained down—kind of like raining mud—and we heard on the radio that Interstate 5 was closed behind us due to flooding. We ran out of windshield washer fluid, and the glass was being covered with ash. My husband put on sunglasses to protect his eyes, rolled down the window and guided us to a rest stop less than a mile away. Of course, wet ash drifted into the car.
The parking lot was full of people trying to wash their windshields with cups of water. Well, we had a bucket my mother had insisted we take to clean out our apartment hotel room in Seattle. I’d accepted only to prevent a war with mom, but it came in handy. A Canadian couple took a picture of the nice honeymooning couple with the bucket. When we got to Seattle, our red car was covered in gray ash inside and out. The hotel managers loaned us car-washing equipment and a vacuum cleaner with a smile.
Linda Matthews, Huntsville, Ala.
Cemetery Scavenger Hunt
My sister Jeanie, my cousin Peggy and I met in Tifton, Ga., to do some research. We planned on looking for the old
Herring Family Cemetery, for which we had no good directions.
We were standing in the Tifton Library Genealogy Room discussing how we should go about finding it, when a man came in. Peggy asked him if he knew anything about Worth County cemeteries, because, she said later on, she “thought he might know.”
He asked us who we were and where we were from to make sure we weren’t “flim-flam artists.” He gave us a map from his truck and sent us out to Isabella, Ga., looking for a house on Elmer Road.
The lady there wanted to come with us. (It turns out she was related to us through our great-great-grandmother who was buried in the cemetery.) She came out waving her Worth County cemetery book in one hand, her cane in another. Her nurse stood at the sink howling with laughter, then drove us to the spot where, she said, the lady would always declare, “There’s a cemetery out there!” We stopped at a house next to a field, and that lady told us that if the cemetery was still there, there’d be a fence around it.
We hiked into the field in our sandals, trying to scare away the snakes. The fence came into view and we found what we were looking for. We got great photos. Jeanie refused to come inside the fence in case Peggy or I got bitten and she had to run back to the car.
Janice Heidt, Houston
From the November 2008 Family Tree Magazine