Vacations: Now and Then

Kris packed on Thursday for the three-hour drive from Wichita to Kansas City.  I ate some gorp and drank some coffee and we were off.  We listened to Zach and NPR fussing.   And we talked about childhood friends, Minnesota farm life, and the baseball game we were going to see that night.  Labor Day weekend had begun.

We pulled into the Holiday Inn Express.  I checked in, Kris and Zach went up to the room and I made the three trips back to the truck to get all the baby stuff up to the room.  It wasn’t until the third trip downstairs, as I was unlocking the SUV and getting the last pieces of the pack-n-play, that I realized that this really was Labor Day and a family vacation.  My first family vacation since 1993.

In the summer of ’93, our family joined the ’80s by getting rid of our full-sized van in favor of a deep-forest green Ford Explorer.   I had a temporary job as a sports-camp counselor that summer and a permanent job, leaving for the Air Force starting that September 9.

Jeff, Me, Jean, and Jake in 1993

Which created a problem.  Every year since 1982, we took a week-long vacation ending Labor Day weekend.  We went to all sorts of places like Las Vegas, NV; Reno, NV; Laughlin, NV; Tonopah, NV; and Lake Tahoe, CA, though we stayed on the Nevada side.  Labor Day was going to be September 6 in ’93 and I was leaving too soon after that for us to be gone a week.  Jean, Jake, Dad, and I assumed we weren’t taking a vacation that year.

In mid-July, Mom came in and announced that our family vacation would be moved up to August and that we were going north to Portland to see her sister.  With a detour through Las Vegas.

We gave tepid smiles in response all knowing this was our last family vacation. 

We packed the Explorer, and took off.  The cold cuts cooler still sat next to mom.  After we were on the road for an hour, she took our orders.  Even though I was almost 18, I still only got one soda with the sandwich mom made and had to split my chips with Jake.  Because there was less space than there was in the van, we didn’t play any board games.   Mom tried to start a game of ‘I spy,’ but Jake fell asleep and I pretended to read a book.

We stayed at Circus Circus for the night in Vegas, the same place we stayed at when we first started vacationing.  The place was almost the same.  It was a little easier to knock over the milk bottles to win a small prize, the circus acts were a little less impressive, and the carpet was a little bit dingier.   I wandered down into the casino floor, but was asked for ID before I was there for five minutes.  I went back upstairs to the circus shows, the video games, and Jean and Jake.

We left Vegas for Portland, with two overnight stops in between.  The motels we stopped at were much like those in vacations past.  They had to have a pool, two queens, and a roll-away bed.   Jake and I shared a queen, Jean got the roll-away.  The pool had become less important after 8th grade, when we got a pool of our own, but Jean, Jake, and I still put on our swimsuits and threw each other around a bit.

We got four nights in Portland with my Aunt Sara and Uncle Ed.  My cool cousin Todd lived there and we played tennis and went to Costco while the adults hung out.  I also got to play with (and use the term) ‘my first cousin once-removed’, Sean, who was about 18 months old or so.

The days passed almost like vacation days should and we made the long drive back to LA.  I left the next month.

I dragged the last of the pack-n-play into our hotel room.  Kris had her Royals uniform on and mine was laid out on the bed.  Ours were free from a previous Royals game.  Zach had a little Alex Gordon jersey with a number ‘7’ on it.  Gordon hadn’t worn number 7 since 2008, but Zach still looked cute.

We put Zach back in the car seat and re-packed the diaper bag.  We found our seats and the man in front of us offered to take our picture.  I smiled, happy to be on a family vacation again!

Good to Be on Vacation Again!

About Jimmy

The stories herein are about a sentimental 80s child who cried at every showing of ET (the sad part where he was lying in the wash) and his families, then and now. His wife, son, parents, and siblings play their parts well. They have their exits and their entrances. Sometimes their exits are sad, but not as sad as ET.
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8 Responses to Vacations: Now and Then

  1. Adrienne says:

    I feel like your mom – trying to recreate/hold on to family moments and traditions. My daughter’s about to get married, and my son is in college. I’ve been intent on making memories, just the four of us this year ~ and it’s lovely to see new, young families beginning their journies and building their traditions.

    • Jimmy says:

      The memories from this trip are poignant and sweet now. I think that 16-19 age is what made the trip seem forced. The family trips have turned into family reunions. At least once a year now, and never forced. I appreciate the thought of them, the experience of them, and the memory of them. With maturity comes the recognition of mortality. And appreciation of the fleeting moments.

  2. inkline says:

    And it’s my job to run the cooler, too! (Only five m&m’s for you, Zach!)
    You know, I was excited when we got to the game and saw so many shirts with Gordon on them…but then noticed that Zach had the wrong number. I then understood why it was only $3. 🙂
    You left, and 18 years later you were taking a walk in the rain with your wife and son. Oy da!

  3. Dianna says:

    “In the summer of ’93, our family joined the ’80s”: love it!

    I’m sure that was a bittersweet vacation, knowing that you would soon be leaving.
    Very nice photo of you with your wife and son at the ball game! I agree with Adrienne, it’s nice that you’re beginning traditions with YOUR family.

    • Jimmy says:

      Thanks! If that boy gets a fifth of my sentimentality, he’ll cherish our trips and slips and family times. I give him about two years before he starts pleading to only stay at hotels with swimming pools (though most seem to have them these days). I look forward to teaching him how to dive on a family vacation. I’ll stand in the pool as he stands on the edge and hold his feet like my dad did. I’ll tell him to jump over my head and he won’t hesitate because he trust me. I’ll lift his feet up as he makes a ‘V’ with his hands to cut the water. And he will have a sliver of the memories that I have. And look back at our vacations and smile.

  4. Thanks for your service in the Airforce … both to you and to your family!

  5. Natalie says:

    I just love all the details in your stories, Jimmy — everything from Minnesota farm life discussions to pool fun so long ago. I hope that you and your family always take Labor Day vacations. Tradition is so grand!

  6. Uncle Pete says:

    Love that baby’s face!

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