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Hitting the Road

A Summer Tradition

By Judith JaschaPublished about a month ago 5 min read
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Hitting the Road
Photo by Fran on Unsplash

When I was a kid, one of my favorite times of the year was the beginning of Summer. Asides from the fact that this meant two months out of school and sleeping until noon, it meant that it was time for us to pack up to head out on our annual summer vacation. Every year meant a new location. Sometimes we'd go to visit out of state relatives, and sometimes it was just to have fun. Either way, I knew I was going on an adventure.

We would always leave early in the morning. Despite the fact that I hated waking up early, somehow this was different. It wasn't the same as having to wake up for school, this was going to be fun. I would pile into the back seat with my crayons, coloring books, puzzle books, and, well, books in general. The radio would play a switch between country music and classic rock while the cold air hit my face. I'd read until I fell asleep. Then finally, we would make it to our intended destination. The fun began.

Between the time I was five and thirteen, I was able to see at least a little of most of the fifty states. Mampau had an aunt that lived in Florida, so we went there a few summers for family reunions. We stopped at the beach for a picnic and a swim. It was here that I once got wiped out by a huge wave. All I remember is opening my eyes (granted, only after a few moments) with Daddy Clyde laughing at me. I am still amazed at how calm he, Mampau, and the lifeguard all were. But my favorite stop was Disney World. Daddy Clyde would always get me on the rollercoasters. I'm pretty sure he saved my life a couple of times with me nearly falling out. Aah...good times.

Texas was and still is one of my favorite states. Six Flags was so much fun. I got to meet Bugs Bunny, checking one goal off of my bucket list. I always loved the western vibes. Once when stopped at a gift shop, I fell in love with a western shirt that was on a fashion dummy in the store window. It was red and long sleeved with black fringe all across the chest. I had to have one. There was just one problem, I was so small that they didn't have any that wouldn't swallow me. We could have given up, but there was one more thing we could do, Daddy Clyde ended up buying the shirt off the dummy, I'm sure they gave it another shirt.

Tennessee wasn't a really long drive, but it was still awesome. Coming from my country music loving family, there was one goal on our list...the Grand Ole Opry. We spent the day at Opryland, riding rides all day until it was showtime. At the time, watching the Grand Ole Opry was like a weekly torture device to me. I would nearly choke on my dinner, so I could quickly leave the room and back to the living room to watch Nickelodeon. But somehow, being in the audience and watching it all happen in person was a different story, there was an excitement in the air. During intermission, Daddy Clyde carried me all the way to the stage so that I could shake Porter Wagner's hand. I wasn't a huge Porter Wagner fan, the only thing really grabbing my attention was that the suits he wore was always sparkly. But even at seven, I realized that this was a moment that I would always cherish, and I was right.

When I was ten, We drove all the way to New York. This was one of two times that I ever met my dad's family. I would fly back with Mampau once more when I was fifteen. Tears poured all around as I saw my grandparents, the parents of my dad, my birth dad. And in me, they saw the only offspring of their beloved oldest son. We saw Ellis Island, and climbed to the top of the statue of liberty. I also had my picture taken with the twin towers in the background. But what meant the most was meeting my aunt, uncle, and cousins. I couldn't help but stare at my uncle, he looked just like my dad. It was the closest I would ever get to seeing my dad in person, as he died when I was only two.

The last road trip we ever took was when I was thirteen, we drove all the way to California to try out Disneyland. Although I loved my Mouseketeer hat with my name sewn in with a cute little red bow on top, I felt Disney World was better. I also got to meet Mickey Mouse, so yay for that. Even then, prices were pretty high, so it was a little disappointing. But still, it was a memory that I hold dear to my heart.

Besides the destinations that we would visit, what I loved most was the trip itself. Whenever we picked out a hotel, there was one criterial that they had to meet, a pool was a must. After a long day of driving, Mampau would get very frustrated sometimes when we had to refuse a hotel because we couldn't go swimming. But it was totally worth it, except when I would stay in so long, I would scrape my toe on the bottom of said pool, and they'd have to pour peroxide on it. Ouch. Oddly, I had the most fun just shopping at regular stores. A local Wal-Mart, Target, or Sam's was exciting. I would always get a book or magazine.

There was always something peaceful about the drive home. Most often, we would be driving late at night. I would look out the window while listening to whatever was on the radio, looking up at the stars and making wishes. In the moment, all was possible, life was beautiful. Typically, I would wake up to find myself in my own bed, I still don't know how daddy Clyde carried me without waking me up.

There were things that I went through growing up that was pretty difficult, some things that I have had to learn to move beyond while growing stronger through it. But for one or two weeks a year, before a new year of school, life was wonderful, and the future was wide open.

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About the Creator

Judith Jascha

Mom, sister, teacher, student, writer. I love to touch on all areas as I like to expose myself to new things. My goal is to use my experience to entertain and educate.

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