I have such vivid memories of our family vacations when I was growing up. We would leave as soon as school was out (after Memorial Day). My parents were very wise in how they coordinated everything. We would not leave until the late afternoon ~ sometimes as late as after an early supper. That kept us from having to spend money on that meal on the road. We had a station wagon, of course. In the days before mini-vans, that was the only way to transport 5 children and a week's worth of luggage. Mom and Dad came up with the idea of drawing a line on the map that went straight from Greenville, South Carolina, to Mexico Beach, Florida. Then they found the roads that went along that line and that was our route.
Before we set off, Mom would dose each of us with Dramamine, "Just in case!". I finally figured out that the "Just in case" was really, "Just in case you can't go to sleep!". No wonder she was so cheerful about it! I blame the Dramamine for my conditioned response of always falling asleep while riding in the car. Anyway.
We would stop at the average bed-time...or whenever the bickering got too bad...change into our nightgowns and pajamas, and were put to bed. In those days the back seats of station wagons would lay flat making a bed big enough (kind of) for five children.
Mom and Dad would drive all night and we would pull into Marianna, Florida around time for a very early breakfast. We could order whatever we wanted!
We got to the beach by early morning. The first person to see the ocean got to pick their bedroom. Since my brothers got a room to share and we girls got a room to share, there was hot competition between the girls and the boys.
We all worked together to unload the car and put things away, and then BATHING SUITS AND BEACH!!! Mom and Dad would send us off, promising to come join us as soon as they "got the kitchen organized". I realized many years later that this was code for, "We've been up all night driving and we are going to take a nap now."
I remember so many things about vacation. We had wonderful times. We played, we fought, we had card games and monopoly battles. We fished, we swam, we walked on the beach. Some of us always got sunburned.
One thing about those vacations always sticks with me; coming home again. The feeling I would have as we drove the home-stretch, coming down I-85, crossing over White Horse Road to Mills Avenue, and then the long straight run up the street to the house. The getting home again and running to all our friends' houses to tell them about all the wonderful things that happened. Most of all, I remember walking into the house. Before we unloaded and tracked in the sand and the mountain of dirty laundry, the feeling of a hot, closed up, CLEAN house filled with sunlight and family noise. Because before we left to go, Mom had that house spotless. She refused to come home to a dirty house. I can close my eyes and still remember how it felt to walk in the door of that house. It was hot, of course. But the rooms were tidy, the sheets on the beds were clean, the bathrooms immaculate, the kitchen spotless. It was HOME.
I griped about the work of getting ready back then. I wanted to go. I understand it now. Come home from a good time to a dirty house? I think not!
That's why last Thursday found me starting at 7:00 am and going until almost 1:30 am. It wore me down, but when we came home again after our long weekend the house was clean, the vegetables had already been canned, and apart from what we brought with us, there was not that much to do.
We were Home!