PROMPTuesday #125: The Station Wagon



I learned to drive in this gem.

But my ride was maroon and with more imaginary glitter.


We didn’t travel far when I was a kid. I grew up mainly in the Midwest, so most of our trips were via our wood-sided Estate station wagon to exotic locales like Minneapolis and Janesville, Wisc. But the one trip I loved, the one we took several years in a row, was to the Wisconsin Dells, a mecca of cheesy tourist attractions like Tommy Bartlett’s Water Show and the Xanadu House. Each Spring, our family of six would check into the Shamrock Hotel and I’d neurotically peruse the hotel brochures soon after, peppering my parents with: “Dad! Can we go to the haunted house? Mom? To the water park? To the Baraboo Circus? To the duck boats? To the maze of mirrors?”




Damn, I loved the Dells.


My fondest memory of the place isn’t so much the attractions, although they were profuse and legend, but more the way my parents relaxed while we were there. I know I’d go mental patient if I took four kids under the age of 10 on vacation, but somehow, it brought the best out of my parents. Softened them even. I mean, my dad’s irritable and irascible nature were easily provoked, but inexplicably, he mellowed on these trips. I remember one year asking him again and again one year to go to a water park with me — just him and me — because I wanted some Dad-Deb time, and after much guffawing and foot-dragging, he agreed. I was the oldest and had been feeling a little angsty and out of place among the younger kids and needed the unwavering but loud presence of my dad for some grounding — the unspoken agenda — but also I really freaking loved the water parks.


After some needling he agreed, and I still see him riding the blue plastic mat thing they gave you, joining me on each and every slide — even the killer corkscrew one. I swear, I hold his wide-open laugh from that trip in my head to this very day, and how we re-joined the family some hours later as he fully recounted our adventure to the rapt baby faces of my siblings and to the bemusement of my mom.


I had my dad totally and completely, and honestly? That was hard to come by as busy as he was between work and travel and irascibility.


I sigh deeply just thinking about it. Even now.




Ten years from then, we were going to embark on a watery adventure of epic proportions!


As for you, what is your fondest childhood travel memory?


Please post your response in the comments and write about it on your blog and leave me the link.


First time to PROMPTuesday? Read a bit about it here. Want to see what’s been written in the past? Catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.


9 Responses to “PROMPTuesday #125: The Station Wagon”

  1. Jaclyn Rubly says:

    Hi! I just found your blog through Twitter. It’s always nice to meet a new mom :)

  2. Love the pictures! This made me think of National Lampoons Vacation with the green, wood paneled station wagon, hee hee

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by San Diego Momma, San Diego Momma. San Diego Momma said: Today's creative writing prompt — The Station Wagon: #promptuesday […]

  4. My fondest travel memories are two. 1.) Being from San Diego, we would drive up to the snow each winter for sledding. My dad would drive up the windyest road to the mountains and then we would find the most off the beaten place to sled. Fun for hours and hours and it was just us a family. 2.) Vacations with my grandparents. My grandmother taught how to see the world and appreciate it for its culture and traditions. She taught me about humility and grace and dignity. It was because of her that I had as many stamps as I did on my passport before even going to college. Lots of great memories!

  5. Mama Mary says:

    Oh man, I have a bunch. I’ll have to think about this one and post it on Wednesday since I already have tomorrow’s done. And now it’s midnight. Love the pic of you and your dad! :)

  6. Ah, the Dells. I have fond memories too! Of the Xanadu house, of mini golf, of the Ducks. My dad was our driver and he was always a good tour guide.

  7. Mine would have to be before my brother was born and my mother, the Irsih Setter – Hennessey – and myself (sans car seat) all traveled from Maryland to Miami in the green version of the above pictured station wagon. We were going to meet my father who was there for Spring Training. We got into a fender bender and Hennessey ended up in the front seat and I ended up on the floor in back – all fine, but ya gotta loves the non car-seat days, no? Oh wait – you said “fondest” travel memory not “most traumatic.” Six of one…xox

  8. Jack says:

    I have a lot of fond memories, but that station wagon brings one to the forefront. Family is on a road trip in our ’77 Chevy Impala wagon. Three little sisters are in the back seat.

    The youngest (twins) get car sick and throw up all over the middle sister. A big brother can only wish that he could have orchestrated that, it would be quite cool.

    it has become a legend in our family and one that my sister’s kids love to hear.

  9. Hi, Deb,

    I’m delighted to see a PrompTuesday again, and one so memory-evoking. I’ve been busy and in a state where I don’t have the ability to concentrate as much on writing, but I think I’m trying to change that and get back. I’ll be visiting again and try to carve out a moment to PromptTuesday again – it was so rewarding when I was able to do it.

    Thanks for being here.

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