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.