I am posting as a part of the Celebration Link-Up at ruthayreswrites.com and love being a part of this wonderful writing community!
Last weekend, I took my grandmother out for the day. She rarely gets out of the house, much less out of town, because my grandfather requires 24-7 care. Even when my Mom is there, my grandmother hates to leave. However, on this sunny Sunday at the end of May, with my Mom in charge at home, my grandmother and I headed down the road for a day out. We stopped at Cracker Barrel for a bite to eat, and while we sat at the table waiting for the waitress to come take our order, I looked around the full dining room and observed the people sitting around me. Many of the tables seemed to be filled with families and I wondered about their destinations. Were they taking advantage of the Memorial Day weekend to start their family vacations? Were they on their way to some wonderful destination? Were they going to visit family members that they hadn’t seen in a long time? Or, were they just out for the day?
Thinking about family vacations transported me back in time and reminded me of wonderful vacations with my family. Every year, on the last Friday in June, we packed the car and headed off for destinations that included Dollywood, Virginia Beach, Tweetsie Railroad, Rock City, Hershey Park, Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, Busch Gardens and King’s Dominion, Monticello, and Kentucky horse country. I remember the excitement of planning the trips and getting the thick motel books that listed all of the different hotels for a specific chain in each state. We’d spend hours poring over those books, evaluating each hotel’s amenities as well as how close the motels were to the attractions we planned to visit. I couldn’t wait until we got those books because not only did that mean that the time for vacation was close, but also for the dreams that those books prompted. I remember flipping through those books and imagining going to many places that seemed so exotic and different from where I lived.
Looking back, I realize how much those trips revolved around me and my interests and how thankful I am for the opportunities those trips provided. When I was a horse-crazy pre-teen, we visited Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky. We toured the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, where I got to meet the legendary Thoroughbred racehorses John Henry and Forego. It was so amazing(?) to actually see the horses that I’d read about. We also visited Churchill Downs in Louisville, where I not only had the opportunity to tour the Kentucky Derby museum, but also was able to watch several races under the famous twin-spires.
I fell in love with history as a child, and many of our vacations revolved around places like Colonial Williamsburg and Monticello. I remember visiting Stonewall Jackson’s headquarters and George Washington’s office in Winchester. We toured Michie Tavern near Charlottesville and I was amazed at was life was like in the late 18th century. These trips made me feel as though I had stepped through a magic portal that had taken me back in time. These trips made history come alive for me and are part of the reason why I decided to major in history in college.
Vacations weren’t just for learning, but also for having fun. I remember go-kart racing, riding bumper boats, and playing miniature golf in Williamsburg and taking a helicopter ride in Pigeon Forge. I remember laughing at how competitive my Mom and my grandmother were on the go-kart track. I remember the water rides at Busch Gardens and how refreshing the water felt on a blazing hot summer day. Those times were filled with laughter and of the joy of being together. Just thinking about those vacations puts a smile on my face. Even though a lot has changed and we’re unable to pile into the car on the last Friday in June, I have so many precious memories to celebrate.