Saturday, August 04, 2007

Vacation "Fun"

I'm a sucker for a good blog contest. It's even better if it's a creative one.

Therefore, I give you this post--my entry into Calling On Kahlo's Vacation Story blog contest. I'm not so interested in the yarny prize, but more the chance to ramble on about my childhood.

As a lot of you reading already know, I grew up in a large family. I'm the oldest of six kids. Three boys, three girls.

Please, no Brady Bunch comments. My momma popped all six of us out herself which is more than Florence Henderson can say.

Anyway, as such, we didn't really have a lot of money to spend on "vacations" in the typical sense of the word.

To me when someone says they're going on vacation it means they're going someplace out of state or even out of the country. Have you looked at airline prices? It would cost $1500 for Dr. Mad Scientist, Chunky and myself to fly to Alaska for a week. Imagine what that would have been like for a family of eight!

However one year, we got to do just that--go out of state and out of country on vacation.

First a little background.

This is the house I grew up in:


That's a two bedroom (three boys in one room, three girls in another, and the 'rents down in the basement) split level home. But I'm not so interested in showing you the home.

Do you see that trailer at the right? That's a 1969 Thunderbird travel trailer. That was the trailer that we took "vacations" in.

Hawaiian beaches? Disneyland? Yosemite National Park?

We didn't need no stinkin' "real" vacation! We had the open Alaskan roads!

The trailer was built to sleep four adults. But all eight of us squeezed in there when we hit the open road (although sometimes the girls and boys would rotate who slept in the van we hooked up to pull this trailer). The first summer we camped in that thing was the first time I discovered I was claustrophobic.

My sister T. recently drew a picture of this trailer for my Old Man because he loved/loves it so.


Anyway, one day, after having exhausted all of the possibilities of camping in Alaska the summers before because--well there aren't "interstates" like y'all know them down here in the Lower 48 in Alaska, there are basically only a few major highways and destinations (Homer, Seward, Valdez, and Squarebanks are the only ones you can drive to.)...

AK Map Old Man got it in his head to try out the Taylor Highway.

The Taylor Highway runs from just outside Tok, Alaska to Dawson City, Canada.

Taylor Hwy

We were bored with the same old destinations--there's only so many slippery algae covered rocks on the beach in Seward you can climb around on in the pouring rain--so we looked forward to this Taylor Highway experience.

Now "highway" is a bit of a misnomer. The Taylor Highway is a washboard dirt road and although it's really not that long, it's not something you can cruise down at 60 mph on.

Oh what a boring ass trip. We might have only cracked 40 mph driving down that road.

The best part is when we had to stop at customs to cross into Canada. Which wasn't even as cool as you see on TV. And it was less cool because we had no tobacco, firearms, or fruit on us.

As each mile dragged on, I think all of us kids got it into our heads that Dawson City would be the promised land. It would be huge and spectacular.

Our excitement only grew as we loaded the van and trailer on a ferry they had that crossed the Yukon River. In retrospect, that was kind of cool and my first time on a ferry.

But after we landed in Dawson City and secured a campsite at a place calling itself Guggieville, we quickly realized that Dawson City was a dump.
I'm sure if you haven't ever seen old gold rush buildings or panned for gold it might be cool. However, when you grow up in Palmer, Alaska you have all of that stuff in your backyard.

What a huge letdown!!

But hey, it makes for good blog contest fodder!!

What's your favorite vacation story? Click Calling on Kahlo's website above, read the directions, and do it yourself. It's sort of like a meme, but with a prize! You can't be that!

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Blogger cpurl17 said...

I can picture your vacay story as a great scene in a movie!

One boy I dated in college had a father who thought loading up 5 kids in the family station wagon and following the Mission trail up California was a great idea.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Batty said...

Sounds almost like the time we drove from Boston to Plattsburgh, NY. For the most part, we went past trees. And more trees. Oh, and then there were trees.
It was boring.
It filled my tree-viewing quota for the next 10 years.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Zonda said...

Hehe! I love your stories!! Well, I mean I know they are true (most of them huh ;) it's just the way you tell them! :)

2:38 PM  
Blogger weezalana said...

Well, with names like Dawson City and Guggieville, how can you not expect glamour and excitement? ;)

I can't believe there were 8 of you in that thing! My two brothers would have KILLED each other!

3:43 PM  
Blogger Email Me said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Calling on Kahlo said...

I deleted the earlier post, whoops, as I was saying I love the trailer! Road trips are great. we had ours in a station wagon with our shetland sheepdog who was shedding (everywhere) and a pop up trailer. The first few cows were fun and then okay and then blah...Thanks for participating!

5:27 PM  
Blogger T. Budnik said...

You left out the most important part: every time we drove over a bridge (that had to be concrete for structural purposes) we'd exclaim, "Aaaaaahhhhhh!" for the 2 seconds it would last.

And, after that trip, the trailer was never the same. Haha!

Good story! You captured it!


6:03 PM  
Blogger Carol said...

I'll never complain about living in a small house again...

6:14 PM  
Blogger Magatha said...

You know, I've got to go look it up, but I think Neil Peart (drummer and lyricist for Rush) took a motorcycle trip down the Taylor highway. He writes travel books about his travels all over the world on first his ten speed, then his BMW motorcycle and now that he's getting up there in age, a BMW Z3.
I would imagine just that house and just that RV for the Alaskan Not-Bradys.
I've done a zillion of that sort of road trip in my adult life. I've driven about every highway inch the desert southwest and California from SFO on down. Love them.

7:46 PM  
Blogger janna said...

a trailer? My god, that would be luxurious -- we tent-camped when I was a kid. My parents got a pop-up camper around the time I went to college.

I need to figure out the best camping story to share - the rainy night when only i got wet? literally leaving grandma at a gas station? making my sister cry playing uno? hmmmm...

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh! Boy! was that a good time!! I remember all the pot holes and bumps on that trip and as T said the trailer was never the same. I think that was the trip that knocked the closet and cupboard doors out of wack so much that they would never stay closed. Now the trailer just sits in the yard holding out of season tires and emty kerosine cans. Love, Mom

11:19 PM  
Blogger Alisha said...

My heavens that camper is a small camper for 8 people.

You make me think of another story I could have wrote about.

We were camping in Algonquin and a transport truck crashed on a bridge there and the bridge went up in flames. Hwy 60....Ontario's corridor highway was out of for a good week. Thankfully it was back up in time for hubby's brothers We were camping and had to do this wedding but were stuck. We were hoping they get it fixed in time for the actual wedding or we would have had to make a 6 hours detour around the park. We actually were the first ones over the new bridge....we had a fitting to go to for hubby's tuxedo that we had missed because of the bridge. It was like 2 days before the wedding lol I will say that was the quietest year there cause people had to cancel their sites cause they could not get through. It was like we owned the park LOL

6:51 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

I love it when you write about your family and your childhood. Maybe it's like the voyeristic rush you get from seeing the sock drawers of other people (if you'd asked for photos of my sock laundry basket you may have actually gotten a pic from me). One of my childhood family vacation involves the following elements: canvas tent, 9 people (me and my 6 siblings, plus parents), Chevy Suburban, Canada, and Carol King Tapestry.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Macoco said...

Wow, Your parents were brave for doing that! We would have driven my parents stark raving mad.

I'm one of seven kids and never went on any family vacations. The closest thing we ever did was once a summer my mom would pile us all in to the car/truck/van and drive us to the beach in Rhode Island. It was awesome. :)

10:22 AM  

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