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Summer vacation: 'Those were the days'

We have survived the summer youth baseball season, and now our thoughts are turning to vacation. There is a very small window of time to enjoy a family vacation — new activities and school will begin again in just a couple of weeks.

Summer vacation time always reminds me of that same thing when I was growing up. It seems now there isn’t much time for a family to go on vacation, but I remember when I was young, we had to plan our family time around getting my projects done and participating in the 4-H Fair and the Bureau County Fair. The activities are different for my grandsons, but plans still revolved around my activities.

The first family vacations I remember were centered around going to Nebraska to visit my grandfather and aunts, uncles and cousins. My parents moved to Illinois from Nebraska, and many of our relatives were still there. I have to say I wasn’t always wildly excited about those visits. My grandpa was great, but I didn’t know the rest of the family very well.

The cousins didn’t know me, and I didn’t know them. We only saw them once a year. We did always make sure to spend the night with my favorite aunt and uncle in Lincoln, Neb. In my young mind, they were so special. My uncle was an optometrist, and my aunt worked in a department store. I thought it was so cool that she worked away from home — I don’t know why — she just seemed so different from my mom, and in my young mind she was just the best person I knew.

After my grandfather passed away, we didn’t go to visit the family as much. My parents decided we should go on some vacation to see things. The first vacation included my sister and I sleeping in a tent, and my parents slept in the car. At that time we owned a Rambler (OK I just dated myself) car with seats that would fold down flat and my parents slept in there. Our camp was quite a sight, but when I think back we weren’t that much different than other people we met on our travels.

We took a trip to Colorado and went to Estes Park and to the top of Pikes Peak; we visited the Blue Ridge Mountains in Tennessee and got lost on a curvy road in those hills; we camped in Minnesota and survived the biggest mosquitoes I had ever seen; we saw Old Faithful and all the rest of the wonders of Yosemite. We saw them all. We drove the two-lane roads to the west and south, north and east. We took a trip to Washington, D.C., where my dad discovered the only way to see the sights was to take a tour. My dad, the country guy, thought the traffic of the capital city was too much for him. We found a guide and his car to take us to all the monuments. My dad was almost as scared having someone else drive as he had been to drive himself. He gripped the door and his seat the entire time. Our driver zipped around in that traffic like it was nothing. I had never seen my dad scared of anything before that day.

Those were the days, my friend, those were the days. We sang our way down the road watching the scenery and the big trucks pass us by. No radio, no air conditioning, no big hotels, it was a special time.

Very soon, my immediate family, the six of us, will take off on a vacation of our own. We have vacationed together before. We have gone to a lake or two for a week, and we have gone to a water park for a few days. This time we are going, as my oldest grandson says, “to see something,” kind of like those vacations I remember as a child.

Our trip will be slightly different, there will be the interstate; there will be air conditioning; there will be radio and other entertainment electronics. We will be staying in a cabin, not in a tent (thankfully), but some of it will be the same. We will be together, and we will be making memories with our grandchildren as my parents did with me.

Hoping that you made some memories this summer, whether in your own backyard or on the road. Enjoy the summer! I know we have and will.

Nita Wyatt of Wyanet can be reached at wyattnm1950@yahoo.com.

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