The Next Family

By: Carol Rood

I love summertime.  I feel carefree.  I am happy, I love the heat, (although I like the air conditioning too), and the fresh fruits and vegetables.  Nothing quite says summer like a fresh tomato salad.  Or making homemade ice cream, with a hand crank ice cream maker.  These are the things that make me think of summer.  Of course there are also things like the beach, and swimming. My son Zachary says summer makes him think of no school, going to the beach, and heat.  My nephew Kevin says he thinks of heat and humidity and VACATION!!

My sons, Zachary and Jacob, and I are on vacation this week. We drove from Southeastern Virginia to Kissimmee, Florida which is about approximately 750 miles one way.  I thought it would make a great article to write about traveling with the two boys (who are ages 11 and 14) from Virginia to Florida through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.  I envisioned stopping at each “Welcome to” sign as we traveled through each state.  I planned to pack a nice lunch and stop at a rest area in South Carolina and eat, take pictures.  Basically chronicle our trip and the fun we had traveling to visit my mother.

The first deviation from the plan came the night before we left (Saturday night) when I didn’t have all of Zachary’s clothes washed because he returned late from Boy Scout Camp, so we were not completely packed until Sunday morning.  So that blew leaving at 6:00 as I had planned.

The second deviation occurred when I failed to pack a lunch for us to eat at a rest stop.  I did pack some snacks (granola bars, rice cakes, and bottles of water), but not a meal.  So I knew we were going to have to stop and pick up lunch.  Although I thought we could stop at a Subway and take sandwiches to a rest stop; I had not yet completely given up on the plan.

We hit the road at 7:45, and made it from our house to I-95 an hour later and we stopped for breakfast at a fast food place (I know, I am bad).  I even took a picture of the boys:

We had food, were getting on the highway, and I was ready to have our fun-filled trip.  I had visions of playing the driving alphabet game, I spy, basically all of the road trip games I had played with my family when I was growing up.  However, the basic difference is when I was a kid in the 70’s we had NO technology on a road trip besides a radio, or maybe an 8-track tape player.  My kids have technology.  My 14-year-old had his iPod, my 12-year-old had his Nintendo DS, and they also each had an individual DVD player.  Bluebell and I had gone to Walmart earlier in the week and stocked up on $5 and $10 movies, so I armed the boys with 15 new movies to watch for the trip.  So basically I sabotaged my own plan for fun.

There were no alphabet games played, no I spy, NOTHING!!  All I heard from the back seat was chewing and sipping…no words, no “hey mom”, no “E is for exit”.  Every now and then I would hear, “are we in North Carolina still?”  “Did we get to South Carolina yet?”, or “how much longer until we get to Georgia?”  Other than that, it was nothing but silence.  So I drove, listened to my favorite XM radio station BPM, and drove, and drove, and drove.  I stopped for gas at South of the Border.  The boys didn’t want to pose for pictures, so I pumped my gas; we got a cold drink, and hit the road again.  We drove, and drove, and drove. The next thing I knew, we were in Georgia, and it was only 1:00 in the afternoon.  That was too early to stop at a hotel for the night, so we just kept going.

At exit 36 in Georgia we stopped and got a Starbucks, went to the bathroom, and the three of us decided to just try and drive straight through to Kissimmee. I did tell the boys that if I got too tired I would stop, no matter how close we were to Grandma’s house.  I would not drive if it wasn’t safe.  They said okay.

We stopped for dinner just north of Jacksonville at Subway, filled up the car with gas, and got back on 95 South.  Long story short, we ended up driving straight down to Florida.  We didn’t even call because I wanted to surprise my mom and my nephews even though Jacob said we should call and let them know we were arriving earlier than expected.

Well, we did surprise them.  They weren’t even ready for us…beds weren’t ready, stuff wasn’t tidied. Oops. Maybe I should have called.  Maybe just dropping in early isn’t such a great idea.  But we made it work, and everyone was able to bed down in a clean bed with fresh sheets.

This will be a fun-filled week.  We are planning a trip to Downtown Disney, Disney Quest, a trip to see the new Harry Potter movie, and an afternoon at the Serpentarium.  So summer vacations may not always go the way you plan, but they always have the possibility for being eventful and fun-filled. So for me summer means beach, swimming, sun and fun, and VACATION!!

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