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I don’t like road trips, although not because I’m some kind of snobby traveler. I will admit, however, I do prefer comfort and luxury (Four Seasons? Yes, please!). Nonetheless, I do know how to rough it and, trust me, I can make the best out of any situation, complaining notwithstanding. Sometimes, however, you are just too traumatized by a bad experience to move on.
When I was little, vacations closely resembled that of the Griswold family of National Lampoon fame. We would load up our big, ugly station wagon (seriously, it was orange) and head down to Florida. Upon leaving our suburban Chicago home, we would sing songs, laugh and eat the sausage and onion sandwiches that Mom had packed for us (okay, this was the Serbian Griswold version).
Things would always seem to go awry as soon as we hit Tennessee, the gnarly half-way point where you want your brother to stay on his side of the tent-fort you built in the back and Dad gets the first of numerous speeding tickets. Dad would lift our spirits by buying a ridiculous amount of illegal fireworks: illegal in Illinois, that is, but not in TN, baby! (I can still picture Dad in a car full of fireworks waving around a lit cigarette without a care in the world.)
The Appalachian Mountains were also a disaster. Everyone except for Dad had extreme cases of motion sickness disorder so he would hug those curves like he was on the German Autobahn. Someone always barfed. It never failed. We’d have to pull over and it was a big scene, completely traumatizing and embarrassing for both the victim and the spectators.
But we would carry on! Through Georgia, buying sweet Vidalia onions so Mom could make more sandwiches and Dad could eat them like they were apples. He ALWAYS smelled like onions. . . onions, Aramis and beer, come to think of it. When we finally had to stop so he could get some sleep, we would have to drive to four or five different motels while he comparison shopped. It would seem like it would take hours. Dad was Expedia in a station wagon. He would barter and argue (his favorite hobby) and somehow always score a deal somewhere at, what always seemed like, 1am. We were mortified, as per usual. He never let us down in that way.
We eventually made it to Wally World, a/k/a Disney World, emotionally and physically exhausted from the journey and too tired and annoyed to want to see anything. This, in turn, caused more drama, tears and embarrassment. “But this is the American dream!”, Dad would proclaim. Then there was, “There is no Disney World in Yugoslavia! We had communism!” Although not particularly insightful, he did have a point.
Everything would always end up okay. We had fun, made memories and made it home safely: our finale always being when the neighbors came over for an amazing and dangerous fireworks display. It may not come as a surprise to you that I am not a road trip kind of gal but maybe one day, when I have a family of my own, I will give them another try. . .minus the sausage and onion sandwiches!