Hooray — this is the last week in May, which means school will be out next week and then the week after that is vacation time. I can’t wait.
Actually, in my younger years I never waited. When the last day of school was over, my car was already packed and all I had to do was pick up the kids at school and we were on the road.
Five young kids and I would hit the highway, singing our favorite travel anthems and heading fearlessly into the night to travel a few hundred miles and greet the morning in Florida.
St. Augustine, Florida, was our favorite destination and it was a perfect place to entertain five busy kids.
After a little nap for me, our first stop would be the alligator farm, then the next few days we would explore this little city and all it had to offer.
One of our trips would be down the coast to Marineland. This was a special place for us, perched as it was on the edge of the ocean, and we loved every minute we spent exploring the wonders it contained.
It made me sad last year when we drove by and it was no longer Marineland. It did not survive the popularity of Sea World in Orlando.
Looking back on those years, I’m amazed when I think of my bravery traveling around the country by myself with a car full of energetic youngsters, and I’m also amazed at how well behaved these little rascals could be when we were vacationing.
Of course later on they became teenagers and that was another story.
This year, my grandchildren Collin, 14, and Madeleine, 17, will be vacationing with me and we’re headed north on this trip for a few days on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
We three have been traveling together since Collin was 3 years old and Madeleine was 7.
Their father, my youngest son Jason who had severe health problems, was being cared for in a healthcare facility that was 115 miles away from us.
Two or three times a month I loaded the two in their respective car seats and we headed south to visit with their daddy.
The facility was located in beautiful lake country, and every weekend, the nurses would wheel Jason to my car and we four would drive around the beautiful shoreline of the lakes. I carried a light weight transport chair in my car, and sometimes we would explore beautiful walking paths that had been created around the lakes and we trod across walkways that had been built over the marshes.
We also ate a lot of picnics— in my little Champagne colored Kia Sportage that was almost new. My seats were covered in food stains, but I treasured every moment of our adventures.
We did this ever other weekend for almost three years until Jason died.
The kids are teenagers now, but they still like to be with me. And now we can eat in the car without swimming in spilt cola and milkshakes.
There won’t be a lot of conversation because they will probably be wearing headsets most of the time, but that’s OK with me.
Just being with them and remembering our travels with their daddy will be enough for me.