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Offbeat vacation memories

The Waltons. Being all warm.

When my husband, two kids and I reminisce about vacations, we seem to recall less conventional moments. Unlike, say, The Waltons*, who might have focused on warmer memories as they sat around the dinner table.

Not that the fictional depression-era family took vacations. But I’m getting off-track here.


Eight years ago, we took a trip to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. You’d think we’d remember the giant ocean waves, cheesy boardwalk arcades, gobs of salt water taffy, colossal ice cream cones, brightly-colored sunglasses, and beaches that stretched for miles and miles. But, no. We remember a dude who came out of a shower rubbing deodorant on his underarms.

We stayed in a hotel/motel four blocks from the ocean. Our daughter, ten at the time, met another young girl while playing in the hotel/motel pool. The girl was visiting from Kentucky with her dad, a tight abs, tight-jeans-wearing, Marlboro-smoking kind of guy, and his girlfriend.

Our daughter and his daughter were hanging out in the girl’s hotel/motel room one afternoon playing cards or games or Barbies when, according to reliable sources (our daughter) the dad came out of the shower, shirtless, rubbing deodorant on his underarms. (I’d like to pretend he was only wearing a towel just to add a little sauciness to the story.)

Not sure why we fixated on that part of the trip. Maybe it was because we let our daughter hang out with a complete stranger and didn’t think much of it because, hey, vacations are full of adventure, right? So what if the girl’s dad was so casual he came out of the shower wearing only a towel (at least in my imagination) rubbing Old Spice or Mitchum or whatever kind of deodorant he used on his underarms without considering who might be in the room?

I didn’t want to make a big deal out of the incident or attach nefarious motivation to the guy. We thought he was just an affable single dad trying to make sure his daughter had fun on what might have been a rare father-daughter trip for them. But now, it seems funny that in spite of a trip ripe with *fun fun fun* beachy activities, this is the story we remember most.

A year later, we went to Niagara Falls and Toronto. While reminiscing about that vacation, you’d think we’d talk about the boat trip underneath the falls (I bet the Waltons would) or Don Cherry’s desk at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Instead, we recall a disgusting case of food poisoning I acquired after eating mushroom and cheese lasagna at the top of the CN Tower. (If you eat at the top the the CN Tower, don’t order the mushroom and cheese lasagna.)

A year after that, we went to Disney World for the first time as a family. Instead of waxing on and on about Snow White or The Pirates of the Caribbean, we talk about three young ladies who stood next to us in the very long line for Space Mountain (a roller coaster so risky Disney tells potential stroke victims to buzz off).

Not only did these girls ‘tawk’ incessantly about some guy named Edward like they they were fresh out of Brooklyn, afterward, they said the ride was “off the chain!” But not until they said it was, also, “off the hook!” Which meant, I guess, awesome.

So those are some of our offbeat vacation memories. What are some of yours?Β 

* Iconic family show from the ’70s. Parents were sympathetic and understanding figures to their brood of 314 children, one of whom, John-Boy, was played by sensitive hot-guy, Richard Thomas, until he left the series in a snit.

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May 16, 2012 - 7:57 pm

Cindy L - Every time I recall our old family vacations, I picture myself in the back seat of my parents’ Chevy Impala; my father belting out the lyrics to “See the USA in your Chevrolet!” as headed down the expressway. We visited Colonial Williamsburg, Va., more times that I can count, because my mother fell it love with it and couldn’t get enough. By the time I was 12 years old, we were practically reading by candlelight in our living room at home because that’s what they did in Colonial Williamsburg.

P.S. Love your blog — Found you on Lynne Cobb’s blog and have read you on Patch (I’m in Royal Oak.)

May 16, 2012 - 8:06 pm

Pam Houghton - Hi Cindy – those are both funny memories. Thanks for sharing! Oh, I’ve read your stuff, too. In fact, I read a recent Christian Science Monitor essay on my Facebook page – I thought it was so charming and relatable. But I did not bother to look at the author. Until I was on Lynne’s blog and found your blog and that’s when I realized you were the author. Small world. πŸ™‚

May 19, 2012 - 2:38 pm

Leona - Yes! And the corollary, that vacations/trips that the kids whine about endlessly *during* are later remembered as “the best time evahhhhrrr!” πŸ™‚

May 19, 2012 - 2:43 pm

Pam Houghton - Well. That is exactly true! Thanks for reading, Leona! I’m so happy you stopped by! πŸ™‚

May 15, 2013 - 2:33 am

Jane - Hi Pam,
My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
I was looking for blogs about Rehoboth Beach to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
Hope to hear from you soon!

May 15, 2013 - 1:08 pm

Pam Houghton - Sure…I’ll shoot you an e-mail. Thanks for stopping by!

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