Memories or NightmaresThursday, April 19, 2012
Every year for the past seven years, my family and I have taken a Spring break vacation with my parents. We have been up and down the East Coast beaches of the United States, and even off the beaten path of Interstate 95 one year for a vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains. My husband and I always want to travel to a different place each year, especially so our children can experience the cultural differences of the United States and the world.
This year we visited Duck, North Carolina in the Outer Banks. While on the beach one evening taking a family walk, the kids started to complain that they wanted to go back to the condominium. My husband responded "These moments will be memories." My son quickly replied "or nightmares." Little did he know how true this statement could be. It all depends on your actions and reactions.
The first unfortunate incidents I can remember were on a trip to the Outer Banks, North Carolina. While on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania, the brakes on the pop-up trailer seized causing us to stop at a gypsy moth-infested rest stop while my father and brother fixed them. With this same trailer, the cables on all four roof supports snapped at different points in the trip, prompting a trip to the lumber yard to get manual supports (wood boards) just so we could raise the roof and have a place to sleep (but not without using whatever was available until the next day when the lumber yard opened).
breakdowns in Waco, Texas, the Badlands, South Dakota, and outside Penn State University. In each of these cases, we were fortunate that the needed parts were readily available. We got to see some amazing things while on these family adventures.
The first camping vacation I have clear memories of was a trip to Florida in 1976 (I was eight years old). This was my first visit to Disney World when it was just the Magic Kingdom, long before Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Downtown Disney. We continued onto south Florida, eventually to the Everglades National Park. Here we were, a family of five with three children ranging in age from eight to 13, pitching a tent next to a canal that was teeming with alligators. Some of our camping neighbors thought we were crazy and feared for our safety. At this campground, we caught crabs in these canals, cooked them at our campsite, and had a marvelous feast. We also got terribly sunburned!
My one older brother, however, sees these memories as nightmares. It wasn't until one recent family gathering that I found out his true feelings about these vacations. He enjoyed the places we visited and the amazing experiences, but did not enjoy the camping part. I realized that he was always the one helping my father respond to these breakdowns and fixing the problems. He also was the one who helped pitched the tent, set up the pop-up, get the fire going, and all the "man" jobs there were to do. We all had our tasks to do, but he always got saddled with the the extras that required additional muscle or mechanical ability.
All my vacations, whether as a child or an adult, have had unfortunate and adverse experiences. I tend to be an optimist, so I find the bright side and fun aspect in these misadventures. Each vacation has its own special set of memories, some of which I now look back on and laugh even though they were not funny at the time (did I mention traveling in the eye of a hurricane because we could not evacuate in time?).
These are the types of experiences my husband and I want to share with our children. It will be up to them to interpret them as memories or nightmares. I hope that our positive reactions during adverse situations help to mold their future behavior and help them see the positive side of life.
How do you react to adversity during travel? The way you react could be the difference between a memory and a nightmare.