I’ve observed that many vacations and trips of mine are quite disappointing. I think this is so because I have such high expectations of these trips. Vacations are planned months and sometimes even years before they actually take place; this leads to obsessive contemplation over the event. In times when I’d find myself overwhelmed by boredom, I would fantasize about my upcoming vacation. I would think about minute details of the trip, and as many fantasies go, reality could never manage to live up to the dream.
So when my mom made the spontaneous decision to drive to St. Petersburg, Florida with my grandparents for a week in May, I realized it would be my first expectation-free trip. My grandparents, mother, two younger sisters, little brother, and I crammed ourselves into my mom’s Ford Explorer. Every seat was occupied and luggage was stuffed anywhere it could fit. To say the sixteen hour drive was uncomfortable would be quite the understatement.
I sat in the very back of the SUV next to my brother’s bulky car-seat, while he watched Thomas the Train repetitively. We stopped in Knoxville, Tennessee for a late fast-food dinner. By this time my back and legs were tremendously stiff, and my siblings were extremely bored and agitated. After the forty-five minute break everyone was in a noticeably better mood and my brother and sisters were finally getting tired. We all packed back into the car and got as comfortable as was possible. I was finally ready to get some sleep when my grandfather pulled out of the parking lot, causing the car to make a terrible clanging noise. Somehow the car had become broken in the short time we had been inside.
We attempted to find out what was wrong but no one knew anything about cars. We eventually had to make a choice; keep driving with the terrible noise and possible farther damage the car, or stop and get a motel for the night until a mechanic could look at the car in the morning. We chose the latter and it was nearly two-o-clock in the morning by the time we pulled into the closest motel. After the hour it took to check in, everyone was full-blown cranky and exhausted.
The room was in definite need of a cleaning crew. I could have sworn there was black mold in one of the ceiling corners. We all slept on top of the floral comforters, using our own blankets and pillows from the car. When the much anticipated morning came my mom drove the noisy car to the nearest auto-repair shop. My siblings and I spent what felt like forever, watching some program on the history channel. In reality my mom was only gone for an hour or so.
Finally, when she returned her expression was a mixture between amusement and annoyance. She had driven to the car-shop only to hear that someone had pushed the four wheel drive button. As she told the story the amusement that had been in her expression was completely replaced by annoyance. We checked out of our third rate motel and were off once again. By this time, everyone was incredibly impatient; we were all dreading the nearly twelve driving hours we had before us.
The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful, and thoroughly miserable. The actual vacation was peaceful and enjoyable, mostly spent at Fort Desoto Beach, but not as memorable as the ride there. Though at the time the trip was terrible, it was consistent with the spontaneity of the vacation and that road trip was the most memorable.
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