“There’s no combination of words I could put on the back of a postcard…” Jack Johnson eased me from my slumber as I looked around the room, a bit confused as to why I was currently awake at six o’clock in the morning by my alarm. It took a few seconds for it hit me -Today was the big day. The big trip. Well, maybe not the big trip, but did the largeness of the trip matter as long as we were with family? According to my dad it didn’t. In the next hour our journey would begin. My dad, little brother, and myself would embark to a place known as Portage, Indiana. This wasn’t an ordinary trip, however. We would be setting up a tent in a renowned camp ground known as Jelly Stone. Their website promised free WiFi, sparkling pools, and live entertainment. I was ready for a good time.
We had already packed up our luggage in the van the night before, so all we had to do was eat, tell mom how much we’d miss her, and set out. Boarding the golden Oddyssey I felt rejuvenated and excited for what unknown adventures lay ahead. Most of the 5 ½ hour drive in our mini-van was comfortable. My dad and I would occasionally rotate drivers and enjoy the scenery, pointing out various things to my little brother.
Once we began to near our destination the excitement began to build. Portage Indiana was a mere 20 minutes away. What we had been working for all morning was finally beginning to come in to our grasp. The sign ahead proudly proclaimed, “Welcome to Portage!”
“Looks a little abandoned”, I said looking around the deserted highway expanse. “Nah, It’ll pick up when we get closer to town, No worries.” My dad replied. He was always positive. We passed 1980’s era Taco Bell, numerous empty roads, and a closed down water park, which appeared as a tangled mass of sun-burnt water slides that hadn’t been used in years. Despite the dreariness, my little brother and father still kept their positive attitudes throughout. We continued to drive and finally arrived at the fabled Jelly Stone Campgrounds. What we found there turned out much different than expected.
I was expecting to see a sea of tents with families grilling out and enjoying the great outdoors. I was gravely mistaken. Majority of these Jelly Stone dwellers were permanent residents in spacious campers complete with poured concrete driveways. Don’t get me wrong, I saw nothing wrong with them using the Jelly Stone Park for a permanent residence, I just had a completely opposite mental image of the area. Not to mention the fact I had the slightest feeling of invading on these people’s private hideaways in Portage Indiana. Whether we were invading or not, all three of us helped pitch our tent and had an interesting weekend. Was it an amazingly fun-filled action packed vacation? No. Do I look back on it fondly? Definitely.
What could a barren town and a goofy camp ground help me realize? Quite a lot. This would be one of the last memories I would have with my dad and little brother as a teenager. It didn’t matter that we took a trip to Portage Indiana instead of going to Florida or overseas. What mattered was the time spent with my family and realizing how important it is to appreciate the good times, regardless of what you’re doing, you can experience together.
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