In the summer of 2007 my family vacation started out with a bad omen: rain. My family and I were leaving rural Arkansas with pine trees, dirt roads, murky ponds and endless miles of cow pastures for sunny, beautiful, Florida. I was wanting nothing more out of our vacation than a change of scenery and a break from my every day life, but what I got out of our vacation was much more life changing.
As we came close to the Alabama-Florida state line, we began calling around for hotels in the area, all of which were booked. It is very true that desperate times call for desperate measures. At about three a.m. my mom pulled into a “well-lit, safe looking” Love’s truck stop where we spent approximately two and a half hours sleeping practically on top of each other in our minivan. At around five a.m. I was disturbed by my mom looking through a phonebook for hotels to call. She called ahead to a hotel in Panama, Florida. They would have a room ready for us by two p.m. From this part of the trip I learned that, impulsiveness and spontaneity are interesting and fun, but its better to be prepared if you want a good nights sleep.
On our way to Panama, we stopped at a waffle house. When we ordered my dad remarked, “I think I’ll live life on the edge today and order chocolate milk!” we all laughed. “Life on the edge, baby!” became the motto for the rest of our vacation. Our Waffle House experience showed me that “life on the edge” is what makes life, life. Live for the chocolate milk in life and don’t do things half-way. I also learned that hardships will come, and sleepless nights will rob innocent people of their sanity; we all have tough times together and apart, but the ones spent together (if they don’t kill us or make us kill each other) will make us stronger.
When we arrived at Panama Beach, my entire family was ecstatic. It was the first time my two sisters and I had ever seen the majestic beauty and power of an ocean. We saw dolphins, and jelly-fish, and we felt the actual current that is the undertow. After swimming and exerting more energy than we actually had, my sisters and I drug our exhausted bodies up onto the sandy beach and lay down next to our parents on our bed of colorful beach towels. Soon the relaxing sound of the surf crashing into the sand caused us to fall asleep. At one time my mom and I heard a lady remark about how cute we all looked and she actually snapped a picture of my family! The “beach bum” part of my vacation proved to me that improvising is the best way to handle a crisis; when things don’t go your way, don’t have an emotional breakdown, just relax and do what you can to handle the situation.
This trip changed the way I look at life and the way I handle negative things that happen to me. It showed me the power of the undertow, the bonds between family members, and the necessity to take life one step at a time because you only have two feet and if you try taking it two steps at a time you’ll fall on your rear.
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