Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Family Vacation You Won't Believe Part II

     Having had little sleep the first night on the road, we arose to make breakfast and pack up our van for the long day ahead.  Traveling to the Northwest corner of Ohio from where we live in Florida is about an 1100 mile journey.  Most of it is interstate highway so it seems to go by quickly although the lack of scenery tends to make the trip boring.  We had made the journey many times before, but now we had camping gear to tear down and pack  into our overloaded van.  Of course, taking the tent out of the bag it came in was easy.  Putting it back with all the poles was another story.  As you may remember, we wanted to hit the road early.  We had gotten up around 6 or 6:30 (who could sleep with all the trucks rumbling by) and we were fully packed and ready to go by noon.  It was then that my husband made an executive decision.  That evening we would either stay at a motel or drive the rest of the way to his parent's home.  He was not willing to spend another night trying to set up the tent.  Besides, we had to buy metal tent pegs since our plastic ones were curled at the point from the hard Georgia clay.
     As we got on the road again, the weather was perfect, but the traffic heading north was heavy that summer.  My husband and I took turns driving the new van which seemed to handle very easily.  Naturally, minor squabbles broke out among the children from time to time.  Our daughter had brought a "Walkman"so she could listen to her music tapes.  At one point, our son Reid who was seven at this time, wanted to lay on the floor of the van to sleep.  When we stopped to change drivers and take a short break, Reid accidentally tipped over the box of his sister's tapes sending them under the seats in both directions.  This drew an angry response from our daughter as she said, "Reid, you're dead!  You spilled my tapes all over.  Now pick them up!"  Reid, our quiet and not easily perturbed child, simply remarked, "I can't.  I'm dead."  We all burst into laughter and the tension quickly melted away.
     Taking my turn at the wheel, I kept pushing on towards our next stop near Chattanooga, TN where we would take a break and have some snacks.  We made good time and arrived safely at a very nice state rest area.  Since we were approaching the Smokey Mountains the air was much more comfortable compared to the heat of Florida and Georgia.  After taking a short break, we climbed into our van ready for more hours on the highway.  As my husband started up the engine, we heard a boom and white smoke started pouring out of the engine.  Terrified, we all jumped out of the van.  The children were certain it was going to blow up.  My husband turned off the vehicle and got out quickly trying to assess what had just happened.  After the smoke cleared, he opened the hood to find that some part of the air conditioner, in our new van, had broken.  The van was safe to drive, but we could no longer use the air  conditioning until we arrived  at our destination in Ohio where we could get it repaired.  Since we were coming into the mountains, we knew the air would be comfortable so we opened all the windows in the van and got going once more.
     Traveling at highway speeds with the windows open makes it impossible to hear yourself think or even be able to talk.  However, we were very comfortable with the cooler temperatures.  As we drove along, I heard a shriek from the back seat of the van.  My daughter shouted, "Mom, I think your dress just got sucked out the back window.  It's gone!"  I immediately told my dear husband to pull over so we could walk back and get it.  My husband replied, "Are you crazy?  We can't stop with this traffic and besides I think that semi just rolled over it.  You can always get another dress."  I was not happy.  After all, I had told the kids to keep an eye on the items packed to the top of the back seat so they would not blow out with the windows open.
     At our next stop, I got a surprise.  We opened the back of the van to get drinks and there was my dress which had slid down to one side of our mountainous supplies.  It wasn't lost after all!  I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I wouldn't have to go shopping all over again.  This time....I found another spot to place the dress so it would not be near any windows even if I did have to press it when we got there.
The dress I thought I had lost on the road!
     We pushed on into the evening with the thought that it would be better for all of us if we made it to Defiance that night rather than staying at a motel.  All of us needed some sound sleep and Glenn's parents had a big beautiful home with some comfortable beds for us to stay in.  Unknown to us, however, an unusual summer cold front had moved through Ohio during the day, and when we stopped for gas not far from our destination, we were stunned as we stepped outside.  Here we were, thin blooded Florida residents wearing shorts and tank tops having come from sweltering heat stepping out into a blast of 48 degree cold!  None of us had packed more than one sweatshirt or maybe a pair or two of blue jeans.  We didn't have jackets just lightweight wind breakers.  With the air conditioning broken, we also had no heat.  The rest of the trip to Defiance was cold and miserable.  Because the windows kept fogging up, we had to keep a window cracked and the defroster running.  I never thought the lights of home would look so good!
     After a good night of rest, we went shopping the next day to see if we could purchase some more jeans and sweatshirts especially since the cold spell was not supposed to let up for at least a week.  However, being in the middle of summer, finding these items was nearly impossible.  So we borrowed what we could wear hoping that when we reached Canada, we might find stores that had a few items for cooler weather.  In the meantime, the weather during the day proved to be very pleasant.
     My husband's class reunion went without a problem, and we enjoyed our time with family and friends during the first week of our vacation.  The plan was to relax a couple of days and then, push on to Western Ontario Canada around Lake Superior for our fishing trip.  My in laws loved to go fishing at a camp in Ignace, Ontario each summer.  They usually rented a cabin there but we were determined to camp under the tall pines in the unspoiled wilderness.  This meant another 1100 miles on the road with our four children, a van filled to the brim with supplies, and nerves starting to fray just a little.  But we were determined to have fun!
     Our goal was to reach the northern point of the lower peninsula of Michigan by night fall so we could make camp before pushing on the next day.  We stopped for the night at a busy campground and found an ideal spot for us to enjoy.  This time the tent set up did not take as long, and with our metal tent pegs, we had no worry that our shelter would fall down during the night.  After our evening meal, we retired early hoping to get a good start in the morning.  What lay ahead the next day was the breath taking views of Lake Superior along the Trans Canada Highway.  However, we could not have predicted the challenges at our next campground.

     I hope you will come back again tomorrow for another episode because it just keeps getting better!   See you for Part III.


Anonymous said...

I agree, taking down the tent is always a bigger hassle than setting up! Sounds like you had a fun trip.

Barbara Thayer said...

Oh my...it was fun....in retrospect. At the time, it was not that much fun...lots of frustration. However, we made some good memories.