• Michele

It's Flashback Friday As the Gadabout Gals Remember a Favorite Childhood Vacation

They say travel helps young kids in trying new experiences, makes them more curious and instills a love for adventure. And with that comes memories. All types of memories, and the older you get these memories become more and more priceless. Today the Gadabout Gals thought it would be fun to share one of their favorite childhood vacations. These are times that for each of us created very special memories. So jump in our time machine and we'll take you back in time!

Michele's Camping Trip to Eagle River, Wisconsin

Growing up my mom and dad purchased a "pop-up" camper. We did quite a lot of camping with my aunt and uncle and cousins in various states. I loved camping and to this day as an adult I still love it, although I haven't done it in a long time. Yes, even though I enjoy a luxury vacation at a villa in Belize or on the Amalfi Coast, I also very much enjoy sleeping under the stars, fishing, campfires and being in nature! I definitely attribute that to all my childhood camping trips. Out of all the trips we took as a family the one with the most memories for me was when I was in about seven and in the first grade. I remember my age because as you might be able to tell in one of the photos I'm sporting a Donny Osmond t-shirt. He was my first crush, I mean Puppy Love. But I digress.

The other big thing I remember about our Eagle River trip was that it was a long drive, a really looonnnngggg drive. We drove from Ashtabula, through Michigan and over the Mackinaw Bridge, through the Upper Peninsula to the top of Wisconsin (which was the longer route because my uncle who was leading didn't want to go through Chicago). We drove almost straight through 12 hours overnight because my uncle was on a mission to get there in the morning. Of course this meant that we didn't sleep too well or hardly at all really, and crankiness was at it's prime. In the backseat with my sister there was a lot of "she touched me," "she looked at me funny," and "stop it girls." But once we finally arrived all that stopped.

I also remember getting to the campgrounds entrance and driving down the very windy and long road. I rested my head back, tilting it up so I could look out the window at all the incredibly tall pine trees as we drove by each one. I also cracked my window and smelled the freshest air ever, and listened to the sounds of birds that I never heard before. I was so excited and I couldn't wait to help set-up camp and explore.

Our first night was a bit of a nightmare. Camp was crowded, so we had to set up in a mosquito infested site, our camper stove wasn't working right so we didn't have much of a dinner and the stress between my parents was a bit heightened. Needless to say, that first night with very little sleep and too many mosquitos we just stayed zipped up in the camper and went right to bed.

Things definitely improved the next morning. A new location opened up next to my aunt, uncle and cousins so we moved and it had an amazing river view. We got the camper stove to work, we made a great campfire and we spent the week swimming, fishing, hiking, singing by the campfire and laughing. One of my favorite memories was singing around the campfire at night and making banana boats - a fantastically warm, gooey, chocolate, marshmallow and banana dream dessert made over an open fire. I think I just made my mouth water writing about it. If you ever go camping you need to make Banana Boats. Trust me, your kids will think you are an amazing chef!

Obviously this vacation was a really long time ago. But not only do I still remember so many details of the adventures we experienced (even the not so good - which my family now laughs about all the time), every single memory morsel is incredibly special. It's because at the core it was about time with my family, my love for being outdoors and how happy and content I was. It's definitely a feel good, give you the warm and fuzzies kind of memory.

Tiffany's Month-long Tour Of The New England States

I was sixteen years old and the last thing I wanted to do was camp for a month with my family. My friends all bragged about beach trips to sunny Florida, and that was my limited idea of fun.

Little did I know, our trip in July 1986 would be one of the coolest things my parents made me do.

We set out in our Izuzu Trooper with a car top carrier, pulling a pop-up camper. My family would spend the next month making our way through the New England States. My memory is fuzzy. According to my Mom's photo album, we went to (not in order of the trip) Rocky Neck State Park in Connecticut, Cape Cod, Falmouth, Sipperwisett Family Camp Ground, Martha's Vineyard, Province Town, Glouster, Salem, Rockport, Boston and Maine.

What I remember about that trip is in little snippets. I remember fireworks on the beach in Glouster. I remember my Dad letting my sister and I check out the showers before we decided on a campground. The House of Seven Gables was super cool. I adored Boston! The bar Cheers looks nothing like the tv show. All four of us loved whale watching! My Dad tried to get too close to a Momma Moose and her babies for a picture. I fell in love with Martha's Vineyard. The Eddy Bauer store in Maine was another highlight.

An incident in Boston will go down in our family lore. Remember, in 1986 we did not have Facebook, Mapquest, or Google. We relied on recommendations and a map. My Dad had heard of a restaurant on the pier that served fresh fish off the dock. It was called No Names Restaurant. In an attempt to find the restaurant, we passed a massive ship docked in the harbor. My Dad said, "Look girls, there is the US Constitution!" We passed it again. He said, "There's that boat again." We passed it a good four or five times when he finally said, "There's that damn boat!" We eventually found No Names Restaurant. At sixteen I was unfortunately not a fan of fish. I'll never forget the waiter, with his thick Boston accent, giving me a hard time when I asked for a hamburger. GEESH... I would love to eat fish of the dock like that now.

I acquired a sense of adventure from my parents. I look back and love the unusual vacations we took. I never allowed my own children to complain about trips I planned. Hopefully, looking back they have great memories too!

Side note: I think my Dad was a hipster before it was a thing. :).

Kelly’s Family Vacation To Sanibel Island, Florida

I remember just a few really fun family vacations of my youth. My mom Carol and my Dad Ron both truly loved to travel ~ with my younger sister Julie and I, sometimes alone as a couple or with adult friends and all of us kids. In fact, I am very much like both of my parents that way ~ they were both avid readers and entrepreneurs and lovers of food and fun and exploring new places and things. I truly love that I inherited those fun qualities from both of them.

Sadly, my mom and dad got divorced when I was 10 years old, and they are both no longer with us. So now my sweet memories of those early fun family trips are extremely special to me. A spring break family road trip to Florida in 1972 when I was 7 years old really sticks out in my mind.

Someplace New ~ An Island!

It was the spring of 1972 and my dad (the avid reader and total news-junkie) had recently read a glowing article in the New York Times about a place he was unfamiliar with: Sanibel Island, Florida. It told of how quaint and special Sanibel Island was. Somewhat sweet and unspoiled and not as touristy as the rest of Florida. It was a haven for sea creatures and birds. What also piqued his interest was the abundance of beautiful shells on the beach there (my mom loved shells and ‘shelling’). He shared the article with my mom…and then he booked us a family spring break trip to Sanibel the following month (like my father, I too can be somewhat impulsive…especially when it comes to travel).

I think that a fair amount of people today know of the beauty of Sanibel Island and it’s sister island, Captiva. They may not have traveled there, but they’ve probably heard of it, or know someone who has been there. But I’m talking about 1972...46 years ago. It was definitely different when my father discovered the article and decided to pack us all up and visit there, as a family, way back then.

Sidenote: after a bit of online research, I found the exact New York Times article that my dad had seen in February 1972 (link below). I just read it, and I can definitely see why he was so enthralled with the vision of this beautiful, mostly undiscovered island, and why he wanted to visit and share it with all of us.

'The Old Shell Game' ~ The New York Times, February 6, 1972

Getting There Is Half The Fun (Seriously?)

To save money, my parents decided we would take a road trip to Sanibel. “We’ll pack the car, grab the girls and it will be an adventure!” Oh, it was an adventure all right. This was the longest car trip the 4 of us had ever taken together. Two cranky under 10-year-old sisters in the back seat…a husband and wife trying to navigate the roads from Ohio to Florida with a map and not much patience. Fun, fun! Actually, this part of my story sounds a lot like both Michele and Tiffany’s stories!

Luckily, my parents were enlightened enough to know that it would not be best to attempt that 1200 mile drive from Columbus to Sanibel without taking a break halfway through for the night (SO smart, thank you for that!). Back then, there were many Holiday Inns scattered throughout the country, beckoning weary road travelers. You remember those old motels, don’t you? With the big, yellow neon arrow sign and letters spelling out ‘WELCOME’ or info about a local event being held there? Well, my parents decided to stop for the night at a Holiday Inn, somewhere in Georgia (approximately halfway to Sanibel, I think). Because of my silly/fun mom, arriving at this Holiday Inn was a memory that I will always hold dear.

Welcome Kelly and Julie

So, that Holiday Inn sign. I always smile whenever I see a photo or think of those signs.

That evening, after a very long and tiresome first day on the road, we finally drove up to the motel. Julie and I were very sleepy in the backseat. As my father pulled the car into the motel lot, my mom tapped us both and excitedly pointed at the big neon sign out front and said: “Look girls, the sign says ‘Welcome Kelly and Julie’!”

Oh my goodness! I was 7 years old…and I think I could read (but maybe not too great yet)…but we drove by that sign and into the lot so quickly…and I couldn’t really make out what it said…but it DID say 'WELCOME' (I thought....), and there were names or something underneath that....so my sister Julie and I TOTALLY believed my mom and that the sign was welcoming us there for the night. We were SO excited!! (It was probably the first...and last time I was ever THAT excited to stay at a Holiday Inn, but it was a fun and special feeling and now, a great memory). We happily unloaded and checked into our room for the night. They knew we were coming! They are happy we are here! My parents were definitely happy to be there ~ tired from traveling all day, and very aware that we had another long drive ahead of us the next day to make it to Sanibel.

Are We There Yet? Yes!

Late the following day...after a few more map misadventures for my parents and more backseat crankiness from my sister and I, we finally did make it to our hotel on Sanibel Island.

Yay! I remember it as small, but very pretty, close to the water and with a nice pool. I wish I could remember the name. We all had such a fun time together that week: Julie and I would get up early most mornings and go shelling on the beach with mom. The raves about the beaches there being filled with shells were not exaggerated. We’d bring buckets out with us and walk along the beach and find wonderful treasures! SO many shells!

In the afternoons we would play with our dad in the pool or drive with him to Bailey’s, the only supermarket on the island. Truly lazy beach bum-type days. I loved it! Our visit was during our school spring break (late March) and it was my sister’s 6th birthday while we were there. I remember we all went out to a ‘special’ dinner at this cozy restaurant called The Nutmeg House. I don’t remember a lot about it, but I can clearly remember the sign outside, and that I thought “Wow, this place is really nice!”

I have to admit, my memories now about this time in my life are somewhat fuzzy, but it does seem that this was the last big family trip that we all took together, as a family. I think that’s why the memories seem so special. A long, but ultimately fun road trip…special times with my younger sister, and my parents who have both passed on…a tropical place that was somewhat undiscovered and unique to us all. I feel very lucky to have had that time with my family. I have had the pleasure to go back a few times since that long ago childhood trip ~ Sanibel Island, and those memories of our very first family visit, will always hold a very special place in my heart. I've enjoyed sharing those memories with all of you.

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