While I was growing up I was fortunate enough to have a super travel planner in my mother who made it a priority that every summer our family would visit a new part of the country in our handy pop up camper. The camper had wheels the size of a small motor bike so at least one tire repair per trip so we were destined to spend a couple of hours in a repair shop….. usually in Smalltown, USA and if we were lucky, it had a Waffle House.
And while my dad was not in the league of Clark Griswold, navigating through vacation mayhem, it made me wonder what summer vacation memories others look back on and why. I have visited over 42 states in total and my top 5 are from my childhood are listed below:
1. Jekyll Island, Georgia. This island boasted an exclusive vacation club for wealthy and influential families called the Jekyll Island Club and boasted members like Joseph Pultizer, William Rockefeller, and William Vanderbilt. It is now a historical hotel and we were able to tour the exclusive club and grounds. Every morning I woke up to chattering birds in the campground that felt like a tropical forest. I remember this trip oddly enough because a family friend applied pressure to a mustard packet in a restaurant we stopped at and the mustard went sailing onto the shirt of a guy in the booth behind us. Of course, our parents were mortified and we couldn’t leave the restaurant fast enough.
2. Seattle, Washington. This destination was part of a three week summer trip specifically to see the King Tut Exhibit in Seattle. A large portion of these artifacts are no longer permitted outside of Egypt so you can imagine my disappointment as an adult taking my kids through an “edited exhibit” in Chicago a few years ago upon its return that had hardly any of the items in the original US tour.
3. The houseboat trip on Lake Kentucky that spans through Kentucky and Tennessee delivered a camping experience with immediate access to water sports. My sister and I spent the week perfecting our jumps off the roof of the houseboat into the lake and roasting marshmallows every night. Pure childhood heaven!
4. Casco Bay Area in Maine. Maine’s coast line is one of the most picturesque that I know and excellent for shell collecting. Two things I remember the most from that trip was during a boat ride on the Atlantic, how thrillingly close we got to blue whales and hearing the calls to each other and having my first taste of lobster.
5. Last but not least, the rugged California coastline and trip through the National Redwood Forest. My sister and I were much smaller at the time, but even as an adult to look up at the trees and be unable to see the tops of the trees made us feel like we were one inch woodland fairies in some magical kingdom. I was in awe of the road tunneling right through the truck of the giant trees and running around the tree circumference playing hide and seek.
Readers, what were your top 5 childhood travel memories?