Sunday, February 28, 2010

Memories - Family Vacations

Ah, family vacations. We all love them, don’t we? Whenever we can afford to take them, that is. I remember the last one I went on. That was in 2003 I think, or maybe 2004. Joni, Adam, and I went down to Houston for a Labor Day weekend. We visited Johnson Space Center and Moody Gardens and stayed in a hotel and had a pretty good time.

That was a lot different than the family vacations we took when I was a kid. I’m talking way back in the 70’s, when Mom and Dad were still married. Dad was a farmer, as I have mentioned before, and we couldn’t go anywhere as long as he had to water the crops. So we waited for rain. It had to be a pretty good rain, too, so that he didn’t have to irrigate for a few days. When the rain finally came, we would put the topper on the pickup, hook up the boat, and head for Lake McConaughy, which is out east near Ogallala, Nebraska..

Mom and Dad would ride up front, and us four kids all rode in the back of the pickup with lots of blankets and pillows to flop around on. The tent, sleeping bags and coolers would all be packed in the boat for the trip. Those were such simple times. We didn’t worry about seat belts and air bags and crash test ratings, we just hopped in the back of the pickup, and off we went. If anyone tried that today, they’d probably be thrown in jail and their kids sent to foster homes. I don’t remember at all how long the trip to the lake was. I know it had to be at least a couple of hours, but we didn't mind. Getting there really was half the fun in those days.

Most of my memories of our camping trips are only fragments. There wasn't any one trip in particular that stands out in my mind. Our tent was blue and yellow and was big enough for all six of us. I remember the pitch blackness of those nights in the tent. I was afraid of the dark as a child, but with my family all around me, there was nothing to be afraid of. One memory fragment I have is of waking up in the middle of the night and feeling cold. I got up and carefully felt my way around for a minute looking for the pile of blankets. When I found a blanket and tried to take it, someone pulled back, so I think I gave up.

Those bright summer days of roaming the sandy shore of the lake seemed endless. The particular area where we always camped had kind of a little cliff with a long slope of sand stretching out in front of it. We used to climb to the top of the slope and then run down, or roll down all the way to the bottom. I kind of remember Brad stepping on a cactus there one time. I think Mom has some pictures of us rolling down that slope.

Speaking of pictures, I remember one picture that Mom has. It is of me holding a tiny little tadpole in my cupped hands. I only vaguely remember catching tadpoles where the water was very shallow. Actually, I think someone else caught the tadpole, maybe Brad, and gave it to me so Mom could take the picture. I was very young, couldn’t have been more than five. I think my hair was still mostly blond in that picture.

Of course, we would go out on the boat, too, but that wasn’t my favorite part of going to the lake. Dad liked to go fishing, but I never cared much for it. Also, Mom and the older kids would water ski, but I was too little. We had to wear those bulky orange life-jackets, too, and I hated wearing them. I remember one time when the boat broke down, and Dad had to call out on the CB radio to get someone to tow us back to the marina.

Just fragments. I remember Spam and squeezy cheese in a tube that we put on crackers or celery. I remember different flavors of Shasta sodas, we call it pop here in the Midwest. Those were special treats that we only indulged in at the lake, making our time there even more special. I can’t really remember what else we ate. I remember the little portable am/fm radio. Barry Manilow’s “Copa Cabana” was a big hit one summer, I remember hearing it on the radio at the lake. And sand, sand, sand. No matter how you tried, it just got into everything.

Our little family vacations sure were fun, and they always ended too soon. The saddest part was taking the boat out of the water because then you really knew it was over. “Just one more dip in the water? Please, Mom, please?” The answer was always "No.” Back into the pickup we went, and back home to the boring old farm.

Those were the good old days, all right. It’s tempting, sometimes, to wish for those days again, but that’s just not the way of things. God gave each one of us a unique past, and a unique set of life experiences. All of our lives He works to make each one of us a unique and valuable part of His plan.

We all have good memories, and bad memories. We should never wish the bad ones had never happened, because they made us who we are, just as much as the good ones did. Wishing for a different past is like telling God He made a mistake. He shaped each of us to perform a particular task, something that no other person on Earth can do. It’s our job to find out what that task is, and do it to the best of our abilities. And the greatest thing about God is that it’s never too late. As long as you are drawing breath, there’s still time. Make the most of it!

1 Corinthians 12:12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.


  1. People say, "If you could go back and change something in your past, what would it be?" I say, "Absolutely nothing. If I changed ONE thing, I wouldn't be who I am today!"

    God's plan had every instance,trial,tribulation, joy and happiness all placed in our lives to shape us.
    I wouldn't change my past for nothing. As dark and dismal as it was, there were happy times to carry with me always. :-)

    Boring farm? I'd have loved to have this as a portion of my life. Oh wait...I have it now! :-) teeheehee

  2. Thanks for the memories, little brother! I also remember our camping trips as one of the best parts of my growing up!!