Through carsickness and health
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Disney’s “Frozen” soundtrack blares through the car’s speakers. The aroma of stale McDonald’s french fries and dirty diapers circulates. Car sickness strikes viciously. And three screaming kids ask if we’re there yet. This is what traveling with a family of seven is like.
Growing up the oldest of five kids, vacations were rarely a time of relaxation and de-stressing. They usually consisted of 20+ hour car rides, chasing after toddlers, and breaking up fights in the backseat. Our family vacations were very similar to The Griswold’s family vacations, except instead of a station wagon we had a Suburban.
There is one vacation in particular that always comes to mind when I think of our family vacations growing up. And that would be the summer my mom decided to do the unspeakable: road trip across country with five kids all by herself. A family reunion was happening in Idaho Falls, Idaho and she was eager to get there and see her family.
Six suitcases, a cooler filled with drinks, a variety of salty snacks, massive amounts of sunblock, tennis shoes, seven pairs of headphones, sweatshirts, shorts, T-shirts, swimsuits, sunglasses, disposable cameras, mom’s “fancy” camera, and four bottles of bug spray. This was our trip in list form.
The chaos began almost immediately. Piling into my mom’s big black Suburban, the kids started to fight over who had to sit in the middle and who got to pick the first movie. After 10 ten minutes of kicking and screaming, my mom nearly tearing her hair out, and lots of yelling, the arrangements were made and we were off.
The road trip to Idaho in it’s entirety wasn’t a total disaster. We stopped frequently at gas stations and diners, slept under a bridge in Nebraska, explored a historical museum in Utah, and only had to stop twice to throw up as a result of carsickness. Once we reached Idaho, we all felt relived. One of my first thoughts as we all shuffled out of the car was “holy shit I can’t believe we made it”.
After days of visiting various relatives and “family fun,” it was time for us to venture out to Yellowstone. When I heard we were going, I was ecstatic. I had always been passionate about the outdoors and I had dreamed of going to Yellowstone for awhile. Back into the car we went and a few hours later we arrived. All 15 (yes, 15) of us kids filed out of the car as my mom and her sisters did a head check. Then we proceeded to get into groups and start exploring.
We looked at various geysers and infinity pools, wandered on many trails, and even spotted an animal or two. It had been a successful day so far and there were only a few tantrums. But I had spoken too soon. At about four o’clock my youngest brother, McKay, was beginning to lose his patience. He hadn’t seen a bear and to a 4 four year old that was a really big deal. He began screaming and crying.
After a long relentless hour of stomping his feet and telling everyone near him that his family sucked, McKay decided to give up. He stomped over and sat down next to me on a bench as everyone else was eating their snacks and running around. I was waiting for him to kick me or spit in my hair, but that moment thankfully never came. He just sat there, pouting with little tears dripping down his chin. I decided to put my arms around him in an attempt to comfort him. When my other siblings and cousins noticed, they ran over and joined in. Suddenly, McKay had 20 arms around him.
We all gave him hugs and kisses until the corners of his mouth formed a grin.
My aunts, uncles, and mom quickly took their cameras out to document this rare and precious moment. “Maybe family vacations aren’t as bad as I thought,” I mused thought to myself as I looked at all the smiling faces around me.
Although our family vacations may have not been glamorous or extravagant or relaxing, they are definitely ones to remember. The craziness, the fighting, the stench of dirty feet, the carsickness, and even the tantrums are what makes our vacations memorable. As I embark on my journey to college, these moments will stay with me forever. I couldn’t imagine a life without my big crazy family, carsickness and all.