I don’t think my family has ever flown anywhere together. Our vacations generally involved days of K-car madness; the five of us squashed into this little blue Reliant, little Terri sandwiched between her twin brothers. When I think of these vacations, what I remember most is the mass amount of Babysitter’s Club reading I managed to accomplish on those long rides, my brothers arms punching each other over my sullen blonde head. Our Lake Superior “circle tour” mainly stands out to me as the time when Stacey left the Babysitter’s Club to hang out with the Cool Girls at Pizza Express, sometime after breaking up with her snooty best friend Laine. It was a stressful few weeks for all of us.
At least I can claim that I was reading Anne of Green Gables on our PEI vacation, which leant some continuity to the fictional ‘MAGINATION LAND in my brain. I also knew that the Anne of Green Gables house was in fact the home of Lucy Maud Montgomery, NOT Anne Shirley. You’d be surprised how many fully grown adults show up wanting to visit “Anne’s grave.” Um do you mean Megan Follows? She’s still alive.
The only memory of Lake Superior whose vividness trumps whatever I was reading is what I now think of as “The Gordon Lightfoot Incident.” It wasn’t until grade six that we got to experience the entirely kid-centric Disneyworld; up until then it was obscure Canadian tourist-attractions for us. You know what I’m talking about: The Big Nickel, Magnetic Hill, the Big Goose… lotta “big” things. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald Museum was NOT so big. I believe it was limited to one room; however, you’d think they at least would have the resources to play more than one song as their visitors scoped out the old timey scuba suits and read a few plaques. Nope. Apparently the Gordon Lightfoot hit “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” set the mood so perfectly and literally that they chose to play it on loop until one can only assume their employees went on a murderous rampage. Now my family is not content to just glance around briefly and say, “Yup. Ship mysteriously sank many years ago. Very sad. Fascinating story.” I believe we heard that song about twenty times in a row, which was seventeen too many. I still can’t hear that guy’s voice without shuddering. And SCENE.
Now that I think about it, there was a bit more to these family times than just reading stacks of Babysitter’s Club. There was also Sandy Brunsting’s signature GHOST STORIES. I was the kind of kid who liked to be scared. My favorite show was Unsolved Mysteries, but only the episodes involving bad dramatizations of ghost stories. There was this one where this white ghost lady had a BLACK NO-FACE FOR A FACE and I didn’t sleep all night. And I LIKED it. My mom gave in to this in a big way. We were staying in this campsite somewhere on the East Coast, and behind our tent there was a small path leading down to a swampland. Her story involved a swamp monster visiting a teenage couple and terrorizing them. At some point the swamp monster tears off the boyfriend’s head, and leaves said head in a pile of purple goo. Allegedly all this happened RIGHT IN OUR VERY CAMPSITE. She was surprised when we wouldn’t leave the tent to pee at night. Best. Mom. Ever.
All in all, jokes aside, I’d say we were pretty lucky to have these quirky Canadian vacations. I’ve been to every province in my lifetime AND I’ve had my picture taken with the Big Goose in Wawa on at least four separate occasions. How many people have THAT claim to fame? That being said, grade six in Florida was by far the best. My history-loving family actually gave into the faux history Disney offers: the ghost story behind Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the microcosm of other cultures in Epcot, meeting important figures like Jafar and Peter Pan! I got my picture taken with the REAL Pocahontas! It was so great. Everything there is so completely detailed into convincing you that you ARE truly in a Magic Kingdom. Then there was the week on Clearwater Beach to recover from our Disney days by playing mass amounts of Rummy Kub and “Janitor” with my grandparents. We ate breakfast at the Waffle House every single morning and I had whipped cream on my hot chocolate. I fully intend to eat at Waffle House at least once next week, even though I’m certain it will in NO WAY live up to my expectations. I’m going to read about four books, play endless games of Settlers of Catan, and spend hours in the pool, although I hope I don’t re-live one particular memory. On our previous heavenly trip, I was so blissed out in our hotel’s heated pool that I swam into the side of it with my eyes closed and my MOUTH OPEN, thus chipping both my front teeth. It didn’t hurt, but it did look ridiculous.
That being said, I’m still really looking forward to that pool.