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Growing up, my family ALWAYS took a summer vacation.  As a family, we’ve gone everywhere and done everything from hiking through the mountains of Colorado to whale watching on some pirate ship in Cape Cod.

My mom, dad, two brothers and I pride ourselves on how horribly we can embarrass each other, but no better time was during summer vacation where we really got to show off our lack of function or direction. From towing a pop-up camper through New England to boarding a pirate ship, we can only laugh about the craziness of our expeditions and the many many many s’mores we ended up making in a microwave instead of around a camp fire.

One of my most memorable vacations was traveling to Colorado in the summer of 2000. I remember that I was 15 and miserable because we left on my birthday.  We always left on my birthday.  All I wanted to do was get on a plane, listen to my new Garbage album (Version 2.0) and sulk because my summer was going to suck and it was all my parents’ fault.

We woke up early (on my birthday), loaded a plane (on my birthday) and then as soon as lift off happened I realized I had left all 200 of my angry “life sucks” CD’s at the airport (on my birthday).  Things couldn’t have gotten worse until my dad decided to make comments about how hilarious it was that all I was left with to listen to was Garbage. “Get it?”

My mom got me hooked on Peanut M&M's on this trip. She's the root of all my problems involving chocolate.

Besides being angry the entire time, I remember panning for gold and riding on the cable trolleys through the canyons-breathtaking. I also remember at some point my youngest brother, Chris and I ganged up on the our other brother, Joey and got in trouble for throwing rocks. I also remember my lips being chapped.

By the summer of 2002 I had (sort of) come out of my phase of pretending to hate my parents.  I was a little happier and looking forward to my senior year in high school. Over all, I had a pretty good attitude-or at least a better attitude. This year my parents rented an RV and we drove up to the coast all the way through NY.  I was 17 and yes, we left on my birthday.  Figures.

This was the year my brothers and I really had to grasp the fact that my parents didn’t know everything even though they always claimed they did. After multiple situations of getting lost through Georgia, hours of argument over who’s fault it was that dad backed into a tree trying to leave Virginia; and then my dad getting a ticket in Connecticut; my driving record was looking pretty good for a teenager.

I remember having a good time at museums, being a little disappointed in Salem and actually being moved by the Vietnam Wall.  And yes, this is the summer my mom insisted we go on a pirate ship and sing pirate songs and wave plastic swords because my brother, Chris, wanted to.  Spoiled baby.

I think I always resented family vacations because they seemed so forced.  But when I look back at the memories, what the hell else could I possibly have done for three months that was better?  I think once I met someone who didn’t have the opportunity to be “forced” to ride down Bourbon Street on horse and carriage or who was never “tortured” into camping near Fort Augustine, I gained a whole new perspective on what my parents were trying to do.

My brothers and I are all grown up now and we each live at least two hours away from our parents (some of us a few states away), so it’s important to remember the “when” and “where’s” of family vacations so we can laugh about the “who’s”, “how’s” and “why’s.”

My brother Joey, mom and I canoeing in Sanibel, FL (on vacation). We were not into it. Can you tell?

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