In about a week I am venturing to the land of Mouse Ears with my husband and kids. We will be driving 8 hours from Atlanta to Orlando to visit Cinderella's Castle--I realize there is an entire park near the castle, but my 4-year-old daughter couldn't care less about anything that isn't princess related. Our last semi-extended car ride involved a lot of barf and a good deal of cleaning on my part so I have some reservations about this trip.
But if my own childhood has taught me anything, it's that the unplanned events of family vacations are always the most memorable. There was the time my dad was yelled at for photographing the crown jewels in England. There was the year that we couldn't get through the metal detectors at the airport on our way to Boston. We also saw a male stripper in Scotland, but that's too long of a story for right now.
Most memorably, there was our trip to D.C. that will forever be my number one family vacation. My mom drove into a restricted area of the Pentagon. My brother and I left my dad standing at the entrance to the National Archives security screening because, again, he kept setting off the metal detectors. He was saying "I just want to see the Constitution" the last time we saw him. My parents had us paged in the Smithsonian.
We also watched Bill Clinton get nominated for President on our hotel TV and listened to my mom explain what it meant to her to see someone of her generation get ready to run the country. My brother got sick and our pediatrician called in a prescription from another state--who would do that these days? Right after that my mom merged into traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue (you could drive on it then) and was stopped rather abruptly by the Secret Service riding in a Suburban.
Mom had waited for the police cars to pass, but didn't really pay attention to the limo bearing the American flags behind them. The Secret Service drew their weapons on our minivan. My brother and I hit the floor of said minivan. It is still one of our most talked about family moments (that and the stripper, of course).
So here's to the painful drive upon which I am about to embark. I'm going to spend a lot of money on park tickets and I probably won't get to ride Space Mountain. My daughter is thrilled about the princesses, but she is quite wary of people in costumes. That seems like a recipe for a freak out. Who knows if the cops will make an appearance, but there's a good chance. I am, of course, related to my parents and the Griswolds have nothin' on us.
Whatever may come, it will be a memory for my kids. Our first real family road trip. I can't wait to see what happens.