My Favorite Summer Vacation: A Trip for Three Generations

by Julie Royce / Aug 23, 2009 /
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My Favorite Summer Vacation: A Trip for Three Generations

Living in Michigan I mainly take vacations during the winter for obvious reasons. Yet I cherish a 2005 summer trip – not because of the destinations (we never left the continental U.S.) but for the laughs it provided and the answers it afforded to the burning questions in our lives: Could three generations of women (mother, daughter and much younger daughter-in-law) spend a week in a 4 x 4 space (car) and small hotel rooms (one bathroom and no privacy) while enjoying the journey and resisting the urge to kill one another?   

Andrea, the young daughter-in-law, and I were driving Bonnie, the mother, from Florida to her summer home in Michigan. Andrea guided for the journey, showing us the southern lowlands where she grew up. Our itinerary included two leisurely days in Savannah, two more in Charleston and then lots of driving.

Packing our car was an organizational feat of magnificent proportions. We departed with no maps (how hard is it to get from Florida to Michigan?), but lots of food and luggage.  Mother layered the trunk with clothes and miscellany accumulated over several months. A blanket covered this first layer. Next came three full size suitcases. It took a half hour to shoehorn them into place or remove them each subsequent evening. Small items were stuffed in crannies. The backseat was divided; Mom got one third and the remainder was packed with purses, cameras, blankets, pillows, coats, umbrellas, books, extra shoes, two ice coolers (for the chilled food), and a large bag for cookies and potato chips. Mother doled out food.

The first leg of our trip took us to Savannah in about eight hours. Mother and I outvoted Andrea to stop at a Russell Stover Outlet along the way. We ate ice cream cones and firmed up our stash of supplies with fudge and a box of assorted chocolates to nibble during evenings spent in motel rooms snacking on potato chips. It’s a dietary fact that if you eat something salty you have to follow it by something chocolaty-sweet.     

Our first night in Savannah we walked the cobblestone streets and ate dinner at Tubby’s at 7:30 - over Mother’s protests she doesn’t like to eat late because then she can’t sleep. Andrea prefers dining late. I stayed out of discussion because I simply enjoy eating –anytime will do. Our scallops hadn’t even arrived when entertainment began. Our table was closest to the Dylanesque-singer. Both Andrea and I grinned and tapped our feet to the beat. Mom, who is nearly deaf, covered her ears and insisted the sound was deafening. Fortunately for Andrea and me, there was no other seating available and Mother had to suffer. Afterwards Andrea treated us to huge frozen daiquiris, which in Savannah you carry as you walk around. Mother soon forgot her complaints.

Day two we walked all the historic sites of Savannah and Mom determined she would get a picture of a giant ocean going ship navigating the Savannah River. Raindrops began falling as the first monster vessel came into sight. Andrea bailed ship (excuse the pun) and headed back to the room to ‘work’ on her computer. Mother refused to take her first shot until the sluggishly moving vessel was directly in front of her. Then she realized her disposable camera couldn’t get more than 1/20 of the craft with any click. We were forced to wait for the ship to pass and get far enough away to fit in a single frame. Mission finally accomplished we ran for the hotel dodging raindrops the size of oranges.   

The third morning we lost an hour searching for a bridge to take us away from Savannah. Probably should have asked for directions or invested in a map. Since Andrea was driving, I let discretion shut my mouth.

We made a short shopping stop in Beaufort where the cutest stuffed rabbit I’d ever seen called my name. My youngest granddaughter loves bunnies and, try as I might, I couldn’t resist.  After Beaufort, Mother had slightly less than a third of the back seat to herself. She agreed, however, that the encroaching rabbit was worth it.

In Charleston we stayed two nights at a hotel from the Historic Register. The room, with a fireplace and antique furniture, was charming. We enjoyed the decadent croissants during the continental breakfast but appreciated even more the “wine hour.” Actually it stretched for two hours and we probably consumed the cost of the room in wine. I suspected Andrea was self-medicating so she could put up with Mother and me.

The second day in Charleston we experienced more rain; dreary, cold, and non-stop, forcing us to cancel our intended walking jaunt and opt for the cover of a bus tour. We ate dinner at 3:30 (splitting the difference between Mom’s and Andrea’s preferences) at Hyman’s, which is perhaps the most famous seafood restaurant in Charleston. One thing my mother, Andrea and I have in common is a love of seafood.  We were seated next to a group of traveling Barbershop Quartets that serenaded us with Let Me Call You Sweetheart. Andrea had a couple of beers with lunch before we headed to the Charleston Market where I only bought two necklaces that could easily be slipped into my purse. We also bought more books, but figured Mom could squeeze them in the back window.

We returned to the hotel in plenty of time for the second day’s wine hour. I had a glass and I didn’t count Andrea’s.  I do know that the liquid libation made us willing to play euchre with my mother even though we preferred reading.

The next morning as the sun rose I carefully wrote down directions from the concierge and we headed home. I enjoyed Andrea’s guided tours of her old south. Even more, however, I cherished the rare opportunity to spend a vacation with my mother and treasured the fact that my sister-in-law had become my friend.

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