|The Cover of Life Magazine in October, 1971|
Because I was so young, I only remember bits and pieces of the drive, but I know we took the station wagon and that my grandparents followed us in their car. This was, of course, a long time before cell phones, so we kept in touch with them by holding up signs in the back window of the car. I'm not sure who wrote out the signs, probably one of my brothers, but they would say things like "Gas station, next exit".
I also remember that as the summer of America. Not the country, the band. It seemed that every radio station along the way was playing "Horse With No Name". We must have heard it a hundred times. It's probably the first rock song I ever knew all the words to. Even today, when I hear it, I think of that trip.
Our hotel in Florida was oceanfront, which was amazing to me because I had never seen the ocean before. I'd seen my share of lakes and rivers, but I hadn't even imagined how huge the Atlantic ocean would be. My dad took us down to see the beach shortly after we checked in to the hotel and I asked right away if I could touch the water. I suppose my dad thought I was going to stick my hands or my feet in it, but for some reason, I waded in and sat down. In all my clothes.
My aunt and uncle lived in a mobile home park for seniors, so there wasn't much for my brothers and I to do when we visited them. Someone suggested that we could take some bread to the pond and feed the ducks. I don't think it was very exciting for my brothers, but I loved it. The ducks were used to being fed, so they would come right up to you and take the bread from your hand. It was fun until we ran out of bread and tried to head back to my aunt's house. The ducks wouldn't leave me alone. They followed me, squawking and begging for more bread. My parents have home movies of me upset and yelling at the ducks to go away. If I knew how to upload the footage, I would. Or not.
Disney World was the best part of the trip for me. As soon as we passed through the entrance we were greeted by Minnie Mouse. Being quite a fan of Minnie's, I ran up to meet her. I don't remember what we talked about, but we had a fairly long conversation. Then I took her hand and walked off with her. My dad came and snatched me back, but you have to wonder where Minnie was planning to take me. I've been a little suspicious of Minnie Mouse ever since.
|She looks a little shifty to me|
On one of the last days of our vacation, we woke up to find the beach covered with blue and pink things that, at first glance, looked like children's bathing caps (remember those?). When my brothers walked down to find out what they were, a man showed them how to deflate the things by hitting them with rocks. Once hit, they would burst into a spray of liquid. My parents were none too pleased when they discovered the "things" they were Portuguese Man O War, which is a poisonous jellyfish.
The rest of my memories of this vacation are pretty fragmented. My mom wearing a big orange sun hat and huge sunglasses. Swimming in the hotel pool with some other kids. Finding shells on the beach. My grandma making a plate of cheese and crackers for me to snack on. Sitting on the statues at Sea World.
And the desert. On a horse with no name.