Family Vacations: Road Trips

Sing it in an awfully-out-of-tune-voice with me now:

I’ve come back long ago

Long way down the Holiday Road

Holiday Road

Holiday Road

Holiday Road

Holiday Road…

I’ve been humming this song for days now, as I’ve been mentally preparing for this hum dinger of a post.

The National Lampoon Vacation movies have always been a staple in our family home, because somehow Chevy Chase and the gang got ahold of our vacation stories and made a movie about them.

Not really, and for legal purposes, I have to add that I’m joking.

But, for real, growing up, our family vacations were always very Vacation-esque ridiculous.

This is going to be a three-part series, because I’m attempting to not write novels every time I post. So, for the next three days, you will be positively inundated with family vacation stories straight from own personal National Lampoon series. 

So, care to take a ride? Make sure you pack a spare tire, some rat poison, and a life preserver, because it’s going to be a wild ride.

Literally Every Road Trip 

It didn’t matter where we were going-whether it was a trip up the Oregon coast or a day trip to some backwoods swimming hole, it was guaranteed that we would have car/boat trouble. I can’t count how many sketchy BFE car repair shops I’ve miserably waited at, while one of our hoopties was getting patched together. I’ve probably been to more car repair shops than to actual landmarks. 

Maybe we had trouble on road trips, because this was how we traveled?

I remember once, after days of packing and prepping for our 800-mile, two days of car hell up to our family’s lake cabin, we didn’t even make it five miles out of town before our vintage Winnebago pulled a big nope-I’m-not-going-fuck-you and we had to drive back home, defeated. I want to say we didn’t get to leave for real for almost a week.

One of my mom’s favorite family vacation horror stories is when she and my dad took my two cousins, my brother, and me to the Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park in Austin, Nevada in our ever-trusty Winnebago. She said we were coasting along, everything was going grand, and then, out of nowhere, the engine cover blew off. 

This all-important cover is what protects the engine and the inhabitants of the motorhome from the engine movements and the dust and debris from the road. 

My mom said that the second the cover flew off, everyone in the motorhome was covered in a thick layer of dirt. All she could see were the whites of our freaked-out eyes. 

For the entire rest of the drive to the park, she had to sit on the cover to keep it on. “It was only 80,000 million degrees hot. No big deal.” She said of her hot seat. 

Another Winnebago adventure happened after my mom thought it would be a great idea to take the behemoth beast camping without my dad. She wanted to meet my aunt and uncle at some campground in the middle of nowhere. All I remember is that she buckled my brother and I together in the front seat, and she kept saying over and over how everything was going to go great. 

Except, it was us and we were in the fucking Winnebago, so it didn’t go great. 

Somehow, we got a giant rock stuck between the rear tandem wheels and she had to call my dad to come rescue us. This was back in the early 90s, so I don’t know how she called him. Maybe they devised a bat signal, only it was a ‘bago signal, and was a giant “W” in the sky. 

My dad had to deflate a tire to get the rock out-all in the pitch black, in the middle of nowhere, in a freak torrential downpour. 

I would think they’d have just given up while they were ahead at this point, but no.

Back when I was about eight or nine, we went on a week-long trip up the Oregon coast. While we were inching along an especially harrowing stretch of the road along the coast, my dad’s axle broke off the driver’s side tire. He was in our old truck, and it was carrying the weight of our 70s-era camper shell and 8 tons of Shasta soda. That was actually pretty scary to watch from the trailing vehicle (we could never just bring one vehicle or one immediate family. No, it was the entire extended family and every moving vehicle we owned. It was straight-up carnival caravanning). 

Only a small fraction of our family. You would feel us coming long before we arrived.

What I remember most about that particular event was that while we were waiting for the axle to be repaired, I ate an entire can of pizza-flavored Pringles, and for the rest of the trip, I was shunned by the entire family for being such an unmannerly pig.

We made it to the Sea Lion Caves-a real feat! My brother was pitching a fit in this picture. My mom is probably threatening him with his life.

One summer, I think it might have been the same year as the Pringles Incident, we got majorly stranded out in our bay on Coeur d’Alene Lake in upstate Idaho.

Not only were we known for our hooptie cars, our boats weren’t much better. Actually, my Grandma’s Party Barge was brand new 30 years ago, and we’re still riding it, hoping the pontoons don’t fall off.

I think this was pre-Party Barge. But, look at those beauties!

So, this particular summer we had a speedboat at the lake. I can’t remember now if it was my grandpa’s old boat or my uncle’s. Either way, it wasn’t working for some time and after some extensive repairs, my uncle thought he had it up and running. So, the entire family piled in, other than Grams, because she was the only smart one of the lot.

We got precisely halfway across the bay and the engine just died. No sputtering, just gone and died dead.

One second we were cheering, the wind was whipping through our hair as the boat jumped the wakes left behind by other boats, and the next, we are at a dead stop and the entirety of the boat’s passengers are silent. No one said it, but we all were thinking it: “Typical!”

We spend the next 10 minutes trying to flag down Grandma, who is just a blob of a figure, sitting on the deck of the cabin, we can barely make out. She does not notice us sitting in the middle of the bay, and if she does, she probably really enjoyed her afternoon of silence.

My grandma next to her pride and joy. I’m surprised any of us crazies even got to see the inside of this thing!

We end up finding an old splintery oar to row, row, row the boat painfully, slowly to the closest shore, which happened to be the one opposite of the cabin. We tie up at a forgotten dock, and trek it, on foot, back to the cabin. We had to go all the way around the bay, on the tiny road that barely had room for two cars, taking turns carrying my brother who, despite being told multiple times by our mother to put on shoes, did not put on his effing shoes. I’m pretty sure he came into contact with poison ivy that trip. Kinda serves him right, the dweeb.

We call it the “*Smith Curse”. It started many decades ago. If more than five family members assemble for a trip, the trip will go to shit. But, those are the only ones worth remembering. 

The other night, as my mom and I were laugh-crying about these crazy memories, we hear my dad’s voice, from the TV room say, “Don’t mention that damn Winnebago!”

*Not our real family name 

Camping Capers 

I went camping for the 4th of July weekend. As with everything that I get myself into, it was definitely not uneventful. Oh, no. 

I’m going to surprise you all by saying I’m not a real tough-cowgirl-up kind of chick.

Shocking, I know. 

First, I really hate to be dirty. Especially my feet. OMG. My feet. During the summer, when flip flops and sandals are standard, I soak, scrub, pumice, and moisturize my feet to the point of obsession. 

I can’t get in bed knowing my feet have God-knows-what on them, and so help me if even the tiniest speck of dry skin catches on the sheets. 

Ya’ll might as well commit me now. 

I couldn’t even. It took everything in me to pretend this wasn’t bothersome!

Next, I positively hate being hot and sweaty. If I can avoid ever being overheated during the summer, I’ll do whatever needs to be done. If that means blasting my AC and having a fan directed at me 24/7, so be it. I’ll pay an exorbitant electric bill for the sake of comfort any day.

Eventually, though, I do have to venture outside and away from my comfortable 68 degrees. When this happens, swamp ass and underboob sweat is just inevitable. At some point during the summer, I just resign myself to the reality that I’m going to sweat from every crack and orifice, and I just have to deal. 

Also, if I know getting to the bathroom is going to be a pain (i.e. needing to get dressed first, finding shoes in the dark, walking half a mile to the campsite toilet, etc.), I’ll have to go the bathroom precisely eight times in the night. 

Lastly, I’m a germaphobe. If there isn’t running water wherever I find myself to wash my hands precisely every hour on the hour, forget it.

As I mentioned before, this past weekend we went camping. It was at a gorgeous campsite in California. 


While there, the worst.possible.thing that could happen to a germaphobe happened. 

My darling, one-of-kind, beloved boyfriend put the roll of toilet paper-the very roll he took into the Sani-Hut (and don’t even get me started on Porta Poops), and almost certainly set on the pee-soaked floor*- in my clothes bag. 

JUST BURN IT ALL. 

So, if you just ignore all of the above paranoias, I’m a real joy to be with out in the good ol’ outdoors. 

Really. 

I’m being serious. 

Once I procure/figure out a way to wash my hands with actual soap, and if I just accept the fact that my face will be so greasy the bright sun will reflect off it all day long, I’m actually a real camping star. 

I’m of the belief that if something unsavory (like cleaning toilets or setting up camp in 90-degree weather) needs to be done, it’s better to just do it right away and as quickly and efficiently as possible. I can set up a tent, cot, and camp stove in record time if it means I get to sit in the shade during the rest of the camping experience. 

Also, I don’t complain too much. As long as I have s’mores and a summer beer to look forward to later, you will only hear me complain about the heat and my dirty feet a minimal amount of times. 

Mmm. There ain’t anything better than a beer in the fresh mountain air!

This past weekend did not deviate from the norm. There was just a little bit of complaining, and a whole lot of loving-being-outside-of-the-city. 


The part of this camping adventure I was most looking forward to was a swim in the pond, because I bought a donut floaty, and I simply couldn’t wait to flail my gorgeous bod atop it. 


The float and swim was simply glorious. I’m a fat chick, but I also grew up going to a lake cabin every summer of my life. I can swim like a fucking majestic mermaid.

It wasn’t until exiting the water, that I questioned our decision to take a dip in a pretty questionable pond. 

The great debate is still on going, because my boyfriend positively swears that what was all over my legs were little worm things. 

No, I don’t care that he dual majored in biology and microbiology, those little effers were leeches.

After positively freaking out and making him run back over the rocks in his bare feet to inspect and remove the vile creatures that were sucking my life blood straight out of my pudgy, translucent legs, my first thought was, “Where else are they?”

Me: “Are these like ticks?”

Him: “Uh, no. These worms aren’t anything like ticks.”

Me: “No, like, would they possibly be elsewhere on my body?”

Him: “OMG. You had one worm on your leg. The other thing was a twig or some dirt!”

Me: “Are you blind?! They were all over my legs!” 

Him: *rolls eyes clear back into his skull* “OK. Sure. They were all over your legs…”

Me: “OK. So, could they possibly have found their way to other parts?”

Him: “No, babe. I highly doubt it.”

Me: “Are you sure? Because if water can go through my bathing suit, maybe tiny water monsters can go through my suit, too?”

Him: “OMFG.”

So, after I was reassured that the worms (leeches) almost certainly didn’t find themselves in my more delicate regions, I felt mentally stronger and more ready for the next camping obstacle I’d likely face (this time it was being eaten alive by mosquitos and the TP incident). 

No more worms (leeches)!

The struggle is real for an outdoors-loving germaphobe freak. 

*After making it clear my disgust with his dirty deed, he swore up and down that he nestled the TP roll in his underwear and that he most certainly did not put it on the poop-caked floor. I feel just a tiny bit better. 

Sudden Summer Shame 

Hey! It’s been a minute, but I finally have a new Shopper Lottie post up. I guess I was too busy getting my summer body on. Haha. Just kidding. I was too busy figuring out how best to eat my latest addiction (Tru Whip and rainbow sprinkles) without gaining any more weight. Losing the Winter of ’02 Weight for Summer Campaign ended when I couldn’t quit Taco Tuesday. Ya’ll know. You know. 

Check it out here:

Sudden Summer Shame
I’d love to know if you have any good tips for cleverly disguising or proudly displaying your not-ready-for-summer-bod. Let me know in the comments over at SL! 

Why? No. Just Stop! 

So, this morning, on my way to brunch, I saw a dude, walking down the street, wearing a bathrobe. A bathrobe. Strangely, he did not appear to be nude under said robe. He was wearing a Led Zeppelin shirt and jeans. And a bathrobe. If it were winter, or chilly at all, maybe this wouldn’t be as weird, but it was 90 degrees. What would posses someone to:

A. Wear a bathrobe in public, and…

B. Wear a bathrobe in public in 90 degree weather? 

And, no, he was not a street person, he was talking on his iPhone 6. 

Like, did he think, “I may get lost going down the street, so, in case I’m lost well into the night, I better be prepared, by wearing…a nice, fuzzy, warm bathrobe”?

Except, this bathrobe wasn’t nice and fuzzy. It was colored shit brown, had numerous holes, and was adorned with curious stains, and I don’t even want to imagine the amount of porn that poor piece of terry cloth has seen. 

What possesses people to wear items of clothing in public that should never see the light of day? Additionally, and even more curiously, why do people wear winter weather items in the summer? 

I know you have a mad case of swamp ass in those black leather skinny pants, don’t even lie. And, who can even stand to be around the genius who sweats buckets in their Ugg boots and then takes them off, in a room with other people, like no biggie? Also, is it not common knowledge that if your head is hot, the rest of your body will be too? Why then all the beanies, people? Why???? 

Next person I see wearing a sweatshirt in the heat of another 90 degree day, I’m going to stop and ask about their clothing choice. I’ll pretend I’m a fashion writer in search of the latest trend. I’ll ask them why they chose a long-sleeved, fleece-lined, sweat factory, usually worn in the snow, on a day where most people try getting away with wearing next to nothing.

I have to know why. Do they not get hot? Does the heat not bother them? If so, what’s their secret? Is it a weight loss or cleanse thing? Are they going for boob and crotch sweat of epic proportions on purpose, to lose weight? Are they not of the human race? Were they sent here from a planet where the thermostat is always set to 68, and they are just cold, always? Fucking why? 

Also, I’m kind of tired of the “Wear Anything in Public Because This is America” trend. No, just because you have the right, you should not wear your sweat-stained, used-to-be-white negligee as a dress. We all know it’s not a dress, it’s from Suzy’s, and it’s for the bedroom. It’s not trendy, no one is envious of your attire, and your nipples are showing. Go put on an actual dress, mmmkay? 

If I start sweating just looking at you, you’re probably wearing a beanie or knee high boots with shorts. STOP THAT. TAKE IT OFF.

If my cheeks are flushed and I start sweating upon looking at you, it’s probably because I’m embarrassed for you, no one wants to see your beef curtains, hanging out of your shorts, swaying in the summer breeze. STOP THAT. PUT THEM AWAY. 

Well, I don’t really have much more to say after that. Good day. 

58 Saturdays

I mentioned in my last post that I have 58 Saturdays ahead of me (well, 56 now). This is completely a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because if I want to binge-watch Friends for 6 solid hours, there is not one thing stopping me. It’s a curse, because if I watch Netflix all day, I’m going to want to binge, not only on old sitcoms, but on Cheetos, Tillamook sharp cheddar (I can totally just eat right off the brick, no shame), an entire pan of Nutella brownies, and some watermelon (gotta get my fruit in). I am, in no way, embellishing. 

With no routine, all semblance of order and control goes out the window. A quesadilla at 2:00 AM sounds like a fine idea when you don’t have to get up for work the next day. Also, if I’m on the couch, it’s Mindless Eating Time, and that’s all there is to it. There is a lot of couch sitting on school breaks. I’ve ocassionally wondered if I were to purchase an immensely uncomfortable seating implement, if it would help. Like, two wooden rocking chairs, with no cushions, or just a body ball, one for me and one for my boyfriend. We would have to balance ourselves and our dinner every night. There would be zero lounging, and my posture would greatly improve. It’s an idea.

So, because I know that I have so much working against me, I’ve decided to go back to my tried and true Weight Watchers eating plan. I’ve decided that it’s the best kind of food plan for me. My problem is portion control. If you say, “On Paleo, you can eat all the veggies you want”, I will consider it a challenge, and you will find me polishing off a horse-sized bag of carrots. 

With WW, you have a certain allotment of points you can eat in a day. If you’re happy with iceberg lettuce for dinner, sure, have that S’mores Frappuccino, just as long as you stay within your points allowance. I’ve had those days before, and it didn’t take long to find that I better balance my meals better than that. With WW, you have to portion, weigh, and consider everything you put into your mouth. It’s a lot of work, but the control I feel counting my points makes me feel empowered. 

I’ve tried Atkins, Paleo, no-sugar, and I’ve tried Slim Fast (that lasted exactly one day) and yet, I keep going back to WW. The extreme diets where you are disallowed a single carb is completely unrealistic to me. There are going to be those days when you need a cookie. A REAL cookie, and shouldn’t that be OK? Why I give up on those diets is because they are too rigid and strict. I don’t respond well to the words, “can’t” and “no”.

Control is really what it’s all about. Because I have none of that, like at all, I thrive on counting my points and operating with some sense of control over what and how much I eat. I plan out my day, and count the points I can eat, and it’s usually so that I can “afford” my Skinny Cow salted pretzel ice cream bar after dinner. It’s not a crime, because I ate salad and chicken breast, and passed on the sugar-laden coffee drink at Starbucks. So, there! 

It’s all about finding a balance (aren’t I annoying, with my diet-know-it-all-ness?). I firmly believe that if you want to change your eating, and find a food plan option that you can stick to, it’s one in which you are allowed to cheat once in awhile. We are only human, and dammit if cake is not the best thing ever! I can’t live without cake, and the blessed Weight Watchers lets me have it (you get a 1 inch square for 12 points, but hey!) 

I am not just assuming that WW will work for me, as I’ve lost 40 pounds before on the program, and it was the easiest 40 pounds to lose, ever! I gained it all back when I became a teacher. The stress either drives you to drink or eat. Eating it was. 

  

The thinnest I will ever look on film, all thanks to Weight Watchers

Bad Cupcakes! 

Yesterday was the last day of school (Schools…out…for…SUMMER). I have exactly 58 Saturday’s ahead of me (more about that blessed dilemma later). I started my summer vacation off in a very positive, good-Samaritan way. Let me explain. 

Naturally, one of my students brought cupcakes to celebrate the last day of school (I’m not only known as a cupcake-lover on my blog). As it was the last day, my students were leaving early left and right. When we finally had our room cleaned up, things packed, and I finally participated in a Just Dance video for my students’ amusement (more on that later, too…), it was Cupcake Time. The 24 cupcakes were more than enough, there were 8 left. Of course, the student who brought them was fully planning on taking them home. I would like to make it amply clear that I would never stoop so low as to beg a nine-year-old for their leftover cupcakes. I’m not that far gone. 

The mad rush to collect all of their precious end-of-year goodies and give me hug after hug, coupled with their desire to get the hell out of school, made for a whirlwind ‘goodbye’ with my students. Yearbooks were left. Data folders, that they would have trashed anyways, were left. Their had-to-have, homemade letters from their friends were left. And, the cupcakes. They were left. Two, almost empty, boxes of vanilla cupcakes were left. I figured she would be back. I waited a few, anxious minutes. Guilt-ridden, I went outside, hopefully, albeit reluctantly, to try to find her. 3 minutes after the bell had rung, and it was a ghost town outside. “Lost” report cards, confetti, and papers littered the ground. All was still, but for a tumbleweed that blew across in the breeze. She was gone. They were mine. 

I felt a sudden internal glee that only fat people, who have an unhealthy love for baked goods, ever feel. I knew it was bad news that I now possessed 8 entire cupcakes, cupcakes topped with the sweetest confection of sugar ever created, but my unhealthy addiction and glee overwhelmed my sense of good judgement. 

If anyone saw me leaving school with all of my treasures, they surely videotaped it and uploaded it onto YouTube with the heading, “Watch Fatty Teacher Leave School and Almost Drop Two Boxes of Cupcakes Exactly 32 Times”. I can just see the comment section now: “Damn, she dropped her phone, purse, bag of whatever, and her keys, but she didn’t drop the cupcakes-no words”. That would have been the nicest thing said. 

When I finally got home, lugged in all of my shit, along with my prize, I felt victorious. I made it home, and not one cupcake was injured. 

My boyfriend was aghast that I brought two boxes of cupcakes home, as he shares my love (and obvious addiction) of anything remotely sweet. He, too, envisioned us sitting on the couch, in our fat pants, devouring them all. All he had to say was, “Babe…” and it all became clear. I have serious problems. We did NOT need 8 cupcakes, like at all. The cherry on top: my boyfriend then asked me, “Why didn’t you put them all in one box?” Good God. Not only am I fat, I’m a fucking genius too. 

So, to address how I began my summer vacation in a Good Samaritan way, I put all 8 cupcakes (in two boxes) out by the dumpsters in the alley, for the bums. Almost daily, we have homeless people digging in the dumpsters. All they ever find is moldy spaghetti leftovers and black bananas. Last night, one lucky vagrant came upon a gold mine. I’m such a saint. You’re welcome. 

Here is the proof:

  
And, the proof that our local homeless people have more smarts than a teacher. Whomever took the cupcakes likely transferred them all to one box. Doh! 

  
So, there you have it. I have started off my summer on a positive, healthy note (I won’t mention that I attended our school’s happy hour, devoured a food truck Philly cheesesteak, and ended the night with a Double Caramel Magnum-I can only give up so much!) 

Swamp Ass

This is what I want summer to represent:

The warm breeze tickles my toes as I lay beneath a swaying palm tree. With eyes closed, I can feel the coolness of the shade, and then the warmth of the sun on my eyelids as the palm’s branches dance with the sky. The air smells of pineapples and Coppertone sunscreen. A wave lazily laps the shore, and the repetitive sound soothes my soul, and calms my mind. I lazily fall in and out of sleep, unaware of time or reality. My toes find their way deep into the sand, where it’s cool and damp. I slowly make my way to the sea, through sand soft and white. My sun-kissed skin feels renewed as I plunge into the cool salt water. I float on my back and watch the clouds pass, as my life stands still. 

But, I am not rich and I can’t “summer” in some luxurious tropical paradise. 

So, this is my summer existence:

The sun’s rays beat down on me, without mercy. It’s 95 degrees, with zero humidity, but it feels like I am in a steam sauna located in the pits of hell. There is zero breeze, zero reprieve for even a second from heat so hot it feels like a wet blanket smothering me. Even in the shade, the heat harasses me, relentlessly. The AC in the car takes the entire ride home to cool my fresh-out-of-the-oven-baked-potato-on-wheels. The beater air conditioning unit in my apartment groans as it hesitantly puts out room-temperature air. Every fan is on, but they just idiotically blow hot air, and dust balls onto my damn Popsicle. I have been sweaty since exiting the shower, and I have asked myself every day, “Why even try to feel clean? Why shower?” The only moment I get a break from the repressive heat is during that glorious 2 hour span of time between 3:00 and 5:00 AM. I finally feel dry and slightly cool, and half human again, but it doesn’t last, the relief is never long enough. The sun is up again, without fail, and it’s the same unbearable existence as the day before, with no end in sight. 

Over-dramatic much? Yup. The AC in my classroom isn’t working, and for the better part of the day it was a balmy 82 degrees inside. I pretty much can kiss any semblance of a dry ass ‘goodbye’ for at least 3 months. For anyone who knows me personally, knows I run hot, and I hate the heat. Hate is not a strong enough word, but my brain is too overheated to come up with a better one. 

I know summer means all those cutesy things in every lame “meme” we are inundated with the second it stops snowing, but usually summer just means swamp ass to me. Unlike the rest of the world, coming into summer, I am not looking forward to the heat. A couple glorious months away from my classroom, I am elated about, but the hot part of summer really blows. 

I hate how my seat belt in my car is unusable after an hour in the sun. That little metal piece of shit is deadly. And the steering wheel? I’ve had to learn to steer without touching the bastard. I hate how I start sweating immediately after showering. I hate the feeling of a sweaty scalp and sweaty underboob. I hate how it’s too hot to even walk to the mailbox at 11 at night. How people run, or wear beanies in the summer make me wonder if aliens are already among us. If I could spend my summers in Antarctica, I would be happy. 

Despite the intense dislike I have for the sweltering temperature of summer, I do eventually accept that I will be sweaty and uncomfortable 24/7, and I start to enjoy the perks of lazy summer days. It just takes me a little to come around. After enjoying the first few days of freedom from my job, the heat seems like a pretty fair bargain.