More than a year ago, my wife and I decided to take the plunge and plan a trip to Disney World for the whole family. I looked at the money, and decided it was impossible, as I typically do. But my wife is a believer. She assured me that we could make it happen. I began squirreling away a little bit every month, sometimes a little less sometimes a little more sometimes none at all until we had enough to start paying for stuff. With every payment my blood pressure went up, and my wife would comfort and reassure me…or lose patience with me.
Now here we are nearing June 3rd, and it looks like we will be able to manage it. You must first understand, that no matter what vacation it is, for what amount of money, I get this way. I’m awful. I scowl anytime someone even mentions a trip. I cast a negative pallor on the planning of all family trips. A while back, my little brother suggested that I blog this trip and I grinched at him. “John, that will be very boring. It would go like this. We drove forever. Got there. Waited for hours in line in the sweltering heat and humidity to ride three rides. And drove back home flat broke.” He backed off with the idea.
A few days after that, my son, perhaps out of loyalty to me, said, “You know what? I’m not really that excited about this trip.” That’s when I knew that I’d made a big mistake. This trip is greater than any trip we’ve taken, not only in scope, but in timing. My son is done with high school and my daughter’s about to be done. They both have jobs. They both have their own plans. I’m not ruling out the possibility of future family vacations, but this represents the end of an era for the Wilson-Burnses. So, I’m turning it around.
Last night my wife suggested something that she has never suggested before, that I blog. “David, I think you should write a blog and call it Wally World or Bust.” I immediately reserved the URL wallyworldorbust.wordpress.com. We love the movie Vacation and Wally World is the fictitious Disneyesque park destiny. So I’m going to make it up to my family. It’s time for vacation dad to kick in.
Every time my parents took me and my brothers on a trip, my father transformed. He was no longer a pastor, dealing with the problems of his parishioners 24/7 . He was no longer a worrier or a disciplinarian. He was Vacation Dad!!!! Tu Daaaaa!!! Vacation dad had surprises. He would walk out of the gas station with a handful of bubble gum and throw them back to us in the station wagon. He would stop at unexpected places to see the sights. And although my mother packed food, he would buy us McDonald’s once or twice and let us eat as many fries as we wanted. In the morning, he would sneak out to get a coffee and a paper and return with little powdered donuts and orange juice in time for us to wake up. He was in charge. Mom could read and relax or when John was born, tend to him while dad took care of absolutely everything else. He managed the campsites (we camped on the road). He drove. He managed the budget. He would even cook. My dad cooked mac n cheese, ranch beans, and canned ravioli all of which I love to this day. And he was funny and playful. Most of all, he was there. When you have a dad who’s duty is to the church, it’s hard to get time with him. But when we had him, we had him.
I found that as a father, I was the same way from the moment we pulled out of the driveway on our first family vacation; a vacation dad. My wife had never grown up taking family vacations. She was so surprised on our first family vacation when I saw a sign for a caverns tour and pulled right over to treat us to it. She was very confused. We had a schedule. We should arrive at a specific time. I asked why. “Is someone expecting us? No! This is all about the Wilson-Burnses! We stop when we want to stop! Onward!”
Then she understood, and she loved it. And that’s what my children know. They know that I will him and haw, grimace, groan, fret, and sigh until it’s time to go, but when I get behind the wheel I am a man transformed. But why wait until June 3rd to be excited? I will spend this month getting prepared and pumped up. My son will never remember saying he wasn’t all that excited. He will take my lead, and so will everyone in my house.
Before we had kids, a wise man who had raised a family gave me a word of advice. He said “You need to make a commitment to take a vacation every year no matter what and no matter how cheap. It could be any little thing from Disney to a camping trip nearby, but you must do it. You only get so many of those, and you will never regret it.” And it’s true. It’s been worth the bother and fuss and money since our first family vacation over a decade ago. We’re going to make this one count. When the day arrives, look for a travel log of pictures, stories, experiences, and thoughts.
To Wally World or bust!!!!!