By Betty Slade
My bags are packed and I am running away to join the circus. Well, not exactly, but I have been here before and speak with a level of authority on this topic. After months of planning, we are ready for our two-week family reunion and vacation.
In a matter of days, seven family members will set out on a 20-hour trip to Toledo, Wash. Once there, we will meet up with nine other family members, play for a week, then start our trek to northern California before heading home. Wait, did I mention that this will all be done RV style? Getting the picture?
Every good circus has a trapeze act. And, so, ours will be no different. There is no doubt in my mind that one of us will be swinging from the ceiling before we reach the Colorado/Utah border.
The family has agreed to leave all wild animals at home. That said, I’m sure the occasional bear or dancing pony will make an appearance. You get to experience the best and not so best of each other when confined for any period of time.
Our family has a showman, a flame-thrower and a boxer. The rest of us are just a bunch of clowns. Thankfully, our resident barker will keep us together in the center ring.
Fancy costumes are not needed for this traveling caravan. This family comes as is. Like a parade from the proverbial polka-dotted hatchback, we will file out one by one and take in every sight and sound.
The fun began at the dinner table when our children decided to celebrate our 60-year wedding anniversary. Then, the lockdown happened. You would think that would be enough to level any big dream. However, the more we were forced to stay inside, the more we planned our great escape. What started as a party for family and friends turned into a quest to see the great outdoors for anyone along for the ride.
I mentioned in the beginning, I have experience in the area of traveling shows. Twelve years ago, when one of our sons-in-law retired after 26 years in the military, my Sweet Al and I flew to Virginia, then traveled back across the United States with him, one of our daughters and their two children. One RV and six weeks later, we had memories for a lifetime.
Not even the recent hike in the price of gas will stop what we put in motion. Our fun in planning this time together had already begun. We’ve become consumed by the idea of bringing together our children, grandchildren and a nephew and his family.
How can you count the cost of a gallon of gas when you already know the priceless value of the experience you are about to have?
This family vacay will be a time of fun and laughter. And, of course, we will wear matching T-shirts that say, “Holy Toledo or Bust, 2021.”
News from my nephew’s wife said the town sheriff from one of the places where we will visit will remind us of Barney Fife. And, by the way, that same town will celebrate “Cheese Day” while we are there. There are plans to fish, hike, swim and tour. And that is just day one.
Packing has become the latest topic of our Sunday night family dinners. Between RVs, cabins and tents, everyone has to give a little. Our youngest daughter will take every single thing in her closet if we let her. Then there is our granddaughter who stages multi-million-dollar homes. I bet she would bring her sketch books, power saw and tool box if we let her.
Our theme: Come as you are, but single-handed else the train will leave the station without you. Living in close quarters requires a lot of flexibility, so there is no room for extra baggage.
Final brushstroke: It takes a lot to move this family, but when we do, there is no shortage of opportunity to enjoy. These moments may never come again, so we embrace them for what they are. Sometimes during family outings, we have to call in the lion tamer. That is OK. Having the experience of being part of this circus will be just too much fun to miss.
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