Vacations from my childhood were, by definition, trips to the beach. Our family would load up the old burgundy station wagon with the wood-panel trim, and the tiny little third-row seat and haul it down U.S. 70 to Atlantic Beach. We spent our weeks at the old Iron Steamer hotel, where my parents always seemed to be able to secure a room with an oceanfront view. Most of the swimming we did, to be honest, was in the hotel pool. The ocean was for fishing. And the Iron Steamer pier, now sadly demolished, was a big-time hang out for me, my brother and father.
Vacations these days are a little less exciting.
As you read this, I’m wrapping up a week off work and it will have been a hectic one, to say the least.
I did manage to squeeze a promise from my wife that, on at least one day, I could sleep until I wake up.
To be honest, though, that was probably the worst day of the vacation. When I sleep until I wake up, I don’t generally come to until about 10 a.m. When that happens, invariably, I’ve slept too much and my back hurts.
Don’t ask me why, but more than eight hours of sleep is guaranteed to do me in.
But more than that, if I wake up at 10 a.m., the day is half gone and I’ll spend the rest of the day bemoaning the fact that I should have gotten up at a decent hour and done this or done that.
The list of things to do at home seems never-ending.
This vacation, part of the work will include buying a new truck.
My Ford Ranger gave up the ghost last Wednesday as I was returning from a meeting in Garner. Two blocks from my office in Zebulon, the engine... well, she just stopped.
That truck, though it never rose to the level of having its own name, was a dear companion to me. When we bought it in 2003, my children were 7 and 5. They loved the fact that there was a back seat. That was their world. No parents allowed.
Of course, no parents could fit back there.
Over time, my children grew to the point where they didn’t fit back there very well either, and they grew to disdain going anywhere with me in the truck, unless there was just one of them.
That left me and my truck on our own. It became my refuge, almost like a home away from home. Empty Mountain Dew bottles and potato chip bags filled the back floorboard along with never less than half a dozen newspapers.
When my friend Martha Jeffreys at Fleet Fuels in Wendell called me to say my truck was no more, I thought wistfully about the long life we had shared: 10 years. 244,000 miles. And, never a major repair. That truck was my friend until the end. It never nickel and dimed me the way so many aging vehicles did. There was never any question about repairing it or trading it in. It just started every time I turned the key. Until it breathed its last.
Merle Haggard’s old song about a Ford or a Chevy that would last 10 years like it should must have been written about that old truck.
Yes, it’s vacation time. No, there won’t be much relaxing.