By Joe Rector

Most folks turn giddy when they are heading out for a vacation.  To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of them. I enjoyed them once we arrived, but something always seemed to happen to make those trips less than fun.

Our family took only one vacation trip. Daddy drove us to Florida for a week; we played at the beach while he stayed in the house and swept sand out the front door. He appeared in a bathing suit, walked into the ocean, and promptly went back to the place we were staying. That was the only time I ever saw him in a swimsuit or in a body of water.

On the trip home, I sat in the backseat of our ‘62 Chevrolet and baked as the plastic covers stuck to my body. I looked out the window and watched a seagull flying beside our car. It suddenly dipped its left wing and released a huge poop bomb. The disgusting stuff splattered on my arm and streaked my white t-shirt. The long ride home was no fun.

Yearly trips to the mountains with the Burns family were always fun. We spent hours of each day swimming in the cold mountain water. Dives from “the rock” were dangerous because jagged rocks set close to the one from which we dove. Somehow, none of us was ever injured from those dives.

Other adventures were scarier. A hike to Ramsey Cascade and attempted jump across water to keep my tennis shoes dry left me sitting on the edge of the falls and looking for someone to help pull me back safely. By the way, my tennis shoes were soaked and blistered my feet on the walk back home.  Riding a small waterfall in the river on another occasion almost ended in my drowning.

Amy, the kids, and I have taken several trips during the summers. One trip to Gulf Shores didn’t go so well. I hauled most things in a container and strapped it on the top with bungy cords. It blew of as we made a side trip to see the naval vessels in Mobile. Luckily, we’d emptied the thing, and all that was lost were several pairs of dirty underwear. On another trip we flew to Florida, but the airlines managed to lose our luggage.

A couple of years ago, we traveled to Ilse of Palms. It was one of the nicest places we’d ever stayed. All went well until Tuesday night. Amy began to get sick and spent the rest of the night throwing up. We thought she’d eaten some bad seafood, but by Wednesday morning, I decided to go to the emergency room at the local hospital. As it turned out, Amy had appendicitis. The doctor planned to take it out on the following Monday. However, by Friday, Amy was so full of antibiotics that she had no pain and felt fine. We decided to return to Knoxville and go to the hospital there. Of course, we drove through a thunderstorm that dumped water so heavily that traffic drove about 20 mph. Then a wreck backed up traffic for miles. We arrived in Knoxville at 11:30 p.m. The doctor in Knoxville was a bit more concerned about the appendicitis and performed surgery the next morning.

This year, Amy and I decided to drive to Navarre Beach. Our son Dallas volunteered to keep Sadie, and we were on the road by 8:00 a,m. for the seven-hour trip. We ran into long delays on I-65, and by the time we drove the last long leg not on the Interstate, 10 hours had elapsed. We rented an umbrella and chairs from one company. The owner brought the items strapped to a dolly. Each day, I would have to load the stuff, wheel it back to the room, and climb a set of steps to store the items. The first day, one of the metal rods broke and the umbrellas was blown inside-out.

We looked for a better route back home, but even the shortest one is 500 miles. I’d thought the trip would have been fewer miles. Prayed that no wrecks would occur to have us sitting still for hours on our return drive. Even though I had a good time sitting on the beach and reading or listening to Keb’ Mo, the part I like most is always pulling into the driveway at home.