01.14.10: Disney, Part Deux

I don’t know why, but I can never say Part Two. I always have to say Part Deux. Somehow I think it’s funny. Bear with me (grrrrr) - now that’s funny. 

So we’re packed, the car tires are strained from the weight of the crap in the trunk and we’re ready to roll! 

Memo to me, memo to me: burn that mocking countdown calendar when we get back.

As my Dad would say – and as I’m telling you now - “You had better tinker NOW cause we’re not stopping unless we have to.” And by “have to” he meant the fuel light had to be glowing bright or your eyes had to have turned yellow. In some cases we had to petition Mom to reason with “General Patton” and make him stop. I’m not sure he ever said no to that woman but I think that had more to do with her “children have smaller bladders” reasoning. Yeah Mom!!

The first leg of our vacation was Nashville to somewhere around the Tifton / Valdosta, Georgia area. I didn’t realize until just now – when I Yahoo mapped it – that the first leg is like 6 ½ to 7 hours. UGH! 

So I had (have) my pillow, a blanket, a bag full of stuff to do – compliments of mom - and my plastic drink holder hooked onto the door with a cold Pepsi. We were a Pepsi family. 
Wubba and me...Wubba and I...our...our mission was implied: sit in the back seat and entertain yourself for a while. 
Let me get the "story ball" rolling by telling you about the time my Dad almost wrecked the car because I was entertaining myself - at his expense - and it was all my Mom’s fault. In my “to do” bag was a Chinese Paper Yo Yo. Remember these things? 

Well I was playing with in the back seat just whipping it up to the front in between Mom and Dad. Can you see where this story is going? My dad had enough and said “Caryn Diane, if you hit me with that thing so help me...” No sooner did he say that and I flicked it towards him. But this time...this time...I hit him in the corner of the eye. I feared for my life that day. I can’t remember what happened after that but that fear...has stayed with me all these years. 

Gene chose a safer route. First, he had binder with loose leaf paper in it….I can’t believe I’m telling you this….and starting from the next available number he would write down how many semi trucks he saw. He did this every trip we ever went on. And when I say he would "write it down" I mean he would write this:


This is apparently what made his world go round and kept him entertained for hours - oh, and he gave us status updates....cause you know we needed those.
My parents could and did endure many things about our quirky personalities but the line in the sand was drawn when Gene took his shoes off. That boy had the smelliest feet known to man. He would try to be sneaky about it but as soon as that stench reached the front seat mom rolled the windows down to air out the worst of it, dad declared he had no idea how that smell was even possible and I just dry heaved. 

The second thing Gene did was not really entertaining himself  - but instead acting as Dad’s "co-pilot". Mom was inevitably engrossed in a book or sleeping so she couldn’t possibly help him. 
Admission here: I did not fall far from my mother’s tree. If I’m a passenger in your car I actually feel sorry for YOU. When my butt hits the seat it’s like kryptonite to Superman – I can’t stay awake. I literally wake long enough to tell you I have to pee again, or I’m thirsty. I feel reading a book is just rude and dismissive. Somehow sleeping is not…in my mind.

So Gene was there to help dad…and he knew it was time to help when dad adjusted himself in the seat, perked up and said “Ok sports-fans (dad's signature phrase) we’re getting close. Be on the lookout for (insert hotel name here)”. Gene would put his binder away and start reading the billboards - out loud.
“Kentucky Fried Chicken – This Exit – Turn Left”
“McDonalds - Next Exit - Ahead 2 Miles On The Right”
“Let’s see….Stuckey's – Caryn do you need to do a bathroom inspection?” 
(I’ll tell you about my oddities in a second.)
“Holiday Inn – Exit 63 – Turn Right…what are we looking for dad?”
“A Howard Johnson’s, Gene”
“Marriott Hotel – Exit 75 – no that’s not it”

And so on and so on. 
I have to admit I was just as quirky. See, I had this thing for checking out bathrooms. I would report back to the family if they were clean or not. In my head this was a “contribution” to the trip - but realistically I was the only one capable of doing this because I was the one always asking to stop. 
Given the choice, I wanted to stop at Stuckey's bathrooms. Why I have no idea. Maybe it was the tempting gift shop PACKED with stuff I longed for but wasn’t willing to spend my own money on. 

I always tried to sucker mom into getting something. “Oh mom look at this lady made of hot pink...isn’t it pretty? Shouldn’t we get this commemorative glass plate or genuine silver spoon for the house?? Oh and we can’t leave without getting a pecan roll, can we?”  Turns out we could leave without getting any of those things. 

I remember thinking – why don’t we have stuff like this in our house - Stuckey’s was clearly a shop with quality goods. How could they not see that??? As I got older I realized - CAUSE MY PARENTS HAD TASTE - that’s why we didn’t have stuff like that in our house. I still stop to browse when I take trips down I-75. It's a Stuckey-lovers haven but their glory days are indeed gone.

Let me just say that the pinnacle of that Stuckey’s stop was when I came out from doing my bathroom inspection (a simple pass or fail system) to find dad in line for food - my heart would skip a beat. Imagine a 10 year old child in her best "Will Ferrell in Elf when he finds out Santa is coming to visit" voice....HOT DOG’S!!! WE’RE GONNA HAVE HOT DOGS AND FRENCH FRIES!!! I was simply that excited and I still can’t explain why. 

As you can clearly was the place to see and be seen. Those saucy eyes say it all!

Here is one fuzzy memory I have from when we were a few years older making the same trek...

Mom was driving which meant I was her co-pilot. I had earned that position when I was efficient enough to change out cassette tapes, get the driver a beverage, read the AAA TripTik and set up a meal so that it was easily accessible by the driver. It was tough, but I was
that good and we traveled that much...and I was/am that delusional. 
We had stopped for a bucket of KFC - cause nothing says “have a car wreck please” like a bucket of greasy chicken you eat with your hands. 
Well Mom asked Dad (in the back seat) to put the rest of the bucket in the back cause we were running out of room in the front. Dad comically said “No way” Mom handed him the bucket. See how that works in our family? In between my dad’s snickers and fake grumbling he throws this piece of chicken up front which smacks the dashboard then slides onto the floorboard. 
Gene and I were looking at each other like - oh she’s gonna killlllll hiiiiiimmm...worse she’s ‘gonna pull the car over’! 
What makes it memorable for me is the fact that she picked the chicken up and in between her snickering and mumbling (“throw chicken at me...I’ll show you what chicken is...”) she threw it back! Then they both broke out in guffaw...with Gene and I still sitting there, jaws dropped and eyes wide, thinking - did that just happen?

Another memorable meal experience was getting to stop at The Varsity in Atlanta - "WHAT'LL YA HAVE?!?!" is screamed at you. You must experience it at least once in your life. It's a classic landmark... and it's fun...and the food is the greasiest around. Not to be missed!!!

To close out, let me just say that there was always a certain amount of excitement that came with staying in a hotel as a child (which I still get today). Checking in, unloading the overnight bag, being old enough to run to the drink machine or go get ice by yourself, going swimming late at night, staying up to watch Johnny Carson. The excitement that next morning would bring of being just hours away from was almost too much!! I am most thankful to my parents for helping make these memories. 
Stinky feet, counting semi trucks, chicken fights and bathroom inspections. It’s what made our vacations memorable. We are indeed a silly family.
Part Three - well that’s going to be all about general memories at Disney which will center around our family and experiences we had. I can’t wait to share!
Thanks for stopping by and See Ya Real Soon!

PS The images are directly from the Stuckey's website referenced in the blog...they tell more of a story than I ever could!


  1. Anonymous1/15/2010

    hahahahahahahha!! You made my day. Can't believe I've only been to the Vasity once and marked it off my list as a dud. really isn't where you are, it's who you're with that makes the difference.

  2. Anonymous1/15/2010

    Spending five hours in a car with my family (Jazz Man, Sleepy Woman and Stinky Feet)and you'd think it was fun too!!