In April 30 IssueBy Wade Daffron, Columnist
I realize Spring Break was almost a month ago, but it's taken me that long to recover.
For you see, the Daffron family actually took a vacation.
Now, don't get the wrong idea-we had to scrimp, save, dig under car seats for change, etc.
We were fortunate enough to find some VERY reasonable room rates (off season, you know) at hotels on the Carolina coast. (And to offset costs, we stayed with family one night.)
To complicate things, we attempted to combine a family trip with the celebration of birthdays for two of the younger kids, Kate and Drake.
So, let's see what we're dealing with: Family trip, two birthdays, hundreds of miles to drive, a car of questionable stability, and a weather foreceast predicting both beautiful weather and torrential storms.
We left Russell County on a Sunday morning after unintentionally missing church (NOT a good thing).
My calculations found us being on schedule-if you consider being about three hours behind "on schedule", but that's pretty much normal for us.
Not long into our trip a wave of melancholy washed over me.
Crazy as it sounds, a "smell" from my childhood was haunting me.
It was "lip gloss."
As a young pup, there as nothing as alluring as the scent of lip gloss.
It was pretty big back then, and the glimpse of a set of shiny lips, or the smell of that permeating smell really did it for me.
For you see, in my warped reasoning, if a girl wore lip gloss, that meant she liked to kiss.
Which lead to My First Vacation Incident.
As I drove along, with screaming kids in the back seat, and a snoring wife in the passenger seat, my mind drifted to days-gone-by, and images of girls with big hair with bangs, bolo ties, and leg warmers carefully applying lip gloss to pursed lips.
Then the car drifted...off the road.
The sound of the tires hitting gravel jolted me (and Wifey) awake.
"What's wrong?" she screamed. "Did you fall asleep?"
(I hoped no one noticed all the neatly-packed luggage and such had spilled onto the floor, and onto the kids when I jerked the car back onto the road.)
"No, no," I protested. "Say, do you smell lip gloss?"
"WHAT?" she asked.
"Nothing...I just smell lip gloss," I sheepishly replied.
"OH!" she said, "I have a surprise."
"No way!" I thought to myself. Was Wifey about to slowly and seductively apply lip gloss?
"Look," she said, "I put these new air fresheners in the air conditioner vents."
Instead of the sweet memory from my youth, what I had been smelling was a industrial strength solution to mask the odor of leaking antifreeze, burning oil, roak kill, and other scents which emanate from a car full of weary travellers.
Our first stop (not county rest room emergencies and the seemingly, every five minute chicken nuggets requests) was in Asheville NC.
At a relative's house, the kids enjoyed playing with their cousins, were treated to a birthday cake (one down), but would...not...sleep...at..all.
I'm reasonably sure I, myself, slept seven minutes, and that was only after I decided to get out of bed and lay in the floor, half-in, half-out of the nearby, bathroom doorway (I don't undertand it, either).
The next day found us heading to Carolina Beach, where I was shocked (and thankful) to find us staying at the nicest (and tallest) hotel in the whole city.
I actually teared-up when I saw our ocean-front view, and kept waiting for someone to knock on the door, and say, "We're sorry, we gave you the wrong room."
Having arrived fairly late in the day (with the false smell of lip gloss lulling me into a daze), we discussed, but decided against playing on the beach.
I had fully intended to "sleep in" (DUH-vacation!), but was awoke by the sound of...thunder.
"What the what?!" I shouted as I lept out of bed and "threw up the sash" (as they say in "The Night Before Christmas,").
A wall of grey clouds, mist and fog greeted me, and rain shot sideways across the beach.
Everyone eventually awoke, considered the weather situaion, and a great debate/discussion broke out over if we would visit "one of the world's single, largest collections of snakes and reptiles," or a Children's Museum.
GPS "Children's Museum."
I'll have to say this: Wilmington, NC is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen in my life. Even when it's raining.
What's one of the great things about the city?
They have a really awesome Dollar Tree-which we visited a total of six times in two days. (No Mighty Dollars around there, dang-it!)
And what was in the really awesome Dollar Tree?
A really awesome "freezer section" in which was stock the really awesome "Dairy Fresh" brand of both chocolate and regular milk.
(I'm not one to brag, but I cleaned at least eight, empty milk cartons out of the car when we got home-and those the only the ones I drank.)
So, yeah, we got the "tourist" thing down pretty well.
Of course, there's nothing like being in a beach-front motel room when there a literal monsoon, but we became pretty industrious.
Not only did we discover "Animal Cops" on TV, but more importantly...THE HOTEL POOL.
It wasn't very big, and wasn't very fancy, but it was heated, and once the kids got in it they would...not...get...out.
Several times, I dragged our youngest daughter, Izabella, soaking wet and screaming from the pool to the hotel room, where, oddly enough, the kids would want to take a hot bath.
It was at the pool where I suffered My Second Vacation Incident.
OK, here's the deal...
I was in the pool, and these three, "somewhat" clothed, young women suddenly appeared.
These bikini-busters basically had a string across their "top part," and a string across their "bottom part."
I thought this would be a good time to demonstrate my underwater swimming skills.
I dove underwater, swam the length of the pool, and popped up out of the water in front of them.
It was at this moment I realized I COULDN'T SEE!
I also realized God had apparently "smote" me-punished me for oogling over the Poolside Pandoras.
Would I be blind forever?
Or...had a simply lost a contact?
But now I couldn't see out of my right eye-which was now burning with chlorine from the pool.
"Hey dad," my son Drake asked. "Are you winking at those girls?"
"NO!" I barked. "I can't see."
"You mean you can't see those girls?" he asked innocently. "They're 'woooo-hooooo'". (Whatever that means.)
I thought it best to retreat back to the safety of the room, and I once again carried a wet, screaming child to the elevator, and sat watching "Animal Cops" with one eye open.
(Next week-A Fine, Gourmet Meal (in a box), and "Was that sun block, or tanning lotion?"