Family vacations are made for lifetime memories!  The Howell's just came off the first of two summer vacations for 2014.  A trip to visit cousins and see some sites on the East Coast.  We enjoyed the fantastic hospitality from our cousins and spent much time in lakes, rivers and bays, on boats and on docks, Civil War Battlefields and other tourist attractions.  Lot of truck stops for gas and bathroom breaks with the kids begging for "treats"!  (Ok, road trip food is rather tasty!)  You can't help but look at all the neato travel gadgets at the Pilot Travel Stores!  And think "Do I need that???  Because that's pretty cool.  My personal favorite was the the plug in snack refrigerator with the clear door.  I can just picture that mini bar in our van!  NO pun intended, it was really cool!"  

We stayed in a few motels along the way and got pretty good and decamping the vehicle and setting up for the night at each stop.  Wayne and the boys did haul the stuff in, but it was up to me to arrange the bags, gather dirty clothes and arrange the toiletries and food, and find all the many chargers and power strips for everyone's electronics and not have the room look like a Wal-Mart exploded.  (Motels really need more accessible plugs!)  And then in the morning, pack it all up and arrange back into the van.  We did leave a few things along the way, but thankfully it all got mailed back to us.

I think back at my own childhood and the many long summer road trip vacations we took all over Texas and the United States, first in our 1970 Sunset travel trailer and then in the 1980 Terry camper.   Back in those days, nobody wore seatbelts and sleeping in the back dashboard was a thrill!  One of cars that we pulled the 1970 Sunset, was a 1973 Chevrolet Impala.  70's Golden glory with stitched vinyl bench seats.  My brother and I would ride in the back seat, sometimes fighting with each other and crossing the "Line of Death" imaginary boundary between us and sometimes getting along famously and singing songs for miles that would irritate the heck out of our parents all the while leaning forward over the front seat.  Every now and then our mom would have enough and yell "Sit back" and ram an elbow in our direction!   By 1980, we had a Suburban and my brother and I each had our own bench seats which was a major peacekeeper!

We saw much of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama during those years.  Yellowstone, Big Bend, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain and Smoky Mountain National Parks, and many state parks and KOA's.  Museums, historical places, nature, etc. were all things we saw.  But more importantly, was our times together as a family on those road trips.  Playing Skip-Bo on the table in the camper with Mom making Jiffy Pop popcorn on the stove, campfires with our fellow campground vacationers, Dad helping us build that impromptu log cabin in the Grand Tetons (that was truly great!) and going exploring in the campgrounds on our bikes.  In the mornings, my brother and I would grab a can of apple juice and go outside to play.  Better be out of the camper so Mom could put her makeup on because you didn't dare move around and shake the camper during her morning ministrations.

And the time the 1973 Impala backseat caught on fire because of a malfunctioning tailpipe and my brother and I had been banished from hanging over the front seat because our parents couldn't handle us anymore as we made the final push toward home.  I think I remember the AC wasn't working well and Dad had fashioned a cardboard conduit to funnel the air into the car and we were leaning over to get cool.  Dad pulled over when he saw me turning green and Mom ran to the camper grabbing pots and pans and filling them with water while Dad yanked the smoking backseat out.  There was all kinds of toys that were burned up that had fallen into the seat cracks.  Now those are MEMORIES!  

Fast forward to our family vacations.  Much different times, but still good family togetherness.  When the kids were little we had the portable DVD player.  Was against it at first, because I thought it took away from family time, but as the screaming and toys sailing through the air ensued, we decided it was the best invention ever. Now the boys spend hours playing their video games in the car and we have to remind them to come up for air and look out the window at the world passing by.  Time will pass and they will be adults who are no longer interested in going on these family trips.  So we create our own family's memories and savor our time together.  

Here are some pics from family vacations past present.  Summer is going fast and we have one more vacation planned with our friends from Sweden coming to visit.  The Plan is to see Utah and the country between Houston and there.  Stay tuned as more memories are made!


The Ft. Sumter souvenir photo!
Caleb and Weston with a Union soldier during a weapons firing demonstration at Petersburg National Battlefield
A State Line picture!
Eating dinner in Charleston after the Ft. Sumter tour.
1975 - Kerrville State Park.  And look what book we are reading!  Golden Nature Guide Reptiles and Amphibians!  
Circa 1979 - We were fascinated by the snow (in summer!) in the Rocky Mountains.  This was THE 1973 Golden Chevrolet Impala complete with a tiny snowman on the hood.
Another circa 1979 photo.  Gotta love the 70's hair and fashion!  
A classic state line photo!
 

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    Kimberly Howell is a devoted wife, mother and daughter.  She loves her boys and man!  And of course, her many critters. Her professional life involves working with students with disabilities and being a pet sitter.

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