Because of today’s historic earthquake in the DC area, I am reminded of many crazy family vacations, some of which were in Washington DC. This is the first installment of the The Appleberry Vacation Memories blog series.
Every year my family would take a family vacation. These vacations always had to start or end up in Ohio, where my mom’s family is from and every year they were full of excitement and drama, none of which were planned, but we did some exciting site-seeing as well.
Disclaimer: All of the events described are seriously how I remember the vacation taking place. Every member of the Appleberry family probably have a different version of the story except for Nerdboy who has no childhood memories at all.
On this episode of the Appleberry Vacation Memories, we had been to Virginia Beach. I was 12 and Nerdboy was 5. Our experiences are Virginia Beach are an entirely different post but the thing you need to know is that along the way we had realized that our mini-van overheated anytime it wasn’t on the highway.
I remember we were driving along the highway trying to navigate our way AROUND DC. DC was NOT on the vacation plan. My dad was driving and my mom was reading the map and giving directions. There was a little arguing and miraculously we ended up in downtown DC. (Mom should not have been reading the map)
The key to this story is that our van would overheat every time we weren’t on the highway moving along at a fast pace. Another key to the story is that I was a very literal kid. We seemed to hit every red light in DC while my mom continued to look at the map (bad idea) to try to get us back to the highway. My dad (Usually a calm and collected individual) started saying in a slightly panicked voice, “The van’s going to blow up!” over and over again. In my literal brain, I was picturing our van blowing to smithereens and pieces of the Appleberry’s falling all over the capitol. I was the family worrier so I sat in the back and just prayed and prayed that our van would not actually blow up causing us all to die a miserable death.
This frantic craziness of red lights, dad yelling, mom yelling back, me near tears while praying my little heart out, not sure what Nerdboy was doing, went on for quite awhile until Dad abruptly pulled the van over into the first spot he could find. He jumped out of the car as smoke billowed from the hood.
Several men came up and started yelling at my dad that he was parking in an illegal spot and he needed to move. My dad told them that if they wanted to move the van they could but it was going to blow up. I was just trying to get out of the van that was about to “blow up” as fast as possible.
I’m not sure how everything went down at this point but we found out that the men yelling at my dad were secret service because we were literally less than a block from the White House and my dad kept saying that his van was going to “blow up”! (Thankfully this was way before 9-11 or else my dad would have been carted away and we would only get to visit him every so often.) We looked across the street and, lo and behold, there was the White House! We hadn’t even noticed it in all the Appleberry craziness that was happening.
The misunderstanding about the exploding van got figured out very quickly and the White House gardener was nice enough to lend us a bucket of water to help our hot van. We went to a McDonald’s for awhile to let the van cool down. I remember expecting to see Bill Clinton walk in because I had heard somewhere that he like to jog and frequent McDonald’s.
After awhile, our van cooled off and we were on our merry way. We, somehow, found the highway but I think there were more raised voices and threats of the van blowing up before we actually hit the highway. I’m not sure where we headed next but I’m sure there was another adventure waiting for us.
Oh how I miss those family vacations!