Monday Memories: Vacation? Or Hell? But James Van Der Beek was there!

Everyone’s got at least one “vacation” that wasn’t a vacation at all. I, of course, have several. My mom probably thinks that I’m going to write about the worst vacation ever, which is also known by me as the worst Thanksgiving ever…but I’ll save that gem for another time. (Love you mom!)

This is one that we all look back on and think. Wow. Just freakin’ wow.

I was 15. A sophomore in high school. It was Spring Break, and we were going on vacation! We had gone to Florida the previous Spring Break (my 3rd visit of now 8 trips to the Sunshine State). That was the magical trip in which we named our dog, Buck, where we ventured through Disney World, traveled to the west coast and spent half our vacation beach side. My sophomore year, though, no Disney  World or beachy ocean view for us. There’d be lots of sand…but no beach.

I heard they called it The Desert.

We were off to Arizona, land of the sun. No rain. No snow. No oceany watery goodness. Just sand. Lots and lots of sand. Mom’s best friend had moved out there with her family, so we were going to visit them. Even at the airport, Brian (my brother), Dad and I stared longingly at the Florida departure gates.

Mom had heard about the beauty of Arizona, and was the only one who was really excited about the trip.

Here are the highlights:

  • I had given up pizza for lent. On the Friday night we were there, my family decided that it was a brilliant idea to order pizza for dinner at the hotel. I walked to the Cracker Barrel next door so I could pick up food that I could eat.  The smell of pizza made me wish I wasn’t Catholic.
  • When Mom and I went to breakfast one morning, James Van Der Beek, or his damn well doppelganger was sitting a few tables away from us…I kept staring, and he even smiled at me. (This was at the very beginning of Dawson’s Creek, when all of my peers were obsessed with the teen heartthrob).
  • That same day, some of my parents’ friends from Chicago were also on vacation in Arizona, and came to our hotel to spend the afternoon poolside with us. Imagine my surprise when James Van Der Beek was someone’s son! I was this awkward 15 year old, talking to this beautiful older boy. I’m almost sure I made an ass of myself.
  • After getting a raging sunburn during the aforementioned super hot poolside afternoon, it rained. And then it snowed. IN FUCKING ARIZONA. Where it never rains. Let alone snows. Especially when one is sunburned.
  • I climbed a mountain. Yes. Me. Klutzy. Crazy. Falls down like a boss. Me. I got all the way to the top of Camelback Mountain. I was a proud Chrissy. I rocked. Even though I only had sandals…and had to wear socks with them. And looked ridiculously stupid. I climbed a flippin’ mountain. And then I got all the way down the mountain. And there were stairs for the last leg of the journey. And at the very bottom stair…I sprained my fucking ankle. Like a boss.
arizona camelback mountain

Note the sandals with socks. I brought an entire suitcase full of shoes and not one pair of gym shoes…

What about you, Bloggie Friends? Any vacay memories that you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear them!

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Monday Memories

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Glamour Shots

Confession Friday: Yes, this happened.

As promised, more ridiculously embarrassing photos are provided in this post.

When my cousin, Rachel, and I were 7 and 11 respectively, our aunt in Kansas invited us out to visit her. Our first vacation without parents! This sounded promising. After weeks of preparation, shopping, and excitement, we were loaded onto a Southwest plane at Midway Airport (back in the days when you could accompany people all the way to the gate without a ticket.)

Aunt B picked us up and drove us to her home. We were greeted by her dog and our uncle, and told that our older cousin may stop by to say hi. It was all so much fun. Aunt B had planned all sorts of great things to do during our stay. We would go to her makeup store, and visit her salon (she owned her own cosmetics line, a store, and a hair salon), and she wanted to take glamour shots of us. Barbizon here we come!

So we went to the shops and got our hair done at the salon. For the first time in both Rachel’s and my lives, we had our hair dyed. Rachel told the ladies that they could do whatever they wanted with her hair, but I was more wary of the ladies with the scissors.

I informed them, not too quietly, that I was NOT very adventurous, and that they better not hack all of my hair off. Even more so, they could not do crazy layers. I was a nervous Nelly who hated change. I allowed them to do a little face shaping, but that was it. Rach ended up with a feathered haircut resemble something Farrah Fawcett would be proud of.

Then we went home with our new ‘dos and raided Aunt B’s closet. She wanted to dress us up like Barbie dolls, and that seemed okay to us. So we had a variety of outfits for our photo shoot prepared. I’ve included some of the high quality photography below.

And remember, we were 7 and 11
So maybe my future career as a model got a little off track…

For the record, when I was 11, I swore that I never wanted any of these pictures shown to anyone. Ever.

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My First Taste of Disney Magic

Brian and I had planned on a trip to Ireland this coming fall, but with my six month stint of general unemployment, it really doesn’t seem feasible to spend thousands of dollars on an international vacation. So we’ll stay close(r) to home. And do Disney!

While Brian has never experienced the magic that is the wonderful world of Walt Disney, I have visited four times in my lifetime. Planning our upcoming trip has brought back a swarm of memories of the Happiest Place on Earth.

My first trip to Disney was when I was just barely a toddler–old enough to remember bits and pieces, but too young to remember it all vividly. At 3, I knew that we were going on our first big vacation, but I don’t remember the excitement of visiting the Magic Kingdom. That first trip, Mom, Dad, Deven, Brian, and I woke up bright and early before the sun rose to hop in the old station wagon and make our way south. I remember falling asleep in the living room and waking up to Deven telling me that it was time to go.

Mom and Dad packed my little brother and I (still in our pajamas) into the way back of the station wagon with stuffed animals, blankets, and pillows, where we promptly fell back asleep. We woke up somewhere between Illinois and Florida and tried to keep ourselves entertained. With our big sister lounging across the center seat of the wagon, we stayed in the back and she tried to keep us from boredom as best as a 14 year old girl can do.

We stayed at several different hotels throughout the course of our vacation, including one situated on the beach for our first ocean excursion. During one of our hotel visits, I was swimming in the large public pool when I suddenly became violently ill (after accidentally consuming a little too much chlorinated water), releasing a swarm of death from the inner pits of my stomach through my mouth and right into the pool. I believe that the pool was quarantined for the rest of the day and possibly into the next. Oops!

Then we made our way to the Magic Kingdom, where they were celebrating their 15th anniversary. As the lucky 500th person through the gates, I won my very first major prize. Little three-year-old Chrissy won a free pass to Disney World, which was valid for life. Of course, we used it when I was 10 and the fam had returned for our second Disneycation.

I remember some of the rides, but not all of them. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was my absolute favorite, and I was heartbroken when I discovered that it was no longer there. I was riding in the car with Deven and she let me “drive.” She kept telling me that I was going the wrong way, but I was laughing so hard I couldn’t stop.

I was terrified by the Peter Pan ride because it really felt like I was flying, and I thought that there couldn’t be anything more fun than the Haunted Mansion.

The last memory I have of that trip was just a day that I had with my mom. We drove to Treasure Island together while Brian, Dad, and Deven stayed at the hotel. We visited my great grandma Myrt and great-grandpa Warren. That was the only memory that I have of my great grandma, who passed away some time after our visit. She was so nice to me, and she gave me stuff to color, while I was sitting on the floor of her bedroom. My mom seems surprised every time I tell her that I remember being there, but I do.

As I gear up for my upcoming Disney trip, I’ll be sharing the more vivid stories and entertaining tales of Disney over the next few weeks. I’m stoked.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!