Long family vacations were a non-factor growing up, despite an ostensibly lower-middle class life, but several day trips come to mind as summer draws closer and I start seeing internet ads for trips tailored specifically for my oddball generation, the Millennials, to drink. (I know you’re not all odd, or big drinkers, for that matter.)
I recall an overnight excursion to a hotel in Pigeon Forge. We didn’t go anywhere but the hotel. There were some mallards out back on the bank of the Little Pigeon River who were willing to pose for my disposable camera, so it wasn’t a total loss.
I went to a funeral in Knoxville, Tennessee, at age 14. That was a gas, I guess, as far as funerals go. It did leave an everlasting aversion in the family to the Red Roof Inn. My mom’s, aunts’ and sister’s room had no water pressure. Mine, my dad’s and my uncle’s room had no shower head. We stopped at the Mayfield Dairy in Athens, Tenn., on the way back to Georgia, if that’s any relief to the no-doubt pitiful images conjured. Mine and my sister’s favorite part of the tour was watching them make the iconic yellow milk jugs.
One memorable family day trip was taken in a 1995 Geo Prism, purchased new on the cheap in 1996 so “the man could get it off the lot,” to Covington in beautiful, exotic and bisected-by-I-20 Newton County not too long after “In the Heat of the Night” wrapped. I bought a black trucker hat with an “In the Heat of the Night” police badge screen-printed on the front. The show’s infamous “Bottoms” section of Sparta, Miss., turned out to be pretty rough in real life. My family witnessed, from the relative safety of aforementioned 1995 Geo Prism, as two dudes engaged in fisticuffs. They were surrounded by a mess of lookers-on who, as far as I can remember, were cheering. Dad promptly drove us the few blocks back to the “touristy” part of town. I can’t imagine we were in town for more than four hours, but it felt like an eternity. My appreciation of both my parents and the police drama has grown in the decades since.
Sometime near the end of my tenure in middle school, the “smart kids” got to go to the Georgia Renaissance Festival. Mom chaperoned a friend and I as we strolled through the wooded grounds. I remember the giant turkey leg (ate about four bites of that) and frozen lemonade. There were some jousters or something, but I don’t remember paying them much attention. What I do remember is the ghost house, a strategically placed werewolf and running from the place in terror. Mom bought me a walking staff which I wanted for reasons I am still uncertain of, and we all had a good laugh when my history teacher bought the principal a silver cup emblazoned with the initials of my dingy and now partially fricasseed Alma mater,”PMS,” Purks Middle School.
I say all this to point out that I went on a lot of weird trips when I was kid, thankfully none of them involving abused substances, and suspect this has informed my distaste for the weird, probably socially-demanding excursions my generation are apparently into. How many times have I been invited by these ads to partake in some kind of novelty experience that centered not on sugar and amusement park rides, but alcohol and ... well, I guess the amusement park rides are still there, but I digress.
Millennials are taking cruises, flying on hang gliders, playing modified forms of games new and old, yes, even Yahtzee, or just walking the streets of places far and near and “having fun” with the help of humanity’s most ancient product, the distilled grain. Yippee?
As for me, I’ll stick to hanging out with my family and plethora of dogs watching old police shows when I’m not reading or writing about dead politicians or going to church. I guess all those weird excursions Millennials seem to enjoy are good for the economy, though, so have at it, peeps. No H8, all love.