It was 1975. My parents got the bright idea to escape the Philadelphia winter by taking the kids on a two-week California trip. This vacation wasn’t well-planned and cushy like the times we stayed at the Greenbriar, the Waldorf, or those hotels in Italy. The California vacation was an impromptu, free-wheeling, down-and-dirty road trip. Maybe that’s why I liked it so much.
It was an ambitious, almost insane, venture. Parents and five kids, ages toddler through pre-teen, crammed ourselves into a rented station wagon and winged a sight-seeing tour in which we drove from San Francisco all the way down into Tijuana. We stayed at whatever cheap hotel would have us.
The front seat of the car featured constant bickering, mostly about maps. The middle seat offered lots of crying and an overpowering stench of dirty diapers. Rip-roaring, hair-pulling fights were common in that section too. They erupted whenever one of the kids overstayed his or her time on the coveted floor hump. [Read more…]