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Iím a Dad again 

The dreaded annual family vacation ...

Brian Barth 

(8/2011) Itís that time of year again, a time that is supposed to be the most relaxing. So why do I dread the idea of packing for a week and driving nine plus hours to a beach? Much of my concern comes when I look over the list my wife made for the trip and what the kids are pulling from their closets.

My wife is packing her customary 15 bags, and the kids continue to replace their clothes for toys. It quickly turns into a complete disaster, which is typical for family vacation. Nice to see some things never change. With all the bags and provisions, it seems like we are preparing to be gone for three months.

This is the part of the vacation that I really do not like. I find that we end up taking way too much stuff that never gets used.

Trying to keep my temper under control, and knowing it will take a solid hour to bring down all our provisions, I walked upstairs to see if I can start bringing down any bags. My wife says, "Donít go there! You know Iím not done."

Walking down the stairs, I said a little too loud, "We should just leave the house open while we are away?"

"Donít start!" She said.

Not convinced that she understands my frustration, I continued, "Even if someone wanted to break-in, they wouldnít find anything." Clearly she didnít find me funny but I got a chuckle out of it.

I decided enough was enough. I turned on the computer and immediately went to the U-haul web site. I printed off pricing for a pull behind trailer and left it on top of my wifeís list. Next, I grabbed a "cold beverage" from the refrigerator, sat in my chair and turned on the TV, knowing she was going to be coming back for the list soon and would see what I left for her.

Within 10 minutes of me sitting down I hear her come down the stairs. I had to conceal my giddiness, knowing the reaction I was going to get from her.

She walked into the kitchen and asked me, "Do you know where my list is? I left it right here on the counter."

"I donít know, maybe you packed it. Youíve packed everything else in this damn house!"

The look she gave me was priceless.

Next thing I know I hear paper crumpling and being thrown my way. My wife said, "Why do you always get like this before vacation?" I just started to laugh, which I could tell did not help the situation.

It is now 8:30 at night and I still have to pack up the van and drive an hour to my folksí house so my dad, son and I can get up at 5 a.m. to leave. We planned our tee-time for our first day for 3 p.m.

Knowing I wasnít going to get much sleep, I went into a bit of a tirade. My wife asked me to please go down to the basement and have another "cold beverage" and not worry about the bags. She was going to take care of everything.

Sure, I thought to myself.

Finally, the "Great Pack"óthat is what I decided to call this eventócould begin.

In the garage I found the van top-carrier. By this time, the kids continued to ask when were leaving for vacation? Clearly not in the mood, I said "As soon as I can pack all the bags in the house." They looked at me with a puzzled expression on their faces.

As I tried to squeeze everything into the van, pieces started to fit together like a puzzle. The only problem is when you open any of the doors all the bags are going to fall on top of me.

Finally satisfied that all our provisions were neatly stacked and ready, I walked inside to find there were another five bags of groceries. I looked at my wife and simply said, "Youíve got to be kidding me?"

Unfortunately for my two older kids who sat in the back, they were slowly running out of space to sit. What was going to be a very comfortable ride for them was now going to be one where they had to sit on or around bags.

Sweating through my cloths, I quickly sped through a shower and begin the process of shutting down the house. I turned off all the water and adjusted the thermostat. I even had time to vacuum the family room and office. My wife said, "Why are you vacuuming?"

Keeping with my one-liners, I said, "Well now that our house is empty I can run the vacuum without any obstacles."

She picked up her purse and only said, "I will be in the van waiting."

Now we can drive an hour to my folksí house to sleep a few hours only to get up and begin the drive to Myrtle Beach.

With a van packed and kids eager to get to the beach, the questions started to begin. When are we getting there, how long is this ride going to take, can we go to the beach right away? And on and on it went.

I said as calmly as I could, "You guys know we are going to spend the night at Nan and Popís house tonight. We are not officially leaving for the beach until the morning."

Not happy with my answer, they both said at the same time, "Mom," looking at each other to then say "Jinx!" Then, "Double jinx!" Then they proceeded to ask her the same questions.

She said, "Sit back, watch your movie and donít ask that question again."

They got the message loud and clear.

By 4:30 Saturday morning we were all up and ready for our long ride to the beach. Our first stop was Dunkin Donuts. Satisfied we had enough coffee, my dad, son and I began our vacation. Now I can relax and look forward to a week of fun. That is until I have to pack up all the extra beach gear and clothes we brought and newly purchased toys. I quickly fell back into a bad mood.

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