Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Vacation Returns

Happy Monday! Today is National Lasagna Day & National Chicken Wing Day! I hope you get a chance to enjoy it, whether you’re making it or eating it – or both!

Summer is almost half-way through already! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun! My husband and I just celebrated our 15-year wedding anniversary last week. I remember our youngest child asking us, a few days before the wedding, how long we were going to be on our honeymoon and, without missing a beat, my, then-husband-to-be said with a big grin, “for the rest of our lives!” Rather than going on vacation to celebrate, as we usually do, we had a big, backyard pig roast to celebrate with our family and friends. Memories were made!

In last week’s blog entry, Make the most of Summer, I mentioned some of my childhood memories of our family vacations; and, this past week, while reading through some of Mom’s old articles from her No Laughing Matter syndicated columns, I came across some related memories to share with you today.

Below is a copy of an article Mom wrote, called Vacation Returns (OR The Last Resort). However, I can’t find an exact date of when Mom wrote it or when it was published. But, Mom’s memories, describing all 7 of us ‘Pitzer Pack Rats‘ on vacation together for three weeks, cross country and back, in the station wagon – I remembered that vacation! It was 1971 and we all went to see our relatives, from Dad’s side of the family, in West Virginia.


Vacation Returns (OR The Last Resort)

By Gloria Pitzer

It is only upon returning from a vacation that we realized just how much we could use one! Ours was nothing to write home about, so all of you out there, who were looking for a postcard from us, now know why you didn’t get one. If – [even] when I [was] at home, among conveniences, and circumstances used to force me to once write those ‘please-excuse-my-child’ notes in lipstick on the back of a Citizen’s Federal Savings [bank] slip, and take telephone messages down in the dust on the end tables – you just know that any postcard I’d be apt to send from our vacation would probably be written in campfire charcoal on the back of a Handi-Wipe!

I still hate to refer to it in the strictest sense as a ‘vacation’. I mean, a cross country trip by station wagon with our five kids would be anything BUT a vacation! And somehow, I recall that the cross country trip got even more cross as we crossed the country, when we were traveling with the kids – especially on the way back [home].

We spent more time deciding which child got to sit next to the window than we ever did reading the road maps – and that was just in the driveway, before we even left home! Upon reading those maps, however, we would be forced to make the crucial decision – deciding which fork in the road to take. Usually, [we chose] the wrong fork in the road – but, then, we had never been lost that way before.

Photo by Cheryl Pitzer; Ohio, 2012

Once in a while, and even to this day, when Paul and I travel alone, without the children to distract us, we’ll find we’re lost on some turnpike off ramp and, when out of state we’ll hope to see another vehicle with a Michigan license plate and start to follow them because we’re convinced that they know where they’re going and will probably, at least, get us back to the state line. But, in our case, [we] could use a bumper sticker for the car that reads: ‘Don’t follow me. I’m lost too!’

When the children were vacationing with us, in the old days, it seemed that ‘who-sits-next-to-the-windows’ is an on-going debate. The argument got so sticky at one point that I simply buried my face in a AAA tour book and pretended not to hear them until, from the midst of the back seat crowd, came a tortured voice, which pleaded in anguish, ‘But I HAVE to sit by the window!’

‘Nonsense!’ I said, without looking up. ‘Give me one good reason WHY you HAVE to sit by the window!’

‘Because,’ said the voice with some agitation, ‘I’m driving! I’m Daddy!’

Even the cost of a simple vacation has been affected by the national inflation, I see today. You might say the cost of getting away, has gotten away; because, if you really wish to relive your vacation, the only way you can do it these days is to show your friends colored slides of all of your traveler’s checks!

We did learn a few things, though, about our trips [that] I’m perfectly willing to share with you. We now realize that the same vacation conveniences that would cost us $90 a day, while traveling, we could have had for free if we had stayed home. Besides, nothing can deflate your ego, or undermine your significance as a person, like returning from a 3-week vacation; and, as you begin to carry the suitcases from the car into the house, have your neighbor greet you with: ‘Hi there! Going someplace?’

All we have to recall of our last vacation is the vivid memory of how the best restaurant to eat in was always just a block down the road from the one we stopped at and thought it would be the last one we’d come to before dark.

But, I will always remember how Daddy would lie on the beach about how he was missed at the office! And…that hitchhiker we picked up, who, within 5 minutes, begged us to let him out of the car because he had been suddenly drenched with a Dairy Queen milkshake and 6 popsicle sticks were poked into his fringe-sleeved, suede jacket.

As I said, if you’re traveling with children, and you think you need the vacation you’re about to take, it’s nothing compared to the one you’ll be ready for when you get back!

I had almost forgotten about how we (my siblings and I) used to fight over who got to sit next to the windows… because it wasn’t fair that the boys were older – they were always older! As the two youngest and smallest of the bunch, Cheryl and I often got put in the “way-in-the-back-seat” of the station wagon. Nowadays, that’s called “third row seating”; but, Cheryl and I called it the “way-in-the-back-seat”.

Sure, we each got a window seat by being “way-in-the-back”, but we were also facing the BACK; so, all we got to see was what we already passed – plus, facing backwards often gave me motion sickness. But, what Mom said about getting lost a different way – I remember that too! Instead of asking, “are we there yet”; we used to ask Dad, “are we lost yet” or “is this a new scenic route?”

After my parents were empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they often chose to go on a road trip somewhere. It didn’t matter if it was a planned route or the “other scenic route”, because they were together and away from it all, just enjoying each other and the beautiful scenery passing by… without ever having to hear, again, “he’s teasing me” from one of us girls in the “way-in-the-back” seat about one of our brothers!

My husband and I can relate to that, as we’ve gone through it too. We love taking road trips like my parents did. Michigan, and the whole Great Lakes area, is a wonderful area to explore and unwind from a hectic work week. I hope you enjoy your work week – but, if not, hit the road!



In honor of National Chicken Wing Day, I wanted to give you a summer rerun recipe of Mom’s “Chooser’s Wings” (pictured above), inspired by Hooters’ chicken wings AND her Barbequed Baby Chicken Legs recipe (one of my personal favorites), as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 91), which was not among any of her “free recipe” offers:


By Gloria Pitzer

These are chicken wings, split at the joints, with the boney wing-tips discarded. Arrange them side-by-side in a single layer in a greased, shallow baking pan. Coat liberally in any barbecue sauce. Bake at 375°F, uncovered, for 20 minutes per pound of chicken (3 pounds will serve 6 to 8.) About every 10 minutes or so, apply additional barbecue sauce to the pieces as they’re baking, without turning them.

P.S. There are only a few days left of July. Other national food (or foodie-related) celebrations that have been going on for the whole MONTH and still are, according to, include:

National Baked Bean Month

National Culinary Arts Month

National Grilling Month

National Hot Dog MONTH – however, National Hot Dog DAY, 2019, was July 17th (changes annually)

National Ice Cream Month – however, National Ice Cream DAY, 2019, was July 21st (changes annually – always the third Sunday in July)

National July-Belongs-to-Blueberries Month

National Picnic Month

Independent Retailer Month – however, Get to Know Your Customers DAY, 2019, was July 18th (changes quarterly – always the third Thursday of each quarter: January, April, July, October.)

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