THE first long vacation I took with my parents was when drove to Albuquerque, New Mexico in September 1985 to visit my Grandma Million. We also visited my Uncle Art and Aunt Sandie who lived in Rio Rancho. Grandma went sight seeing with us and we visited the Sandia Peak; Carlsbad Caverns; White Sands; El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico. On the trip back to Minnesota we visited some famous tourist spots including the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, Dodge City and Zion National Park. I don't recall any of this but my parents tell me that I was a good traveler and didn't fuss much.
Our next long vacation was in June 1986. My sister Brenda came with us as we traveled by car to Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee. My parents made plans to meet their pen pals Angela and Keith Evans from England in Nashville. We hit all the tourist places including Opryland, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Elvis Presley's Graceland home and Mud Island. On the way back to Minnesota we drove through the Ozark mountains where we visited Dogpatch, USA in Harrison, Arkansas.
In July 1987 my parents, Brenda and I took the Lake Superior Circle Route driving tour. This was a long trip but we had a lot of fun. We stayed at about ten different hotels along the route and my parents told me that for months I would recite the names of the hotels in the order in which we stayed. We also included a side trip to Mackinac Island and we all loved this place. The island did not allow any motorized vehicles so the main mode of transportation was feet, bicycles and horses.
For our summer vacation in 1988 my parents, Brenda and I took the Greyhound bus to New York City where we stayed at my Grandmother Toonkel's house. We spent a lot of time sight seeing around New York visiting places such as the Bronx Zoo, World Trade Center, Statue of Liberty, Museum of Natural History and Times Square. The highlight of the trip was going to Shea Stadium on July 4. We rooted for the New York Mets. After the game we saw a great fireworks display over the stadium.
Niagara Falls, Canada was our destination in July 1989. My sister Brenda again joined us as we drove across Canada. My Aunt Luba and Uncle Katsumi met us there. We saw the Falls from every position possible. We went into the falls on the Maid of Mist boat ride. We saw the Falls from up above while riding on North Anerica's largest ferris wheel. We went down under the Falls and we even got to look out portals behind the Falls. On the way home we spent another day at Mackinac Island. We also spent a couple of days in Flint and Frankenmuth, Michigan.
My sister Brenda had her learner's permit when we went on vacation in July 1990 so she was able to share the driving with my mom. We drove to Rapid City, South Dakota where we saw a lot of fun places such as Mount Rushmore, Custer National Park, Deadwood and Bedrock City. We also visited Devils Tower in Wyoming.
We went on a shorter trip in July 1992 when we spent a week at the Wisconsin Dells in Wisconsin. This city was a lot of fun. I got to play miniature golf for the first time and I got a hole in one!. We had so much fun in the wave pool and on the water slides at Noah's Ark. One night we took a river boat out to Stand Rock to see an Indian pow wow. On the way back I volunteered to sing a song over the boat's PA system. I sung the old Herman's Hermits song "Henry the 8th".
Besides these long vacations I have had some other exciting summer experiences. I went to YMCA day camp for two summers. During the summers of 1991 and 1992 I went to the summer programs at the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind in Faribault. Then during the summers of 1994, 1995 and 1996 I attended the Sports Camp at Camp Courage in Maple River, MN. I participated in Blind Sports. This is where I met my best friend Jim Poss.
I have always enjoyed going on vacation with my parents and family. Sometimes before we go I worry that I won't have a good time but that has never happened. I look forward to having a lot more exciting family vacations.
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