Five Kids. One Summer. Many miles.

All five of us, plus Mama, with the little trailer.

All five of us, plus Mama, with the little trailer.

When we were little, all five kids, cat-and-dog of us had amazing adventures.

It seemed normal then, our gallivanting on a frayed shoestring. My brother Danny and I argued about which was better, or worse, to have at our feet: the diaper pail or the cat box. I usually had the cat box. Our little sisters were usually in the way back. Baby David was on our father’s arm.

We’d traveled half-way across the country to visit the Oklahoma relatives in a 16 foot trailer. We learned geography by reading maps in the back seat. You haven’t lived until you’ve driven  across Nebraska in a day. No air conditioning because, “it’s hard on the engine.” My birthday, in June, was always celebrated on a trip somewhere, a bit of hustle to find a Pepperidge Farm cake to have in the trailer. But forget National Parks, there was one place we really wanted to go: Disneyland.

“No,” the parents said. “Disneyland is fake. We want to do real trips.”

Daddy would trade teaching jobs with someone in New York and we’d drive all the way across country, living in the trailer, and take ballet classes in Manhattan every day, visiting Mt. Rushmore or Yellowstone on the way to New York, eating Hamburger Helper every night for dinner. For entertainment, Mama read to us.

“Can’t we please go to Disneyland?” we’d ask.

“We’d rather do real travel,” my parents said.

When Daddy decided to get his doctorate, he picked a convenient college, in Florida! So after six or eight weeks in New York we’d go down to Miami so he could do coursework.

“Disneyland!” we said, “can we please go to Disneyland?”

“How about Japan,” they said. “Let’s go to Japan!” And we did. As if traveling with five kids wasn’t challenging enough, my senior year in high school, my mother organized a group of her ballet students and 23 of us went to visit our hometown’s sister city in Japan, with props and two full shows. We slept on the floor of a Shinto temple, awakened every morning by the Shinto priests blessing the new cars.

So last week when Ariel suggested that the two of us go to Disneyland for my birthday, I thought that was an enchanting idea.



On a beach trip...with my grandfather Fred.

On a beach trip…with my grandfather Fred.  photos by Charlie Ray

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2 Responses to Five Kids. One Summer. Many miles.

  1. Linda Ray says:

    Hear Karen,
    Have fun in Disneyland. As a Disney retiree, recommend that you go immediately to the Pirates of the Carabean make lunch or dinner reservations at the Blur Lagoon Restaurant. Then go about the park until your reso time. So fun the restaurant is in the ride do the cars go by as you are dining.

    Thanks for posting the story about your family adventures .
    Love, love, live it.

  2. Pingback: Amusements…and Parks… | Bikini Wax Chronicles

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