Spring break all those years ago…

Every year about this time…

Iimages-1.jpegt’s officially spring, according to the calendar, even though it’s still not very warm yet. However, local forecasts say that we’re supposed to enjoy temperatures near 60° today, but they could have fooled me. I’ll believe it when I feel it!

Anyway, it’s that time of the year when the mass exodus to parts warm and sunny begins in earnest for folks in the northern climes. It’s called spring break. And though we just returned from our own wonderful sojourn to warm and sunny Florida and Texas, I can’t help but think about all of those other spring breaks to Florida we enjoyed for so many years during my teaching career.

And we definitely had the spring break ritual down pat as we prepared to get on down to Florida, year after year. It was always the same: Carolyn, our two kids, and dog(s), would be waiting in my school’s parking lot at 3:00 on the final Friday before spring break.

As soon as the last bell would sound, I would hurry out of school, hop in behind the wheel of our waiting van, and start out on our twenty-four hour drive—straight through—down to Stuart, and later Sarasota, Florida, where Carolyn’s mom and dad resided.

We were young then and were never daunted by the wear and tear that a straight-through drive like that inflicts on a person! That was always part of the adventure, I thought.

Furthermore, trying to leave Chicagoland at 3:00 on the Friday at the start of spring break was (and still is, I would imagine!) basically insane. It was always a slow crawl as we edged along, reaching the tollway to connect to I-65 and points south.

Of course, it seemed as though everyone else under the sun was doing the same thing. And if there were other factors, such as construction issues or ridiculous drivers, our pace was slowed even more.

Regardless, there was always a  sort of festive atmosphere amongst the passengers in our 2190748.jpgFord Econoline all those years ago, and we knew that every turn of the tires took us that much closer to our sunny southern destination and a week’s worth of fun and sun.

Writing this now from our small town in northern Illinois, I feel a million miles away from those exciting days when spring break rolled around. If nothing else, it was an annual family adventure, laden with laughter, nonsense, and togetherness.

Perhaps thinking such thoughts this morning is another little sign that I’m realizing my status as a senior citizen (how can that be, really?). And, I suppose, there’s that inevitable stream of nostalgia that tends to creep in to my daily life more and more frequently.

Both kids grew up, married, have lives of their own now. We see them—never as often as I’d like—but that’s how it goes in this wonderful pageant that is life. Carolyn’s mom and dad had to give up their Florida place several years ago due to failing health. They’re both gone now, and it never seems quite right being in Florida without their presence. And it can truly be said that they made spring breaks a wonderful thing for us—for so many years!

And maybe that’s why each year about this time, recalling those many spring break adventures, and the long, long drives involved, is so special. If it were possible, I would love to be eagerly anticipating 3:00 this coming Friday in my old school’s parking lot. Alas, I’ll have to settle for the rembrances of another time.

Happy spring break, lucky ones…daytonabeach.png


11 thoughts on “Spring break all those years ago…

  1. I don’t know if I’d call them “lucky” or not, Mark…some of the footage I saw on the news was kind of scary. Although I ventured to Key West and other places back in the day, I think I’d head for the mountains. 🙂

  2. My parents drove to Florida (30ish hours) for many years with my siblings and I in a full size Dodge van. In those days (which makes me sound REALLY old) seat belts were optional and my sister and I would flake out on the floor and back seat and sleep most of the way. The trip down always seemed much shorter than the trip home.

  3. Although the mood is different, I couldn’t help but remember when Al in Married with Children wanted to go on a car vacation and they were trapped in traffic. Chicago traffic can be so awful!!! How great that you have all those wonderful memories!!!

    1. Hi, Luanne. I never saw “Married with Children,” but I totally agree with your assessment of Chicago traffic! (Atlanta traffic isn’t fun, either!) I guess I’m truly blessed to have had such a wonderful family to help make “all those wonderful memories!” 🙂

  4. What a lovely memory of family and togetherness. It seems like we get to an age when we have so many memories behind us to enjoy … and it’s both wonderful and bittersweet, isn’t it? I think that this Friday at 3 p.m. you should surprise your wife with a new, spontaneous “spring break” adventure … but maybe deep six the 24-hour-nonstop drive! 🙂 Maybe just an out-of-the-blue overnight trip. It might not be the same spring break as when you were younger, but you know, even a simple day trip can be good spring cleaning for the soul!

    1. An excellent suggestion, Baseball Bloggess, but since we just returned from a 4,455 mile “road trip,” we’re pretty much sticking pretty close to home for a while. But come Friday, I’m sure I’ll have that old “urge” to hit the road to the fun and sun of Sarasota–especially if the White Sox were still training there! Those were some wonderful spring break trips when my in-laws lived a mere two miles from Ed Smith Stadium. That’s one of the reasons it’s so easy to write about those year-after-year spring break trips. 🙂

  5. thecavalierscove

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