Coffee Break 2/8/21]

Your mid-morning pick me up

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken? For me, it was a group road trip to New England when I was in my twenties. While driving through the Adirondack mountains late at night, we came across two young women who had overturned their car, avoiding a bear. We were such a disorderly crew that they were more frightened of us than the circumstance they were in. They refused a ride, preferring to take their chances with the local wildlife than us. We gave them a blanket and waited on the side of the road until daybreak thinking it unwise to drive off and leave them there alone in the dark. I think we made them very uncomfortable, and they were glad to see us go in the morning. We called the police from the next town as we had promised to do. We spent a couple of days camping on Lake Champlain, Vermont before making our way to Sunapee, New Hampshire, for a wedding, a joyful and boisterous event. After the nuptials, we headed to Acadia National Park. On the way, some teenagers backed into us at a gas station. There was no damage to their vehicle, and as we weren’t in any shape to speak to law enforcement, we stunned them by accepting the cash they pooled together as payment. After spending a few days in Maine, we made the return trip home. Although we were crowded together in an old van, drunk or hungover almost the entire time, there wasn’t a single argument. It was a festive trip with a lot of laughs and bonding. We returned to Pennsylvania tired, happy, and still friends. I’ve been to more exotic locations with luxurious accommodations, but that low-budget adventure is still one of my best travel experiences. How about you, Deadsplinters? Do you have a special vacation memory?



  1. Having been connected to the airline industry for a big part of my life, I was blessed to do some great trips.  I can’t even pick one but the top few were:
    -Traveling to Bora Bora with a girl I was very in love with. 
    -Exploring a huge part of Brazil as a 12 year old with my Brazilian exchange student’s family.
    -Winning an all travel expense paid ski trip to Banff & Lake Louise
    -Coming home to Hawaii & having my entire family stay together for my parents 50th anniversary
    -Hanging out a week in Tahiti with a local legend of surf at his black sand beachfront family home and having his grandma make us dinner and literally tuck us in at night after surfing all day! 

    • Now back to reality, today I get to work half a day then come home and dig up my paver patio and sewer line as it failed last night.  I have put off this project for about a year now but last night it let us know that procrastination is over.  I hope I can get it done in half a day.

        • We ended up just using an auger at the clean-out to clear the plug and regroup.  It took way longer just to get rid of the clog than we thought since we had to take his auger apart completely to get it to work.  I’m not sure we can make this happen before we go away.  What a shitty job!  Literally!!!

      • I applied to be a flight attendant once upon a time but the pay was about 2/3 what I was currently making. Even if I’d gotten the job, I highly doubt I would have accepted. This was post 9/11 so most job perks had evaporated :/

        • I originally was hired as a flight attendant straight out of high school but failed the physical due to my spine being damaged bodysurfing.  You had to be able to lift 70 lbs over your head which was no problem but they too x-rays to make sure you weren’t prone to injury.  I can’t imagine how different my life would have been if I did that job for better or worst…probably worst.

      • Definitely!  Squamish and Whistler is very nice but since the Olympics have been overbuilt.  We had a suite over looking the frozen Lake Louise with all the ice carvings and a nice room at the Banff Springs.  Amazing snowboarding at the 3 resorts right there. 

          • Definitely do that!  I have that on my to do list when my wife retires.  That is some of the most beautiful parts of the world & you will feel like you are back in Alaska for much of it.  Just make sure you spend a few days in or around Vancouver.  It is such a beautiful city w/ world class restaurants.  

            • Actually Vancouver is part of the plan too. We’re planning to attend a convention there in 2025. We were supposed to attend one in Detroit last year but it got canceled so all of a sudden I realized we could save enough money to do both the convention and the train trip. 

    • @MegMegMcGee – 
      I did a two week Galapagos trip on an old fishing trawler – there were 11 of us tourists total – I was the only one traveling alone and the only American. It was amazing. 
      What all did you see of the big marine wildlife? We ran into a huge pod of about thirty sperm whales which ended up swimming under our boat. The captain spotted them and called us all on deck – they were coming really fast towards us. About a hundred feet out –  they all dove under the boat and resurfaced about a hundred feet away and kept going. There were babies in there too. I literally thought I was going to have a heart attack from the excitement of it. I know I peed on myself and didn’t even care. 
      We also were swimming in a cove after a hike – when a huge pod of dolphins came in and swam around us. You could hear them talking to each other as they swam under and around us. I really wanted to see the big manta rays – but we never ran into any. 
      The captain said that the only animal he wouldn’t let people out to swim with was the the orcas. I asked why and he said that if you’d ever actually seen them hunt a seal in real life – you would never get in the water again. 
      I highly highly recommend going to the Galapagos to everyone. 

      • For every other year for about 30+ years my family takes/has taken a trip together. All of us. The numbers have dwindled at this point that we all fit in one house and this year we just tagged the ‘reunion’ on to my brother’s memorial. 

        But once upon a time there would be 20-26 of us descending upon some unsuspecting country like Ireland or Ecuador. (Those were our two most exotic trips – usually we just would go to Hilton Head or something like that. Or one year I made everyone go to Dollywood – Hey I plan the trip, you go where I say you go.)

        My Uncle Julio is from Ecuador so we did two weeks there, spending about a week in the coastal town of Salinas and then we went out to the Galapagos. My husband at the time and I did the small cruise ship cruise because we wanted to see more. My relatives stayed on the biggest island and did what you seem to have done, which was go out on a trawler. 

        We saw all the things and had a grand time. It was exhausting and so cool. I have so many great pics from that trip. I don’t recall any super close encounters with Orcas, or any sea life though. 

  2. Wedding-destination road trips are the best. I am a man and I love weddings. Better Half, like many men, hates them. I am the proverbial “extra man,” always available to fill a wedding reception table (that is, to balance a table between the sexes, so you don’t get seven women and one man, for example.) I am, or was, the first man on the dance floor and  I would dance with anyone who would have me, grandmothers, four-year-old girls, it mattered not.

    But part of the appeal was the road trips. “My God, you don’t think they’re planning on living around here?” “No, she grew up here and this is where her mother wanted her to get married.” “And she put up with this? And he did?” “Mattie–“

    “This church is very nice. And look, there’s a chancel. I hope they have a choir or some singers.” “Did I mention that this is a Catholic church and this is going to be a wedding Mass that might go on for three hours?” “Oh my God.” “In the Catholic faith we say, ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph.’ Look toward the altar. They’re all here with us.”

    “This is very nice. What a beautiful home. And these grounds. And what is that marquee over there?” “That’s a huppa. That’s where X and Y are getting married. Here, I brought a kippah for you. It’s one of my brother’s. Don’t worry, he doesn’t have head lice, and I hope you don’t either.”

    • Being judgey about weddings and showers is a must. It was probably the only time I enjoyed hanging out with my mother, she was so bitchy in a very funny way. 

      • I should have gone into the Foreign Service or the CIA, as I was somewhat trained to do.

        All you need is a couple of glasses of wine or beers or maybe something stronger and infiltrate a wedding seated next to imbibers and you get all kinds of intel, wanted or not.

        Top points go to a parent who is unhappy about their child’s choice of spouse, but grandmothers are always a good source of background. Some of these wedding invites came from women, single or not, who felt some kind of obligation to the woman getting married, and I was their +1. “If you hate her so much, why are you a bridesmaid?!” “She’s one of my oldest friends. We were in [X sorority] together.” 

        The world of weddings is a very strange world. I’m married but we never had a ceremony. I want to have one at some point, and I’ve been to so many weddings that I think I could throw one that would avoid some of the eye-rolling mistakes I’ve observed, but still I bet there would uncharitable commentary from some of the invitees.

  3. I went to Lisbon, Portugal, with my best friend a couple of years ago (pre-kids). We stayed in hostels, toured the city by foot, partied in the streets, danced to live music every night, tried all the local cuisine from sea food to blood sausages, drove down to a small beach town called Lagos for a couple of days, and pampered ourselves for one night at a spa hotel (which gave us food poisoning and put us off garlic shrimp and squid ink pasta for years…lesson learned don’t order sea food when in the middle of a semi arid almost desert area even though it’s a coastal country and a “fancy” hotel).

  4. I took a trip to Spain in high school. Not a class trip, per se, but something my Spanish teacher organized. If you could pay anf were in her class, you could go. It was thru a tour group, EF Tours, that does student and group tours, so there were three other groups of teens with us, to whom we referred as their geographical location: Louisiana, Detroit, and Canada. As the latter two and us (Chicago) got held up by weather, we all missed the first day, which was a ferry ride to Morocco, something i will seethe about bitterly until I die. Fucking O’Hare. But Detroit also lost their luggage until the day before we came home, so could’ve been worse. By the end we called it Everything’s Fucked Tours.
    The whole trip was a comedy of errors. Linda getting drunk before the flamenco show (drinking age was 16 in Spain!) and having to be physically put onto the bus. Jet lag plus American breakfast time plus Spanish dinner time equals delirium. Riding an overnight train to Madrid and realizing our car is the only one with no a/c. Stopping at a roadside bar to pee, and the bathroom has no door. Stopping anywhere to pee and dealing with a group that is 85% girls (I used a lot of mens rooms in Spain). Getting encircled by Romani doily sellers in Valencia. But it was fun and you have to do that shit when you’re young. 

  5. Mine’s a little bit along the same lines: A college buddy and I (who at the time had only been friends for a few months) decided we absolutely, positively had to go to this music festival that was being held 14 hours away. So we did. We zipped across three and a half states in his “are we sure this is gonna make it?” car. We got into a minor fender-bender about halfway there — no damage, just a real WASP-y douche who spent 10 minutes looking at his bumper hoping to spot something worth calling the police on us for. We picked up one of his friends about 10 hours in (who got on our nerves almost immediately and was THE ONLY topic of conversation/mockery on the way home) and then enjoyed the hell out of the music, camped out with some old hippies in the next clearing who dropped by when we shared some late-night snacks and then the next day shared a bit of their mind-altering stash with us. I got a little under the weather the last night but gutted it out on the way home. Then, when I finally reached the homestead for a long-awaited proper shower … it was the night Bill Clinton admitted to l’affair des Lewinsky so it ended up being particularly memorable!

    I’ve had better trips to nicer places (Europe, warm beaches) but this is the one my mind always harkens back to.

    • It sounds like a fun trip. When you’re young it’s much easier to deal with the little bumps in the road. And they can be bonding moments. 

      • A funny addendum: This was the first time I’d ever met one of my friend’s friends, and without fail — and I do mean EVERY TIME — they *all* suck! Every one of them has been wiiiiiildly unlikable, and not even in the same way. They just all seem to be weirdos or jerks or crazy, and it’s been a longtime joke among my group of college friends (of which he is one, of course) that we must appear the same way to everyone else! 

  6. The first vacation I ever took, when I was six years old and my family took a trip to Florida.  We went to Disney World (pre-EPCOT), Sea World, Circus World, Busch Gardens, Cape Kennedy Space Center, the beach, and some really crazy-ass fun house across the street from our hotel.  I went on my first airplane flight to get there, and that was when you dressed up which was right up my alley.  It was everything six-year old me enjoyed (except the time my brother decided to take me on the tea cups and cranked the wheel so hard I almost became a lawn sprinkler), and I was gleefully oblivious to all of the logistical bullshit of which I would surely have been aware if I was an adult.

    • That’s a nice memory. We didn’t do a lot of vacations when I was a kid. And my dad was a history buff so the ones we did take always had some sort of educational element. What I remember most was the first thing he did when we got to our hotel was call the local Catholic church to find out what time mass was. And my siblings and I would groan, ” but dad, we’re on vacation”. To no avail.

      • That was the only real “vacation” we had as a family.  There were trips but they were always part of a work thing–usually for the business my parents started.  This was the only trip that was 100% for fun and nothing else.  When my father and I would be on some kind of road trip, we both enjoyed all the historical stuff so he preferred to take those types of trips with me rather than with my brother or even my mom.

  7. I wouldn’t call it a vacation because it was a month long work stay in Paris by myself and it destroyed a potential relationship (but not a great loss as I look back.)
    However, it was the most fun I had traveling (moreso on someone else’s dime.)  I worked miserably long days and did a lot of training, but I got the weekends for myslef so I wandered all over Paris.  I am kinda bilingual so it was great practice.  I had a couple of weekends where I didn’t speak any english.
    I lived for the weekends.  Even went to a 1 1/2 star Michelin restaurant (Le Vert Grenouille IIRC) on Nortel’s dime (hey, at that point those shitheads owed me as the trip was originally two weeks and they ‘extended’ it for 2 and a half more.)

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