Showing posts from April, 2015

Vacation 1984: Six Flags over Vacation

In 1984, on our last day of vacation before the long drive home, we went to Six Flags over Georgia in suburban Atlanta. If you count water parks, this would have been the fifth amusement park the Gillespie family visited on the trip. On paper, it sounds like a blast. In reality, there was a little amusement park fatigue. We may have just been tired from the long trip or had it with waiting in lines. But there was none of the excitement we should have been feeling to spend a whole day at a Six Flags.

Make no mistake: We had a lot of fun. My favorite ride was the wooden rollercoaster that reminded me a little of the Eagle at Great America. We went on a few rollercoasters that day and the first rapids ride we've ever experienced (Great America's similar ride didn't open until later that summer. We saw a live Shirt Tales show (remember the Shirt Tales from Saturday morning cartoon?) that Jenny liked. I missed going on a pirate ship ride after going to the restroom or something…

Vacation 1984: The randomness

We did a lot less freelancing on our 1984 vacation than we did two years earlier. Less exploring, more structure. I'm not sure if we were on a tighter schedule or just planned it better. No matter, it was fun either way, but I'm having a more difficult time recollecting some of the little things. But I'll give it a try ...

-- My sisters had the entire back of the station wagon to themselves and had a lot of fun back there. They wrote a sign asking passing driver to honk, then held up another one saying "thank you" that always elicited a smile from the other car.

-- I played Astro Blaster at the hotel in Atlanta and Space Odyssey at the one in Orlando.

-- We went to what might have been an outlet mall one evening in Orlando. I bought a Steelers hat and found an old issue of Dragon on sale at a bookstore for $2.67. I even found a picture of it to add here. I also remember accidentally leaving a store and not looking and crossing right in front of a couple. I apolog…

Vacation 1984: New Song

Music always has inspired powerful memories for me, especially during vacations. On our first trip to Florida in 1982, the song-driven memories are thick. In 1984, the music doesn't take me back so intensely. Maybe because the trip wasn't as wondrous as two years earlier. Maybe because I had brought so many tapes to listen on my Walkman that I didn't pay as much attention to the radio. And maybe because the songs just weren't as good.

This isn't to say the songs from April 1984 mean nothing. They do. I distinctly remember hearing "Automatic" by the Pointer Sisters as we neared the Illinois/Indiana border and my mom and sisters had already fallen asleep. Besides my Walkman, I also brought my boombox and plugged headphones into it to listen to the radio stations I wanted to. In Orlando, I bought a cheap three-pack of cassettes and taped songs off the radio on the boombox without anyone else knowing what I was doing. And those are the songs that stuck.


Vacation 1984: The Epcot realization

Epcot opened at Disney World in October 1982 -- eight months after we visited on our first big vacation. I had taken a brochure about the new park on that trip and still possessed it two years later when we went back to Florida. I also had a bigger guidebook I'm guessing my dad ordered for free when getting info about or impending vacation. It was probably the part of the trip I was most looking forward to. The day after visiting the Magic Kingdom, we went to Epcot and it didn't disappoint.

I'm not sure what the park is like today with so much other stuff to do in Orlando, or if it seems dated the way Tomorrowland does at the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. In 1984, it seemed quite innovative. I remember a panoramic movie experience in which you stood in the middle of the theater, leaning against railings, and watched the film all around you.

There was an exhibit that had those needle features in which you pushed your hand underneath to see the needles create a three-dimensi…

Vacation 1984: The waterpark

In 1984, I was still water-resistant, avoiding pools and swimming out of fear and uncertainty that a 13-year-old shouldn't feel. Into this equation came another factor -- I was a teenager, with any resistance put up being more resolute, more independent. On our first vacation to Florida (not the greatest destination for someone with a fear of water), I at least tried going in a pool, even if I was just standing with my back against the side. This trip, I had no intention of even getting near the water.

Wet 'n' Wild was right across the street from my hotel, and River Country was DisneyWorld's sole waterpark in 1984. We couldn't spend every day at the Magic Kingdom or Epcot, and the waterparks were high on the list of things the girls wanted to do. I was content to stay at the hotel. Would I have wanted to do something else? Of course, but I wasn't willing to make a tradeoff if it meant I would have to endure the waterpark. So while my family went to Wet 'n&…

Let the fun begin

Tonight brings to a close the last calm day before spring goes crazy on us like it does every year. In the morning, Michael has a soccer game and Ben has a soccer and a baseball game. I'm just coaching Ben's soccer team this spring and not helping with baseball (and I wasn't coaching Michael's soccer team this season anyway). They both swim two days a week, and Michael's spring basketball season resumes (he had a game two weeks ago, followed by two byes) next weekend. They will have a sport every day of the week except Sunday.

Every spring has been like this. I love helping coach baseball, but by about mid-May, I'm tired out -- it's such a long season (and here in Utah, the season barely reaches into summer, unlike my youth when we played into July) that I'm ready for it to be over. Same with spring soccer.

I sometimes worry maybe it's too much sports for these two months, but I would have loved to have something every day of the week when I was a k…

Vacation 1984: Return to Disney

As our first vacation, Disney World was our ultimate destination in our 1984 trip. We actually spent more days there than two years earlier: One day at the Magic Kingdom, one at Epcot, and one at River Country. Though we weren't staying at the resort (we were at the same Orlando hotel we stayed at in 1982), we were getting as full a Disney experience as possible 31 years ago -- before more areas such as Disney Studios or Blizzard Beach opened.

The funny thing is, at least with the Magic Kingdom, I don't remember as much from this visit as I did from the first trip. As I'm thinking about the vacation for this series of posts, my memory is a little cloudier despite the fact I was older. I barely remember any of the dinners we had, or highlights from the drive beyond Indiana, or much of what we did when we weren't at an amusement park. The same applies to Magic Kingdom, which was so new in 1982 and sort of boring in 1984. Maybe because I had become a sullen 13-year-old, m…

Vacation 1984: The beginning

We took two major vacations in my childhood, both driving trips, both to Florida. The first was in 1982, which I blogged extensively about a few years ago. Here is my first installment of the second, from April 1984. I meant to do this last year but never got around to it, so here it is a year later. Or more exactly, 31 years later.

We left in the evening, with the idea we would drive through the night. Our family car was a Oldsmobile diesel station wagon -- huge, with a roof carrier on the top, almost like the Griswolds in "Vacation." I had the whole back seat to myself, while the girls camped out in the back; with the rear-facing seat down, there was enough room for both of them to comfortably sleep. We departed, leaving Pepper behind with my Aunt JoAnn, who was house sitting for us. I stayed awake through the city and the south side, and the first toll in Indiana when my dad asked the worker if she ever got lonely that late at night. I eventually fell asleep.

Two hours la…