Family vacations when I was younger usually consisted of week-long trips playing on a lake somewhere in Wisconsin. The house we frequented in Crivitz, of course, lacked air conditioning as well as a pleasant smell. Although it did have yellow shag carpeting, mismatched furniture from the 70s and a large cardboard replica of Elvira. It had “family vacation” written all over it.
When I was 14, a “real” vacation was planned that included us flying to Washington and driving to Glacier National Park in Montana. Glacier National Park is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Because this was the first time I had ever seen real mountains, it left a lasting impression. Not to get all religious on you, but if you’re not sure if you believe in a higher power, go to Glacier National Park.
Before they had kids, my parents used to own horses. They spent their weekends bareback riding through forests and hills (well, it’s Illinois so really more mounds of soil).
Fast forward 14 years: My Dad decided to bareback horseback ride for the first time in 14 years the day before our trip.
The. Day. Before. Our. Trip.
After sitting in a car, a plane, and in a car some more, we finally arrived at Glacier National Park. We immediately decided to drive the Going-to-the-Sun road, a 50-mile road that winds up the mountainside. It was absolutely gorgeous! But it also was a lot of sitting and not a lot of stretching.
The problem was that my Dad was rather sore from his John Wayne impersonation. I mean, really sore. In particular, his inner thighs. And it’s a 50-mile drive. It’s long. Any chance he got, he would get out of the car and begin to rub his inner thighs.
Now, do me a favor, will you reader?
While standing, turn and face a wall. Extend your legs past hip width. Bend your knees. Hunch over a bit. And now start vigorously rubbing your inner thighs with your hands. Don’t be shy. Get into it. While you’re doing this, moan a bit about how sore you are. Now think about what this would look like to passersby seeing only the back of you. Instead of a wall, picture this exact scenario playing out while standing next to a car with a freaked-out wife (she gets motion sickness and is afraid of heights) and a 10-year-old boy in the backseat. In the front seat sits a 14-year-old-girl who is dangerously close to being too cool for her parents and yelling hysterically at her “perverted” Dad to get back in the car.
Now, many embarrassing things happened while in Glacier. This includes me chasing my annoying brother over gravel and totally wiping out in front of a large group of people. Of course, this was done while wearing shorts and a T-shirt. The people around us all had long pants and jackets on, as it does tend to get chilly up in the mountains even in June. My parents didn’t have much foresight on temperatures, so we were dressed for the beach most of the trip. Flips flops, shorts and swimsuits are TOTALLY appropriate for 45-degree weather!
Another embarrassing event included me coming out of the hotel bathroom to the sight of my Dad laying in bed in his tighty whities to the viewing pleasure of three children staring in our window. My Dad had not bothered closing the shades. “Dad!” I shouted at him. “Those kids are staring in here! Cover yourself! Close the shades!” He shrugged at me lazily and said non-chalantly, “BLEEP ‘em. Let ‘em stare. What the BLEEP! It’s my room.”
Anyway, during the drive to the top of the mountain we planned to do a “picnic lunch.” Did we stop at a designated picnic area? No. Did we stop at a designated rest area? Of course not. My Dad haphazardly pulled the car over on a narrow two-lane road and informed us we were eating lunch.
ON THE EDGE OF THE MOUNTAIN.
There was nowhere to really sit and eat. So we traversed a bit down the MOUNTAIN (mind you, we are roughly 8,000 feet above ground on a very STEEP MOUNTAINSIDE that had big boulders, trees and other obstacles that could easily break a bone as you plummet to your death).
He found a few rocks to sit on and we dove into our sandwiches. I like being outdoors. I don’t consider myself a particularly prissy woman. I don’t mind getting dirty. One thing that puts me in the borderline priss category, though? I don’t like bugs. Especially when they are crawling on me.
And by don’t like, I mean I absolutely loathe.
Then I felt it. The unmistakable heebie jeebie feeling of a creepy crawler on me. I screamed. I shouted. I jumped up. I started flailing my arms. I started kicking my legs.
I’m on the edge of a mountain.
My Mom screamed out “You’re going to fall off the mountain! You’re going to fall off the mountain! It’s just an ant!”
I realized I was teetering on the edge of a mountain, so I somehow calmed myself down enough to storm back to the car to eat the rest of my sandwich in peace.
Afterward, my family could not stop laughing while re-enacting my seizure-esque freakout. This only made me scowl and cross my arms tighter. “Leigh almost fell off the mountain cause of an ANT,” my brother droned on again and again.
I’ll remember this, brother. Let’s hope you don’t need a kidney or bone marrow anytime soon.
Unless you’re a moron, don’t sit on the LEDGE of a MOUNTAIN with your children. This will attract ants faster than you can say the word “ants.”
I could have plunged to my death that day. Because of a few ants.
Bugs are so icky, though! Who likes the feeling of a bug crawling on you? Yuck!