When I was growing up and going on family vacations, my parents had clearly defined roles in the merry Houtmobile.
Dad was the driver, the merciless motoring machine who expected his wife and offspring to have bladders of steel. He was intent upon making good time for bragging rights on having taken the easiest, quickest route from the journey's beginning to the journey's end.
Dad also was the packer, the one who somehow methodically assessed a pile of suitcases, miscellaneous bags, a picnic basket, coolers and other assorted can't-do-without possessions and somehow made them all fit in the trunk after much maneuvering and a few choice words for good measure.
Mom rode shotgun, there for multiple reasons besides the fact that she never did get her driver's license.
She dispensed coffee from a thermos to keep the driver caffeinated and alert.
She packed a picnic lunch, sandwiches wrapped in wax paper, secured with rubber bands, for when we'd finally make a stop at a rest area, although by that point, we were all way more interested in the potty than the picnic table.
Mom also was the co-pilot, co-navigator, though her directions weren't always embraced as the best way to go.
Dad was always certain there was a shortcut with his name on it.
More importantly, though, mom was the trip historian, the logger of travel trivia who documented our vacation "adventures," our time away from the homestead from our driveway departure through our are-we-there-yet laments to our home-sweet-home return.
She was rarely without her mini spiral notebook and pen, recording this and that along the way.
Her travel logs made for a riveting read, too, the information not limited to but including critical details on what time we left, the weather conditions, the time we left one route to begin an interstate and vice versa, the cities in which we stopped to buy gas, how much that gas was per gallon, where we ate, where we stayed, when there were toll booths, who got the worst sunburn and who dominated in road games of spotting the most license plates bearing the names of different states.
And again, there was always that fascination/preoccupation with the weather conditions - foggy, overcast, a rainbow, drizzle, hot, windy, etc.
I don't know if all of this was information or evidence accumulated for future post-vacation discussions my parents intended to have but it was all there in its Bic pen splendor.
Funny but some of that vacation time documenting rubbed off on me, even last week when I didn't really go anywhere but crazy once the air conditioning in the car went kaput. That happened after we left a picnic on what was the hottest day of the week, melting unmerrily all the way home.
I guess we document things for proof that they really happened whether it's "exciting stuff" or acknowledgement that gas was this much and this is how we got where we went.
I felt compelled to jot down a few things about what I did on my staycation just in case someone wanted to know. After all, "I just vegetated" isn't much of a response to the question "What did you do on your vacation?" Such an explanation doesn't generate a "wow."
But this I can tell you with authority.
The weather was incredibly hot.
(Kiaski, a resident of Steubenville, is a staff columnist and features writer for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and community editor for the Herald-Star. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)