The Games of the XXV Vacation Olympiad began with the carrying of the mythical Vacation Torch up Interstate 79 in the Joe Zone officially licensed SUV. My wife and I, along with our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren, were elated to finally be beach-bound. As we approached Erie, we saw ominous storm clouds brewing. Upon arrival at Presque Isle, we used the Torch, with an appropriate dose of pomp and dignity (but mostly pomp – can’t get enough of that pomp), to light the Vacation Flame on Beach 7. A downpour from a mean-spirited thunderstorm immediately extinguished the Flame, but not our spirits. Though I must confess it made them a bit soggy.
Upon relighting the Flame, we launched the first Vacation Olympics event. The entire family sprinted the 100 meter dash across the beach to the safety of a changing station, as a second, even more mean-spirited storm hurled lightning bolts from the sky, and drenched us with apocalyptic amounts of rain. Our fleet and resourceful daughter won the gold medal, for carrying her infant in a protective crouch, while crossing the tape in record time. My wife was unfortunately disqualified, for stubbing her toe on driftwood buried in the sand, and hopping the final 25 meters. Although sand-hopping is a difficult maneuver, it is, unfortunately, not a sanctioned event.
Yours truly won the individual sunburn competition for the 25th consecutive year. This means I can no longer compete, as I am automatically elevated to the Gallery of the Blistered. I have my naturally white-as-a-marshmallow skin to thank. But my secret weapon is that my skin uses sunblock as a magnifying glass, concentrating the sun’s rays so that my arm hairs actually ignite. It worked out fine, though, as later that evening my family was able to toast marshmallows over my forearms.
The “Get Knocked on Your Keester by a Rogue Wave” competition was fiercely fought, and evidently a sight to behold, as I believe I saw a number (150?) of sunbathers snickering at our being planted face-first in the lake. Hey, nobody said vacationing is easy. Controversy erupted when no medals were awarded, but I received honorable mention in the “most sand in the swim apparel” category.
The beach hibachi hot dog grilling competition quickly deteriorated into a fiasco, as the coals refused to light due to high winds, despite random driftwood pieces spontaneously bursting into flames from the heat. Ingenuity saved the day, as we were awarded the bronze medal in the wiener javelin toss.
The sandblasting competition was the final event, as the winds ramped up to near-hurricane force. We all received a spa-quality exfoliation, but there was a downside, as numerous eyes were filled to the brim with sand. (Note to self – check medical references to see if eyes have brims.) In fact, I came precariously close to falling asleep from this unexpected visit from the sandman. My grandson was awarded the gold medal, for horizontal bucket sand-catching and castle building.
The closing ceremonies came about abruptly, as the winds blew in yet another horrific thunderstorm, which doused the Vacation Flame once again, and sent the vacation athletes scurrying to the nearest Hoss’s for cover and sustenance. Unfortunately, the restaurant roof was not equal to the deluge, and we ate to the rhythm of multiple leaks dripping into buckets scattered about the establishment.
Spirits rose with the announcement of the site of the XXVI Vacation Olympiad – the Joe Zone family room. As we drove home, we realized that sometimes it takes a vacation to drive home the axiom that there’s no place like home.