Was that Arizona born Rick Kane learning to surf Oahu’s North Shore despite harassment from local Hawaiians, or was it my oldest son conquering the waves of the Jersey Shore on his new boogie board?
Much like Rick, my son’s background and experience left him completely unprepared for the challenges before him. Before heading to Hawaii, Rick grew up surfing wave pools in Arizona, while my son’s ocean experience consisted mainly of the cold, unforgiving shores of Southern New Hampshire where one doesn’t last very long in the chilly waters, let alone master its waves.
Fortunately for everyone involved, both stories feature overcoming the odds in the face of adversity by the end. Rick overcame his outsider status and wave pool background by mastering the North Shore with the help of his wise and knowledgeable teacher, while my oldest mastered the intricacies of balance and timing waves on his boogie board with an equally wise and knowledgeable teacher of his own – me.
Watching him catch waves by himself and rush back out into the surf to do it all over again was a special experience for me that I will never forget.
But none of the above would have been possible if we didn’t rent our favorite beach house to begin with. Faced with monetary pressure and a few other outside factors, this year’s family vacation was in jeopardy from the start. Naturally, I asked myself what Hoops McCann would do in this situation. Would he give up without a fight? Would he let the evil Beckersted family take over Cassandra’s grandfather’s house and officially ruin what would affectionately become known as One Crazy Summer?
No. Hoops and the Stork Twins would work tirelessly to save the day just as my brother, sister and I worked tirelessly to raise supplemental funds and coordinate an appropriate week for our family vacation in the face of an extra busy summer schedule.
While there was no epic boat race to end the summer, putting the kids to bed when they know it is the last night of vacation is something of a race to the finish in and of itself.
Speaking of races, a cross-country car race like that in Cannonball Run has nothing on the “race” that our cast of characters had on the way down. Leaving from Massachusetts with 2 kids and barely 2 inches of vision out the back window above our bags, my wife and I were like J.J. McClure and sidekick Victor Prinzi cruising across the country in their souped-up ambulance as a cover, but in our case, using the guise of a mild mannered nuclear family in an SUV to evade the law. Unfortunately, Prinzi’s alter ego, Captain Chaos, was played by my youngest son and was not available to get us out of jams, but rather create them.
My newly engaged brother and his fiancee reminded me of those characters played by Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. Not a care in the world, full of mischief and nothing but the open road in front of them, this pair was only missing a red Ferrari and priest outfits to complete the simile.
Who would have thought that my parents would be the ones to resemble the car driven by Jackie Chan and Michael Hui? In the movie, these two drove a tricked-out hatchback outfitted with all kinds of computers and gadgets and you honestly never knew when and where they would pop up during the race. I’m 99% sure I left the mid-journey pit stop of my parent’s house in NJ before they did, but sure enough at some point during the trip we got a text message to beware of traffic at an exit that was at least 5 exits ahead of where we were. Did they utilize their rocket-powered engine while in stealth mode to shoot right by us on the highway? I guess I’ll never know.
In the end, it was another epic week on the shores of Southern New Jersey that will never be forgotten. All movie comparisons aside, spending time with family and friends for an entire week with only the rumble of your stomach to let you know it’s time to stop building sand castles with the kids and grab some food is absolute bliss.
Now, about that extra 15 pounds I gained…
This article originally appeared on Chelmsford Patch on 8/13/12.