Maybe I missed this class because during my formative years I grew up surrounded by historical tourist attractions. I walked by the marker of dead British soldiers on my way to elementary school. I would have to go through famous universities' campuses to get to the bus or train stops I needed. I avoided any downtown area on major national holidays because of all the "tacky tourists" that were crowding the streets and subways.
I never thought I would ever become one of those dreaded out-of-towners. You know the ones. They have out of state plates on their cars and GPS systems mounted on their dash boards. They never know how to get anywhere, and clog up the sidewalks gawking at the sights and sounds of their vacation destination while desperately trying to get the perfect angle for the family photo, even if it means standing in the middle of rush hour traffic. They are also easy to spot because of their universal uniform: Moms in capri track pants, with sneakers, ankle socks and fanny packs. Dads with khaki shorts, polo shirts, ball caps and frazzled expressions. The kids with low blood sugar symptoms, fussing and whining about wanting to go back to the hotel to go swimming instead of looking at any more museum exhibits.
And then one more thing will happen to forever brand these poor, misguided souls. At some point in their vacation, they will buy T-shirts emblazoned with the name of the town/site/event/museum that they are visiting. Then they will commit the ultimate tacky tourist tragedy.....they will wear that T-shirt while still in the same state as the town/site/event/museum.
Of course our family went on vacation when we were younger. My parents took us to the same place every year. Which was the same place my dad's parents took him every year when he was growing up. That kind of made us "un-tourists". We had out of state plates, but knew how to get everywhere, and how to avoid the crowds of "tourists" that invaded our favorite sites. We even knew how to get the family photo in the same spot every year, without interrupting any flow of traffic.
We were "tourists" twice that I can recall...both times were trips to Florida to the one place in the country where 90% of the population is expected to be tacky and touristy...so that doesn't really count, right?
Fast forward a few years.....
I now have a family of my own, but we do not live in the same region or even time zone as my traditional family vacation site. When we were blessed with the opportunity to return for the first time in 4 years, we jumped at the chance! We are now at the end of that vacation time, and as I look around at the bags we are packing I am noticing something rather alarming. What is that in my suitcase???? Capri track pants, ankle socks and a fanny pack???? Oh No! What did my husband just pre-program with the next 4 stops we have planned???? A GPS???? Gasp! What do my kids have set out to wear for tomorrow???? T-Shirts with the National Park's name emblazoned across their fronts???? Arrrgh!!!! How did this happen? Why did this happen? How can I make it stop??? Why did I ever allow this tragedy of epic proportions to take place?
Maybe I'll have the answers to these questions when we get back to our state of residence. You know...after I've downloaded all those family photos with the perfect angles, stored away the GPS, washed my husband's khaki shorts and unpacked my T-shirts and ball caps with Acadia National Park emblazoned across the front......
'cause I missed the class on that.....but boy did we have a great time!