blog tour: The strangest vacation

An online forum I love has organized a blog tour. We’re going to have various members post on a specific topic and then at the bottom of the post, link to all the other members who have posted on the same topic. For our maiden voyage, the subject matter is (appropriately) the strangest vacation you ever took.

My first thought was, “I never went anywhere!” We have, of course, gone places, but they were normal vacations. Beaches, tourist attractions, natural wonders, relatives’ houses. Nothing very strange in all that, unless you count some of the strange Philangelus relatives — but since some of those relatives may read this weblog, we’ll just gloss that over. Ah-heh.

And then I remembered The Bunker.

I wasn’t more than 14. Maybe younger. It was a long weekend. A family friend invited us to his “place” about two hours from the city for some fun, some running around in the open air. It sounded good. My mom, brother and I teamed up with another parent and two kids for the trip; we rented a minivan and made plans to head out Friday night. We’d all meet at this place in the country.

The host had told us the best place to eat dinner that night en route. I was the oldest kid; the others were all boys, and hungry boys get…well, boisterous. They were shouting, hitting, screaming in the van as we drove. I wore headphones but still got elbowed, and my temper got shorter by the mile. They’d behave for a bit but then go nuts again. We still had an hour to go to reach the designated restaurant, but the adults decided to pull over for some fast food, and a Burger King appeared on the horizon.

We get in to find they have no meat. Seriously, the Home of the Whopper was whopper-free at that moment, and my mother said, the heck with it. We’re finding something to eat anyhow. We scrounged the menu until we somehow came up with meals.

Proceed to the friend’s property, where we’re greeted and set up in different bedrooms. Friend has a trailer, but somehow four extra kids and two extra adults all find places to sleep. The next morning, we explore.

There is nothing there. It’s all nature, wild and uncultivated, the only hint of habitation the single trailer and a cabin a short distance away. We fool around outside, playing with frisbees and baseballs, and then the host invites us to visit the cabin.

From what I remember, the cabin was two stories, with one floor underground or practically invisible from the outside. We entered and looked around, nice enough. And then he took us downstairs, into the lower level where I have two impressions of what we saw:

1) canned goods. Stacked to the ceiling. Hundreds of them, if not more.
2) toilet paper. Again, stacked to the ceiling. Miles of the stuff.

In the afternoon, he brought us to another shed, hidden in the woods, where he unlocked it to reveal dozens of rifles and crates of ammo. We all got a brief course on gun safety, and then he proceeded to teach the four kids how to shoot. (I was very good at it, by the way, but you knew I’d be.)

Later on, he instructed me that when the UN arrived to take over the world, I was to somehow make my way out of the city and journey here, to this location, and he would help me join the resistance movement and preserve my freedom.

Now, do you want to know what makes this strange? That I didn’t consider this at all out of the ordinary. I’d grown up hearing people talk about cataclysms, the end of the world, nuclear war, and The Day After. I grew up with a post-Nixon cynicism about government, and the idea that the UN planned to take over was just another thing to file away: If you get separated from Mom on the train, get off and stay on the platform until she comes. Don’t cross on the blinking “don’t walk” sign. And if you get attacked and subdued by the black helicopters of the UN forces, escape from the city and go to The Bunker out in the rolling hills.

My mother, on the other hand, thought it all lunacy.

I’m still in contact with the family friend. I think he’s sold the land with the cabin and the trailer. I took riflery in college and enjoyed it a lot, but I stank at it by then. And I still get a giggle out of the Burger King with no burgers.

Other blogs on the “strangest vacation blog tour” are:


  1. Angie

    Well, that’s certainly a more interesting vacation than mine, lol! Sounds like you had a good time, though.

  2. xdpaul

    That is both hilariously strange and strangely familiar. I never met anyone with a bunker, but I absolutely recall the “your entire world is going to die” vibe that I grew up under. A bunker like that would have been a) cool and b) given me hope that some grown-up intended to survive the coming nuclear winter, and that I’d know where to go.

    Strange comfort, but I totally get it. The meatless Burger King, however, would have scarred me for life. Thank God I never had to experience that sort of madness as a child.

  3. philangelus

    ROTFL! The Burgerless King was only an OMEN I tell you…

    Every so often I look at my kids and realize they’re not growing up the same way I did, with that sure knowledge that we were all going to be wiped out in half an hour at the whim of some world leader. It’s a bizarre disconnect and I wonder how that affected our entire generation, to feel as if our lives and sudden death were completely beyond our control.

  4. Andra

    Lol. Now I have a huge craving for Burger King.

    My grandma wanted to build a bunker in her home(I have no clue who she thought would come after her in The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Europe) but somehow they changed her mind. Oh, and this was in the 90’s.

  5. philangelus

    I guess this bunker would have dated to around 1986, but I can’t remember exactly. 1990 onward was a little late for that, but hey, you can never be too safe, right? Those black helicopters and the orbital mind-control lasers might have struck AT ANY TIME! Bwahahaha….

    I mean, uh, I’ve heard too many conspiracy theories for my own good. :-/

  6. grinningcomb

    There is no such thing as too many conspiracy theories. They are fun and interesting and make the world go round. Plus I believe some of them.
    And now I want to visit a bunker and pretend I’m going to be wiped out. whee!!

  7. Jenni

    So, did he sell before or after Y2K? 🙂

  8. philangelus

    Oh, man, let’s not even talk about the hysteria that surrounded y2k. It was unreal.

    But no, I don’t know when he sold the property.

  9. Megan

    Oh, man, a bunker? I would have totally just gone along with it at that age, too.

  10. Suzanne Langley

    The strangest vacation…………

    I only wish that I could have an interesting vacation like this.

    It would not be from the want of trying, we go to different locations every year but I think the stress of the workup and preparation for the actual vacation and wind down takes a lot of the emphasis off the vacation itself.

    Great blog by the way.


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