Hey everyone, welcome to another installment of Watching Our Way Across America – my series of posts and movie nights leading up to our cross-country road trip this summer.

And this one is sort of it. Like, it. Totally it. THE movie.

This movie is SO this road trip that we are actually considering make t-shirts based off this movie to wear on our road trip. Guess what it is.

Come on, guess.

One guess. You KNEW this one was coming.

I’ll give you a hint – It’s National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Hrm, shoot. Oh well. Here we go…..


Cross-country trip: Day 6 (morning)

So ok – this post is yet another one of those “getting there” posts – a post between destinations.  Yeah. And on this day, we will wake up in Chicago, have breakfast with the Chicago Goodys and hit the road. But being in Chicago, we won’t just be hitting any old road. This will be our first day on Route 66. The plan is to pretty much, from here on out, take Route 66 all the way out to Calfornia. So it’s kind of a big deal. Like Ron Burgundy.



And this stretch starting now will be pretty much ALL road trip. We will be stopping to see some sights along the road and staying at some motels along the way but this is the point in the trip where the journey will for sure be more than the destination.  This day, I think, we have like 6 hours of driving from Chicago through Missouri. We will stop for lunch along the way on Route 66 and hopefully hit some roadside attractions along the way. There is a place in Illinois called the rabbit ranch. But like with actual rabbits. Erm. Yah.

The theme night…erm weekend

So rather than laying out the food and activities separately, I am just gonna go ahead and lump it all together. Because we did this one well. Since this was a “getting there” movie, we took a road trip down to Mystic, CT.

We surprised the boys on Friday after school and told them we were heading somewhere where they didn’t know where we were going.


But yeah, headed down to Mystic on a Friday. First, we hit the Steak Loft for dinner.

Meat tastes like murder. And murder tastes pretty good.

And we had spaghetti.

Pfft, nahhhhh. Of course we had steak. And salad bar. I love a good salad bar. And this one? Not only had traditional salad bar salad but it also had macaroni salad. And potato salad. Hello salad bar. I love you.

kids at dinner.jpg
I think Myles is giving a thumbs down because the Giants are terrible. I think.

After dinner, we saw a movie across the street. Owen was DYING to see The Founder. Yeah the movie about Ray Croc, the guy that franchised McDonald’s. Yeah, Owen was dying to see this. Which was awesome. Anyways, it was a cool little theater that served some local craft beer so I mean, yeah. Cool town. And the movie was super good as well.

Saturday morning, after waking up, I went for a run on the hotel treadmill and then met Nickie and the boys at the Starbucks in the lobby for breakfast. After breakfast, we went to sit in the hot tub and have some pool time.

This one? Not a time machine.
Look, they like each other.

Then, we drove over to the Mystic Aquarium on account of PENGUINZZZZ. I mean, there were other fish and what not there but I mean PENGUINZZZZ. OK fine, we also saw some beluga whales, pet some sharks and rays, saw A LOT of frogs and attended a sea lion show. LOVE this aquarium. AND I LOVE PENGUINS!!!!111one one.

Oh, did I mention it was cold? It was.
“Oh, I see what’s goin on here. So SORRY to interrupt.” – Billy Madison
Myles really liked this water, obviously.


You swam with strength. You loved with grace. You touched us all. With your expressionless face

I know it’s blurry. But I wanted to be able to say “I’m a PIRAHNA. They’re in the Amazon.”


Jabber Jabber Jabber Jabber Jabber Jabber Jabber JabberJaw.
I just realized how sad that swan looks.

Then, we drove back home for the movie night. For dinner, I begged and pleaded for either Hamburger Helper minus the hamburger or some sandwiches from a gas station but we just ordered sandwiches in.

The movie

So I mean, doesn’t everyone love National Lampoon’s Vacation? I feel like this is one of those movies where if you tell me you don’t like it, I immediately don’t trust you. And I know there are those folks that would tell you that Christmas Vacation is the best of the series. But I mean, they are wrong. So, there’s that.

And this trip we are taking? Forget it. It’s all THIS MOVIE. This movie will cast an air over every single thing we do on this trip. When we drive by the St Louis arch, I look forward to denying them a trip up. When we see the Mississippi River, I will belt out Deep River for sure. And I look very forward to freaking out and claiming we will be whistling zip-a-dee-doo-dah out of our buttholes.

This movie is so great. I mean, it’s probably THE BEST road trip movie. And yes, it’s probably THE BEST Chevy Chase movie (I consider Caddyshack an ensemble film so.) And it’s high on the list of 80’s movies in general. But it’s so much more. I remember first seeing this movie with my Dad in 1983. I mean, yeah, I was too young to see it but you’re focusing on the wrong things. At that moment, this movie became an instantly huge part of my life.

The best thing about this movie is how it weaves so seamlessly between the ridiculous and relatable. At one moment, you are like “oh yeah I have been there” and the next, Aunt Edna is on the roof. There are so many great scenes in this one, it’d be hard to even nail down a favorite. Instead, I will focus on something that this movie did for me. For all of us. This movie introduced the world to Clark Griswold. Clark. Griswold. The man is a cultural icon, no? Whenever I am spouting some inane historical fact or putting up Christmas lights or, you know, simply thinking I’m a lot more together than I actually am I think Clark.


My dad was Clark. I am Clark. And as parents, we are all Clark.

Or at least, we should be.

Bear with me. I mean, yeah he does have his flaws sure. He tends to overdo things. And sure, he does have his freak out moments. And ok, fine. He does swim naked with Christie Brinkley. But I mean, its Christie Brinkley.

And still, I have always wanted to be a father like Clark Griswold. Pretty much everything he does is driven by wanting to create memories for his family. Yeah, he missteps a bit but you still have to admire the lengths he goes to for his family. And I hope that, even though we may mess up here and there or embarrass them, our children will look back on their life with us as full of memories and stories. If we can’t do that at the very least for our kids – give them a childhood they can remember. I always imagined the Griswold kids, when grown up, would have so many stories they could tell. I hope we have given our kids a life of stories. A life without stories and memories just seems so boring, no?

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SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!111111111ONE ONE


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