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Ok, that's enough for the car ride...now how 'bout the rest of the trip?

Clothes, bathing suits, and swim diapers are strewn about the house.  Boxes and suitcases form an obstacle course in our bedroom.  An industrial-sized barrel of antacids was recently purchased from the local wholesale club.  This can only mean one thing; The Chaney’s are going on vacation.  That’s right, the crazy train is leaving the station Saturday morning; destination Ocean City, MD.

Our annual impression of National Lampoon’s Family Vacation has taken place in OC since I was just a pup.  As our family has grown, we’ve been forced to shed beach-front hotel rooms like a snake that’s too big for its skin.  A one bedroom condo with a sofa bed that was only slightly more comfortable than an uneven slab of concrete was like a Vegas suite to us when our headcount stopped at 4.  This year, the addition of our clan will make Ocean City the third largest city in Maryland for a week.

While the size of our family and living quarters may have changed over the years, there are some things that haven’t.  In fact, certain places, events, incidents, etc. that make an appearance during our vacation each and every year have become so predictable that I am personally guaranteeing that they will occur again here in 2011.  That brings me to the list of 10 things that will absolutely, positively, without a doubt happen on our Ocean City vacation this year.

#10: I will get sunburned.  Perhaps it’s my Italian heritage playing a prank on me, but despite my olive-skinned ancestry and the rest of my family’s ability to tan, I will undoubtably come away from the beach looking as if I vacationed directly on the Sun.  It happens every year.  I used to tell myself that I just missed a spot with the suntan lotion or I forgot to re-apply after taking a dip in the ocean, but we all know that was a lie.  The tanning gene never made it into my DNA and it’s time I accepted it.

#9: I will dominate the putt-putt circuit.  Yep, I said it.  Bring on the challengers.  Mini golf in Ocean City is like casinos on The Strip; they’re everywhere you look, they have bright lights and sounds to lure you in, and they are full of people who just pounded an all-you-can-eat buffet and can barely walk 3 feet without getting winded.  Putt-putt is a staple of the Chaney family vacations and while the number of rounds has decreased over the years, my dominance in the sport remains.  I would turn pro but I’d rather maintain my amateur status in hopes of seeing mini golf as an Olympic sport one day.  A boy can dream can’t he?

#8: It will take no less than 5 1/2 hours to get to Ocean City.  Despite mileage, logic, and all evidence to the contrary, it will still take us nearly twice as long as it should to reach our destination on Saturday.  By all accounts, the time it takes to reach Ocean City from Baltimore is approximately 3 hours.  Never, in all the years we’ve been making this trip, has it ever taken us 3 hours.  6 hours?  Yep.  7 hours?  You betcha!  But 3 hours?  No way.  The most interesting thing about our snail-like travel time is that only once have we had any sort of car trouble.  For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this happens.  It’s like some sort of weird vacation time warp.

#7: Someone is going to have a meltdown.  I’m sure, given pertinent information on each of the vacationers, Vegas could put odds on who it will be.  I’m not going to pretend that I know the answer.  The fact is, there will be 10 adults and 4 children (ages 5 and under) living for 7 days in one house together so somebody’s going to crumble.  If I had to guess, I’d take the easy way out and say one of the 4 kids will fall apart at some point.  But I can’t rule out the possibility of walking into the bathroom to find a grown man or woman rocking back and forth in the fetal position.  Heck, it might even be me.

#6: We will drive around for an hour looking for a new place to eat, only to wind up at the same place we go every year.  This scenario has been playing out for years.  It used to be just Mom, Dad, my sister and I arguing over where to eat while we cruised up and down Ocean Highway.  These days it requires 3 cars, cell phones, and navigation systems, but it still results in the same thing.  We say we’re going to try someplace new, we pass 18 different possibilities along the way which no one can agree on, and we wind up right back where we started; at The Dough Roller, an Ocean City treasure.

#5: We will get drunk.  Notice the “we” in that sentence.  I’m not singling out any one person because that’s not how we roll.  In fact, earlier this week an entire email chain was devoted to who was bringing what liquor.  Vacation is a time to unwind and my family knows how to take full advantage of that.

#4: A theme song will be chosen for this vacation.  I have a very musical family.  That is to say that we all enjoy listening to music.  Sure, talent exists among the group, but we’re not exactly the Von Trap Family Singers here.  A few years ago, a new tradition emerged along with the growth of the iPod.  Slowly, the whole family felt the grip of the iTunes store and before we knew it, we were coming up with games we could play to test each other’s musical knowledge and iPod superiority.  (These were, of course, drinking games)

Anyway, along with the games came an unspoken contest of sorts to see who could come up with the coolest, most obscure song, that would eventually become the theme song of the week.  Past winners of this distinguished honor have included “Your Party” by Ween and “D*@& in a box” by The Lonely Island Boys (feat. Justin Timberlake).  Who will take home the title this year?  I’ll keep you posted.

#3: The words “Adirondack Chairs” will be said no less than 2,731 times.  Four years ago, after realizing we had to find a larger living space to house our clan or else the fire marshal was going to be called to our condo, we relocated to a beautiful community of 4-story townhouses that overlook the Chesapeake Bay.  While there was some initial dissention among the group due to the move from Ocean to Bay side, nerves were quickly calmed by the amenities provided for us at our new home.  One of the features that quickly caught the eye of my Mom and Aunts, was the little community cafe that sat on the water’s edge.  After our first week at the new casa de Chaney, talk of this cafe, and the Adirondack chairs that lined the pier, could be heard near and far.  Leading up to this coming week’s trip, the famed Adirondack chairs slowly started to creep into everyday conversation.

“Wow, look at the sunset.  It reminds me of sitting in the Adirondack chairs at the beach, looking out over the water.”

“Why don’t we get rid of this old couch.  You know what would look great in this room?  A couple of Adirondack chairs like the ones at the beach.”

“Sure Iz, Grandmom can sing you a lullaby.”  “Rock-a-bye baby on the Adirondack chair…”

I have yet to determine what it is about these chairs that appeals to my Mom so much.  Perhaps it’s the atmosphere that surrounds them.  Maybe it’s the fact that when she sits in one, a waiter suddenly appears to take her drink order.  Whatever it is, my Mom loves them and they have become a fixture of the Chaney vacations for the past several years.

#2: Stories of past vacations will be told, and told, and told some more.  One of the things I love about getting together with my family is reminiscing about old times and stories of the past.  Some people might find it annoying to hear the same stories told over and over again, but I love it.  I don’t know why, but I find them just as funny or captivating as I did the first time I heard them.  These story telling sessions usually coincide with #5 on this list, as many story telling sessions do, but drinks or no drinks, this part of the trip is always one of my favorites.

#1: Spend $87 on arcade games, collect 12,417 tickets, and trade them in for a pencil, a star-shaped eraser, and a matchbox car.  Ok, this one is not necessarily a guarantee, but it is possible.  You see in days gone by, my sister and I would follow this scenario to a tee.  As we got older and learned how much of a rip-off arcades were, we started collecting tickets and then giving them to little kids who would enjoy the cheap plastic toys more than us.  Now, our family has kids again.  So I’m putting this on the list because it’s possible that we’re back to the old times again.  Izzy is only two, but if she spots a stuffed Mickey Mouse or a Donald Duck poster worth 34,000 tickets, it’s gonna be a long night at the arcade.

So long folks, see you back here in a week or so.  When I come back, we’ll be unveiling the new and improved blog, complete with new theme, layout and name.  So enjoy your vacation from me and I’ll see you all soon!

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