Nancy Roman

Vacation Education

Now that I am planning my micro-vacation, I’ve been thinking about some of the other vacations I’ve taken.

I’ve had lots of pleasant vacations, and a couple of fabulous vacations.

But I had one terrible one.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Just like General Motors thought that this was a good idea:

Chevy Vega Tent (photo source: MSN Autos)

Somewhere around 1974, my best friend Chris had a Chevy Vega. And she got a great deal on the newfangled tent that GM had invented to hook over the open hatchback.

We were enthused!  What a great way to go camping!

So we booked a week at a campsite in Ogunquit Maine. I had never been to Maine, so that was terrific too! We were going to have so much fun!

Notice all the exclamation points?

Here’s another one:  It was the rottenest week ever!

I learned a lot though.

1.  Ogunquit Maine is not a hotbed for swinging activity if you are a twenty-something.

2.  Ogunquit Maine is a hotbed for swinging activity if you are a mosquito.

3.  The men on the beach were either four or eighty-four. Even if you averaged those numbers, the result was too old for me.

4.  The lack of cute boys didn’t mean I didn’t have my share of attention. About 100,000 flies thought I was quite attractive.

5.  If your favorite rainy day activity is shopping for scented candles and sand sculptures, Maine in 1974 is the place for you.

6.  Evening activity in 1974 Ogunquit was diverse. They had TWO movie theaters. The theater that played “Godspell” had a broken air-conditioner. The theater that played the re-release of “Mary Poppins” had the sound stuck at 124 decibels. (125 dB is where pain begins).

7.  When you have to cover your ears during “Chim-Chim-Cher-ee”, you get a terrible attack of the giggles.

8.   Car-tents rank right up there with harem pants in the bad idea hall of fame.

8a.  You can’t pitch your tent for the whole week, because then you’d have to drive around during the day with your tent hanging off the back of your car. So you have to take it down every morning and put it back up every night.

8b.  When you come back from “Mary Poppins”, and have to pitch your tent, many many mosquitoes get inside the car/tent while you are setting it up.

8c.  When you finish setting up (sometime around two hours after you start), you have to spray the inside of the car/tent with “OFF”.  Then you have to get into it.

8d.  The car/tent has really small screen windows. It is summer. It is hot. It is a small car. It is bug-sprayed. There are two people and two sleeping bags. You are basically sleeping in the trunk of a compact car. Sort of like being kidnapped by the Mafia.

But the very most important thing I learned in Ogunquit Maine:

A great friendship can survive even the most horrible vacation.

(but you may need to give it a few weeks.)


  1. There are wonderful vacation house rentals throughout Maine, trust me. But bring DEET. Leave the Vega and the tent. One of my sisters had a Vega. I have fond memories of it. But it didn’t have a tent.

    My worst vacation was a horrible resort in St. Lucia, filled with cheap, drunk people who puked in the pool. The beach was salt and pepper sand that sticks to your feet and burns like hell.

    Maine is better.


    • I knew there was an upsided to Ogunquit…no puking in the pool. Oh wait…no pool.


  2. Wow. I really don’t think I can top that one.


  3. I think you win with that one!


    • I like to think that my future vacations can’t be worse.


  4. Sounds like a wonderful place to be if you’re a bug of some kind. Other than that, not so much. Glad you and your friendship survived the ordeal. And love the thought that it was like being kidnapped by the Mafia!


  5. Still, it sounds like quite the adventure, except for the male population and putting the tent up and down all the time and all the mosquitos and all the mosquitos spray…lucky you made it out of there alive and still had your friendship. I wouldn’t have lasted five minutes. The misquitos would have eaten me alive in three. No bug spray in the world–not even Deet–will scare them off my delicious frame.


    • They know a lovely Canadian when they bite one! LOL


  6. I have been to Ogunquit, Maine and even recently it is not the most exciting destination except for rocks and a great ocean walk (and lobster rolls). This post is so funny! Why is it that the funniest memories are of mostly disasters? Thanks for sharing. Dor


    • I do remember the rocks now. They were nice.


  7. Love the post!! And the picture..


  8. You are not the best advertisement for Ogunquit, Maine in the 70’s. I am quite certain they are preparing their response even as I write this.

    I am not a camper, my idea of camping is a hotel without room service, even as a child I had my priorities in order!


    • I often went camping in my youth – because I was broke. As soon as I got a job, I left camping FOREVER.


    • Do you think they can sue?


  9. Chris

    But will it survive this blog? Actually, we established a routine of spraying the bugs, then going to the spider infested washroom to wash up, by the time we returned to the car-the bugs were dead. (My ears are still ringing though from that damn movie!). But don’t forget the ride through the tunnel in Baltimore at rush hour in summer, or the traffic jam on the Cape during the forest fire….. yeah, we always manage to find the fun.


    • At least we were together.

      Sometime maybe we will take a vacation in luxury… to a spa… with pool boys…


  10. So funny! Nothing about camping appeals to me, but you made sleeping in an actual tent on the ground sound like a 5 star hotel compared to trunk camping.


    • I never thought I would long for the hard ground…


  11. Thanks for the laugh and the warning. Striking the car tent off my Christmas list.


  12. You would think by now someone would have perfected the car tent. Maybe have it include wi-fi.


  13. My first and last camping trip it rained the entire four days. No mosquitos or flies, but but a chill in your bones that never went away. Never again, unless maybe a car tent.


  14. I want that car! I want it!


  15. So funny and memorable. One of the “I am never going to do that again” variety.


  16. Teresa Cleveland Wendel

    Vacations like that make the most entertaining stories. Thanks for the laugh!


  17. vacation hell. i’ve had a few of them with hubby, so am thankful for the last point you make.


  18. I am now thanking my lucky stars that when I camp, I “get” to sleep on the ground. My sweet husband loves to camp, and I pretend to because we can’t afford anything else, really 😀


  19. We have survived many vacation disasters. My husband turns it into “We will always remember this one!” True. We do, and have usually been able to laugh about it….later. Love the line “Sort of like being kidnapped by the Mafia”. Except then you’d be wrapped up in the tent.


  20. And, they always seemed like such a good idea — at the (planning) time!! Ah, yes, our fantasy lives certainly have a way of over-looking the practical stuff, huh?


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