going away for a little while

That's the Griswold's house from the original Vacation, but as it looks today. (It's got a wall, but otherwise it looks basically the same.) Like, literally today, by the way. I made a slight detour on the way home from work today.

And, this is the car dealership. That's even closer to where I live. Not as good a photo, though, because I couldn't park.

But also, I just noticed that the opening postcard montage melds into the establishing shot of Chicago just like the tv screen melds into the establishing shot of Pittsburgh at the start of Groundhog Day. On the one hand, I'm trying to remember if Ramis used that trick in other movies. On the other, I'm thinking of what it means. It ties into the whole fantasy thing I was talking about yesterday--this nostalgia-ish sense of a vacation as some amazing escape and adventure. Imagine if the trip had gone as Clark wanted it to go, though; it would not have been that amazing, certainly not as memorable for the Griswolds, and definitely not film-worthy. Most vacations are like that. They aren't the things you tell stories about. They aren't life-changing.

If you look back at one particular vacation, of course, you'll come up with something. You'll remember one detail or another. For me, it might be playing with my Star Wars in the snow at Camp River Glen, as if it were really Hoth. Or losing my glasses in the Pacific while camping at Pismo Beach. Freezing in the tent the first night at the Grand Canyon. Reading Cerebus in the a different tent when it was pouring down rain outside a different time at the Grand Canyon. Playing the claw machine at that arcade every night in Hawaii.

More story-worthy trips might be our trip to San Francisco for WonderCon, or for APE (though that one wasn't quite a vacation as I had a table), the layover in Flagstaff when the car broke down on the way to Missouri, or--and this is interesting, and I forgot to mention in this blog this particular bit of poetry when the car died during the Western trip:

So, back in... I'm forgetting which year specifically; we went to the Ozarks twice in the mid 80s. I believe the car broke down in Flagstaff the first time. We ended up at a motel in the afternoon with nothing much to do but watch some Voltron on the tv or wander to some shops nearby. I got a little wooden gun that looked sorta like a horse head if you turned it round the other way. I think my sisters bought some turquoise jewelry. But, that first breakdown in Flagstaff isn't the poetry. Nearly three decades later, after driving through Arizona and New Mexico and back, we go through Flagstaff and I am telling my kids the story of when we broke down there. And, it is on the road out of Flagstaff that we break down in the present.

(We had decided not to take an extra day and head up into Monument Valley, where the car "breaks down" in Vacation, and where so many Westerns were filmed.)

And, of course, there was the trip to Woodstock, but I wrote about that in great detail already right here in this blog (183 184 185 186 187 188. 189 190 191 192 193 194).

A few of our speech team trips has some memorable moments, too. But, if I were making the fictional version thereof, all those interesting moments would happen on one trip. The snowmen and the snowball fight. Late night tater tots at Sonic. The bowling alley half under construction tucked between a mountain and a valley in a snowy fog. Tormenting the Utah kids who didn't drink at the after party at Nationals. Falling asleep in the sun on a bench in my suit in the middle of the tournament because life wasn't going well and I needed a moment. (I didn't miss my next round. I set an alarm.) Getting emotional during my district speech--that I didn't intend to make, but everyone else had gone so my team mates made me get up.

And, maybe one of us would lose in our event and take everyone hostage like Clark does at Walley World. (He didn't originally do that, by the way. He instead went to Roy Walley's house, and even took a plane hostage when it turned out they were on the wrong flight back to Chicago, but that ending didn't play well with test audiences. There's a photo during the end credits from that flight that is no longer in the film.)






The obvious thing that I got from this film all those years ago is irreverence. And, again, our hero does the wrong things at every turn. But, family matters.

And the Grand Canyon is awesome. (But better if you have more than a few minutes.)


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