Sunday Storytime – Our own 1996 Olympic Dream Team Pt. 1

My family is good at road trips. I might even venture to say that we’ve mastered them. I am teaching The H the way to a proper road trip and he’s learned quickly. In late July of 1996, my parents, sister, Aunt Deb, Aunt Dian and myself went on an epic road trip with the main even being the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. We thew in a North Carolina beach getaway and touring D.C. because, when on the east coast, why not go big?  Here was our complete route: Newcastle, WY –> Brandon, SD –> Ames, IA –> Grand Rivers, KY –> Kennasaw, GA –> Nags Head, NC –> Washington D.C. –> Columbus, OH      –> Valparaiso, IN –> Brandon, again –> home

Needless to say, there was ample opportunity to play the “license plate game” and the “alphabet game.” If you don’t know what I’m talking out, go be a real American and go on a road trip. My favorite game to play didn’t involve taking in scenery and looking out windows; it was handheld Wheel of Fortune. It ruled, better than any app or video-game version that exists today. My dad, however, did not care for the ongoing spinning sound effect.

Car painting — You ask, “Why?” Well, why not? And yes, we had a giant ’89 two-toned Suburban and it was a beast. In fact, I’m pretty sure we literally called “the beast” from 1998 on. We learned the art of car decorating from many a soccer tournament. You know you’ve seen those vans and SUVs on the highway. We basically started that trend with the Newcastle youth soccer league — Go Thunder, 3x WY  state champs!

You HAVE to sign your name! We also let others follow our journey by adding each destination as we continued our journey.
You HAVE to sign your name! We also let others follow our journey by adding each destination as we continued our journey.

Some things I have copied and pasted directly from the journal, others are summarized. You will notice the awesome patriotic copy paper. It rules.

Doubt in my mom’s driving skills – “Brenda got us to Atlanta ‘without fail’.”

We always had a navigator, but my dad was apparently the “navigata.” Is that because he was the best navigator, the worst navigator, or because we were trying to sound like we had souther drawls? I’ll never remember.

Dian was not good with directions when it came to public transportation.

– –

We ate fast food, a lot. I think this trip may have been the last time I ate Hardee’s. I bet 75% of our meals came from McDonald’s, Burger King, Hardee’s, or Dairy Queen. It was awesome.

We had a cell-phone-in-a-bag. I thought it was so cool. I think it cost  $10/min. I was secretly hoping for some sort of emergency that would propel us to use it. (As this memory indicates, you will see the snarky, selfish, tween version of me show my ugly cargo shorts and baseball caps quite often during these stories.)

On this “vacation” I think we left after 7 a.m. a total of 3 times. As my dad would say, “Our family  way is the early way.” Ok, he never said that, but he should’ve, it would’ve been a great family motto. Instead, we say, “Get your poop in a group.”

This trip was us small-town westerners first sighting of a Waffle House. Finally convinced my dad to stop once we were in Ohio.

We were obsessed with the Olympic music we were hearing. Jim Brickman and Celine Dion had two of our favorite songs. Deb finally found Celine’s Power of a Dream and it was on instant repeat rewind on the tape player. Celine brings any road trip to the next level. 

I met Senator Tom Daschle. I probably just asked him if they gave out free candy at the Senate.

My sister (who was around 8) was the cute, innocent child who everyone found fun and entertaining. Read some of her descriptions of our experiences/days.


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“Great fun!”

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“VIP Treatment”

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I (as if you hadn’t already put money on it) was the tween who complained, hated waiting even if it was to see a medal ceremony, and who was always the first to ask, “Are we there yet?” I wanted to shop (specifically for oversized t-shirts, collectors pins, and baseball hats) more than take in any more Olympic “experiences.” I always wanted to eat, and a bottomless pit I was. And I, probably more than once, made my sister cry, which is why when you read the story below from July 30, you will understand why my sister did what she did in a Virginia Pizza Hut and why that story lives in familial infamy. Lastly, being the humble, team player I was, I refused to play team games with…well…a team. Remember, friends and family, I was 12. Please still love me.

“Are we there yet?”

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“The Bathroom Incident” (That wasn’t my fault, but really was my fault.)

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“Team of one” (Please ignore the completely incorrect spelling of Valparaiso, IN.  didn’t do This was before automatic red squiggly lines that told you you were a loser and spelled something so wrong.)

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Remember, you said you’d still love me…and if you are second-guessing your friendship or relationship with me, just ask yourself, “How can I not love someone who rolled her knee-length jean shorts like her mom, put pins on her baseball cap, wore crew socks, and tucked in her patriotic t-shirt?”

Family picture time! USA! USA!
Family picture time! USA! USA!

Next week, I will highlight the actual Olympic events we attended (beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, track and field, women’s soccer, and water polo) and share some more pictures. I also need time for my ego to heal after reading through this journal. Let’s all say together, once again, “She was 12.”

Here’s to a week of Olympic watching, Olympic miracles, and Olympic memories.


5 thoughts on “Sunday Storytime – Our own 1996 Olympic Dream Team Pt. 1

  1. Brenda (MOM) says:

    So FUN…….laughs, laughs, laughs……like we were just there……..we watched the (VHS-now DVD)……..oh man, how could we not love those “annoyed looks”:)

  2. Deb says:

    Driving “the beast” was nerve-wracking!!! I was just glad to stay on the road. Pretty sure Dave chose to drive most of my obligated driving turns – smart choice I must say!

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