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My Best Summer Vacation(s) 

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No surprise, but I was an indoor kid. I spent most of my childhood summer vacations in front of a TV or computer monitor, most likely memorizing pop culture minutiae that I was certain would come in handy one day. So my parents, convinced my self-imposed exile would result in a heretofore eradicated bone condition, decided my younger sister and I would spend a week every summer with my grandparents in Reno, Nevada, where we'd hang out at every little kids' favorite vacation destination: the Hot August Nights car show.

It was a 600-mile road trip in each direction, and it'd usually take two days because one of the classic cars we'd travel in — either my late grandma's canary yellow 1954 Chevrolet, or my grandpa's candy-apple red '56 — would invariably need to "cool down" on the shoulder of an Oregon highway for a bit. Other times we'd take my grandmother's metallic gray Buick Park Avenue (which I would inherit when I got a learner's permit, and I would argue is a classic in its own right), which only had a cassette player and exactly two tapes: The Best of Bread and Lionel Richie's self-titled debut album.

I wasn't into cars and I couldn't gamble or drink at any of the nearby casinos, so I'd merely wander through the gift shops and the arcade, and every year I'd briefly become a regular at the Round Table Pizza in the basement of the Reno Hilton. I once saw Herman's Hermits perform in a parking lot. It was the very definition of entertaining yourself.

But despite being a miserable teenager glowering in 100-degree heat, I think back on these August weeks in Reno with tremendous affection, and as an adult, I wish we were able to relive that kind of quality time with our grandparents. I haven't been back to Reno since, but maybe I'll make that inexorable road trip again one of these days, my Lionel Richie cassette in hand.

The original print version of this article was headlined "My Best Summer Vacation(s)"

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