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Vanaski: Hold on to loved ones as vacation fun slips

| Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 10:57 p.m.

A vacation is supposed to be a time of mindless fun, a time to kick back and forget about work and all your troubles.

Not this one.

No, this one was heavy on life lessons. Here are three of the main lessons learned on this vacation:

1. If possible, try not to hydroplane for the first time ever with your husband and children in the car.

We were traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when it began to rain heavily. I had slowed down and moved into the right lane when the car began to fishtail. We were sideways so fast there was little I could do, so I did nothing.

I guess I just kept believing we would straighten up again, even as the car headed straight on into a concrete center barrier. When that impact comes, your airbag flies into your face and your vehicle goes spinning. You are completely out of control.

Then the vehicle slides to a stop and you hear your husband tell you to get out of the car. It's smoking. Your kids are crying, but they're OK. You're all OK.

2. If you ever total your car after hitting a concrete median on the turnpike, no other vehicle is involved and somehow everyone's OK, you may want to consider just calling AAA instead of 911. Because as you're sitting in the front of a tow truck with your son crying intermittently and your daughter miraculously still trying for that nap, a state trooper will arrive and explain that because there was an accident on the turnpike, he has to issue a ticket — no way around it. He's citing you for driving at an unsafe speed. He wasn't there to see you were driving under the speed limit because of the bad weather and the husband and the kids. Nope, his citation is apparently the only explanation of what could have caused this accident.

Not the sheets of water that didn't drain from the road. It had to be me traveling too fast, even as semis and other vehicles whizzed past us. It's enough to make you doubt whether you have any driving skills despite all the years and thousands of miles you've driven without any incident. But don't.

3. Life can be a lot of things, but for all of us, it's fragile. Our friends came to the rescue and transferred all of us and our belongings to our hotel in Lancaster. It's times like that when you realize how good people are, even people you never met before.

On the way to the hotel, my husband gets a call from his sister. Her son — his nephew — has died inexplicably. A few days later, we take our rental car to New Jersey, which had been part of our vacation itinerary. Only now, it's to attend a funeral.

That's where I am now, a few hours removed from burying Joe.

Most everyone here knows what I've just told you. They want me to go back and fight the ticket. I'm not in a fighting mood.

Right now, I'm in a hold-your-children-and-loved-ones-close mood.

Nafari Vanaski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Contact her at 412-856-7400 ext.8669, nvanaski@tribweb.com.

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