When I think of summer and vacations, one particular memory sticks out - the summer we went to Bella Vista, Arkansas. It was a vacation that my brother won at the State Fair in Tulsa. The fact that my brother "won" this vacation for our family made it magical from the beginning.
You see, Bella Vista, was the name for a resort like setting in the hills of Arkansas, complete with a lake and amenities for relaxation. We jumped for joy when we arrived to see a large swimming pool, a miniature golf course, and colorful, covered paddle boats on the lake. Our vacation lasted for three glorious days. I think we probably swam three times a day. Our luxurious accommodations? A three bedroom trailer near a kiddie playground.
I was thirteen and my brother Karl was fifteen that summer. While we were probably beyond the age for enjoying a kiddie playground, but something about this vacation brought out the kid in all of us. There's a pic of my brother and me on a spin around teeter totter. There's a favorite picture of my dad perched atop a climbing structure grinning from ear to ear! And even a pic of Mom briefly climbing the same structure.
Our "free" vacation came with an obligation. We had to spend a morning with one of the Bella Vista agents who drove us around the area, intent on selling us a lot for future vacations or for a retirement place. There was much talk of future plans for the development and explanations of how they could help us become the proud owners of our own place at Bella Vista. It took way too long and infringed on our morning swim time, but eventually the salesman realized that we would not be the golden purchaser for him. After several hours, we were released to continue our idyllic vacation.
We had no destination to reach, no designated miles to travel, no schedule for the day (other than the required one morning entrapment with the salesman). We enjoyed three meals a day prepared by Mom in our mobile home kitchen. We played, we paddle boarded, we swam, we laughed and we loved our free vacation in the Arkansas Ozarks.