A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to…


Summer is primetime for family vacations.

With kids out of school and Mother Nature providing fairly decent travel weather, many clans are taking to the skies or hitting the road on summer adventures.

For some families, this year’s seasonal escapes will be hard to forget.

Just ask the family who made a pit stop in Memphis on the way to their summer vacation destination.

While it’s unfortunate, it is certainly not unusual these days to read headlines about parents accidently forgetting their children at Interstate rest areas, restaurants, stores or theme parks.

However, it’s not every day that you hear about kids taking off down the highway without their parents in tow.

Well, parents they like, anyway.

While it’s not crystal clear how beloved the following dad is by his offspring, there’s no mistaking that a family driving through Memphis, Tennessee, will have a heck of travel story to tell when they get home.

Last week, a dad from Texas called police because he thought his kids were kidnapped. He placed the frantic call after his children left him behind at a gas station in Memphis on their way to a family vacation.

According to reports, the group stopped at a rest area to eat and fill up their vehicle’s gas tank. One minute the family’s van was there, and then it vanished, minus dear ol’ dad.

The father told police: “Somebody had been sleeping all night in the back and they were going to drive and I was going to get in the back and sleep. I went inside to get my change for the gas and they thought I was already loaded up and closed all the doors and took off.”

The dad says he tried calling his own cell phone, which was in the family’s van, but none of his kids answered it.

“Six different cell phones and nobody answers and my phone is in there because it’s on the charger and nobody answers it and then it starts going straight to voicemail. I mean, that’s odd,” the Texas dad told authorities.

Parents of teens, do you think that’s odd?

My kid’s seven and I don’t find that to be strange at all.

You’ve got a bunch of teens driving in a van; they’ve probably got their iPods blasting or they’re chatting on their own phones or texting or simply being normal self-absorbed pubescent males and females. Not answering their dad’s charging cell phone is far from odd, in my opinion.

Ironically, in the end, it wasn’t police who helped reunite the vacationing family–it was Facebook.

The father ended up using a computer at a local motel to contact a family friend via Facebook. By the time that friend got in touch with the man’s kids, they had driven 100 miles away, and then had to turn around to retrieve their father.

Now, that’s a summer road trip to remember.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to your family during summer vacation?

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.