Win A Doodle! Hooray!


Here’s your chance to win an official Mike Allegra custom made doodle!

But first, a word from Giddy Happy Mike:

This is the cover of the July 2015 issue of Highlights for Children.

Highlights coverIsn’t it great? I especially like this part:

Highlights cover detailThat’s my story!

“Harold’s Hat,” is in the latest issue of Highlights (which is awesome)! And the editors decided to promote it on the magazine’s cover (which is awesomer)!

The issue arrived in my mailbox on Saturday. My son took one look at it, turned to me and said, “You are so cool.”

Best Fathers’ Day Present Ever.

The entire magazine is fantastic, by the way (Highlights is always fantastic). So be sure to pick up a copy for the little ones in your life. OK?

Thank you for indulging me. Now where was I? Oh, yes…



Don’t believe me? Then just take a look at these recent doodle commissions!

Sarah wanted a Caffeine Gnome, so I gave her a Caffeine Gnome. (Click to enlarge.)
Sarah wanted a Caffeine Gnome, so I gave her a Caffeine Gnome. (Click to enlarge.)
Sue wanted a great dane protecting puppehs. So I gave her a great dane protecting puppehs. (Click to enlarge.)
Sue wanted a Great Dane protecting some puppehs. So I gave her a Great Dane protecting some puppehs. (Click to enlarge.)
Jenion wanted a cyclist. So...well, you're getting the idea.  (Click to enlarge.)
Jenion wanted a cyclist. So I gave her a cyclist. (Click to enlarge.)
Pam wanted a writer in a yoga pose petting an angel dog.
Pam wanted a writer in the sunshine in a yoga pose petting an angel dog. So I gave her a…well, you get the idea.  (Click to enlarge.)
And the less said about this salamander, the better.
And the less said about this salamander, the better. (But if you must know…)

So, yes, your doodling wish is my command.

There is one exception, however. I will not draw whatever you want if whatever you want is pervy. I am a children’s book author, bucko, so take your dirty, filthy business someplace else!


The winning name will be drawn at random. The draw-er is this guy.

Breaking Bad boy No. 2He is apparently a fan of gritty AMC dramas.


To get your name in the drawing, all you have to do is leave a comment below answering ONE of the following questions:

What was the best vacation you’ve ever had?


What was the worst vacation you ever had?

If you choose to describe your worst vacation (and I really hope you do!) please provide some detail to illustrate all the awfulness, OK?


Want me to stuff the ballot box in your favor? OK. I’ll add two more ballots if you announce this contest on your blog and link back to this page. That’s three chances to win!

Don’t have a blog? No problemo. Then you can get one extra ballot if you announce this contest on your Facebook page or Twitter feed.


As I mentioned, the Grand Prize-Winner will get a custom made, one-of-a-kind, Mike Allegra doodle (suitable for framing or lining birdcages).

But I have other prizes, too! Our esteemed judge is going to draw two more names from the hat!

Second Prize: This winner may select a signed copy of my picture book, Sarah Gives Thanks, OR a signed copy of the anthology Blood on the Floor: How Writers Survive Rejection (I have an essay in there).

Third Prize: The winner gets the book the Second Prize-winner didn’t want. Hey, it’s better than nothing.


Your entry is due on or before Monday, June 29. The winner of the drawing will be announced on Tuesday, June 30.

That’s it! Answer a question and get going!


211 Replies to “Win A Doodle! Hooray!”

  1. CONGRATULATIONS! I used to love reading Highlights at the piano teacher’s house and the dentist’s office.

    My vacation: Camping with ex-husband, kids who hate dirt and new puppy. None of us knew how to start or keep a fire. We went full-on wilderness camping (so no quick stop in town for McDonalds or coffee). It rained and rained and rained. On the one evening when we finally got the fire started an animal form came out of the shadows. Was it a skunk? A raccoon with rabies? A grizzly bear come east to the Adirondacks? I’ll never know. I took my puppy and ran screaming to the tent, leaving the kids and husband to fend for themselves. Puppy was my top priority. I tossed him into the tent where he proceeded to pee all over the only dry things we still had–our blankets for sleeping.

    Yes, we all slept in pee that night. no one was happy about it.

    1. As far as horrible vacations go, you had me at “camping.” But this trip of yours took horrible to a sublime place. After all, nothing caps off a rotten day like sleeping in dog pee.

      Well done, Adrienne! Your name goes in the hat!

  2. Mike, Mega congrats on the cover story! Super exciting, well-deserved, and I’m sure the first of many more cover stories. In terms of the best vacation, it was when my dad drove us from Paris to the South of France in an old broken down, non-air conditioned VW Beetle during a super hot summer.

      1. You raise an interesting point. . . .The Beetle left a lot to be desired, but the rest of the trip was a lot of fun. Lots of good memories. 🙂

  3. YAH MIKE!! So proud for ya! And you ARE cool! 😉
    That had to be the best Father’s Day present EVA!
    One of THE worst trips (refuse to call it a vacation) was going to NYC with 83 teenagers for choir competition on a bus for 15 hours. Well, they weren’t ALL on my bus but 25 of them were! OMG! I had been to NYC several times because I had family who lived there and my cousin got married there. etc… It wasn’t so much that I was with 83 as a chaperon as to the fact I was also ill. I had left KY with a little cough. By the time I got to NYC, I had the full gambit of runny nose, cough, aches, headache and fever! YAH ME! I was so sick I had to stay in my hotel room the night they all went into the city to see Phantom of the Opera 😦
    Add to that… it rained every day we were there but one. It was cold, rainy and miserable every day and it was April, so we were hoping to see some sites. They were very limited. Then my daughter (reason for the trip) and I ended up with 2 groups and went to ground zero not once, but twice! Ugh….. that was so emotional the first time because I was actually in the twin towers a few months before 911 with my step dad for his birthday. But when they choir went back, they SANG! We all stood around and cried A LOT! It rained all day that day too. Because of the weather, everything scheduled was changed and it was chaos and unorganized. My OCD kicked in at that point and I was in hell!
    I was in bed for over a week after we got home with bronchitis, just this side of pneumonia. And teenagers are teenagers. Most were good, but there are always some that are complete brats and a pain in the patootie! No sympathy for my being sick either. So yeah, I would say this qualifies as THE WORST TRIP EVER!

    1. Thanks Courtney, but let me set your straight: I am beyond uncool. (Shh! Don’t tell my son. He’ll figure it out soon enough.)

      I would think that riding in a bus full of teenagers from Kentucky to NYC would be more than enough to qualify as The Worst Trip Ever. So everything else you endured just seems like icing on the awful cake.

  4. My worst vacation has to be when me and a friend visited New York in December. It was the second time I’d been and although the holiday was amazing, we had a fair few disasters!!
    We’d prebooked a ferry tour around Manhattan island at 11am, only supposed to be one hour long, so we got ready nice and early and got there in plenty of time (45 mins early!!). We arrive at the ticket booth and show the nice woman our tickets, feeling proud that we’d found the ferry terminal all by ourselves (we’re only 20), when she tells us we are at the wrong ferry terminal; the other one is half an hour across town and if we miss our ferry, we have to pay $50 EACH. So by the time we grabbed a taxi (in the freezing cold temperatures, and in 6 inch heel boots, by the way) we told the driver our dilemma and he promised to get us there on time. It was already 25 mins to 11 and so we had 25 mins before we were $100 down. I thought we were going to die in that taxi; he was speeding, running red lights, swerving around cars. It’s like something out of the Matrix movie. We arrive at the correct terminal, in one piece, only to find, our ferry, which we had prebooked with our travel agent, does not exist!! Apparently, there was no ferry at 11am. Having paid for said ferry, we had to pay an extra $18 each, we upgraded to a three hour ferry that was an hour and a half later, at 12.30pm.
    Luckily this was the only bad incident on this trip. Well apart from the ten-hour flight home, in which they’d sat us 12 rows apart and no other single passengers sat next to me or my friend offered to move so we could sit together. So we spent ten hours sat in silence arriving home. We weren’t very happy.
    I’ve shared this on my blog for you as well 🙂

    1. Ah, New York is fun like that. For some reason when I take a cab, I am never alarmed by the recklessness of the driving. I don’t know why this is. I’m often tense when my friends or family drive aggressively (much to their chagrin).
      In an NYC cab, however, I’m preconditioned to think “Meh, he’s a professional. He knows what he’s doing.”

      And you got three ballots in the hat! Good luck, Sarah!

  5. All Righty. Getting my three chances warm up going. Knowing how you like misery here is the worst in bullet point glory:
    -Yuma, AZ (that should be enough right there)
    -Heat wave: 112 daytime/98 nighttime
    -visiting my mother
    -staying in “playhouse”
    -rattly, frizzy air conditioner
    -outdoor pool temp: 85 (like doing laps in bathwater)
    Details are needed as your imagination can surely fill in the gaps.
    Ending on a good note: best ever vacation was a Highlights for Children Conference at Chautauqua, New York. A BIG list item checked off. That was a memory of merit. Plus, I chatted with legendary Star Girl author Jerry Spinelli, and we emailed a couple of times because I taught his book and reading his emails to my students added pzazzle to the lesson plan (also teacher coolness factor).
    *scampers off to reblog contest post*
    Get that cow mojo revved, Mike.

      1. Oooh. Hey–went to our library and sat down and read your story in the kids section no less. Yup, it’s a perfect story. One question: why did the dog want the kid’s hat? Yankee Doodle Doggy Syndrome? Anyway–I liked it. Maybe they’ll feature it in one of their Boyds Mills Press anthologies like mine. Hats off to a fun story👏🏻

      2. Clearly the dog is a patriot! (That said, originally I had the pooch swooning to Frank Sinatra. However, the fine folks at Highlights convinced me that Ol’ Blue Eyes wasn’t patriotic enough.)

        I’m not familiar with the Boyds Mills Press anthologies. Here’s hoping they consider it!

        And by “like mine” do you mean to say that you have a story in a Boyds Mills Press anthology? If so, tell me which one! I wanna read it!

      3. Actually I have two anthology stories (not bragging, but yeah two): Marvin Composes a Tea (title/lead) and Miss Flandersbee Takes Ill. I think they are still in print. If you open my published page you can find a link to them. Thinking about it, I have three Highlights stories. The other has provided some healthy resids $ because it gets sent off to testing companies–The Potter and the Washerman.
        Although Highlights buys all rights (or did you swing a deal?) they pay better than most children’s markets and they will send resid checks (I haven’t received one in a bit) *trots out to mailbox* nope–I’m due though.

  6. Oh geez. Worst vacation I ever had… (because I don’t know that I’ve had a best vacation ever.)

    The last ‘Ferret’ Retreat with my writer pals. THEY weren’t the problem. It was everything else.

    The first problem: I didn’t listen to my ‘gut’ when we were planning things. I had a niggling sense of ‘maybe I shouldn’t do this right now’ over and over again, but I made plans anyway because I really WANTED that retreat.

    And then my cat, Tabby, was diagnosed with kidney failure. And I would give almost anything right now to go back and spend that week with him instead of being out of town, especially knowing now that I would only have two more months with him.

    The retreat was already a strain on the budget, so adding Tabby’s vet expenses for those three months on top of that was difficult, to say the least.

    The retreat itself was full of little odd things, too. We had to be an the watch out for black bears, and one of the girls actually SAW the bear. We forgot that we were on top of a mountain, and so baking and cooking became… interesting. It wasn’t until day 2 that we realized we needed to account for the altitude change.

    And, well… the third night of the trip… miniature, nasty biting ants invaded my suitcase. And my bed.

    And that was when I about broke down crying wanting to just go home. I toughed it out for the remaining three days, though. But it was hard.

    1. I forgot to mention the wasps that were continually invading the cabin, too. Which didn’t really bother ME, other than being annoying, but two of the girls are deathly allergic to wasps, so it made for some interesting adventures overall. Like flinging shoes at the giant wall of windows that was veeeeeeeeery tall, trying to kill said wasp.

      1. Dang! That trip was craptacular!

        Isn’t it amazing how are gut instincts are so rarely wrong? I find that the older I get the more often I give my gut veto power.

        And you get three ballots in the hat!

  7. Reblogged this on cricketmuse and commented:
    Mike is one of the funniest bloggers going. Even if you don’t want a doodle, check out his blog. Don’t let me know he’s one of my favorites–I don’t know how he would handle my moment of sincerity.

  8. Congrats, Mike, on the Highlights shoutout! Great stuff. I tweeted a link to this post, too.

    Last January, I lost a tiny slip of paper on my way into Cancun (I think they didn’t really give it to me in customs). turns out, that’s my immigration form. the day we were supposed to come back to America from a work trip, my company’s event coordinator rushed me into a taxi with 40 bucks and a handshake. “Good luck in immigration,” he said. “If you miss our flight, text me.” From a country where I don’t have cellphone service? Okay.

    I’m Hispanic, but speak less Spanish than the kids on Sesame Street. I’m barreling down a Mexican highway with a cabbie who is telling me about his grandson and looking for snapshots in the glove box while we’re moving at 80 mph.

    when I get to the immigration office (by the grace of God), I discover the porter from the hotel broke my suitcase and the bottle of rum I’d bought broke in my luggage. I entered the immigration office drenched in and reeking of rum. Not a good look.

    After stern words “those papers … they’re muy importante” the immigration official told me after his associates bilked me out of $60 Americano – I made it out in time to sit in line in customs again. But at least I made it back to America!

  9. The worst vacation I ever had was my trip to the Bahamas when I was fourteen. I’d planned a cruise vacation with my mom and my best friend more than a year in advance and for most of that time I was actually really excited about it. Unfortunately, by the time the trip actually happened my best friend and I were no longer best friends (we’d barely spoken in months). We sort of made it work for the trip by being as polite as possible to one another, but it was still awkward. Then to make matters worse, I got a horrible sunburn on the back of my legs from falling asleep on the beach and had trouble walking around the last day of the cruise. Which is why I went back to my room earlier than my friend that night and woke up with my mom in the middle of the night to find out she’d missed the minors’ curfew. It was so embarrassing when my mom dragged me up to the concierge desk and had them call her name over the deck loud speakers…definitely not a great end to the trip.

  10. Congrats on making it into Highlights! I remember reading Hidden Pictures at the dentist’s office. It as the best part of that appointment…
    Best vacation? Flying all over Panama and checking out the country with my family. My recently deceased brother-in-law hosted us. We checked out pristine beaches carpeted with philodendrons, the banana republic, Panama City and the Canal. The best part? The Kuna Indians paddling us in hollowed out canoes to a desert island where we stayed overnight. They speared our lunch and dinner. How cool is that? With two shots of my camera, I took a picture of the entire island.
    Have a fab summer!

    1. OK, that does sound amazing. Amazing to *read about*, that is. I am not an adventurous traveler. I don’t think I’d enjoy sleeping on a desert island. I’m also pretty sure I wouldn’t want to see my dinner speared before my eyes.

  11. I can’t decide which was the worst trip ever…
    Maybe my honeymoon, where there were roadblocks everywhere due to the search for the escaped convicts, or perhaps the trip with friends who had to maintain the schedule driving through the mountains, despite my husband and I contracting food poisoning. It could be the one with the 24-hour plane trip (for an actual 2 hour flight), or the one where my girlfriend and I blew a radiator hose in the middle of a 100 mile stretch of “no services” desert and I got bit by a guard dog (totally my fault).
    At least they were all memorable!

      1. But of course! Which issue do you want? The latest volume 9, which has my possibly heartbreaking story of a lonely heart narrator, or volume 8, in which I make fun of my ex’s? Then there’s volume 7, in which there’s a smartass kid narrator, and in volume 6, the character is a guy who drives a backhoe and chases gals. Notice how I assume that you only want a copy to read my stories. I do think you should send Clover a story, so I will get a copy to you for sure.

        Oh, don’t worry, I’m totally entering your contest. But this is important, so I have to figure out which vaca to tell about and then take out the x-rated parts. Or put some in.

      2. Dang, you’re prolific! And you’re right; I only want a copy that has a story of yours in it. As for the issue number(s), surprise me. And let me know what I owe you via email, OK?

        As long as your doodle request isn’t x-rated, we’re good.

      3. Hi again. It is ridiculously fun and thought-provoking to answer this question! After getting divorced, again, I hopped on a plane to Cabo San Lucas with the simple agenda of finding a party. Of course, I involuntarily emitted the “I just got divorced and might flip out if you do something that reminds me of my ex” pheromone, so no guy would talk to me. Then my bank thought my ATM card had been stolen and shut off my access to cash, which wouldn’t have been a huge deal except the banks in Cabo were having problems of their own, so my credit card didn’t work either. I got down to my last dollar, which I spent on a bus ride back to my hotel.

        I went to dinner in the hotel restaurant, the only place I had any credit, and was the only diner seated by myself at this outdoor beachfront restaurant. I don’t ever remember being so self-conscious, watching everyone else have a great time while I sat there feeling like Typhoid Mary who couldn’t even buy trinkets from the beach vendors because I was out of cash or usable plastic. I ordered a huge platter of shrimp and was drowning my sorrows in shrimp, when these stray cats showed up. There were six or seven cats, and I started feeding them shrimp. Then it became all about making sure every cat got an equal portion; we had to order another platter of shrimp. These cats were amazing. They didn’t fight with each other but waited for their turn at a piece of shrimp. I wanted to bring them all home.

        I forgot about anything that troubled me and was just in the moment with these wonderful cats and happier than I’d been in a long while. It was some kind of turning point. The banks came back online the next morning, but it didn’t matter. I’d gotten everything I needed out of that trip.

      4. Oh, I love this. Pulling a victory from the jaws of defeat. In fact, this would be my favorite story if you had replaced the word “cats” with “guinea pigs” or perhaps “salamanders.”

        But still, it’s wonderful.

      5. Thanks, Laurel! Worked hard on that, NOT that it’s active in the way I’d like. Somehow I’ll get to write the posts I intended to 🙂 (Not meaning to hijack, Mike! Just the way interaction goes…)

  12. OK, as you know, I am ALL OVER this contest!! lol

    First things first— CONGRATULATIONS ON HIGHLIGHTS!!! I always did and always will love Highlights Magazine. It was the ONLY thing to like about the dentist’s office 🙂 I have to say, even to this day, I HATE when some inconsiderate person actually CIRCLES the hidden pictures in a PUBLIC copy! How DARE they?! This is an unforgivable breach of all that is good and holy!

    Now, before I say this, please put on a very tight, unyielding hat to prevent a head-swelling problem. Let me say—ANY writing success you ever have will NEVER surprise me. Yes, you are THAT talented 😀

    OK, now down to business. First of all, I would reblog this if I used my blog in that way, but I don’t, my dear : / So I am totally Tweeting this (which automatically goes to Facebook), as I always do anyway 🙂

    As far as vacations, hands down, the two times I went to Disney World (1983 and 1992) will always be at the top (especially since I literally never vacation; that’s it since the two vacations with my family when I was a kid). Even with the things that were annoyances, I am a HUGE Disney person (and no, I’m not referring to the massiveness of my hips) 🙂

    The worst? Well, it wasn’t truly a vacation–it was a trip I (and my son) will ALWAYS regret. Back when he was in 7th grade, friends of ours moved from Jersey to South Carolina. I helped her pack her whole house, she was getting a divorce, the whole shebang. That summer she invited us down so we went. I spent money I didn’t (and never) have on airfare, thinking we’d all have a great time. The first day wasn’t bad, though my friend had to work most days, so I basically just babysat her 3 kids. They were a nightmare. I had no idea what they were like when we were with them ALL the time. Constant fighting, the two boys picked on my son the whole time he was there which, after swimming in the pool in their complex on that first day, woke up with a severe ear infection which was NOT diagnosed properly by the first doctor so wasn’t treated immediately and he was in SEVERE pain the whole time. He was MIserable every minute and I felt helpless. We couldn’t go back early because it was his ears so we couldn’t fly. We were able to salvage one night and one day. We played miniature golf, but that was terrible because of her kids’ behavior. We girls visited a beautiful park but the heat was so unbearable, it made it difficult to enjoy. He could NOT wait to leave—and neither could I. It was THE WEEK FROM HELL WITH BLAZING FIRE! So—detailed enough for ya?! 😉

    I’ll end with expressing my DEEPest longing for a one-of-a-kind Mike Allegra doodle, though I have absolutely NO idea what content I’d ask for. But I’m JUST as excited about the prospect of winning “Sarah”! 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

      1. lol, Mike! Well, I can’t comment on anything but the bit of Myrtle Beach I saw (wasn’t impressed, to be honest) and the apartment experience (GIANT UGH!). I have to say, though, that the trees in that park were incredible. That’s the only real positive memory I have of the whole ordeal!

  13. Worst vacation evuh (I’m from Boston) was an early December weekend when my wife and I took our three young daughters up north to the White mountains in New Hampshuh for some wintuh fun and then to cut down our own Christmas tree before we headed home on Sunday.

    Early Sunday morning we got up, had breakfast, dressed in our winter finest (It was negative 4 degrees outside with a windchill of forty five below zero) and drove ten miles to the Christmas tree farm to snag the best tree in the world. Well, that was according to my daughters.

    So off we trekked into the Great White North; me pulling all three girls on a long sled which we were going to use to bring the tree back with and my wife pulling an empty sled for the girls return trip. To say it was freezing out would be the biggest understatement evuh uttered (remember the r is silent in uttuhed) because by the time we got to a tree that didn’t look like a big, pine, meatball or a pine tree with arthritis, none of us could feel our faces,hands or feet.

    When we finally decided on one, cutting it down took every bit of reserve strength I had and was exhausting. Of course while I was cutting it down, my three daughters and my wife were whining so much about how cold it was that they probably sounded like howling wolves. I did have the presence of mind to keep reminding them that this weekend trip was not my idea, but was the brainchild of their mother. (ya, that went over pretty well . . . not!)

    I finally manged to cut down the tree and gently placed it on the sled for the return journey back to our car. My wife now had charge of the other sled pulling our daughters along as best as she could. No sooner had we moved ten feet, than my youngest daughter yells; “I gotta pee!” Seriously? Both my wife and I yelled in unison; “You’re just going to have to wait!” With that being said, my eldest daughter yells; “I don’t feel good” and proceeds to throw up all over her sisters who were in the direct line of fire.

    So; we are in the woods, no bathroom and three girls covered in throw up. Oh, it gets better! As we increased our speed from walk to a slow, strenuous, jog, my middle daughter starts vomiting all over herself, the sled and her sisters. Apparently my youngest daughter felt left out because she soon joined in on the merriment of vomiting too. So now my girls are crying, my wife is crying, I have one sleigh filled with vomit and daughters and another with a freakishly large tree on it and I’m just about to snap!

    We finally made it back to the car and by this time everything was frozen . . . and I do mean everything! I jumped in the car. started it up and cranked the heat as high as it would go. Next I tore through the suitcases looking for spare sets of clothing to change my daughters into and then had to actually get them out of the frozen vomit clothes and into warm, dry clothes. In theory, this plan would have been great except for the fact that they continued to throw up.

    My wife and I did the best we could and I ended up having to throw away the clothes they originally had on. Keep in mind, everyone (except me) is still crying and howling and I still have to tie the tree to the roof of the car for the two and a half hour trip home! That trip home was the longest two and a half hours I ever experienced! All three girls continued to vomit all the way home and come to find out . . . they all had the stomach flu which was spreading through the school system faster than a humming bird on steroids.

    We nursed them back to health over the next several days and we eventually were able to get the tree up and decorated, but I vowed right then and there that i would nevuh in a million years, evuh, even think about cutting down another Christmas tree and that if even one of them ever asked again that they would be “permanently. positively, punished for the rest of their lives!”

    How’s that for a horror story? Did I mention that I couldn’t get the smell of vomit out of my nose or car for weeks!

    1. papatony, I’m apologizing simply because, due to your style of recapping, was laughing while reading this horror story. Is there such a genre? Comedic horror? Anyway, this is classic!

      1. Being a family man yourself, I knew that you would appreciate the comical aspect of it. We laughed about it . . . several years later!

      2. O K, now I’m laughing, I meant to write “myself” not “yourself” and their should have been another sentence in between in regards to writing for children, but I was attempting to multitask and my brain was moving twice as fast as I can type. So, with that being said; “being a family man myself and also someone who likes to write children’s books like yourself, I knew . . .Sorry for that . . . (egg on my face) !!!

      3. oh, that’s funny! Not to worry. I’m too ADHDish to multitask efficiently myself! lol Lots of burned meals–along with pots and pans–around here! 😀

    2. I hafta agree with Donna. I was laughing the entire time I was reading this. By the time I got to the frozen vomit, I was snorting with glee.

      Ahem. Um. Sorry about that.

      I don’t normally do this, but I’m gonna give you an extra ballot for your trouble. You deserve it.


    Since I already have two Allegra originals AND a copy of Highlights on its way (WOOT!) AND copies of both books, I’m going to take a reluctant pass on this contest.

    However, we’re taking the kids on a Disney Cruise at the end of next month, so if you want to hold the same contest later, I might have answers to both of your entry questions . . .

  15. Best vacation? The first time my husband and I were able to take a trip alone when we had young kids. We went to Hawaii–the first (and only) time we’ve been there. Not only were the surroundings beautiful, I didn’t have to tend to anyone’s needs but my own. It was such a treat.

    Congrats on the Highlights Magazine article. That’s really great!

      1. Well, it took us 15 years of marriage before we got there, so you still have time.

        And the tweet has just been tweeted! My next goal will be to get you on Twitter. You need another time suck in your life, don’t you?

  16. Best vacation I ever had was a trip to Disney land with my partner. We got very drunk and rode a bucking bull (not a real bull) and went line dancing in their western pub. It was amazing!!

  17. I remember reading “Highlights” when I was little. My grandparents sent the magazine to me through the mail. I saw both sets of grandparents on a regular basis. We all lived in the middle of nowhere Illinois halfway between St. Louis, MO and Carbondale, IL. Nothing exciting ever happened. But, my issue of the magazine came on schedule!
    Jeanette Hall

    1. Highlights is as good as it ever way, I’m pleased to report. The mag even still has Goofus and Gallant. Remember Goofus and Gallant?

      By the way Jeanette, ya want to tell me about a memorable vacation.? (I can’t enter you in the contest unless you do so.)

  18. Congratulations on the Highlights article. Even now I love to look at Highlights magazine when I go to my dental office. I have reblogged this on my blog, Up from the Ashes.
    My favorite vacation was going to Norway with my husband to an emigrants festival and visiting the farm his grandparents left behind. The people in charge of the festival were charming and greeted all of us crazy Americans with open arms.

  19. Poor Sully. Relegated to the dank, dark basement of a post. Poor, poor Sully.

    Woohoo about Highlights! Woohoo!!! Love the drawing of the hat! And yes, your son is right. You are sooooo cooool! I’m going to a Highlights summer camp in mid-July. Can I drop your name? 😀

    Now, about my worst vacation. Can’t really tell you about the worst one. It’s too awful. But I will tell you about one of our trips to the BVIs for sailing with friends. My husband and I arrived a day early and went hiking on St. John, down to a class postcard beach. Lovely hours in the surf. Gorgeous island. But beware of dusk. The no-see-ums swarm. We hiked up from the beach for a mile or so, no-see-ums swarming my unprotected legs. My arms. My head. My neck. They didn’t so much as sniff my husband. So my husband felt free to stop and chat with a local while I swatted and cussed. That night, the swelling started. My legs, my arms, my entire body was on fire with itching. Enormous welts the size of quarters covered my body. I spent the next week on a boat without so much as a swig of Benadryl. On fire every night. Lying on deck like a diseased-riddled cadaver during the day. On fire in the water. On fired every conscious moment, of which there were far too many. The rum-infused Painkillers and Bushwackers kept me sane. Not that I was ever sane.

    1. There are no small parts for a fellow like Sully. Sully is — and will always be — a star!

      And hold on. Are you going to be in PA for the Highlight thing or is this event being held in California?

      And your miserable vacation supports my theory: Nature is only good in very small doses.

      1. Bushwackers and Painkillers on the other hand, are good in large doses. 😀

        Yes, I will be somewhere in PA for the Highlights summer camp, July 12-18. Why? Are you going to a Highlights workshop, too? I’m supposedly flying into Wilkes-Barre Scranton airport. They run a shuttle from there to “the Barn.” Never been through Scranton before. Don’t know what to expect. I hear that Highlights runs a top quality workshop. So I’m looking forward to it.

        I’ll be connecting through Philadelphia on the same flight my husband took a couple of weeks ago where a crazy drunk first class passenger got so belligerent that the crew and passengers cable-tied him and then duct-taped him to his seat. The flight detoured through Kansas City, and authorities (perhaps the FBI?) escorted him off the plane. Needless to say, I hope my flight is much less eventful.

      2. I’m not going to be at Highlights, but NJ borders PA, you see. And I still need to accomplish my “meet more blog pals in person” resolution.

        I’m not sure what you have against eventful flights. You’re a writer, aren’t you? Every disaster is creative fodder.

      3. Aha! How far are you from the Highlights compound in Honesdale, PA? I won’t have a rental car. I prefer to have my eventful moments on the ground, not at 30,000 feet.

  20. I used to read Highlights all the time when I was a kid. Right up there with Ranger Rick. My hat is off to you, sir. That is impressive.

    I don’t know about worst vacation, although there was the time when my family was eating dinner in a restaurant in Pittsburgh and a waiter dropped some kind of sauce thing down my back. I got a free T-shirt out of it, though. The best vacation was when my dad had a business project which required him to stay in Hawaii for several months, and we got to fly out and visit him. Mainly I remember standing on the balcony of his apartment and counting the limousines driving by below, and also the trash chute. His apartment was on the 34th floor of the building, and if you put a bag in the trash chute in the hallway, you could hear the dings as it passed each floor all the way down. We were easily amused. And we got to tour the Dole pineapple maze and go to a luau and see whales…. fun times.

  21. Eleven years ago I went to Disneyland for a conference on the Arts and Crafts renaissance, bought some original art, had drinks with a real, live female homicide detective, got dipped by Pluto and spent the whole day after the conference in Disneyland itself, riding all the rides, some of them twice. It was a pretty good vacation. I should probably try having another one one of these days… I have put this on my blog and on my blog’s Facebook page.

      1. It was the best ride in the park. And if I’m not mistaken, in Disneyland, Mr. Toad actually drives his car through hell. He didn’t do that in the Disneyworld (Florida) version of the ride.

  22. First, congratulations! I still read Highlights every time I go to the doctor.

    Second, reblogged on

    Third, The honeymoon from hell! Lost the stone to my ring; VW engine blew out halfway to VA; then — got stung by a bee to which I’m highly allergic and the nearest doctor was 40 miles away! It could have been worse — doctor was all set to give me a shot until I asked what it was. “Penicillin,” says he, to which I am even more highly allergic!

    Should have come home and filed for divorce then and there!

  23. I don’t do bad holidays, but one of my very best was going to an island in the Cook Islands called Atiutaki and snorkelling on this amazing lagoon. It is my go to place when I am having a bad day, I just think about being back there.

    Congratulations on getting on the cover of the magazine. And being called a cool Dad

  24. I’m thrilled for you – Highlights is WONDERFUL. May you publish many more stories for the children of this world.
    Now on to what’s really important – me winning another MA original doodle, or one of those books. Hmmm, I can’t think of any awful vacation. I l o v e vacations, even if they’re just at home. With computers off. Cell phones off. All phones off. Me and my guy. In comfy clothes, in front of the fireplace (if it’s a winter vacation, in our bathing suits if it’s a summer one), each of us with a thick, hard, delicious….BOOK. Best vacay ever….

  25. Congratulations on your story in Highlights! Is this one you wrote for Susanna’s contest? Last year our family had a terrific vacation to the east side of Korea. Our hotel was right across the street from the ocean. The kids snorkeled in some shallow water,and I got writing done right on the beach. So it was really good. I’m tweeting about your contest! Thanks!

  26. My best vacation was over forty years ago. What made it special was one half-day that has stuck in my mind ever since. I was a wide-eyed eleven year old, staying for the first time with an Aunt and Uncle old enough to be my grandparents and their arrived-late-in-life son Bill. Bill my hero, my college-age cousin who played rugby. Bill who I always wished could be my big brother.

    Bill worked three jobs during the vacation- lifeguard at the beach in New Brighton (England), evening bartender at the pub on the corner and late-night taxi driver from closing time to 2am. So it blew me away when he made time for me in his busy schedule.

    We took the bus to New Brighton and Bill clocked in at the Recreation Department for himself and his lifeguard partner Roy (or was it Ray). Then we collected this guy from a park bench where he was stretched out half asleep. Bill said Roy lived there but, even at eleven, I had my doubts.

    As we walked down the pier towards the ticket booth, they moved to walk either side of me and Bill said, “If he asks, tell them you’re the new lifeguard”. We walked more quickly and as we passed the grumpy man on duty, they said in unison, “she’s with us”. My heart swelled with pride. It kept doing that all morning. First when they stuck a giant life jacket over my head and again when they lifted me into the fancy Italian-built patrol boat with the crappy old motor that only started on the fourth try. We cruised the shore looking for bathers in trouble but, as we couldn’t find any, we headed over to a cafe where they knew the girl behind the counter. This was the crowning glory. Bill bought me an Orange Soda and then, when the girl went in the kitchen, Bill stole me a second one and made me promise not to tell.

    I was still on cloud nine when my Auntie picked me up at lunch time and took me to the fair.

  27. Congrats on the publication! That’s huge! 🙂

    Best vacation: I took my first real vacation ever on my honeymoon this summer. 1 week on the Outer Banks in North Carolina, watching dolphins jump in front of sunrise at the beach, chilling in a hot tub, not getting out of bed until noon, and watching an entire season of Stargate: Atlantis. If you’re inclined to judge the laziness, I’ll point out that I had graduated from college and gotten married in the space of a week, so I needed the break! Also, honeymoon = excuse not to talk to anyone for a week, which is basically paradise for this introvert.

    I’ll definitely post this on my blog!

  28. Sadly I haven’t been on many vacations but the best, by far, was my “stay-cation”. I spent a week enjoying the comfort of my home and my own (pretty good) cooking while saving a lot of money and travel nightmares. I live in cottage-country….everyone wants to be here, so why should I leave?? Enjoy your summer vacay, btw!! I shall miss you.

  29. What awesome news! I love it when great news becomes even greater news because of other related incidences…a cool Father’s Day gift indeed!! You have got an awesome kid too!

    Well the best vacation ever is too easy…it was my whirlwind trip/romance that joined the east and west together making Rick and Karen complete. So, I thought I’d try for the worst trip, which actually had a lot of really cool things to it as well. Ironically it was on my honeymoon with my first husband.

    In the fledgling days of interstate banking I had this misconception that I could get to my money at any bank and so we happily headed off on our honeymoon with a small amount of cash and a debit card. Starting in California our plan was to head to Salt Lake to meet my new in-laws, continue on east to Yellowstone, then head north in to Canada’s west coast to our final destination…camping at Nanaimo a town on and island west of Vanvouver.

    The short version is that our first stop for gas found me dumbfounded to discover that my debit card didn’t work in other states. It was suggested several times, as if once wasn’t enough, that we could bank wire money to our next location. Since we were going to be changing locations every day that didn’t seem to be a workable idea. Fortunately, Sears and Roebucks allowed three cash withdrawals against your Sears credit card.That got us to Salt Lake where I met the in-laws and was ever so grateful for the CASH wedding gift of $200.00 which seemed like a lot at the moment, we were very conservative with our spending.

    Yellowstone…FABULOUS! Calgary…hookers propositioning my husband (with me in the car) on the main streets. I guess prostitution is legal there. Splurged and had a sunset dinner at 11:00 p.m. at the Calgary Tower Restaurant – 155 meters up with a 360 degree view. (sigh) Continued west and stopped at Lake Louise in Banff to look at the hotel, we didn’t stay but were just passing through and continued on to British Columbia.

    Ironically the first city we reached in British Columbia found us having our first fight ever. We both looked at each other and thought, that was weird. My husband said, “Give me one of your cigarettes,” as he turned around and headed east, back into the Rockies. He didn’t smoke and it was so out of character that I took his picture as proof that he actually smoked a cigarette, once. We drove for about a half hour and we realized that we had been in the Rockies for three days. It was beautiful and serene and driving into the city suddenly was noisy and chaotic and we started being noisy and chaotic too. We steeled ourselves to face the noise and headed west again.

    At one point along the way my new camera developed severe shutter lock. I was afraid to damage it and didn’t have the funds to repair it on the road so I stopped taking pictures of our trip. By the time we got on the ferry to our final destination Nanaimo, I had had enough and said I just wanted to go home. So as soon as we arrived we took the next ferry back to the mainland. One of the locals cheerily asked how we enjoyed the island and couldn’t believe that we really didn’t stay. As we headed home we celebrated little victories like having the exchange rate be in our favor as we left Canada and the fact that we didn’t run out of gas in Washington and Oregon. It wasn’t until we arrived back in California and I saw the name of my bank up ahead that I became aware I had been holding my breath for two states. ‘Twas a hard lesson to learn on a honeymoon.

      1. What do you have against Salt Lake? Ours was a quick drive through and we didn’t see much but the way they lay out the city and streets, you’d never get lost. 😉

  30. Reblogged this on Destination Unknown and commented:
    Just a quickie invite to anyone who enjoys success…doodling…or sharing best or worst vacations. Check out Mike Allegra’s latest contest and publishing success.

  31. I’m enjoying all the vacation horror stories, they make for good reading!

    As for mine, it was about 15 years ago–I went with two friends of mine to Hershey, PA for a weekend trip. We figured we’d go to Hershey Park, Gettysburg, and the Hershey factory, and it would be a lot of fun. Nope.

    For starters, we ended up in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the NJ Turnpike, and the slow crawl eventually turned into a dead stop of all traffic somewhere just south of Newark. After about an hour, the cars started moving again. About 10 minutes later, it started to POUR, out of nowhere. Which stopped traffic all over again.

    7 hours later we finally got to Hershey and checked into the hotel. The only room left by that time was a smoking room, even though we requested a non-smoking room. Well, this room reeked of cigarette smoke. The smell was in the curtains, the carpet, the bed spreads, everything. We were so tired that we didn’t want to find another hotel, so we just dealt with it and figured we’d find another room the next day.

    Of course the next day, and the following day, it poured all day. So the weekend was basically shot except for a trip to the Hershey factory, which was mobbed with all the other people who were also not able to do anything outdoors.

    On Sunday night we were headed home, the friend who was driving was going to stay in Philadelphia with family, so the plan was to drive me and my other friend to Philly and we’d take the train back to NY. Fine, except that there wall-to-wall traffic on the way to Philly and we missed the last train from 30th Street. Our friend, being a trooper, drove us to Trenton so that we could take a NJ Transit train back, and she’d drive back down to Philly.

    So we got to Trenton and had just enough time to buy our tickets because the train was at the platform and we ran to get on. At this point it was about 3am and we were just exhausted and happy to be on our way home.

    When the conductor came around to collect our tickets, we gave them to him, he looks at the tickets and looks at us and said, “You’re going to Penn Station?” We said yes, we were, and he said, “But this train is going to Philadelphia.” Turns out we got on a SEPTA train to Philly, it was on the track right across from the NJ Transit train and we didn’t realize it. My friend was furious but I was so tired at that point that I started laughing. Which just pissed off my friend even more.

    So back we went to Philadelphia, where, again, there is no other train to NY that night. We called a car service to get us to Trenton, where we FINALLY got the right train to get back home (we checked this time to make sure we were on the right train).

    At about 7am, we finally arrived at Penn Station, we didn’t even say goodbye to each other, we just went our own ways to get home (we eventually did speak again).

    Thus concluded the shittiest weekend getaway I ever had.

    1. Wow! A vacation refuses to let you get home is an especially hellish one. I’m giving you an extra ballot because of that return trip to Philly. It’s the least I can do.

      BTW: Did you ever make it to Gettysburg?

      1. You’re a good sport, bro. Ordinarily I like Philadelphia a lot, but not that night.

        Yes, I did actually make it to Gettysburg on a different trip–I needed to go if only to leave a tribute on the grave of my great-great-great uncle, who served in a Pennsylvania regiment and was caught in a Confederate meat grinder on day 2 of the battle!

      2. I am pleased to hear that your forefathers were proud Yankees.

        I remember reading about your trip to Gettysburg; that ghostly tape recording still gives me chills. I haven’t been there in 30 years. I really should go back.

  32. This was actually my worst experience from my best vacation. My family and I went on a trip out west, and we spent the night at the Grand Canyon. It was not a pleasant experience. We stayed in this small room in this motel at the park, which had no AC (we were there in July), and which the room was so small that the twin sized bed took up the majority of the space. I slept on a tiny roll in bed, and the bathroom with a shower was no larger than a porta john. To make everything worse, I was stung by a wasp which made my leg swell up.

      1. Thank you! And congrats on your story. Also, make it three; I’m going to post the contest on my blog, Notes From a Philomath, tonight.

  33. A HUGE Congratulations on your Highlights story. And the cover, too. Fantabulous!! I’m going to my library to read it.

    I don’t vacation, at least not since my mom passed away. All those trips were fantastic. All cruises–Mom’s choice. I wasn’t all that excited about traveling through the Panama Canal–it being just a big ole ditch–but it was the most fun ever. We stood on deck and saw every inch we passed by, got blaring sunburns, and somehow survived the hot and humid day on the equator. Then stopped in Acapulco for a few days, swam with dolphins. watched cliff divers, parasailed, and ate goat cheese–Yuck!–for the first time. Turned out to be a great time. Odd how parents can become friends.

    Strangest vacation ever — you didn’t ask for the strangest, but it is closest I have for worst. I was a kid, my parents rented a cabin somewhere in upstate Michigan. I cannot recall how seven people slept in a small two room cabin, but we did. I don’t know why, but my older sister washed the dishes after dinner and hung them on a clothesline to dry (they were paper plates), my mom went for a walk up a small hill not knowing there were cougar sightings that same afternoon (scared my dad silly), and the lake didn’t have sandy beaches, instead having a wall between the grassy area and the water. It was about three feet down to the water so you either had to jump into the water or walk to the stairs at the end of the dock. I was the only one to catch a fish, so in our vacation album there is a picture of each of us kids holding my fish as if they had caught it. That was also the trip we drove around looking for deer because mom wanted to see one. We never saw anything more than a plastic lawn deer. All that time we wasted driving around. But when they retired, mom and dad unknowingly moved into an apartment complex where a deer family came around looking for food. Still do. Two deer walked right up to my patio door then one stuck his tongue into a bird feeder and slurped out all the bird seed. It was an hilarious sight.

    Going to reblog, which will Twitter and Facebook the post.

    1. I’m not quite sure why, but the part of your story that struck me the most was the fact that your siblings posed with your fish. Seriously, what gives? Whatever happened to a fish catchin’ meritocracy?

      Strange vacation or no, you get three ballots in the hat!

  34. I just found your blog literally minutes ago, but I already love it! As far as vacations, I would say the best one so far was on June 20 of this year. I went to Clementon Park in New Jersey with my friends, almost drowning in the process (well, I felt like I was going to drown, they just took me as being dramatic). They coaxed me into going into the 5 foot mark in the wave pool and me only being 5 feet, I was- needless to say- terrified. The alarm sounded and the waves began coming in. Despite the trust I had in my friends, who can both swim well, my heart was ready to explode out of me. It had gotten to the point where I had wrapped myself around one buddy of mine as a sort of frightened feline. The wave, high as a mountain in my eyes, washed over my face. Common sense a stranger to me in these moments, I inhaled, which forced all the water into my nose and mouth. While coughing violently, I managed to choke out, “I. Can’t. Breathe.” In response to my watered down gasps and cries for help, what do my friends do? Laugh. That’s right. They actually found my suffering amusing! In hindsight, I assume my face was something to laugh at. I CANNOT swim, at all. After this time in the water, we went on to do other things. Eventually, we came back. I was ready this time! My friend found a life jacket in my size and I journeyed out into the water. As if I wasn’t embarrassed enough, 3-5 year-olds swam around me like fish (I am well over 5 years, so my pride was slightly bruised). Even still, I managed to kick my feet in the water and relaxed SLIGHTLY. I never realized how terrifying floating can be. I think not having control over my own movements is something I can’t cope with.
    Sorry this post was so lengthy! But, this has been my best vacation so far. Why? Because I’m a centimeter closer to not fearing the water.
    Nevertheless, I can still taste that chlorine water…..*shutters*

    1. Hi, “blogel!” I give you credit for facing your fear so head on! You actually brought to mind my first ski trip when I was in high school, could barely manage the bunny slope and my friends talked me into taking the lift to the top! No, I won’t get into lol

      I looked on your blog to see if I could contact you offline, but couldn’t. I wanted to ask you something, so could you please contact me? Thanks!…

  35. Hmm… Well, in retrospect, I believe that, while all our vacations have been GOOD, there have been some BAD aspects.

    While camping, we have been plagued by mosquitoes (and other biting insects), crayfish (it flooded not that long before we got there), raccoons (apparently they like shaky Parmesan cheese), skunks (don’t ask), hissing owls (who knew owls were no noisy and territorial) and recently, I was sick, coughing a lot, etc. Not fun.
    When we went to Disney World (Florida), it was nice. It’s just that it rained. 4 out of 6 days. And I think our first and last were the only ones without rain. 😉

    But all of them were fun. So, I don’t have a “best” or “worst” vacation. I’m still too inexperienced for that. 😉

    1. All the worst vacations begin with “While camping…”

      Someone is going to have to explain to me the appeal of this camping thing. You know what? Don’t even bother explaining it. I’ll never understand.

  36. No need for a prize, Mike. Just want to congratulate you on Harold’s Hat. What an accomplishment! I loved the magazine as a kid, and will look for it next week just to see your story in it. In the words of a bright young philosopher, You are so cool.

  37. Congratulations!!!!
    Okay, worst vacation ever was to Mammoth Caves as a 12-year-old. My 16-year-old sister and I nearly got the car turned around 13 times. Even the pillow barrier in the middle of the car could not impede our fight. We survive the journey only to have Mom buy a regular tour pass. What? I thought I was spelunking! I was going to find a new cave and name it after Lauriasis! This is … bull-…this is a piece of -…this is crappy! The caves were pretty cool though and quite mammoth. I think we all collectively look back on our worst vacation with some love.

  38. Best Hat Ever – on the cover. That is sooo cool! (I know. not the most unique response, but one that you can’t ever get tired of hearing)
    It must be summer – so many blogs with contest/challenges. Doodles however are up at the top of the list of winners. Just seeing doodles you created for others makes me smile.

  39. I probably won’t enter the contest but thought you might think it a “hoot” to see that I wrote a June post about “Boy’s Life” magazine and we all got excited about the good, clean fun found in “Highlights” magazine, too.

  40. My vacation: It was on my brother’s birthday that we went to the Dominican Republic. My mom told him that he could choose one thing that we could do that day and he was adamant in saying that we should “swim and stay at the pool all day”. My mother agreed that this was reasonable. However, let me mention that the sun in the Dominican is very strong, and could probably melt skin off the bone if you stayed under it long enough. I learned this the hard way. We stayed in the pool, or by the pool, the entire day (or until dinner time). After wards, we headed into our hotel room. It was then, with the change of light, that we realized that we were entirely burnt to a lovely lobster red crisp. There comes that moment after you realize that you should be in pain that the pain swarms up and smacks you in the face. That’s what it was like. I stared in the mirror at my red skin and suddenly I was on fire! I was told to take a shower – a good idea, one would think – but it would appear that the hotel’s water temperature liked to fluctuate from blessingly cool to the heat that can only come from the fiery pits of hell.
    After suffering the tortures of the shower I returned to the room where I liberally slathered myself in aloe vera (thank the gods I wasn’t allergic to it like one of my relatives). I could not lay down. No, sir. If I were to lay down I believe that my skin would have puddled off my limbs and soaked into the mattress or maybe the sheets would have caught on fire from the heat that bled from my skin. To make matters worse, we only had one bottle of aloe vera and all of us (my brother, grandmother and mother) were looking like freshly boiled lobsters. So we made the rounds with the bottle and when the last bit was used up, we all turned to my brother with looks that said we had given up on ever recovering from the blistering of our skins.
    Of course, it took more than a couple of days for the sunburn to go away entirely but it was a real godsend when it did. I can still recall the feel of my hand burning up when I touched my shoulder to rub on some aloe vera.

      1. This is a little late, but I suppose it comes from being a writer! 😛

  41. I have been skimming this afternoon looking for blogs to read and follow. I’m going to give yours a try because it looks like you have an amazing sense of humor as evidenced in the Salamander doodle story.

Join the conversation! We're all friends here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: