- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Series: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 9)
- Hardcover: 217 pages
- Publisher: Amulet Books; 1st edition (November 4, 2014)
- Language: English
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8 inches
As Greg Heffley's summer vacation begins, his mom announces that the family will be going on a surprise road trip. Greg remembers previous vacations that went wrong, so he isn't excited for this one. As they pack their suitcases for the trip, Greg's dad suggests that they bring his old boat on the trip as well. The boat ends up being towed behind the minivan for extra storage, although the back of the minivan, where Greg ends up sitting, is still very crowded.
After a day of driving, including some road trip games, the family stops for a place to sleep, although they end up getting stuck in a run-down motel. In the morning, Greg and his brother, Rodrick, decide to go down to the motel's hot tub. A different family is already in there, so Greg and Rodrick return to their room. As Greg tries to sleep, he hears the family from the hot tub riding the cleaning cart across the hallway. Greg gets mad and yells at them, and the kids call for their father. Their father then steps out into the hallway, but he doesn't see which room Greg went into. Greg then tries to go back to sleep.
The next day, Greg's family decides to visit a county fair. On the drive there, Greg notices the kids from the motel in a purple van, and nicknames them "the Beardos" after their father's big beard. At the fair, Greg's little brother, Manny, wins a living baby pig from a contest. Although Greg and his parents don't want to keep the pig, Manny and the people at the fairgrounds do. The pig ends up staying in the back of the van with Greg.
The family stays at a better hotel the next night. However, the pig raids the minibar, which ends up costing a lot of money. Later, Greg's dad has to take a business call during the drive, and needs everyone to be silent. After a chain of events involving Rodrick loudly chewing gum, the pig biting Greg's finger, and a Spanish CD playing at max volume, the call does not go very well. Greg's parents then decide to donate the pig to a petting zoo, which upsets Manny. After Greg is taken to a veterinarian for treatment for the pig bite, the family stops at another hotel.
In the morning, Greg's mom decides to take the family to the beach for the day. As Rodrick drives the minivan on the bridge, Greg sees a seagull and feeds it a cheese curl from the van. Greg's mom warns him that seagulls are aggressive, and he shouldn't feed them. Then, the seagull lands on the van and squawks at Greg. He throws another cheese curl at it in an attempt to get it to fly away, but the seagull then goes in the van. It takes Greg's bag of cheese curls and flies away, but hit the van roof, and the cheese curls fall back into the van. During this panic, Rodrick accidentally presses the gas pedal, and ends up hitting the car in front of them. The people in the car are understanding, but Greg's family's minivan will take four to five hours to fix. They decide to go to a nearby water park to kill some time.
Greg's parents put their wallets and cell phones in a locker. They are able to find a beach chair, but it has a broken strap. After Greg is pranked by Rodrick and has a misunderstanding with people at a raft ride, he goes back to the chair, but finds that it's not there anymore. It turns out that the Beardos took it. Greg decides to not get in any more trouble with them, and goes back to his family at the snack bar. As they prepare to leave, they realize that they have lost the key to their locker. After a failed search, Greg remembers the locker number, and asks an employee to unlock it, but it turns out that he remembered it wrong. Greg tells his family about the Beardos and tries searching back at the their beach chair, but he notices that the Beardos are already driving away.
At this point, Greg and his family decide to go back home. They get their car back from the mechanic, but since Greg's parents left their wallets in the locker, they are unable to pay him. He advises them to turn the heater on full blast so the radiator doesn't stop working. As they get closer to their house, they pass by the motel they stayed at during the first night. The Beardos' purple van is out front. Greg sees the family leave their room to go to the pool, and they forget to lock the door. Greg's family, besides Manny, all run into the room and raid the room. However, as Greg's dad is using the bathroom, the Beardos come back. Greg's dad runs out and is able to distract them long enough to get away from the hotel. However, since they forgot to turn on the heater, the car breaks down, and one of the tires goes flat.
Greg notices a purple van approaching them, but the drivers turn out to be two Spanish-speaking men who try to help. Manny then starts speaking perfect Spanish from the Spanish CD that played earlier, and he talks to the men for a while. However, Manny convinces them to drive his family to the petting zoo, where he gets the pig back.
At home, Greg has to adjust to living with the pig, his parents cancel their credit cards and get new ones, and the boat is given to the Spanish men for their help. Greg then finds the key from the water park in his shorts, and decides that he can either tell the truth to his parents and accept the consequences, put it in Rodrick's dirty laundry, or just flush it down the toilet. The book finishes with Greg writing, "And whichever way I go from here, it's hard to see this story having a happy ending."
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