Thursday, July 2, 2009

Remembrances of Vacations Past

Until I got married, I did not take very many vacations.

In my first parish, I did take the required vacation time, and not just because it was required. I needed it. But, as a single pastor, I had a hard time figuring out where I could afford to travel, and would like to travel, by myself. So I often took vacations either to visit my sister or to my home town, where I still had friends.

As a child, I only remember taking two significant vacations with my family. My dad had his own business, a small Television Sales and Repair Shop, and he just couldn't be gone. (I also suspect that we couldn't afford to travel that much.) But when I was going into the 5th grade, we took a two week vacation out to Seattle, Washington, to visit my aunt and uncle and their two small children. My uncle had gotten a job at Boeing. It was the first time anyone from my family had moved so far away.

This was a Big Deal in many ways. My dad had never left his work for so long, and I'm sure it made him anxious. We drove out there, and it took us three days in the Rambler. I figured out that Montana was a Really Big State. It was the first time I ever saw a mountain, or an ocean. We stayed in motels every night, but just looked for blinking "vacancy" signs. On the way home we stopped at Yellowstone National Park and saw Old Faithful. My aunt and uncle took us to the ocean, the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, and other places that I don't remember any more.

The second major vacation was a family vacation to Disneyland, when I was 16 years old. This was about a year after my dad's business had gone bankrupt. He was working for someone else now, and had actual vacation coming. And this was the One Dream Vacation for our family. My dad got us hotel reservations all the way out to California. We stopped for an extra night in Denver, Colorado, to visit friends who had moved away. At Disneyland, we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel -- the height of luxury for us -- and had a tour guide for our first day at Disneyland. I was in total awe of her abilities, as she would speak to us, and then turn and speak to another set of tourists in french! I decided then and there that I wanted to be a tour guide at Disneyland when I grew up.

I sewed a little back then, and sewed myself three new pairs of shorts, two halter tops and one midriff blouse especially for our trip. Thus began my obsession with having "something new to wear" when I travel.

Since getting married in 1999, I've travelled more than in my previous forty years combined. I've been to San Francisco, to Pennsylvania twice, to Disney World in Orlando, to Door County, Wisconsin, and to the North Shore of Minnesota. We've headed out to the Black Hills and Chicago by car, and to Albuquerque and the Grand Canyon by plane (haven't taken the train yet, though).

And since being up there at Lake Superior for the umpteenth time (and it never gets old, by the way), I've been thinking of two of the pleasures of vacations: there is the humble pleasure of discovering something for the first time, of realizing how little you really know about the world, and expanding that world just a little bit again. And there is the other pleasure of going back again to the place you've been before, the joy of returning to a familiar place, with its familiar mysteries.

I've been to the North Shore many times, but always a little later in the summer. This week was the first time I've seen the lupines bloom here.

I wonder if heaven will be that way too: familiar, but also full of discovery, comfortable, but strange.

7 comments:

Lindy said...

I will be returning to a familiar, place in a few weeks, New York, and I'm looking forward to seeing some familiar places. But, the city is ever-changing and I am eager to see what I'll discover on this trip.

I have my new clothes too!

Diane said...

so the trip to London fell through. for now anyway. We are going to New York instead, but unfortunately, we are going next week.

I'm bummed that I won't be able to meet you.

the two things I want to do on this trip are: Ellis Island
Central Park.

Purple said...

I love the way you describe vacations...new things, larger world, familiar mysteries.

Presbyterian Gal said...

If you have time in New York, go to Little Italy and have a cannoli. They have the best cannolis in the world!!

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Your post triggered some memories for me, as we've gone to the North Shore quite a number of times too, even in winter when we were young and did more cross country skiing. Also it made me think about family "vacations" when we were young. Those were just to visit family, as we lived from hand to mouth, even though both parents worked.

Things have changed for many families, either because of plastic money or rising expectations, or more disposable income.

Tourist "cabins" have sure changed because of rising expectations. I think of the right-on-the-shore cabin hubby and I went to on the North Shore in 1973 for two nights. It was $6/night for a clean, but tiny place.

I find an internal tension between wanting to revisit familiar places or go some place new. Plus we have very elderly parents to visit on our limited time off.

Barbara B. said...

Yes, travel really is good for expanding one's world!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

My experience of vacation is so much like yours--hardly any as a child and relatively cheap and safe trips as a single woman. Since marrying, we've had a couple of places we return to again and again and also taken a couple of more adventurous trips. Personally, I lean more toward the familiar ones.