A friend of mine is taking a vacation starting tomorrow. That started me thinking about the yearly vacations I took with my family as a kid. We always started way before the sun was up. My younger siblings and I would stumble through the morning darkness, somehow feeling like we were doing something naughty, being up at such an hour. We'd pile in the back seat, with the usual argument about who had to sit in the middle seat. With paper grocery sacks filled with our toys at our feet, we'd buckle in, and begin the journey, quietly at first.
The sun would slowly rise as we traveled down the road. My sister & I would start watching out the windows, looking for the sign. There! As soon as we spotted the gigantic Tire at the side of the freeway, we'd start clamouring for breakfast. My mother would pass back styrofoam cups, plastic spoons, and those nifty mini boxes of cereal. I loved those! So many choices! We would eat our cereal in the cups, with milk from a thermos.
As the hours wore on, well, we were typical kids. In the days before handheld games, cell phones and mobile movies, we had only our toys and imaginations to entertain ourselves. Inevitably, one of us would get bored. And that one would decide to annoy his or her siblings. Not me, of course.
"Mom! She poked me." "Mom! He breathed on me." "Moooomm! Her hot sticky leg is touching me!" And of course, the old trick of waving your hand above, in front of, near, but Not touching.... And then it'd happen. "Don't make me pull this car over."
We would eventually get to our destination. Sometimes it was Faribault Minnesota, to see my Great Great Uncle Paul & Aunt Ethel. We'd go fishing, harvest corn from 'communial' fields (just duck if you see a car), and eat the most incredible gingerbread cookies I've ever had.
We would often go to Canada. I grew up with Canada as my playground. We went mostly to Tobemory. To find Tobemory, look at the Bruce Peninsula, and there at the very tip jutting into the Georgian Bay, that's Tobemory. It's a quiet harbor, near the Georgian Bay National Park. There are sunken ships we'd view through glass bottomed boats. There was the Flower Pot island we wandered about (and those pesky black flies). But mostly we stayed in the marina, at this cute motel. It was a safe place, and my sister and I were allowed to wander to the stores, unaccompanied! What freedom! And the snacks available there...so different than back home. I drank Five Alive (a juice blend sold in cans), and ate Milkshake bars, and lots and lots of Crunchie bars. They are still my absolute favorite candy bars! Mm....
The best part about vacations was always coming home. Somehow, home seemed a more precious place, after spending a few weeks on the road. Back home, where my beloved teddy bear, Great Big, awaited. All my barbies, and all my books. The back yard where I played in the sand box for hours. The street where my friends and I would play badminton, moving aside as cars came by. Home.
Have a great vacation, Ro!