One thing I learned from last week’s column by Mark Brett is never to plan a vacation for any place he is visiting.
To tell the truth, I learned a long time ago to avoid even thinking about going to any place Mark is thinking about going to. Vacations for Mark seem to be a long history of hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist bombings and others disasters.
Still, though, it got me thinking about vacations — especially since I am on vacation while writing this. These days, vacations seem to be mostly about catching up on housework and odd jobs.
I visited a few places over the years: typical tourist destinations like Hawaii, Acapulco and Paris, some not so typical like Arles, in the south of France, which I visited because of its connection with Vincent Van Gogh — I wanted to experience the light that inspired some of my most favourite paintings.
But the vacations I remember best are those with my family when I was younger. I suspect my teenage self wouldn’t agree, though.Back then, I was less than enchanted and eager for the day when I didn’t “have to” accompany my parents on these trips.
Looking back, those trips were an incredible experience. As a family, we travelled all over Western Canada and the U.S., from the Yukon to Arizona. And we did it the hard way, camping, first in an old converted van that could barely make it uphill without someone getting out to push and then, later, by car and trailer.
Oh, and if you don’t think travelling like that is “the hard way,” you have never tried to squeeze a family of six — mom, dad, my two older sisters and big brother — into a car for any length of time.
Those trips, which started when I was six months old and continued through age 16 or so, gave me some incredible experiences. Travelling this way meant I got to see the Oregon sand dunes, the giant redwoods, Death Valley, Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Hoodoos in Yoho National Park, Dawson City … the list is endless.
But I also got to see all the places in between, all the little towns, amazing scenery. a word which always seemed to me to be too cold and lifeless to describe the natural beauty of the world.
There were a few strange things along the way too, like running across a horse named Strawberry, who had a taste for root beer. If you opened a can of root beer and set it on a post, Strawberry would gently pick it up with her teeth, tilt her head back and chug it down.
Only root beer though — the mare would turn up her nose at any other kind of soda.
In all those travels though, there was one place I never got to visit, even though we passed close many times.
My mother still contends that I did go to Disneyland, with the rest of the family on its first big trip. Problem is, I was still six months away from being born, so I think you will understand when I say I really don’t remember much of the trip.
But it is my vacation now, and the housework is done, so it’s time to grab my camera, hit the road and do a little local exploring.
Steve Kidd is the senior reporter for the Penticton Western News