Vacation means something different now than it meant when I was a yonker growing up. When you’re a kid, just the existence of summer is vacation enough. Every once in a while, the family would go someplace. We visited the Grand Canyon one year, Disneyland a couple of times (it’s an adventure when you live in northern California), and took a few trips up to the snow.
Since I met my wife, on the other hand… I’ve gone camping, to Hawaii for our honeymoon, Australia for three weeks (horseback riding around Noosa + a conference on her part), a driving tour of the northeastern states overlapping with her college reunion, several car trips to Montana and New Mexico… with side trips to the corners of Arizona, a zip through Yellowstone, and a rather adventurous swing up to Lake Louise in Canada and then across to Vancouver Island and down the western U.S. back to Los Angeles. In a Volkswagen Passat. With a 3-month old and a dog. Note to new parents: traveling with a 3-month old is actually much easier than traveling with a 14-month old. A 3-month old requires breaks to eat and change diapers. A 14-month old, on the other hand, is used to being able to move around, and they get really cranky if you plonk them in a car seat for 6+ hours.
I like taking real vacations – “pack up and get out of town” vacations. I’m glad I work at a job where there is no political pressure to postpone or avoid vacations altogether. I’m old enough and confident enough in my abilities and value not to put up with that sort of nonsense, but it’s nice to have an accomodating employer. This year we’re going back to Montana (we try to make that a yearly trip). We’re going to try our darndest to make our 10th anniversary in Italy. At some point, I need to do a pub crawl through Ireland. There’s lots of places to go, people to see. Kitty’s going to always be ahead of me in continental trips, since she’s already been to Antarctica and it’s hugely expensive to go there (seredipity, I’ll leave that story to her to tell). Now that I’m in a Ph.D. program, there’s always the possibility of international conferences, too. The nicest thing about conferences is that they might be someplace you wouldn’t normally consider going to in your priority list of “places to go”, and you might have an absolute ball there, if you take some vacation time and spread it around either end of the business part of the trip. Finland maybe? India? Who knows?
One of my favorite vacation moments was on our Australia trip. Aside from driving all over the Sunshine Coast (and up to 1770 to take a catamaran out to Lady Musgrave Island) we booked a 4-day trail ride that took us from Noosa, to Tewantin, up to Boreen Point on Lake Cootharaba, over to Kin Kin and then down to Cooran and then ending in Pomona (Baino can attest that those are all actual names – Australian names are a hoot). I’d been on a horse for maybe a grand total of 3 hours prior to this trip, and although I was all done in by the last day, I had a great time. Here’s a couple of shots of the pub/hotel where we stayed in Kin Kin and some of the characters we met there.
And the obligatory scenic shots:
Australia’s Sunshine Coast is remarkably similar to California (not really surprising, given their relative positions on the globe). At the same time there’s lots of little differences that add a very surreal feeling to the visit that I didn’t get anywhere else. Hawaii is just different. Australia is different, but in ways that are still hauntingly familiar. We’ll have to go back someday.