In six days, we will load four sleepy kids into the car and head off to parts north, specifically upstate New York, Vermont, and Massachussetts. I haven’t been as excited about a family vacation in a while, since I really love going north in the summer (never have understood the appeal of Florida in July; January’s another matter).
I think part of the appeal is the nostalgia attached to this trip. Growing up, we had two kinds of vacations in my family: two weeks of fishing in Western Ontario or sightseeing and staying with cousins in Vermont. Now I have very fond memories of the fishing vacations at Lake of the Woods, ON. Granted, somewhere in the middle of the second week I would start to grow tired of the 6:00 am rousting from my dad: “c’mon, we got get ‘em while they’re biting,” followed by hours of trolling bays in a nine-foot Starcraft, watching my line get tangled in the Johnson outboard and my legs puff up as black flies and mosquitoes settled into their breakfast buffet. Still, there’s nothing like eating fresh Walleye or Northern Pike every night for supper and then driving over to the local dump after supper to watch the bears come out.
But every few years we would take a break from going “into the wild” in favor of a slightly more civilized form of travel. I say slightly because we tent camped the entire time, except for the last night before arriving home, when we would get to experience the four-star luxuries of a Howard Johnson’s or Holiday Inn. We never did theme parks, not that there were many in the sixties—at least not of the Disneyworld variety. We did, however, get to go to places like Fort Ticonderoga, Niagra Falls, Gettysburg, Hyde Park, Plymouth, and Boston. Recognize a certain historical theme here?
I actually enjoyed getting to see a lot of these places, like Boston’s Old North Church, Paul Revere’s house, and Mystic Seaport. OK, I never spent as much time reading plaques and historic markers as my parents did, but my souvenir tricorner hat was pretty cool, and I collected those felt banners from all the places we visited. Mostly, I just enjoyed getting to hang out with my dad, cracking jokes and seeing him in a completely different mode than his usual 9-5 demeanor at home. There were games of pinochle around the campsite picnic table, car games like counting the number of Volkswagen Beetles (everyone had their own color), and of course lots of campfires.
So I’m looking forward to making a whole new set of memories this summer. I can’t wait to get lost in downtown Boston, trying to find the U.S.S. Constitution.