We're going on vacation.
Not a weekend trip to see the kids.
Not a trip to write an article where we also spend a little time sightseeing.
We're going on a real vacation, a regular American road trip. We're driving across the country, stopping in to see some relatives we haven't seen in far too long, and up into Canada and back. We're going to dip our toes in an ocean and watch out for grizzly bears in the Rocky Mountains. We're going to stop in Montana on the way back to pick up two Chinese college students (long story) and tour Yellowstone with them. Itâ€™s going to take two weeks. This will be our first two week vacation since 1975 and I'm really looking forward to it.
It's a lot of bother to be gone that long. We had to find someone to housesit, to watch the little dog and feed the cat and chickens. I still have about 47 things on my "to do" list that Iâ€™m not going to get done, and in two weeks that list will expand to about 347. I'm already dreading the sight of two weeks of mail spread across the dining room table when we get home.
I'm actually not so good on vacations. It's hard for me to tear loose from what I'm supposed to be doing and once I'm away from home and work I don't know what to...do.
I mean, I don't know how to fish, I don't understand why people sit in the sun getting a tan (I've spent most of my life looking for a spot of shade), and I'm not very good at games. I don't like to shop and I hate crowds. That wipes out about 90% of vacation-type activities.
I do like seeing things I've never seen before, but the problem with living in the middle of the Great Plains is that the first 1,000 miles or so is going to look quite a bit like the previous 1,000 miles. Now, if you live in New England you can be in a new state every 20 minutes. Not here, baby. It takes about three days to drive across South Dakota and a month to go border to border in Montana.
There's a theory that most of the crazy people in our country end up in California. I'm willing to accept that as a theory, but maybe they didn't start out crazy -- maybe they were perfectly sane at first, but the drive across Nebraska made them pop a cork, so to speak.
Still, I am going to give this my best shot. I'm getting the tires balanced on the car, picking out my favorite CDs for road music, reading up on grizzly bear repellent and seafood restaurants in Vancouver, and I'm thinking about what to pack. Blue jeans and sneakers are the obvious choice, especially since that's what I wear about 80% of the time anyway. Some folks have suggested I wear shorts once I'm a thousand miles from home, but that's just crazy talk. The more of this body that's covered, the happier everyone will be. I certainly won't be packing any black socks.
In fact, I may not pack any socks at all.
Yeah baby, I am a vacation animal!
Copyright 2009 Brent Olson
We're going on vacation.