Toward the end of my career with Bell Canada, I had racked up considerable vacation privileges. Five weeks vacation, all of the statutory holidays, two “SDO’s” (scheduled days off) in each ten-week period, PLUS a couple of freebies at Christmas. I did the math and it added up to nearly ten weeks off! Man, did we have it good.
I wasn’t first in seniority, but close enough to be able to get the weeks I wanted. Which were during each of the season changes – the two equinoxes and solstices. As for the SDO’s, I booked those days on Mondays. My reasoning was that most people picked Fridays, so those days were relatively low-key. Mondays, on the other hand were considerably more frenetic.
As for how I spent my vacation? Nothing special. Gardening, mostly. You see, travelling to see the world holds no particular appeal for me.
That’s not true, really. I traveled across Canada in my late teens and I spent a week in England in the late 80’s. Between the two was a trip to the Canary Islands. I enjoyed myself while I was travelling and came home much enriched for the experience. (Except for the broken nose. That I could have done without.)
The mid-70’s trek was a student exchange program called “Young Voyageurs” designed for students who might not otherwise have the opportunity to see Canada. Twenty students from Waterloo Region traveled to visit twenty more in West Vancouver. Then our group hosted kids from Lac La Biche, Alberta. Everyone stopped in Ottawa at one point or another since this was a federally funded program. We used just about every mode of public transport out there: planes, trains, buses, boats. And a gondola ride up Grouse Mountain. (Can you imagine the cost? Can you imagine a similar program today? No, neither can I.)
More than a few times along the way, the natural settings brought me to tears. Mount Robson, the Capilano Gorge, the Pacific Ocean! We stopped at Butchart Gardens (mining factoid: a former quarry!) and at Cathedral Grove “a rare and endangered remnant of an ancient Douglas fir ecosystem on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.” The stand of towering, ancient trees is protected within MacMillan Provincial Park.
In the late 80’s I traveled to England with some friends. I almost bailed on the UK trip because of the Lockerbie bombing a few months earlier. My friends talked me down, I survived the flight, of course, and once on dry land, I did enjoy myself. Enormously. The pubs! I loved the pubs! I’d go back in an instant if someone perfected “beam me up” technology.
The beauty of the landscape moved me deeply. When visiting the ruins of moated castles, I felt a pull of recognition, something stronger than déjà vu. I felt that I was returning home. Again, I was brought to tears by the natural beauty.
After our lunch at one of the local I-loved-the-pubs! pubs, we made our way to the famous Stonehenge site. My friend and I were chattering away as her husband drove. We crested a hill and – BOOM — instantly fell silent. In the distance was the famous circle of stones. I can remember, even now as I type, the visceral connection I felt – one that commanded silence, reverence. The day was gray and drizzling. Rather appropriate for the mood, I thought. Unfortunately, the spell was broken once we arrived at the site. Crowds, confusing car parks and line-ups… and the worst, I pouted, was the barricade at the monument itself. Touch only with your eyes, children. Trust me, I get it. As a custodian for a heritage trail here in Cobalt, I know about vandalism. But still. I had hoped I could touch the stones.
I am deeply grateful for having made these trips. Because of the UK trip, I found my passion for gardening. The cross-Canada trek brought me out of my shell and I made dozens of new friends.
As far as traveling goes, I suppose it’s the “getting there” that holds no appeal – the cost, the crowds, my anxiety about flying or driving. I won’t even mention the nightmare that is airport procedure. When I travel these days, it’s by car, and short two-or three days at the most. Even then, I need a day or two days to recover from the change in diet, the strange bed, the anxiety of driving on the busy highways.
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Inspired by Cee’s Share Your World
What is the most famous landmark or building you have ever seen?
Do you like long vacation or lots of mini-vacations?
What is your favorite National or State Park?
What is your fantasy vacation?
Tags: Share Your World