Friday, July 18, 2008

Blog Challenge: Childhood Vacations

The current SS Blog Challenge is very timely:

Childhood vacations – what one family vacation in your childhood stands out in your mind as the most memorable?

Who were you with? What did it mean to you? Whether you took a vacation once every summer or once every decade; whether it was a weekend trip or a 2-week trip...let us hear about it.

Whether you were the Griswolds or the family who had their own Cousin Eddy showing up every year to deal with, there has to be some unforgettable memories you'll never forget...good or bad...that you can laugh at now. And if there wasn’t just one trip that stood out to you as being “the trip” maybe there was just the shared time with family on several trips that impacted you.

I think the way we traveled as kids and what we did impacts how we choose to travel with our own children as adults. So blog away...let’s hear about those memorable family vacations!
I was born in Alberta, Canada as were both of my parents. We moved to BC when I was three and left all our extended family behind. Dad has five siblings and Mom has four. Because of that, our summer and family vacations almost always consisted of trips to Alberta to visit family. Each trip was a little different timewise but we always drove the 12+ hour trip each way. Sometimes it was just a long weekend, sometimes it was a week, a few times Dad took us there and left us at Grandma and Grandpa's for a month or more while he came home and worked. My parents and I tried to count one time and concluded that our family has made the trip back and forth across the mountains close to three dozen times. Minimum once a year, often closer to two or three times.

Knowing this will help you understand how odd it is for me to have not visited Alberta at ALL since the summer of 2005. For me, three years is an INCREDIBLY long time. I didn't actually realize HOW long until I arrived at Grandpa's this summer.

I had been planning to go to Alberta this summer since February (or even before). I just knew it was time to make the trip and with two of my brothers there now and my last remaining grandparent not getting any younger it just made sense. I looked at flights and concluded that since my list of people to visit were spread out some, driving would make more sense and, in the long run, be cheaper. I offered Mom the option to come up with me so I'd have a driving buddy but we didn't really finalize anything.

The weekend before Canada Day Dad got the same urge and since he got the Monday off, he and Mom packed up and drove to Crossfield. He came back on Canada Day and my brother Robert drove Mom about half way to Edmonton (Aunty Liz met them and took her the rest of the way). That left me to drive the whole way to Edmonton by myself, a trip of just over 1000 kilometres.

I was a bit nervous about going that far alone but I psyched myself up for it. I gathered practically every cd I own and put them in a carry case. I hit Walmart for snacks and made egg salad sandwiches the night before I left. I froze water bottles and I made sure to hit Starbucks on the way out. I even printed directions just in case 20+ years of driving the same route didn't stick and I needed reassurance that I was going the right way.

The trip was great. I haven't been to Alberta in three years and the last few times I always took the southerly route through Banff National Park instead of North through Jasper National Park. The weather wasn't always fantastic. I hit heavy rain just before Blue River (when my gas tank was on the low side) and minor construction near Mount Robson but other than that it was smooth sailing. There was very, very little traffic on the roads. Mostly just me, local traffic and a handful of RV's. I did take a turn in Spruce Grove (just outside of Emonton) and ended up coming into the city on a funny angle but once I hit West Edmonton Mall I was able to get to Grandpa's with out incident.
Once I got to Grandpa's (Grandma passed away in 1996 which is why I'm not referencing her) the memories started to come. My parents have always rented and therefore we moved a lot. Seven different houses while I was growing up. My grandparents on the other hand moved into their house in 1975 when my mom was 15 and Grandpa is still there. That makes for a lot of memories in one place.

Most of them were good memories, I just wasn't really prepared for how MANY there were. I also had some really frank talks with my mom which were great but I went to bed emotionally exhausted each night.

A big part of that was my "detective work". I've always had a passing fascination with geneology but I've never devoted any more time to it than what was required by school projects. I know there are others researching various branches of my family and so far I've been content to let them do it, mostly just because I know how all consuming research can be. While I was at Grandpa's I pulled out some old family photo albums and pressed for details on who the people are.

On Tuesday we visited the grave yard and got photos of stones and, the biggest thing, after Grandpa left for church one evening, Mom and I went digging in his closet and pulled out a valise that he generally won't let us touch and went through it. It has ALL their important paperwork in it. Half of it is in German so I just took pictures of everyting. Scanning would be better but this was a quick portable way to get the information without him knowing that I was digging in there.

It's a bit overwhelming but it's also exciting. I'm not sure how far I'll take this research and I'm definitely just at the very beginning of my journey but I know I won't regret looking for information. I'll try and keep you posted on details.

Anyways, I kind of got off track. Bottom line is I spent my summers going to Alberta and I finally got to do this trip again. Now I have work to do :)

1 comment:

shirley319 said...

What a cool trip. The scenery looks gorgeous and that picture of the road with the single sign off to the left is REALLY good.