On the day my Grandma died my dad and his siblings talked about the travels they had as kids. I think that is where my “travel lust” started. I’ve sat and listened to my dad talk about the trips they took with Grandma and Grandpa when he was young. In dad’s time, there was no internet, no TV shows about epic places to visit. There were no Anthony Bordains or Ian Wrights traveling around to far off places to intrigue you, make you want to see them yourself.
Dad grew up on a farm. He tells stories of working in the fields during the summer, coming to the end of the row and just sitting down and crying because he didn’t want to go back into the field. He also tells how his dad would sit down and talk to him about why they were working so hard. The fact that when they got the crops out, they would take their family vacation and this is what was paying for it. It always seemed to be enough for him to stand back up and walk back in.
I think my dad has been to almost every state in the union except for “Hawia-ya”. That’s how he pronounces it, “Hawia-ya”. It doesn’t seem to matter where I plan to go, he has either been there or been somewhere near it. He’s now in his 60’s and just made it to Alaska a couple years ago, he took a 5 week driving trip up there with friends, sometimes camping, sometimes staying in hotels. Even in his 60’s he still enjoys seeing new things. I guess there is still hope for me to hit my entire bucket list too.
I remember one story in particular that they were all talking about the day grandma died. It seems they were driving into California and had a bag of oranges in the car. As is the case today, if you are going into California, you can’t transport fruit or vegetables across the line. I don’t remember whether it was dad or Aunt Diane, but one of them would sit on a big stew pot in the front seat between grandma and grandpa. It got them up high enough to see what was going on. Obviously, grandma was not going to throw a bag of perfectly good oranges away so they put them under the pot and whomever was sitting there, stayed sitting there the entire time they searched thru the car. I’m sure the person sitting on the bag of “contraband” felt as though they were going to pass out with fear but those emotions are what made the memory. The emotions they felt made it possible for me to hear the story some 40 years later in great detail. Emotions, good or bad, help us to really remember a situation.
Emotions are what make an average experience into an “epic memory”.
That is what I keep in mind in every situation I find myself in when I travel. If there are no emotions, there will be no “epic” memory.
When I was about 10 or 12, our family went on vacation to Colorado. We and another family, the same family that dad later went to Alaska with, took a week and went to Rocky Mountain National Park with our pop up campers in tow. It was classic Americana, a wood grain sided station wagon, with green paint, a true “Griswold”, a “Nimrod” camper which was more of a tent on wheels, and a full back seat. I remember 4 main events about the trip. The agony of the drive out there, falling in the river right before we left one of the campgrounds, getting caught on the miniature railroad tracks by a camp employee who actually spanked us (it was the 70’s), and my brother getting his hand slammed in the door along side of the road. All 4 of these events had one common theme; they had emotion, both good and bad.
So that’s why today, when my family is sitting in a tent and it’s pouring down rain, it’s cold and we are miserable, I always say “just think how good of a story this will make!”
Now before I finish, I want to be perfectly clear. Although my wife may tend to have other opinions on the matter, I do not make it my one aim to put my family through things they don’t want to do. I do however have a habit of pushing the limits and prodding them on to do things they might well have been fine with missing out on. This is something that has increasingly been diminishing in recent years as Annette has grown weary of my zealous travel nature. She is still willing to go along; she just wants a little more comfort along the way.
The one thing I do know about the trips we have taken thus far, there have definitely been emotions involved, something I think you’ll see for yourself in the coming posts.