Vacations, Part One: The Early Years
I’ve mentioned priorities before and, to me, VACATIONS are a big one! Because my blog was meant to help people adjust to changes that happen with age, I would like to compare and contrast my own vacations over my lifetime and address adaptations that have and/or will need to be made over time. I believe it is important to enjoy vacations throughout life in some manner, even if it is only through reminiscence. This will entail multiple posts, so I’m starting with my youth through high school. Some entries are weekend trips as opposed to weeklong (or more) vacations.
Ski Trips with Dad
My vacations have mostly been centered on physical activities, family and friends, often including all three. When I was a child, Dad would sometimes take us skiing or in the “off seasons” we might hike up a ski trail. I had to wait until I was nine to be ‘old enough’ to go to Mt. Tremblant in Quebec, Canada, where he had taken my oldest sisters, Jane and Sally, for ski weeks. I had envisioned Canada as having huge mountains and such piles of snow that we would be driving through tunnels of it to get to the slopes. I couldn’t believe we were actually in Canada when we got to the perfectly flat, almost snowless border! Fortunately, the actual resort did not disappoint. We did stop for a night in Montreal, since my motion sickness was severe enough to preclude a one-day trip. [Note: At nine, I already required adaptations to accommodate my travel ‘disability’.] Coming from a small town, we were excited about escalators because they were a novelty. We needed little other entertainment. At Mt. Tremblant, we stayed in the same ski class all week and learned to ‘bend zee knees’ and ‘keep your feet neat with Pete’ (i.e. keep your feet together). I was lucky to be able to go for three years in addition to a ski vacation we took in Vermont (my home state), sampling ski areas up North. It was special to have time with Dad when he wasn’t working or on call.
My sisters all went to a camp in Maine for two months in the summer, but due to my motion sickness, that wasn’t an option for me. In fact, I barely made it to the YMCA camp that was in our area, where I went for about five years. (I used to periodically vomit just trying to get to our local ski area, Hogback Mountain, 16 miles from home!) It was hard to be away from home, but Ann was there for my first summer and we survived. We also had a place on a lake near home that we shared with another family, our close friends the Walkers. They’d go out half the summer and live there and we had the other half, but any of us could go out and enjoy the lake while the other family was there. I really WAS spoiled, wasn’t I? We had a canoe and a rowboat and then Dad made a sailfish (a simple, flat boat with one sail, a centerboard and a rudder). Not being very good sailors we often tipped over. Sometimes we had more fun swimming from it than sailing. Once I went out with Dad and “Uncle Bob” (Dr. Walker) and there was NO wind, so it was very boring. I rocked the boat a little and Uncle Bob slid off! Whoops.
As we were finishing high school and had licenses, I was able to go to Mt. Washington with my avid skiing friend, Karen, to ski Tuckerman’s Ravine. I’d never been to the White Mountains, so it was an adventure from the start, but I had no idea how MUCH of an adventure it was going to become. She was on the national ski team and had already been there, so while she enjoyed hanging out at the Lunch Rocks and talking to our friend, Hank (who was a ski patrol from our home town), I started hiking up to try the skiing. It was a relief to me that there was a crevasse opened up in the middle of the slope preventing anyone from skiing over the Headwall that day. As I made my way to the top of the skiable slope, a huge chunk of ice broke off that Headwall and went crashing down the hill, blasting through the crowd on the Lunch Rocks. Everything went flying – people, skis, ice, rocks. I thought I could see someone in the right color clothing for Karen so I thought she was okay. However, by the time I skied back down, she was lying in a litter with her head all wrapped up, ready to be evacuated with the other injured people on a big tractor. I told her not to worry that Hank was going with her and everything would be alright. She looked up at me and said “who’s Hank?” Oh, Lordy! My friend, who’d been admitted to Harvard was ‘brain dead’! There I was, half way up Mt. Washington with about 100 pounds of gear we’d brought to ski and spend the night at the shelters and it was the first time I’d ever carried a real pack. Thank goodness for the kindness of others! Four guys who were headed down volunteered to carry Karen’s stuff and divided it up among themselves. I never even found out their names. After I got to the car, the next problem presented itself. It was her car – a standard – parallel parked. I didn’t exactly drive standards – yet. So I’d turn it on, lurch forward a little, slam on the brakes and stall. It wouldn’t seem to go into reverse until I was down to my last shot. One more try and I’d have to go find someone to help me. Phew. I made it out and had a slightly jerky drive down to North Conway and the hospital. Karen had a concussion and had a few stiches, but we returned three weeks later to Tucks, skied and stayed at the shelters with much better results.
Silver Nugget #1: Sometimes it’s just a concussion! This is a good example of “catastrophizing” or exaggerating how bad something is, which helps us to upset ourselves.
Silver Nugget #2: Persistence is key. Often it is the person who keeps trying who ultimately succeeds, regardless of how many times s/he may have ‘failed’.
Next week: Expanding Horizons