“Book” Your Getaway!

Last weekend as I drove to town to do errands, every tree and stretch of land beside the road was green, green, green. The air pouring through my car’s open window was sweet and warm, and the sun smiled down, kissing everything and everyone with heat and happiness. I’m not exaggerating! I know the other drivers felt spring’s invigorating cheeriness, too. Even folks at the four-way stop in Thornhill managed to take their turns properly and with minimal road rage.

What caught my attention most, however? The profusion of camper-laden trucks pulling boats, ambling RVs, and cars jampacked with tents, sleeping bags, coolers, and other miscellaneous gear.

After our long winter, it seemed like everyone and their dog (Seriously, there were a ton of pets grinning joyfully from passenger windows) was out and about, ready to explore.

All the smiles—and bags of fast food—I spotted through windshields brought back memories of the many, many road trips I enjoyed with my family as a kid. One of my favorite parts of those long and varied holidays was waking up in the gently swaying camper, already long in motion, miles from where we’d stopped for the night. (Remember when you could legally travel like that? I am old!)

I’d clear a peephole in one of the condensation-misted windows and stare out at the blur of highway and—to me, at least—“exotic” scenery. No matter how familiar our destination was, my grandparents’ farms, or down to Vancouver to shop and visit extended family, or off to a favorite remote lake or campsite, each trip was ripe with possibility and promise.

When I tired of gawking, I’d burrow back into my sleeping bag (I favored a chocolate brown one that was incredibly soft and had an orange, beige, and brown interior, sporting a wild forest scene, replete with huge moose) and commence my other favorite part of the trip—one that will come as no surprise to anyone: putting my nose in a book.

My mom bought me an old, slightly battered train case at a church rummage sale when I was six,  and I treasured that thing until late into my teen years. It was perfect for book hauling!  Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy, Laura Ingalls, Mary Lennox, Anne Shirley, Bugs Potter . . . I’ve lost track of how many childhood friends I dragged with me in my early travels—a tradition I continued when I grew up, then passed on to my own kids and husband during road trips (especially via audio books).

In the same way that certain scents have a way of sending you back through time to places—and people—from your distant past, at specific scenic spots all along Hwy 16, I hear various characters and recall dramatic happenings. (Miss Marple haunts Terrace to Prince Rupert very spectacularly!)

I’ve always wondered if this duo love of mine for stories and road trips partially explains the inspiration behind my River’s Sigh B & B series. After all, each standalone novel is somebody’s road trip, his or her own personal story.

These days, thank you eReader, my luggage is a lot lighter when I travel, but whether it’s the beach, a campsite, the city, or the open road, you’ll still never find me without a book nearby.

And whether I’m literally traveling or not, I go on little escapades all the time. It’s the most wonderful part of being a reader: how there are no limits to the places you can visit, the time periods you can explore, the people you can meet, the adventures—sweet or terrifying!—you can find yourself in, the ways you can grow. . . .

I hope you and yours get to explore new-to-you terrain this spring or summer, by boat, plane or car—but even if you don’t (actually, especially if you don’t!), make sure you “book” other getaways and adventures.

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“’Book’ Your Getaway!” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, June 21, 2018 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

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And hey . . . in case, you’re looking for your next audio gallivant, I’d be honoured if you’d give WEDDING BANDS a try. 😊 Listen to a sample here and/or buy it today: 

 Audible.com  ~ Audible.ca Amazon Nook 

Wedding Bands is also available on iTunes and from a huge variety of other vendors, so if you have a favorite spot to buy from that’s not listed here, please look it up. 


The Trips They Are a-Changin’

I’ve been busy this month solidifying summer vacation plans, and while there are always some details that need careful attention or adjustments, what strikes me most about this empty nester holiday stuff is how easy it is, how few things need to be nailed down when you’re only organizing for two adults.
 
I remember well—and a huge part of me will always miss—the days when my children were small, despite all the work that went into planning even small excursions then. The labor was well worth it in the fun and memories we created, but it was exhausting at times, physically and emotionally.  
 
Plus our budget was always tight, a common yet frustrating fact: often your finances are at their shakiest at the time in life when you have the highest set expenses, the most mouths to feed, the most bodies to dress, and, simultaneously, the most things you want your kids to experience and see.
 
Recently I returned from a ten-day combined work/pleasure trip, where I carried a backpack and one small book bag—and that’s it. Parents of young kids carry more stuff just to go to church or for an afternoon at the lake. Stroller. Diapers. Wipes. Changes of clothes. Water bottles. Sunscreen. Toys. Food. 
 
Nowadays, I literally live by this travel mantra: Oh well, if I forget something I need, I’ll just pick it up somewhere. That attitude doesn’t really suffice when you have infants or toddlers and have to plan for possible delays, lack of access to restaurants, etc.
 
It’s nice to know where I’ll be staying, but it’s not critical in the way it is when you have children. As my adult son, who, along with his girlfriend, will be meeting up with my husband and me for part of our trip, said when he realized they’ll be arriving at our destination a day or two before our reservations kick in, “Oh well, we can always car camp.” Exactly. That’s totally an option when you’re an adult. Spontaneous car camping doesn’t work with small kids. To swing an overnight in a vehicle, you’d have to be completely non-spontaneous and make sure you had enough of everything mentioned in the list above—plus bedding.
 
I also—gasp!—actually sleep the night before holidays. I know. Crazy stuff, right? I’m not up until three in the morning doing all the things I didn’t have time for when I was running after youngsters—and then kept awake, though beyond tired, by racing thoughts, wildly going over and over all the things we still need to do before leaving the next morning.
 
Do you think I’m protesting too much? That perhaps I’m trying to sing the praises of empty nester trips only because I miss past ones full of kids and mayhem so much? (After all, you’ve read almost eighteen years of my thoughts. You know how much I loved traveling with my kids!) Okay, you got me. You’re partially right. As I said at the beginning: the work and the craziness and the busyness of planning and taking trips with your family is always worth it. For kids, every trip from the treat of a lifetime Disney vacation to the most simple getaway, camping excursion, or road trip is chock-full of new moments and first time experiences. I loved every minute of that and found it precious and joy evoking to get to relive that newness, that freshness, through their eyes.
 
But I also see things anew and differently traveling alone as an adult, unencumbered. Some opportunities open up that aren’t available or practical with children in tow.
 
So yes, I confess I look forward to taking my grans on overnights and/or holidays (hopefully my kids will be the kind of parents who let me, LOL!). I’ll happily shoulder the extra work, carry the gear, and shell out the money. But in the meantime? It’s great fun to travel light and to, instead of revelling in the thrill of others’ first experiences, keep having some myself. Hopefully that part of trip taking never changes.
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“The Trips They Are a-Changin’” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, August 16, 2017 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”