Having recently returned from a family vacation in Canada, I started thinking about its origin and what it actually ended up being. Many months ago, my oldest son expressed an interest in going to the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, which featured a ton of bands over a four-day period. He bemoaned the fact that most of his friends were too married or too broke to commit at that point, and I glibly said, “Well, I’ll go.” And I would. To his credit, he didn’t immediately say, “Seriously?” Given our mutual love of all things Foo Fighters-related (we actually saw the band together for the first time a couple of years ago), we both were pretty excited about the possibility of seeing them again. We each requested the time off from work and said we would order tickets soon—but first we would see if my youngest son wanted to go.
He wasn’t sure. It was a financial commitment he wasn’t ready to make. So we waited, and then we kind of knew the answer, but we waited. As a couple of weeks went by, we kept waiting on getting tickets and for no particular reason. And then I started thinking about it, and wondering, “If I spend the money on a four-day festival and then lodging, food, travel and all, would I rather be spending it on something more?” But I didn’t say anything. I already said I’d go. Meanwhile, we waited and occasionally would mention, “Hey, we better get tickets,” and do nothing.
I started thinking about Canada. More specifically, I started thinking about Prince Edward Island, a place I hadn’t been to since I was a teenager and where my maternal grandparents were from. It’s also the place my mom spent many of her childhood and young adult summers. I kept thinking how amazing it would be to bring her to the island one more time; how excited she’d be.
Gratuitous use of Foo Fighters video, just because.
So a few weeks later, my oldest son called and brought up the festival, and we had this circular conversation in which we both realized that other than the Foo Fighters, there weren’t any other bands in the course of the four days that we were absolutely dying to see. Sure, they would be great and we both love music of all kinds, but did we really want to spend four days doing that? I brought up Canada and asked if he would be interested in going up to P.E.I. with me instead, and bringing along his grandmother, too. He immediately said yes.
Being the type of family that we are, we knew this would not be a simple threesome taking a trip. We had to open it up to everyone (and by had to, I mean that of course we wanted to offer everyone this chance to come; the more the merrier in our clan)—meaning my daughter, her husband and their infant son, my middle son and my youngest. Once logistics were figured out, everyone was in—except my mom. My daughter and I went to see her and over the course of lunch, I told my mom the plan and that we wanted her to come. She was surprised and then excited.
And then a day or so later, my phone rang and my mother’s voice was all business in the manner she tends to use when she has something to say that might upset me, or that she thinks I’ll try to talk her out of. Much to her disappointment, she couldn’t come with us. It was just too much for her being in the car that long, and unfortunately, given the short window of time we had available for travel, we couldn’t break the trip up into shorter travel times. I was heartbroken and the kids were as well, but I understood. She turned 86 the day before we left, and although she is more like 66, she has a hard time sitting in a car for very long. Because she is so active–and can do more in a day than most people half her age–I often forget that even she has limitations.
We decided instead to go to New Brunswick, and rented a cottage along a beautiful river in Richibucto Village. My daughter and her family, along with my middle son, could only stay for three nights and had to travel back home on the fourth day. Since we had extra time off, my oldest and youngest sons joined me to venture further on to Nova Scotia, a place none of us had ever been. Our plans were ambitious, particularly for the four-day period, given how long the commute up and back was (between 11-13 hours, depending on the roads and stops along the way). Mind you, this was done with a baby who turned five months old on the last day in New Brunswick. Fortunately, my grandson is not your average baby temperament-wise, and proved himself to be a super-traveler who kept us all in high spirits with goofy grins throughout the four days.
With the lack of connectivity to the outside world—meaning we had no cell phone use or internet access for the most part—we were so fully engaged with each other that it was just an amazingly wonderful four days in spite of lousy weather for the most part, cold and rainy a good deal of the time. We explored a bit of New Brunswick and made our way to P.E.I. for the afternoon one day. We played a madcap game of Monopoly, in which my son-in-law wiped us all out financially in record time. We played with the baby, enjoyed a fire one night by the river, did some reading and most of all, some relaxing, looking out upon one of the peaceful vistas I have ever seen (that’s it at the top of this post). We ate a lot and did a fair amount of beverage consumption, too.
As we said our goodbyes, with part of our group heading back to New Hampshire and the rest to Nova Scotia, it felt like a really good vacation had already happened and now there was another adventure on its way. And it was an adventure since we knew little about where were going, and our crazy busy lives in the months prior had led us to do little research on what we might choose to see or do. In fact, we changed what little travel plans we did have just the night before in an effort to scale back the driving time to a destination and spend more of it in actually seeing things.
And see things we did. There were a couple of winery stops—the fun you can have when your kids are older—and a visit to one of the most gorgeous areas (Five Islands) I’ve ever seen. We drove on back roads and through what felt like real-life postcards, seeing one beautifully scenic vista after another, and stopping to explore further here and there. It was remarkably relaxing and just so enjoyable—and I remembered once again how much I love road trips and how seldom I find myself out on the road these days, taking in new areas.
I remarked on that very thing not too long ago to a good friend. When I was married, heck, from the time I started dating my husband a million years ago, driving through new places and taking long road trips were some of our favorite things to do. My parents took my brother and I on so many long rides through beautiful country throughout my childhood, and my love of the road and where it can take me definitely originated at an early age. Being on my own for so very long now, I don’t make the time to go off on my own exploring—and to be honest, I enjoy it more with someone else—and I miss it. I feel so very fortunate that I was able to have this experience in Canada, and that my kids were open to having it with me.
There is nothing quite like getting off the grid, and away from the hustle of daily life, to connect back with nature and marvel at all the amazing things in the world around us.