Vacations, vacations, wonderful vacations.
It's summer time (up here in the northern hemisphere) and folks are travelling.
So I asked the Word Wenches, What do you remember as a really great vacation?
Pat remembers one totally-for-fun expedition.
Our vacations are often working vacations, or combining two purposes like family and travel, and after a while, they all tend to blend together a bit. So perhaps I’m most nostalgic about a trip IT Guy and I made alone, just for the fun of it, shortly after he retired. We finally had the freedom to leave at any time of the year we liked—no job, no kids with school, no social or business obligations.
We were a bit uncertain about our newly limited budget, so we didn’t want to do any big splurges, but we had one place we’d dreamed of for decades—the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
Yes, we’d traveled that direction once before, while writing California Girl about a Route 66 trip. At the time, we could only admire the gorgeous balloons floating across the sky as we drove through. They were magical and all too brief. So this time, we made the trip just for the festival. I wasn’t writing a book about it. No research was involved, just pure enjoyment. We went with a tour so we didn’t have to worry about finding the best rooms or parking or any other hassle.
And it truly was the most magical trip I can remember. We saw the balloon glow and the dawn patrol and watched the race from our room when we left the grounds. We sat back and embraced the beauty of the countryside and the mystical blue skies.
And I even sneaked in a visit to a special tea room to meet with an author friend of mine and catch up. All in all, a very memorable trip!
Andrea is one of several Wenches who get their wilderness on.
Andrea: There are so many vacations filled with special memories—from the sublime to the absurd—so it’s impossible to pick a favorite. Spending time with family and friends, exploring history, just chilling out . . . each has its own unique and wonderful vibe.
But that said, a backpacking trip with my two brothers to Wind River range in
Wyoming not long after I had graduated from college and started working in New York stands out as one of the ones on the “keeper” shelf.
As happens when the rhythm of going off to school and college begins, it had been a long time since the three of us had been together in the same place for more than a day or two at holidays. My younger brother had recently moved to Wyoming to work for a mining company. He loves the outdoors—as do I and my older brother. So when Big Brother suggested we pack our knapsacks and do a fishing trip with Little Brother up in the alpine lakes, I was all in.
So off we went, hiking in 16 miles up to Island Lake, a remote spot at 11,000 ft (the last few miles are a real huff and puff when you’re carrying 60 lb on your back!) Oh, but was it worth it. We were camped on the water’s edge, surrounded by a semi-circle of peaks called Cirque of Towers. In the late afternoon sunset, the towering majesty of the stone alight in pink and gold was breathtakingly beautiful. We also hiked one day up to the top of highest peak in the continental U.S. at 13,000 ft. Again, unbelievable views.
But the truly special moments were sitting around the campfire each night, really having a chance to connect and talk the journeys we had been on so far. We were up there for a week—one rarely takes that sort of quiet time with people who matter in our lives, and that sense of renewing bonds and shared experiences still resonates with me.
I did mention fishing, right? So I have to add an anecdote. Both brothers are serious fishermen, and take pride in their flyfishing skills. Off they went each afternoon, after casting pitying looks at moi, their novice sister. One day, they laughingly left me an old rod with a hook baited with a worm, and told me to have fun, ha, ha, ha. So of course I throw the line in after they left . . . and promptly reeled in a 24” lake trout! I wish there had been cellphone cameras back then. The looks on their faces when they saw my monster were priceless. (Need I say, their fish were mere minnows in comparison!) I still tease them about that to this day!
Nicola's favourite holidays are very Scottish:
Nicola: It’s wet and windy here in the UK at the moment so there’s no better time to revisit one of my favourite holidays which was also wet and windy! Yes, it was last year on the very northernmost coast of Scotland. I’ve been on many amazing trips, some even to hot places (!) but in the end I just keep going back up north!
The first great thing about it was that we were staying in a cottage that was literally on a beach. Now I live as far from the sea as it is possible to get in the UK so going to the seaside is always a huge treat for me – and Angus as well of course. To fall asleep to the sound of the waves and to get up, open the door and be out in the dunes was totally amazing for us.
The area is rich in history, from the Viking settlement at SmooCaves along the coast to the ancient graveyard just across the sands with its tiny ruined church and many legends. Next to us was the Castle of Durinas, built in the 18th century on the site of a medieval palace. The castle, like our little cottage, was available to rent for holidays and fortunately it was vacant that week. I played the “I’m a historical author and I’d love to look round” card, which I don’t do very often but I simply had to see inside… I got the full tour with local guide Duncan and his adorable dog. Together we explored the ancient passageways and they told me stories of ghosts and pirates which, of course, will one day make their way into a book. If you’d like to go and stay there, the link is here!
The final icing on the cake, as it were, was that just down the road was a craft village where I spent plenty of time browsing the workshops, and on the site there was also one of the best cafes in the north of Scotland that served hot chocolate that could make even the coldest, rainiest day less driech!
Mary Jo brings us her great vacation and a cat picture.
Any vacation is better with a cat picture so I'll show that first.
Oh, Jo, how can you be so cruel as to ask about a favorite vacation? I've loved them all, and you can see that both The Panda and I are always ready for a new adventure.
I haven't blogged about my trip to Greece before since it was pre-Wenches, but it was a great chick trip with me, my sister, and our former sister-in-law, whom we like so much that we kept her. <G> We spent several days in Athens in the Plaka, the historic area of the city, and had an amazing view of the Parthenon from our
windows. Then on to Santorini, the Greek island I've most wanted to see, and it was amazing.
I could drown you in pictures, but I'll go with just this iconic one that shows the rugged volcanic bones of the island and part of the caldera, which is the circular sea left when the volcano blew the island into component parts. There is also the dazzling white and blue colors that say "Greece," and also make up the Greek flag. Sigh. I want to go back.
Once upon a time, Anne took her first expeditions a writer.
. special points if a vacation inspired your writing."
I was a bit nervous at first, but it turned out travelling solo, you meet all sorts of wonderful people that you probably wouldn't if you were with someone else. It also gave me time to think and ponder — a luxury that had been in short supply in my working life. And stories began to spin in my mind. Then, when I was in countries where I didn't speak the language, and didn't feel comfortable going out in the evening for anything other than dinner, I started to write in the evening. I sat on beaches in Brittany and wrote, I sat on Greek islands and wrote, I sat in grubby stations and wrote. The ideas came thick and fast and I loved it.
I have lived a lifetime of vacations. So much travel, all of it wonderful and interesting. I am so lucky.
In the summers when I was young, my father used to take us to Maine to go fishing.
Now, for me, fishing consists of sitting in a boat with a line dunked in the middle of a lake, admiring the scenery and thinking deep thoughts. Every once in a while you actually catch something, which is gratifying and leaves you with a lifelong disdain for any fish that isn't in the pan pretty much as soon as you dock on dry ground.
I knew an actual Maine Guide and asked him how one survived when lost for long periods of time in the wilderness
There are other types of fishing that involve going out on the sea and being sick the whole time. Or you can hike through the bushes and trip over rocks and eventually get to a stream where you do this thing with throwing your hook upstream to entice fish but mostly it gets tangled in a tree.
Not my fish shtick, as it were.
The lakes remain with me. Vivid hours with my father and a sister or two, listening to the woods, feeling the wind. Silence and bird calls everywhere around.
It just doesn't get any better than that.