Outer Life has a nice piece on vacations. I get confused about the difference between traveling and a vacationing. Krista told me today that we have spent 16 of the last 21 days on the road; I was surprised, but it’s true. Some might call it vacationing. Vacation, in the typical sense, involves a cessation of work—a punctuation mark in mundane life. Vacation, for me, seem more like a caesura in a poem—traveling is a line break, or at least a pause for breath between the verses of a song.
I suppose I prefer to think of it that way because I never stop working. Most of the time traveling involves accomplishing something beyond “recreation.” Not that there is anything wrong with recreating—but I could count the number of times I’ve actually gone somewhere to recreate in the last thirty years on one hand. I suppose it comes from my experience with family vacations growing up. Trips were to visit relatives or fishing spots; no stopping at any tourist attractions—only miles of watching them go past in the window. My dad’s chosen “recreation” was fishing. The rest of the family went along, but stayed in camp while dad wandered off alone. Mother and I dodged bugs, read books, and daydreamed. But the best daydreams were looking out the back window of our family’s 1966 Ford Fairlane after dark as we returned from the mountains.
Not many tourist photos were taken. If the fish were big, dad would pose with them after he got home. Most of our family photos were rites of passage involving graduation or school functions; vacations were generally programmed obligations or negotiated escapes. My family album does not contain any photographs taken in front of landmarks, and few that were taken during trips.
I’ve been feeling mute this summer. It was liberating to just post photographs for a change. I’m sure it hasn’t had much in the way of narrative continuity. First, there was a honeymoon in Duluth MN (a negotiated two-day escape with a trip across the bridge into Wisconsin). Somehow, this inspired us to approach the relatively programmatic family visits in a more meandering way. The itinerary went something like this: St. Paul MN to Cameron MO (across Iowa), with a side-trip to the Spam Museum in Austin MN. Then, we went on to Pocola OK (traversing northwest Arkansas). Krista then went to Little Rock AR, while I took a separate trip to Norman OK. Next, I joined her in Little Rock for a few days. Then we both returned to Oklahoma for a final night before traveling across and up in Oklahoma, into Kansas.
We stayed the night in Lawrence, Kansas and had a delightful lunch with Bobbi & Margaret. Then the real meander started. We took pleasant drive into Nebraska, and spent the night in Omaha. The next day, we moved on to the National Music Museum in Vermillion SD before returning to Minnesota again.
Vacation? I guess. I’d rather think of it as a lyric poem— or at least a song.