On Vacations

Dallas was a nice trip.  We saw a bunch, ate some good food, bought a few things, and had more than one family nap.  (I love family naps.)  It was a relaxing, enjoyable trip, and I’ll try and get a few pictures up eventually.  The funny thing is how people have reacted to our choice of destination.  We’ve both had variations on the following conversation a few times.

“But… Dallas?  Why?”  “Why not?”  “Oh, you must have friends down there?” “No.”  “Is the weather great or something?”  “Not really – I mean, there’s no snow, but it’s still hoodie weather.”  “So what are you going to do for 10 days?”  “The JFK stuff, for sure, and otherwise, we’ll find something to do.  It’s a big city – there’s always something to see.”  “You’re not making plans??”  “Nah, we’ll wing it – I’m sure it will work out!”

And it totally did.  I stand by the fact that you can find something to do for a week in just about every place, ever, if you make some effort.  It’s certainly easier in a town with an aquarium, a zoo, a half dozen museums and a presidential assassination site, but there’s always something.  (And the less there is that you need to see, the more naps you can have.)

As for the why Dallas and not somewhere else?  Well, that one’s a little bit funnier, at least to me.

We had always planned to take a vacation right before my mat leave ends, but we held off on deciding where until the NHL strike resolved.  It finally did, and my hockey-crazy husband put down Dallas and Miami as two options.  I added New Orleans to the list on the ‘domestic’ side, and Jamaica and Cuba on the tropical side.   We decided against Cuba due to the fact that everyone we talk to complains about the food, and after getting sick on our last resort trip, we weren’t eager to go through that again.  New Orleans fell off because the timing in regards to Mardi Gras wasn’t good – not that I wouldn’t like to see it, but not so much with an 11 month baby and trying to get a hotel at the last minute.  The only logical way for us to get to Miami is through Dallas, and added 4 hours to a flight day with a baby, which would have liveable but not awesome.  So the toss up became random city wander in Dallas versus a resort trip to Jamaica.  And we’d just done a resort trip, so Dallas it was!

The Wall of Map

The Wall of Map

Plus, and this is actually no small consideration, Dallas allowed us to get THREE pins on our giant map of the world that hangs in our dining room.  It’s 6 feet long.  And we use colour coded pins to show where I’ve gone (white), David’s gone (blue), we’ve gone (red) and us plus J have gone (orange).   It’s so nerdy, but I love it.  LOVE IT.  It also handily covers up a wall that the previous owners did some form of crappy finish on, so a giant map takes away from the faux-finish, which is a nice bonus.  But really, I just love looking at maps, and looking at all the places I’ve been, and getting a daily reminder of how much I like my life.  Which is a pretty good return on a $50 piece of paper!

It’s fun to look at, too.  When we have parties, you’ll always find someone looking at the map, often comparing stories with someone else.  It’s a good conversation piece.

This shows a lot of different trips

This shows a lot of different trips

It’s also fun to look at where we’ve been.  I’ve got furthest north (Fort Nelson in northern BC), furthest east (Oman) and furthest south (Costa Rica) covered.  David wins the west with Hawaii.  The Yucatan has three pins of three different colours all clustered together – a white one for the trip to Cozumel with my parents in high school, an orange one for our trip to Cancun last year, and a red one for Chitzen Itza, which we did without J.  I totally win the Pacific North West, due to road trips years ago, and David dominates Europe, due to a post-university 3 month trip.  Interestingly, there are only 3 pins for places we’ve both been but separately: Orlando, Toronto and London.

We may

We may use this as a suggestion list when trip planning…

I won’t lie to you – some of our vacations, like Dallas, are influenced by the empty spaces in the map.  Sure, we have to want to see them, but filling in that blank southern expanse of America was a consideration on our trip.  It certainly is why we took a day trip to Waco.  I mean, that and the Dr Pepper museum, of course.  Because you on vacation – why not drive 4 hours round trip to check out a museum, a mammoth burial site and get a pin for the wall?  (Oh, yeah, we’re fun to travel with.  It’s a good thing that we both enjoy this kind of ridiculousness.)

The only one worth going to is Oman

The only one worth going to is Oman

Man, I love going on vacations.  I know I’ve said this a bunch of times, but I really, really do.  And I am so pleased that we’ve managed to integrate J in to our vacation-life as smoothly as we have.  That’s one of my biggest fears about parenthood, proven wrong.

Gifts from the past

Twice this week the past has reached out and handing me a present.  It’s kind of amazing.
My computer died (okay, was staggering around limping in circles) so I took my dad’s old computer, which was just taking up space in my mom’s office, and made it mine.  (Although you still have to log in as him, which is a bit … odd.)  I copied all my files on it, which combined with more than a decade of his files, means that this machine is part time machine, part computer junk store.  I’ve found some awesome things while searching through the hard drives (yes, plural).  Like Commander Keen 1-6: the first video game I ever loved.  I remember playing it with the neighbours before going to summer camp in 1993, and it wasn’t that new then, I don’t think.  I found DOS based solitaire games, and work files for companies that went under a decade ago, and more.

I also found the picture directory, which had been, as I knew, corrupted.  Years ago, something went wrong with the G drive, and while all the folders were still there, most of the pictures had been compromised, leaving nothing.  This wasn’t noticed for a while, so it was backed up over the old uncorrupted files and much was lost.  My dad tried all sorts of things, but nothing was recoverable.  Years later, David tried a few more things, to equal results.  We had all just accepted that most of the family photos from 2002-2008 were gone.

And then.

I had been trying to find a picture on the computer, and got frustrated with how totally impossible it was, given there were pictures in folders all over the machine.  So one evening, I organized it.  21k of pictures in the end, from 2002-2010.  I sorted them by date as best as I could, and by event/theme.  The first time I came across two identical folders, I almost deleted the second one, but I stopped and opened them both in thumbnail mode.  On the left?  2 actual pictures in a folder of 25 images.  On the right?  25 pictures!  At some point, the picture folder had been copied to my hard drive, which then spend 8 years in other computers, only to reunited uncorrupted.

Er, I think that’s what happened.  As I occasionally found multiple sets of the same pictures in different folders, so I’m not exactly sure how these pictures were returned to be, just that they are.

A gift.  A gift of hundreds of pictures no one ever expected to see again.  A gift that trebled the number of photos of my father.  A totally unexpected gift from the past.

Circa 2002. The problem with the really short hair is that some cuts were super cute. Unfortunately, some are so terrible the internet must never know…

(Even if it captures a lot of terrible hair choices that I made.  The angry militant lesbian wasn’t my best look…)

Circa 2005.  The short hair got a lot more flattering when I grew it out long enough to bob.

Then today, at my mother’s house, she went looking for brown yarn for a craft thing I’m working on, and came up with a giant neon pink Tupperware box that I have never seen before. That I could swear I’d never seen before.  She told me that it wasn’t brown wool, but that I should open it.

Inside was every beloved outfit from my childhood, sitting nicely clean and folded.  My dress from the kindergarten photo!  My mom’s favourite summery rainbow heart dress!  The matching dresses my sister and cousin and I wore for my grandparents’ 40th (?) anniversary party!  And so many more.  Just waiting for Jess to grow in to them.

Another totally unexpected gift from the past.

Circa 1988, ish. I’m hoping that this outfit isn’t in the box.

Okay, I know that these things were never truly lost, but that’s not the point, is it?  The pictures were gone, and mourned, and resulted in me ALWAYS printing out and making vacation albums, because I know how easily pictures can vanish.  The dresses were lost and mostly forgotten, until I flipped through photo albums and talked about trying to recreate some of the pictures with Jess.  And now I can!  In the actual clothing.  (Which are practically vintage now, aren’t they?  They’re certainly better made than most of the stuff Jess owns now.)

One of my favourite authors, Douglas Coupland, says it best: “There are three things we cry for in life: things that are lost, things that are found, and things that are magnificent.” And two finds like this in a single week definitely made me misty.