For the past two weeks, I’ve been on vacation with my family. And I’ve been sick the whole stinkin’ time.
You know how any vacation goes…the expectation, the planning, the packing and list-making… This particular time, we were camping – so the organization of “this goes in my tent”, “this smells like food, so goes in the bear barrel”, “this is only for the car ride” was intensified.
I always over-pack for car rides, vacations, etc. I had my list of everything I could get done (see below) and anticipation was especially high since this is the last extended vacation for our immediate family for the foreseeable future (four adults’ work schedules are hard to coordinate).
But God allowed something else to happen. Namely, a “sinus infection” that is still making my voice softer and weaker than normal!
What did I learn?
After all, there’s nothing we can’t turn into a blog post, amirite?
The destination is called the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota. It’s where my parents spent their honeymoon (and their third honeymoon), where my grandparents spent their honeymoon (and their 50th wedding anniversary trip, with all their extended descendants).
A lot of history is wrapped up in those lakes and rocky islands, and we know all the tricks.
- You keep your food in a sealed plastic barrel so the bears can’t get at it – and because hanging the food pack in a tree is a pain.
- Keep loose luggage to a minimum. Tents, sleeping bags, etc. are all in huge “Duluth packs” to make portaging easier. Hey, we had four adults on this trip – we carried all our stuff (and canoes) across in only two trips apiece!
- Wrap everything in plastic. Avoid the rocks.
- Mom handled the food. It was vacation, so we went gourmet: Pringles and granola bars and other shishi travel foods!
There are loons and moose and bald eagles and absolute peace and privacy and we were so psyched for this!
I told you I over-think things. I had all kinds of projects to “accomplish” while I was off work and had plenty of free time.
- I wasn’t bringing my regular reading Bible (where I’m going straight through and journalling what I learn), so I had this particular subject I wanted to pursue and try to come up with a Biblical view of the subject (with references to back it up to myself and others).
- There’s this book I’ve been trying to read through, but it was dragging on me. I thought if I read it aloud in the car to my family, that would help.
- I can’t stand to sit still and do nothing. So I brought two skeins of yarn and two sizes of needles to make baby hats (and a crochet hook in case my mom wanted to join in, too).
- I took a big step and left my computer behind. However, afraid I would get zapped with inspiration, I brought along a notebook and plenty of pencils!
- I brought two Sudoku books, plus pens and pencils. Improve the mind and stave off boredom!
The Fly in the Ointment
- Could have done more reading, but frankly I could barely keep my eyes open much of the time.
- Reading aloud is kinda difficult when you can’t speak because your throat is so sore.
- Total baby hats produced: zero.
- I wrote a few words. The very last day of camping.
- I left one Sudoku book in the car (that much less dead weight to carry across the rocks). I did actually crack into the other book…a tiny bit…
Oh, yes, I was going to get things done! This was my big chance! I was going to scribble words in the inspiration of the great outdoors…and use the time off my “normal” reading schedule to look at some different things in the Bible…and churn out a couple baby hats during the twelve-plus-hour (one way) car ride.
How did I actually spend my vacation?
- Listening to Dad read aloud (Terry Pratchet).
- Eating cough drops like candy.
- Chugging water and hoping the “bathroom facilities” (AKA the hole in the ground with a seat over it) was nice…and nearby.
- Sleeping some more.
- Lying on logs not sleeping but wishing I was.
- Taking two benadryl a night, plus so many pain pills I had to alternate which type I was taking (so as to not poison myself).
We also visited my grandparents’ house (one of my most favorite places on the face of the earth) and also spent time with my other grandpa (spent three weeks in the hospital over Easter) and my aunt (lives several states away and haven’t seen her for years).
How did I spend that quality time with family?
- Propped in chairs with my eyes closed, wishing I could sleep.
- Trying Nyquil, because why not?
- Feeling sick to my stomach.
- Sitting in immediate care to get antibiotics because this is ridiculous…
Note the lack of “scintillating conversation” and “accomplishing meaningful activities” in that list.
Which is the point I’m trying to take away from all this.
I’m a project person. If I don’t have at least four irons in the fire, my family might doubt it’s really me.
Here’s what was soaking up my energy in the weeks leading up to our trip:
- Digging ditches (I don’t know about where you live, but our state has been seriously waterlogged!)
- Knitting multi-color panels with lighthouse pictures
- Visiting local nursing homes two (sometimes three) times a week
- Knocking out a baby hat in three days (because sometimes I don’t plan ahead)
- Blogging (and thinking I need to be all philosophical and profound, which makes it harder)
- Playing AD&D with my boys, about which I blog
- (Supposedly) writing the sequel to Transmutation of Shadow (which will need editing once the last round of beta critiques come in)
Did I mention baking, washing dishes, laundry, listing things I wanted to bring on vacation (and then buying or packing said items) researching blog posts and other issues facing our family right now, managing a dog and a fluctuating number of chickens?
And I planned (but didn’t quite get to) practicing my violin more, doing push-ups, disassembling our ancient grain bins, dicing and hauling the fallen trees on our property, sitting down and actually plotting the story I need to do next, plus the rotating list of books that I totally should read in fact I think I’ll read it next as soon as I finish with this current one!
Kimia Was Here
How many check-boxes did I tick off? Did I live every moment to the fullest? Did I soak up every second of glorious outdoorsiness…take full advantage of being at Grandma’s twelve-hour-drive-away house…enjoy the ABSOLUTE DEAD SILENCE of midnight in the woods?
Did I appreciate the turtles on the rock (and the amazingly beautiful yet bigger-than-I-think-of-them loons) as much as I absolutely possibly could?
That – is a ridiculous and impossible question. The point should not be to “milk” the opportunity of all possible meaning. The point should not be taking advantage of the time set aside to fill up a quota. (If I want to do a special Bible study to answer my own questions, I can set aside time for that myself!)
Vacations are not for “achieving relaxation”.
“You can’t go home until the gold star appears above your head.”
(If that were the case, would I still be on vacation? I’m finally breathing well enough to actually sleep…)
It was still worth doing.
Obviously, I wish I hadn’t needed to spend so much of the time curled up with my eyes closed and a sweatshirt under my head. But I don’t get to pick that.
And on the other hand…my whole family “princessed” me, praised my pain tolerance, make me cups of cocoa, etc. (They said it was like traveling with R2D2 because I would whistle and gesture to fulfill my rock-spotting duties in the front of the canoe.)
I still can’t raise my voice, but at least I can talk.
Will I learn the lesson that I can see in this – that it’s not about “what you got done”? That sometimes, “being present” is good enough, and that it’s not about what your family did together, it’s just that you were together?
Or will I go back to “sleep is for suckers”-mode and keep reading the internet past my bedtime?
Time will tell!
Kimia Wood currently lives with her family somewhere in the American midwest, bracing for the collapse of society by baking, knitting, writing, hobby-farming, and reading as much Twitter as possible before the web goes dark.
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