Our Favorite Getaway
An annual vacation to a favorite getaway is something that can be enjoyed by almost everyone. As a single mother of 6 children, it can be challenging to fulfill our desires for a vacation every summer. Our summer trip is one of our rituals that leave us with a lifelong foundation of memories and learning. Every summer, we load up the van with enough food and equipment to keep us comfortable and well fed for eight days. The preparation for the camping trip is essential. No camper escapes the preparation work. We camp because I can afford it and because there is something for everyone on a camping trip. We camp because the state and federal campgrounds belong to all of us and some of them are the most beautiful places that exist. It is important to note that five of my six children are adopted: they did not come to me at birth but as a foster care placement, a very distressing time in their lives. Opportunities to build memories and bond are precious.
Our trips include me and my six children and an occasional friend. There were summers when we camped twice but one trip each summer is the norm. If you ask one of my children about what he or she remembers, the memories begin with preparation. One of my children has proud recollections of climbing on top of the van to arrange the load and tighten the lashings. The gift of competence is a great thing for a young person. Another will think of the first time she ever saw the ocean. My youngest remembers her personal flashlight. One of my sons will never forget staring down a live seal playing in the surf.
Each activity that is pleasurable or memorable may well become a tradition. The origin of our rituals is a history that triggers a pleasant emotion. We have dinner at the beach our final night. This began as a last minute thought one trip because I had not seen the sun set over the water this particular trip. We put the camp stove and the fixings for spaghetti in the van and headed down the highway. We laugh, talk and relax while the spaghetti master prepares dinner. The drama, the sea sounds, and the cool air of the north pacific coast are my bliss and I want to share this sensation with everyone I love. There are rarely squabbles in this setting; everyone wants to do something and each person senses this is as good as it gets. After dinner, spaghetti leavings are set out for the seagulls. A horde of birds descends on the food; we laugh and exclaim at their behavior and their joy at this unexpected bounty. The sun sets over the ocean, the birds eat all the food, and another great tradition is born.
There is always a campfire with marshmallows and s'mores on our last night. Tomorrow will be a long day. Breaking camp and packing up signals the end of our annual vacation. It's not too difficult to get every person to do their share. We have been away from home long enough to want to return and if we hurry, we will have time for our souvenir shopping tradition as we pass through town.