Saturday, August 26, 2006

Abstract of my Vacation posts.

The next three posts after this are my vacation seperated out like I tend to seperate things in my travel diaries. I divide my days (in this case my whole vacation) into higlights, lowlights and reflections. I find it a clear and precise way to remember the most important and funny things that happened.

A breif overview of our trip would look like this: We left on a Tuesday morning and tented our way out to B.C. Then we stayed at the Wagners' lovely home for about 2 weeks in their basement. They were on vacation when we arrived, and then they came home in the middle of our time there. During this time we visited a lot. Then we stayed with Brian and Jean Butcher and their 6 children in Langley for a few days and visited with them and made little side trips here and there. On Sunday morning we met up with our friends Shawn and Nonie Lynn and their two kids and went on the ferry over to Vancouver Island to visit our friends the Smyths (we used to be a "set" -- Chapmans, Lynns, Smyths = great party). The Lynns could only stay for one day, but we stayed until Wed. Then we drove to Salmon Arm and caught the Saturday of the Roots and Blues Musci Festival. After that we drove home, camping or staying with friends of friends. Dave picked up his new motorcycle in Calgary and Andrew and I drove in the car by ourselves the last two days (well, with new baby who kicked a lot). That will put the posts below in context.

Trip Highlights

Driving through the Rocky and Kootenay mountains. You all must do it at least once in your lifetime.

Staying in the Wagners' amazing house for 4 days by ourselves. Talk about luxury accomodations.

Hanging out with great friends: the Lynns, Allie and her mom Patricia, Aggie, Szabolcs, Melissa (too short of a visit), Rita and Jer, the Wagners, the Butchers, etc, etc.

Watching my son gradually warm up to my friends' children and play with them.

Having my belly expand so much one week that I could feel my child pushing against me, demanding more space for his or her rapidly growing frame. I literally had 3 days where I felt like someone had put a balloon inside of me and they were going to blow it up until I burst. Feeling this new, enthusiastic life rolling and kicking and punching through our many car rides and visits.

Starbucks. Oh, how I have missed my lattes and tazo frappuccinos.

Ikea. We really need to bring trailer next time we go to an Ikea . . . Sigh.

Eating great foreign food. Seeing people who weren't white. Hearing other languages swirling around me. Checking out the Indian fabric stores and touching the silks and cottons and polyesters and brocades. So much sight, sound and culture to experience everywhere.

The ocean. When we drove into Twassen to get on the ferry to Vancouver Island and I smelled the fishy, salty sea air I almost wept.

Travelling on the ferry with the Lynns, and staying in a hotel in the room next to them and eating the free continental breakfast together. We pushed two little tables together and loaded up on free food. It was so surreal and fun. Especially now that we have three and a half kids between us.

Cowichan Bay, this lovely little seaside port town on the east coast of Vancouver island with a harbour, a view of Saltspring across the channel and really cool and funky shops and resteraunts (fresh organic bread, anyone?).

The big pile of sand they brought in for the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival that kept Andrew happy all day. Also this amazing workshop with Feist, Hocksley Workman and this up-and-coming new yorker named Jennie Starr. Fantastic -- the whole crowd was dancing by the end.

Also, just soaking in a day of great, interesting music, including Iranian Tabla, blues, Finnish fiddle, fantastic young singer / songwriters, raegae and calypso. And watching the fascinating feast of people who attend folk festivals -- all in their folkiest finery. My favorite was the big, bare chested man with a pirate like beard, shoulder length dreadlocks and a kacki kilt. Where else are you going to see that (or indeed, where else would you ever want to see it?). Then after a day of being baked in the sun and overstimulated until your rational faculties are beaten to a fine pulp, sitting in the cool evening listening to an amazing musician (Feist again in this case -- she is a great performer) who has the ability to burn her music into your now defenseless psyche. Then following this with a hot chocolate at Tim Hortons while discussing the intersection of Hippie idealism, Postmodernism and Christianity (that is another post all together).

Staying with this wonderful, warm and hospitable missionary couple from Japan in Canmore, Alberta. Despite their weak English and our inability to speak Japanese, we really enjoyed our time with them. It was a little oasis of warmth and humanity in the midst of a very long drive home. Such good people.

Watching my husband enjoy driving his new Suzuki VStrom home from Calgary, and seeing my son's eyes go big every time he said "Daddy driving a MOTORCYCLE".

Finally driving the familliar 2 hrs from Saskatoon to our home, soaking in the beautiful colours of the ripened wheat and canola, smiling at ever-shifting and beatiful big, big sky and feeling glad to be home at last.

Trip Lowlights

Here they are, in order:

- camping in Cereal, AB our first night. Imagine a small prairie town with a closed gas / resteraunt store, a trucker's cardlock and a very empty city-run camping park as the only things on the highway. Your family is the only one camping in the campsite. The sky is dark as thunderstorms roll by on both sides of your campground. You husband decides that he needs to go and check out the town, leaving you and your toddler alone in this campground, feeling like the masked chain saw murderer must be about to appear out of the trees behind you at any moment . . .

-the third day of our car trip to B.C. when Andrew had a 40 min. screaming fit during which he was unconsolable and we had to get out of the car and walk him on the side of the highway and a trucker almost stopped because he thought we were hurt, then finally I had to put him back in his chair, pin down his flailing arms and force him to drink water until he calmed down and went to sleep.

- the second week of our trip, which was supposed to be devoted to relaxing and visiting. Instead we all got the stomach flu and had to cancel everything so we didn't pass it around.

- the many meltdowns Andrew had in the third week of our trip when we had to condense all the visits we had planned to do over two weeks into about 4 days.

- ending up caught in the middle of one of our friends' ongoing marital disputes.

- leaving all Andrew's toys at the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues festival and not having them turned in to lost and found the next day.

- driving through rush hour in Calgary after Dave picked up his motorbike with a fussy toddler in the back and a kicking baby in my belly and, well, rush hour traffic. Nothing like trying to turn around in the driver's seat while pregnant enough that you no longer have your full range of motion to try to retrieve a toy or sippy cup at a red light.

Trip Reflections

The most amazing thing about our trip was that we were really glad to get home. I was worried when we left for B.C., becuase I was feeling like I had finally settled in Saskatchewan. I was afraid that going back to see all my friends and all that beauty would lead me to become dissatisfied when I got back. But it didn't. I realized that where you are at personally and in your family life is way more important to happiness than where you live geographically. I have really spent the last year and a half trying to learn how to live a life of order, discipline and contentment, to make my years as a homemaker and mom somewhat monastic in nature. And although I miss my friends, and Starbucks coffee, and Olympic organic French Vanilla yogurt and the mountains, I don't miss eating at least a meal a day in the car, driving for 2 - 3 hrs a day, and feeling hurried and hectic all the time. I rather like the slow, meditative pace of my life here.

This was something that I had to work through, though. I had a few days of mourning for my old life, where I was running an all different directions, and had the freedom to pick up new activities and hobbies and friends whenever I wanted to. I miss being able to run or excersise every day or two. I miss having the time to act and direct. I miss my summer Mondays, when I used to bike 40 min. across Langley to see the 2 pm matinee (whatever it was that day), then bike to Chapters and have a coffee and read books, then wander around the mall (while trying to avoid the fact that I had to go back up the killer hill to get to my house), and finally going home. I miss trekking down to Ethical Addictions (a fair trade coffee shop) to soak up the alternative youth culture and write or draw or just sit and listen to whoever was playing on a Thursday or Friday night. I miss just being able to go somewhere and do something fun without having to make sure I have diapers, wipes, food, toys, appropriate clothing and footwear for my child, and then chase a boy around the house trying to get him ready to go and possibly squeak in a moment to brush my hair and put on mascara before I run out the door and off to whatever. I miss having my fully functioning brain. But this is a short and precious time in my life and I have decided that the best thing I can do is savour it, just as I did that time of freedom and fun.

The other cool thing was that with most of my friends, it was like I had never left. I just walked right backinto these wonderful relationships with people as though I had just seen them yesterday. I was sad that I had missed some really exciting and some really sad events in people's lives, but I appreciated the fact that I still had the same friendship with them.

The third thing that really struck me is how little time I've been spending in meditation and prayer since I moved out here. I know this largely has to do with having a child who doesn't sleep much. But I feel like I've lost my close connection to God, and thus a lot of my impact on other people. So one of the goals that comes out of my vacation is to set up my Jesus corner again somewhere in the house and spend time there at least twice a week.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

This is just for Shawn

All right, so I am home from my holidays. Its just that I"m going away again in 4 days, and I have a tree full of apples to pick and do something with, and zucchini (oh, the zucchini -- they deserve and will eventually receive a post all to themselves) to eat / bake up and unpacking and re-packing and youth group stuff to attend to before we go (I should really be making newsletters right now, Shawn) and so I don't have time to do proper justice to the adventure that was my month long road trip / visit to B.C with toddler in tow. And I really must do it proper justice, because so many fantastic and funny things happened. So stay tuned, when I get a chance to breathe I will write more. But for now I must make apple butter and youth group newsletters. I've been blogging in my head all month, and I shall commit some of those fascinating thoughts to . . . paper? . . . as soon as I get the chance. Promise.