The open road has always beckoned me.
I love to see new things and find interesting places to visit. I guess I have a sort of wanderlust – or perhaps it’s just a love of the idea of traveling. That’s probably because until I was in college, I had never really traveled. I don’t think vacation was in the budget of my two teacher parents; food, clothing, and shelter were, but vacation? No.
The trips I took in college were of the impoverished student type – driving to visit a friend’s parents in Toronto, driving cross country to explore a beach, going with a college group to New York (the best of all!), and others of that like. As I got older, I found that I wanted to see as much of the world as possible, and so planning for travel became a must. I remember finally going to Disneyland with my friend Lorraine – we were 30 at the time, but we acted like little kids, riding all the roller coasters, shrieking at the top of our lungs, eating all the junk food we could find, and getting dizzy on the teacups. It was great fun.
When Max and I got married, I told him that I wanted to take vacations of some sort each year, and he liked that idea. We both like road trips, putting the top down on the car and just heading out. One of those trips took us through Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas. We saw Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, Little Big Horn, and Spearfish Canyon. Everything we saw was so big! It was easy to see why Montana is called “Big Sky Country.”
When Emily was born, I wanted to make sure she had adventures that I never did (I wrote about our first family vacation, and it is posted on my blog at http://deborahstalkingabout.blogspot.com/2015/07/this-is-one-of-my-favorite-pieces.html – too long for a column). She has certainly had those adventures – she’s been to Italy twice, but I’m still waiting for my turn!
This week, we are on yet another family vacation. We are ensconced in a beach house in Gulf Shores, Alabama, with a deck overlooking a salt-water lagoon and its resident stately pelicans and screaming seagulls. We drove, of course, picking up Emily in Little Rock for the first vacation she has had since she began adult work, now two years ago.
We left Little Rock on Monday morning, headed for Gulf Shores via instructions on our iPhone map, and I saw that we were to pass through Vicksburg. I have visited several Civil War battlefields over the years, and Vicksburg has always been on my list (I surprised myself by not visiting Chickamauga and Chattanooga on my way to visit Emily when she lived in Savannah, but I was always eager to see her and didn’t want to stop).
So we stopped in Vicksburg and saw the huge field that at one time was populated by over 40,000 soldiers, soldiers who were wearing wool and rushing hills in the hot summer sun. We also saw the cemetery, where over 17,000 soldiers are buried, at least 13,000 of them unknown. The rows and rows of small white markers were a sobering reminder of a terrible war with a horrible cost in lives lost and lives shattered.
Our stop caused us to miss Monday’s sunset over the Gulf, but we made up for it on Tuesday by sitting out on the deck, watching the birds and the occasional jumping fish, and generally doing nothing. Today, Max and Emily are playing golf, and I am still doing nothing.
Tonight, we will go to a little restaurant off the beaten path where locals go – not a tourist place – and we will eat as much shrimp as possible, and then we will come back and listen to the nighttime sounds from the deck of the little house where we are staying. Even though I really don’t like sand (and I’m at the beach!!!!), this is a relaxing getaway to a place I’ve never been – exactly what a vacation should be. Now I’m going to take a nap.
Deborah Mitchell is a a local attorney and a Municipal Court Judge.