“A vacation is like love-anticipated with pleasure., experienced with discomfort, and remembered with nostalgia.” ~Author Unknown
What’s brought me to this state of double vision, painful hips and feet, constipation, migraine, and generalized pissy attitude? The thing we Americans call vacation. It is very poorly named.
My enormous Random House Dictionary, unabridged, 2nd edition (which I sold when I worked for them) defines vacation as A: “a scheduled period during which activity is suspended” or B: “a period of exemption from work granted to an employee”. I can state with absolute certainty that Random House is mistaken! The term I would use to define this particular vacation is masochistic labor while trekking through the Torrid Zone.
It started with high hopes, great planning, ambition, sites to see, foods to try, friends to visit, time for contemplation and writing, but more closely resembled emergency rescue and heat stroke.
The idea was to celebrate our tenth anniversary. Yep, next month will be ten years since our surprise wedding. Yes, I know this is a bit odd, but as I’m told-so are we. We had planned to get married on September second, just go to the justice of the peace and get er done.
My friends Lisa and Leigh Anna weren’t having any of it. On August sixteenth ten years ago, the three of us were getting a pedicure when I noticed they were extremely cheery and conspiratorial about something. When I pressed them for the reason they replied “Guess what? You’re getting married tonight!”
It was actually lovely. I already had my dress, a good luck dress that seven other women had been married in and all were still married! In fact, my high school singing partner and confidant Cheryl had been married in it too. Sweetie had the rings and his suit. Lisa and Leigh Anna spared no detail. The minister, Curtis, was a friend of mine; they had a beautiful bouquet for me and boutonniere for Sweetie, rose petals for the ground, a picturesque spot at Cole’s Garden, a photographer, and music. Just Sweetie and I, the minister, and two couples who went out of their way to make a wonderful memory for two old friends.
We chose our first road trip together for the ten year celebration. This was wrong on so many levels. As we headed out west to our first event, the Marine Corp reunion, we came to a complete stop in the desert where we sat for three hours while a wreck was cleared-during a record heat wave. So much fun.
We turned off the car so it would not overheat or run out of gas. We played “I spy” to forget about the heat and the waiting. It was a short lived game as we spied a rock, some sand, the sky, blacktop, and the two trucks in front of us. Not much to “spy” in the desert. I shed my shorts to stay cool and the truck driver who walked up to keep us updated on the possibility of movement had quite a surprise. I on the other hand did not give a flying fig. That empty Planter’s peanut can came in handy after drinking multiple bottles of water to stay hydrated!
I am a contract sales rep; I make sales or momma eats spam-so I am diligent. But I really needed to completely get away from the laptop, the clients, the phone, and the stress. This did not happen so much. Sweetie is a chef and feeds two hundred college kids three meals a day, many of whom have quite a sense of entitlement. He needed to be away from the little….darlings and the daily assault of food service issues. His happy little dream did not materialize either.
While we sat in the desert, my clients continued to call and email me, despite the fact that I had notified them all twice that I would be on vacation during this period, and had an auto-reply on my email reminding them I would be unavailable. I worked all day long the first four days of “vacation”.
Sweetie was likewise harangued by faculty from the university with this issue and that. A “period of exemption from work”, right. At this stage we morphed into Clark and Ellen Griswold; I threw myself down and did the really big ugly cry-snot everywhere and mascara running down my face. Come on, you know you’ve done it too. It wasn’t my finest hour.
I opted to visit my sweet aunt who lives in Lake Havasu while the Marines reminisced, guzzled beer and swapped “Desert Storm” stories. That drive from Las Vegas, Nevada to Lake Havasu, Arizona in middle of the summer is not for the faint of heart. With a record heat wave, the mercury topped out at an astounding 122 degrees and God help you should your car break down because there is nothing and no one on that road but you.
It was my first time to drive between the two points so when I came upon a sign that said “Welcome to California” I melted down the rest of the way. I felt like one of the Andrea Gail crew until my Dad happened to call. He told me that you indeed pass through a smidge of California (still rescuing me after all these years) on the way.
I had visions of wandering the dessert for weeks, a crude turban made from my blouse atop my head, drinking the contents of my planters peanut can. This is such a desolate part of the country; I can’t imagine the endurance it took to settle there years ago. I would clearly not have been one of them.
The Grand Canyon portion of the trip was a surprise too; they also were having a record heat wave. It was so hot the first day we went to our rooms, stripped off the clothes, fell on the bed and didn’t stir. The next day we got up when the sun did so we could trek down into the canyon without heat stroke. Going down was an adventure, scenic and surprisingly easy with fantastic views and interesting terrain to explore-really fun. Going back up, not so much. To add insult to injury, after we huffed our way back up we realized we had only gone down one mile!! Must step up the fitness routine.
Things improved, sort of, the weather gods finally smiled upon us on the way back and it went from 117 to 52 degrees within hours. Upon entering New Mexico we almost slid off the road because a storm we encountered left six inches of hail on the road. The last couple days a little grace found us, a great time in Albuquerque and enough fiery hatch chilies to make us forget the rest!!
“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.” ~ Elbert Hubbard