“Vacation / All I ever wanted / Vacation / Had to get away…”
The Go-Go’s song from 1982 hit home me for this year as I waited for my summer vacation to arrive. My family’s hectic work schedules make it almost impossible for us to coordinate long range plans. (Did I mention I’m now working weekends in addition to my Monday through Friday job?) This year we planned early and our vacation time was green-lighted for the first week of July.
My son was able to secure the same week off, so he was going to join us in the mountains of New Hampshire for the first half of our week. He was bringing his wife and my two adorable grandkids. And Bob the dog. Last minute scheduling prevented Bob from enjoying his vacation at the kennel so he would be spending time with us. Oh joy.
My wife and I were the first to arrive at our vacation home in New Hampshire. It was peaceful on the mountain. A nice breeze, fresh air and blue skies were just what I needed to clear my head from all the trappings of the everyday workplace. The gentle tick-tock of my rustic cuckoo clock was interrupted when the front door burst open and Bob the dog bounded up the stairs, tail and tongue wagging ferociously. Bob was followed by a cheerful “Hello! Anybody home?” from my son’s booming voice. Suddenly our vacation solitude was transformed into a flurry of activity. The chirping birds outside the window were drowned out by laughing children and a barking dog.
My son and I made three trips up and down the stairs to the carport to carry up all the accoutrements necessary for a few days with a ten month-old and a two-and-a-half year old baby. There’s no such thing as traveling light when accompanied by small children. The living area was filling up fast with toys, diaper bags, coolers and port-a-cribs. (Did I mention the dog?)
We had lots of laughs and a ton of fun, spending days at the pool and nights watching Disney Blu-rays. We went to a festive fireworks display complete with oohs and ahhs. We even endured a surprise northern New Hampshire microburst/mini-tornado that swept through the area on Saturday afternoon. It was only a surprise because none of us looked at our phones when the severe weather alert sounded. In our defense, we were on vacation, so checking phone messages wasn’t anyone’s first priority. As the electric fans blew out of the windows and the windows transformed into waterfalls, the sky turned black and the trees bent toward the ground. Ten minutes later, the storm passed and calm was restored.
I asked my daughter-in-law to check the weather alert message sent to her phone.
Twenty minutes before the storm everybody’s phone received this message: “Tornado warning in your area. Seek shelter now.” The one time we needed to be looking at our phone screens was the only time our phones were ignored. Luckily, the flash floods didn’t reach the top of the mountain.
A few days later, my son re-packed his car and headed back to civilization, leaving my wife and I to spend the rest of our week alone. We missed the laughter of our grandchildren. We missed waking up to their smiling faces beaming down on us. The chaos of their visit blew over like the severe weather outside our window, and we were left with the calm after the storm. Our time alone was a sharp contrast to the first half of our week, but equally enjoyable.
Ten days later, I’m home looking at a new mountain view from my living room – the mountain of post-vacation laundry waiting to be folded. Monday morning I’ll be back at my usual place in the workforce, if my 5:00 am alarm can wake me from my dreams of white mountains and green trees. One thing is certain. I’ll be counting down the days until I can make my next escape. Hopefully my boss won’t notice the strange tally marks scratched into the wall of my cubicle. IIII II…