in both of the summer trips we just took we were invited to join families on their standing summer vacations. we've spent time with both of these families before so knew them well. for me, the truly special thing was getting to benefit from their experience and knowledge of the areas we would be visiting as that, in my opinion, tends to be the hardest part to figure out regarding new places. when you travel with someone who knows the region and rituals well, it is like a matrix-like knowledge dump and what could/would be cooler than that?
the only bit of dour news in this was the two trips backed right into each other, overlapping by a weekend. my first question was to see if we could cut one trip a day short and start the other one a day late. we could. marty's first question was how long does it take to drive from northern michigan to southern utah. i whistled when google presented a jaw-dropping thirty hours on the screen. i turned to marty and said, "good thing we've got that new van" legitimately excited to try it out for real. marty looked far less excited making sure i understood that thirty hours was more than an entire day. my response: "it used to take people seven months to make that same trek, and they weren't watching dvd's or controlling their temperature by single degrees through an indiglo-backlit readout". instead of woo-hooing my pollyanna-framing she said: "but i will be away from my home for like eighteen days." again i jumped in with a, "i know. isn't that going to be awesome". it seems it was not.
this is another reason i left a few days early--both to get us a spot and to let marty sleep in her bed an extra day or two. it also explains why we came back to st louis instead of driving straight to utah in the transition—to give marty a brief respite during the two week span.
in the end i think a few things saved me, none of which i can take credit for:
- our easy-going and comfortable travel-mates. both sets were fun and easy to co-habitate with. on mulitple occasions i heard marty sing the praises of communal living.
- the spectacular terrain that surrounded us. northern michigan is beautiful. southern utah is breath-taking.
- i was a bit concerned about the sleeping setup on our second week. we had eleven people sleeping on an uncovered roof of a house-boat. of course everyone went to bed at different times (i won the first-to-bed award nearly every night). on paper you would think this would be disastrous but in practice it proved to be totally fine. perhaps it was our very full days in the arid heat and constant sun but all parties slept like full-bellied babies.
- marty looked like a hollywood starlet on holiday with her olive skin and flyaway hair speeding over the water and gazing upon the colorful and sheer rock formations on all sides.
and then there is her openness to new things. historically, after a new adventure, i'm the one that leaves coveting the toys and places we just experienced. in example, after going to northern michigan last year, the family we travelled with had a stand up paddle board which i got to try/use. after the trip i wanted one badly. since we would be in the water for two weeks straight this summer i bought one right before we left and was in the water on my board everyday of our trip—and it was splendid.
midway through our utah week marty turned to me and said, "i never really got the boating lifestyle before but gotta say i think i could get used to this.". a comment from marty along these lines was absolutely unprecedented. i deemed it a passing fancy and something that could never penetrate marty's wall of contentment but after being home for three days, she shared a dream she had with me that i found to be extra telling.
in this dream, a former colleague had given marty a boat. a pissy version of me promptly put it up for sale as i wasn't "on board" with the notion. marty came into the back yard just as the new owner was pulling away.
what did you do?
i sold the boat.
what?! i wanted that boat.
why? we could only use it once a year. if that.
i don't care! i wanted it.
where would we keep it?
we could keep it under the deck.
then where would you put the eight lawnmowers?
(she turned and sure enough there were eight lawn-mowers under the deck—currently we have one manual push mower so i'm not sure where all that gas-mowers came from or what their inclusion implies).
angered she went back into the house to find not one but two dogs and one had just peed on the floor. to this she screamed "THE DOG PEED ON THE FLOOR AGAIN". now truly steamed she went to the phone to call someone to try to get the boat back back the phone didn't have any buttons on it (it seems it was some model that had a detachable button plate). assuming bella had it she turned to find her only to step in more dog pee.
the anger from this second puddle caused her to wake up.
as per usual, marty's dreamscape does not dissapoint or astonish. and as per usual, i absolutely forbid marty from ever going to dream analysis. some part of me seems to know picking at those fantastic scenarios is not going to end well for me.