By Amy McCollom
When I was a kid, I remember the sound of the gravel driveway grinding under our tires that signaled we were home. Even if I was too short to see out of the windows in the backseat, I knew that comforting sound. And then Dad would announce, “There and back, all in the same day!” As if it was some great feat.
From the stories he told us, I imagined my dad growing up like Laura Ingalls of Little House On The Prairie. I could see in my mind’s eye the little log cabin, the loft he shared with his siblings, and the exciting trips into town from their countryside home to get food and supplies, via horse and wagon. I imagined a 2 or 3 day trip to get into town. That fascinated me.
Well, it was sort of like that for him. There was a small log cabin and a loft he shared with his 12 siblings, horses and wagons, and few trips into town that were few and far between. But my grandpa “Pops” had an old truck and an old car that he kept in the barn for special trips. In some ways it was a big deal, and great relief, to them to get to town and back before dark, being that the reliability of their vehicles was variable. Be that as it may, my dad and most of his siblings learned to become excellent mechanics. Needless to say, it has always been important for my aunts and uncles to want to get home before dark. Being stranded along a country road at night is not preferred.
So here it is, the middle of summer, and I am seeing all of these pictures and posts on Facebook of my friends, family, and foes enjoying themselves on family vacations. This happens every year, and every year I get a little bit jealous for a minute. Then my husband kindly reminds me that after the second day on vacation, I always want to come home. And he is absolutely right. I get homesick really bad. I also get carsick. So, yeah.
As much as I think I want to go on a big vacation, the reality is I would want to be home by dark. If I can’t be there and back, all in the same day, I probably don’t want to go. I have been like this all of my life. I was the kid whose dad had to come and get her at midnight when she tried to stay over with a friend. When our family went to see the Grand Canyon when I was a teen, I was more excited to get to go home than to see that big hole in the ground.
I mean, it was cool. But I wanted to see it, and then go home. Not that home was so great; I had to share a room with my bossy sister, for crying out loud, and she let her friends sit in my beanbag chair. But my bed and pillow were there, and my stuff was there. And the strangeness wasn’t deafening-loud there. That’s how I felt it when I was somewhere new for very long.
But yesterday. Yesterday John and the kids and I met my oldest daughter and her kids over at Decatur at Scovill Zoo, and it was the perfect trip. It wasn’t so huge that we wore ourselves out walking up hills and around hot asphalt pathways; we were able to see multiple animal exhibits relatively close together. We felt safe because everyone there seemed to be social distancing, and most had masks with them, if not on them. Even though it was a very hot day, there was enough shade and breezes to help keep us from overheating. The kids enjoyed sno cones towards the end of our trip, and no one left the zoo grumpy. It was a really good day. The drive to Decatur wasn’t so long that I got car sick, and we went there and back all in the same day! Besides that, Thursdays were free to get in, so that was a big blessing in itself!
I could have sat and watched the monkeys for an hour. I learned that Humboldt Penguins make a really weird noise and that my son can make the same sound, which is a little disturbing. The cheetahs were beautiful and stared at me when I meowed at them. The zebras were interesting, especially their tails, which really sets them apart from horses. The prairie dogs were so cute, the tortoises moving fast, the emus smelled bad, and the lemurs (my favorite animal) were gorgeous. We will go back there.
The older and more decrepit I get with aches and pains, the less I want to walk and bend and put up with stuff. Maybe I am becoming a grumpy old person, but so be it. My back hurts and goes out if I turn wrong. I have an achilles heel that hurts constantly and will be getting surgery on later this month. I get migraines, and I have a shoulder that pulls out of socket easily, and I also have a torn hip joint. I do not feel like walking great distances.
My husband had a knee replacement in February. He also has leg pain and walks on his mail route every day, with pain. He isn’t fond of walking great distances either. Carrying a backpack full of water bottles on our aching backs and trudging up treacherous trails or walkways is not our idea of fun anymore. We did our family vacations when we were younger and the kids were small. Now we enjoy air conditioning, watching television, cold drinks, and snacks. I’m just being honest here. If we can go somewhere with minimal walking and get home that same day, and it’s cheap and not crowded, then ok. We might do that. But who are we kidding.
Kudos to those of you who like to travel; keep posting your pictures for the rest of us to enjoy. Maybe when John retires, we can buy a motorhome, and then wherever we go, we will be right at home. Or maybe we won’t. Until then, you know where to find us. There’s no place like home.