Friday, September 23, 2011

The family obligation vacation

My dad is 92 and lives about 800 miles east of me.  Two of my brothers live near Dad, so I don't worry about him (much), but I do make it a point to visit each year.  When I can, I combine my visit with a business trip, but that is not always possible.  Like this year.  So last week, my SO and I drove to Massachusetts.

And we had a good time, despite the griping I did each evening.  I did not sleep well and felt tired and grumpy and OMG THE TRAFFIC.  But in retrospect, it was good to see everyone.  One day was spent at my dad's house, visiting with him and my stepmother.  A trip to the basement yielded a waffle maker, a couple of boxes of old letters (mostly from me), and a shoebox of home movies I plan to have transferred to DVDs.  Another day we drove north of Boston to see my younger brother's new apartment and the upscale fruit and vegetable "stand" his wife works at and to hoof around Newburyport.  A third day took us to Concord and then into Boston (more or less) where we enjoyed dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant with my older brother and his wife.

The highlight of the trip was our pilgrimage to Walden Pond.  My SO is a big fan of Henry David Thoreau.  On previous visits, we frequently drove right past Walden Pond, but we never stopped.  This time we did.

Replica of Thoreau's cabin.  And of Thoreau.

I can't recall the last time I visited Walden Pond, but it may have been in 1973.  One can swim in Walden Pond, and besides a beach area, there are spots around the shore where a break in the fencing and some stone steps allow one access to the water.

Rock pile near the site of the original cabin
There is not much evidence of the original cabin besides a bit of foundation.  I'm not sure how the nearby rock pile got started, but it has turned into a shrine of sorts.

One of several stupas (cairns)
Some of the writing on the rocks was of the "I was here" sort, but many were obviously memorials to loved ones, which made me a bit weepy.  (Sleep deprivation will do that to you.)

Memorials and such
When my SO picks our vacation destinations, I usually have a much better time than when I choose.  I think this is in part because I feel so responsible for everyone having a good time when it's my idea.  Also, I tend to have an agenda of sorts - day 1 is for this, day 2 is for that, etc.  It's difficult for the goal-oriented to just relax and have a good time.

It is also difficult to relax and have a good time when driving in the dark and the rain and the entrances to the interstate are blocked by police cruisers.  Such was our plight after our Vietnamese dinner.  But with the help of Ms. Garmin, who took us down roads that didn't even look like roads (we had NO idea where we were going), we managed to find our way back to the inn where we were staying.  And in record time!  Hurray for technology!

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