I’ve spent 10 days in Virginia as a favor to my sister. She had a chance to take an extraordinary (free!) trip to see Monaco and Nice – tour the Grimaldi Palace, attend the Grand Prix, visit a perfume factor – all kinds of incredible activities. It really was a trip of a lifetime, but she has a 13-year old daughter and a 19-year old son. You don’t exit the country and leave two teens that fight like cats and dogs behind, so I volunteered to come stay and referee. Actually, the kids have been great (as I knew they would be). It’s given me time to write and take a few day trips. I’ve gone to Mount Vernon, the Manassas Battlefield, and Sully Plantation in-between working on my latest western historical romance.
It did get me to thinking how most of my trips and vacations have been of a much shorter duration. I can only remember 3 times I’ve been gone from home 10 days or more in all my travels from Japan to Hawaii, Canada to England. Usually 7-8 days is about it for me, as it was for those places I just mentioned. Not only have I maxed out my credit card, but I’m more than ready to see home again. I love seeing new places and experiencing new things, but I am a creature of habit and like returning to my routine at home.
That 1st extended trip was to none other than New York City and beyond. I flew up with a college friend who was between law school sessions. I’d just completed my second year of teaching and that summer had done an intense 12 hours on my masters degree, and I needed to chill. Kurt had family in New Rochelle, so we had a free place to stay. As a teacher, I’d discovered I was all about the free.
We’d wait every morning until the last commuter train left for the city and then take the next one in since it was remarkably cheaper. I’d never been to New York before and dreamed of going all my life to the places I’d seen in movies and read about in books. We spent a week touring Central and Battery Parks, Rockefeller Center & NBC, the United Nations, the Empire State Building, and seeing 3 shows on Broadway, courtesy of the TKTS booth that sold day-of show tickets at a discount.
Then we went and stayed with a family friend of his in New Jersey, relaxing with a weekend of fun in the sun at a tranquil lake house. Bernard lent us a car, and we took off on a Monday morning throughout New England, stopping wherever the spirit moved us. I’m a planner, and so this was quite a different tactic for me, but it was so enjoyable. We stopped at a graveyard in Mystic, seeing tombstones dating back to the 1600s. Toured the Vanderbilt summer mansion, where Cornelius had both fresh water and seawater piped into the bathtubs. Drove along Cape Cod. Ate clam chowder. Visited all the historical sites in Boston and Plymouth. Saw Queechee Gorge and Fort Ticonderoga, spending hours at each. I fell in love with the beauty of Vermont, New Hampshire, and upstate New York, especially the Lake George area.
Then it was back for another week in New York City. We still had so much to squeeze in, especially the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museums. We rode the ferry to Staten Island and back. Saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Most of all, we enjoyed the vibe of New York. From subway rides to Times Square, downing egg creams, slices, and franks from carts, we did everything I wanted to do. And more.
I laugh now because when I called home to let my parents know I was surviving the big, bad city, my mom wanted to know where my Yankee accent had come from. I guess my ear picked up a few words and drawled them differently than my usual Texas spin on things.
That fantastic time still lives in my memory. When I married my husband, we took a trip there ourselves, creating new memories together since both of us had visited New York with different people before we’d even met. When our daughter was old enough to enjoy it, we took her there so we could have shared experiences as a family, even seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this time around. But the place I wanted her to visit the most and took her first? The top of the World Trade Center. I thought it had the best view in New York from all 4 directions. She, like I years before, was enthralled.
A little over nine months later, 9-11 occurred. The tragedy hit home for her since less than a year before she’d stood on the observation platform of one of those towers. It became all too real as a nation mourned the lives of the innocents (and innocence) lost that day.
I’ll reminisce about my other 2 longer vacations some other time. Right now I only have 1 night in Virginia to go … then I’ll be back to MY pillow and MY bed in Texas!