My parents called last night, and among their news was that they’re planning a vacation in October, a 17-day trip by bus across the American Southwest and into California. It’s a bit of a whirlwind tour, so I’m not precisely envious of that aspect of it (most major cities or tourist attractions along the way get less than a day, with Los Angeles alone getting almost three), but I am envious that they’ll be going to places that I haven’t yet been: the Grand Canyon, San Diego, Tijuana, San Juan Capistrano, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, Sedona and the Petrified Forest.
This is an ambitious trip for them. Several years back, before my dad’s kidney disease and his dependence on dialysis, they had taken several shorter bus trips, but only east of the Mississippi; Mom has never been any further west than Ohio and Michigan, while Dad accompanied me once as far as St. Louis. Their only trips out of the country, to Canada, were made only within the past decade; my dad had an opportunity to drive into Canada from Detroit about thirty years ago, while out there for a softball tournament, but he was uncomfortable then with the idea of crossing the U.S. border.
I, in comparison, have had some wonderful opportunities to travel, taking my first trip to Canada in junior high and traveling abroad to France and Switzerland just a year later. I’ve also visited all but a handful of the states, and have traveled to four Canadian provinces, Mexico, England and Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and around the Caribbean.
I’m really pleased and a little proud, then, that Mom and Dad finally have decided to travel to the West Coast. They tried to get Dad’s sister and her husband to go along, but my aunt said she couldn’t imagine being away from their small hometown for 17 days. And, frankly, I wonder how my parents will handle that length of absence; after six days in North Carolina at the beach each year, they’re both usually a little homesick, and that’s even with almost the entire extended family there with them, about twenty of them sharing two three-bedroom condos.
Come to think of it, after only a couple of days at the beach with my entire extended family crammed into two condos, I’d already be homesick.