During a time when travel planning is on hold, instead of dreaming about the next adventure, I find myself reminiscing about journeys from days gone by. I have also been thinking a lot about my mother, who passed away two months ago. Like me, Mom loved to travel. I should actually say – like Mom, I love to travel. It was my mother who introduced me to the wonders of travel when I was seven years old. When I grew up, I traveled with friends and then Michael – I even took a few solo trips. All the while, Mom and I continued to travel together. Looking back, I value the impact that the early travels with my mother had on me.
The first adventure – a summer in Guadalajara, Mexico
Mom was a school teacher when I was a kid. Having the summer off provided an opportunity for extended travel. When I was seven, Mom took a summer job teaching at an American school in Guadalajara and rented a small house in a family neighborhood with a friend. I went to summer classes at the school: Spanish, art, and dancing. When we moved in, the local kids were curious and came by to meet me. I was shy and hesitant to go out and play. Mom encouraged me to say hi. I took her advice and soon had a bunch of new friends. Although I didn’t speak Spanish yet and the kids did not speak English, they were friendly and welcoming and we found ways to communicate. I remember playing in the local playground, going to the grocery store down the street, and watching cartoons at my friend’s house. One week, we went on a road trip to Puerto Vallarta and stayed at a hotel with a big pool. At the end of the summer, mom went on an adults-only trip to Central America, so I flew home alone. I remember drinking hot tea after dinner and feeling so grown up. My grandparents picked me up at the airport and when I described grandpa to the airline staff escorting me, I told her he was el gordo. Grandma and Grandpa got a good laugh about it and continued to tell the story for years.
The second adventure – a cross-country road trip in a mini Winnie
The next summer, mom sublet our apartment, sold the car, and bought a mini Winnebago. We also welcomed a new family member – Juno – a Great Dane / German Shepard mix we adopted from the pound. Mom wanted to have extra time for the trip, so she arranged for me to leave school early and be home-schooled. We spent several months making our way from New York to California and back. It was the mid 1970s – before GPS and smart phones – and we used paper roadmaps to guide the way. I was the navigator. During the summer we visited beautiful sites like the Blue Ridge Mountains, Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Sequoia National Park. In Phoenix, we hung out with Mom’s sisters. I remember being in San Francisco on my Birthday – we planned to go to a special dinner but had trouble with the RV, which delayed the plans. While I don’t remember all of details from the journey, I remember the feeling of freedom and the excitement over being able to explore beautiful places.
Shorter tips – upstate New York and Canada
At the end of grade school and into junior high went on several shorter trips closer to home. Mom’s friend had a house in upstate New York where we explored the nearby forests. A longer road trip to Canada took us to Quebec and Montreal. I remember falling in love with the excitement of Montreal and thinking it would be a fun place to go to college.
Adulthood – family trips and mother-daughter get-aways
After college, there were a few family vacations… A long weekend in Santa Fe was filled with lots of shopping and dining. A week in Puerto Vallarta moved at a slower pace because we made the mistake of going in the summer. Mom was not crazy about the heat, so we put a fan on the balcony, where she relaxed and read and gazed at the ocean during the day. At night, when it cooled down, we all went out to carefully-selected restaurants for a feast.
Some of my best travel memories are from the mother-daughter trips. Mom and I shared a love of jewelry-making and found the bead shows / art workshops to be the perfect get-away. Over the years there were trips to Santa Fe, Portland, and Austin. During the day we learned polymer clay and jewelry making techniques before visiting the bead expo. At night, we returned to the hotel exhausted but exhilarated. We relaxed in the hotel lounge, drank kirs, ate munchies, and talked about all of the wonderful things we did that day.
Impressions of traveling with my mother
Thinking back to the extended childhood trips, I realize how brave my mother was; and I admire her for it. These adventures ignited a never-ending curiosity to see the world and taught me to be determined and independent.
Thank you Mom for the gifts you have given me. I will miss traveling with you.