It’s that wonderful time of year where people stare outside their windows and either love or hate the snow that surrounds them. The buoyantly exuberant types who love Christmas tend to look romantically at the cold white blanket covering everything. Then there are the complainers. I doubt I need to say more about them. The most evil of all are the ones who book vacations somewhere tropical and then count down the days with torturous zeal, so that all the rest of us suffer, whether we love or hate Canadian winters.
This morning a friend of mine is boarding a plane to Mexico and another sent me an email saying she’ll miss a work social in January because she plans to be in Yuma, Ariz.
I have no plans to go anywhere hot this winter but instead of being envious, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and think back on my favourite vacation ever.
It was three years ago, in the summer. My husband Kevin, who was then my boyfriend, and I decided to drive to the Maritimes. I had never been to the east coast, but I wanted to explore my own country before I visited too many other places in the world.
We loaded a tent and camping gear in the trunk, along with a folded up futon mattress in the backseat because in case you didn’t know, I am the cheapest person who ever lived -- aside from my mother. I may need to go into hiding after saying that about my mother, but first I’ll finish telling you about my vacation.
Our plan was to drive non-stop to the east coast to get there as fast as we could, and then drive slowly back home, stopping wherever we wanted along the way. That was all we had planned. This meant that we would have to take turns driving, day and night. I wasn’t too worried about the driving part. I like driving, and I brought along audio books to keep me entertained. I was more worried about spending two uninterrupted weeks with my boyfriend, because we had never travelled together, and it is a huge test for any relationship.
However, I soon found that Kevin was as laidback and adventurous as me, and he laughed when we had to freshen up and change at Lake Superior, next to a highway, because we were both tired of driving in the same clothes. He enjoyed the meal we ate at a hippie restaurant we stumbled upon in Vermont, when I decided we should detour through the states. He never once got mad at me when we drove through Maine during a full moon and though I was the navigator, I fell asleep. He couldn’t make sense of the map I made and got lost in the foggy creepy wilderness, haunted by Stephen King stories.
Once we got to Nova Scotia, we relaxed and spent a day touring Halifax.
I thought it might be nice to have a sunset picnic at Peggy’s Cove, so we stopped at a grocery store and picked up chicken wings and salad before we drove to the lighthouse. Unfortunately we missed the sunset, so when we arrived, it was already dark. We both shrugged and decided it would still be fun to sit on the rocks and watch the waves gently crashing under the moonlight.
Then Kevin leaned over and asked if I thought it was a perfect moment. I did. I agreed. It was a wonderful sight and I was wrapped in a blanket, fully enjoying it. The salty ocean spray filled the air around us and we cuddled close together. No one was around, so we had Peggy’s Cove all to ourselves. It was beautiful and serene -- an incredibly perfect moment.
He said he had a rock for me. I laughed as he dug in the pocket of his bunnyhug. I opened the container of wings and began eating, watching him curiously.
A week earlier I had teased him about rocks from The Northwest Territories. Kevin is a musician, and he’d had a gig there. When he had returned home he showed me some rocks he had picked on shore with a friend, for his friend’s father. I had asked him where my rock was, and he frowned, holding out the pile -- saying I could choose one to have. I chided him, saying that he had to think of me while he was picking the rock or it didn’t have the same meaning.
So when Kevin dug through his pocket I waited patiently, fully prepared to select my rock. I wasn’t about to tease him again which would ruin our perfect moment. I listened for the sound of rocks rubbing together, but it never happened. I heard a strange popping noise, and when my eyes focused in the dark, I saw that he was holding a velvet box with a diamond ring in it.
He told me that he loved me and wanted to have many more perfect moments with me. He held out the ring and asked me to marry him.
I was sobbing by this point, and naturally my fingers were covered in barbecue sauce. Such is my life! Like a fool I impulsively licked each individual finger clean before I allowed him to slide the ring onto my finger. But the sweet memory of that moment always warms my heart and makes me laugh.
The rest of the vacation was a fun blur of activities, museums, beaches and campgrounds. It sent the precedent for many more amazing vacations and memories.
If you’re tired of hearing of your friends or family who are escaping somewhere hot right now, take a little vacation yourself, like I did. When you emerge from it you probably won’t feel jealous or wishful anymore. You’ll probably be excited for those who are off making new memories. And hopefully their memories will warm them should you ever board a plane and the roles reverse!