If you’ll forgive me for my testiness as of late, I hadn’t been on a vacation in 18 months.
Last week, that all changed.
“Are you going to Florida?” one lovely person asked me over the phone.
Others, recently returned from Cuba, Mexico, Europe and the like all had similar questions.
“Nope,” I replied. “I’m looking for somewhere to refresh and rejuvenate.”
While tropical beaches and hot sun, Disney cruises and walks around Paris sound exquisite in some ways – I wasn’t really keen on keeping up with the Joneses for my vacation. In fact, it was the Joneses I wanted to get away from. I wanted to “get away from it all.”
A lovely person, who shall remain nameless, offered us her mountain chalet at the bottom of a ski hill in Quebec. It was an hour-long drive, perfect for a couple of parents who don’t see the journey as part of the vacation experience, at least not when there are three children under 10 in the backseat.
We packed the car and off we went.
For four days, we escaped the city. We turned off television and video games and cell phones and the Internet, keeping our eyes and ears available for the natural world in our midst.
Each morning, we awoke to fresh mountain air, excited for what the day would bring.
Exploring the trails with our snowshoes, we saw early signs of spring: Water trickling under frozen creeks; birds looking for seed; frozen waterfalls embedded in eroding cliffs.
There were toboggans and downhill skiing and chili in the slow cooker.
One day it snowed and the signs of spring were hidden under a blanket of white. There were big, fat flakes and small icy ones. The mountain looked freshly winterized when we awoke on the third morning to sub-zero temperatures and a land of ice.
Every day there was sun. One day it rained for a little while. But well-prepared with our rain gear and hiking boots, our winter boots and our balaclavas, we went out in all weather. In the rain, the rocks beside the creek exposed themselves as semi-precious stones, a rich collection for a six-year-old. In the warm afternoon sun -- warm as in 5 C -- birds of prey squawked overhead.
In the evenings, we opted out of using the electronics at hand. Instead, we raided the games cupboard – you know, the old-fashioned kind: board games.
As a family, we laughed over cups of hot tea and chocolate, playing Skip-Bo and Scrabble, and trying to think of funny definitions for words in Balderdash. We played Pictionary and charades. We spent quality time talking of our adventures and our plans for the rest of the vacation. And when the sun went down, we tucked ourselves into flannel sheets and wool blankets and padded quilts, sleeping peacefully until morning -- even the baby, most nights.
Nope, it wasn’t Florida or Cuba. It wasn’t Mexico or Europe. But it was one of the richest vacations I’ve had. I came away with a clear head, a clear idea of what I wanted for my family, my finances and my business. In nature, I was restored. Amazing that the best vacation I could have imagined was less than an hour away. And, thanks to the kindness of that lovely person who shall remain nameless, while it didn’t cost much, it was worth the world in gold.