It’s possible these days to see electronic versions of the old still photographs and the home movies while the travelers are still on the road. No waiting for people to return from their trips, send their film to be processed and run to the mail box day after day to see if the finished photos, slides and film had been delivered.
These days, images are right there, every time a guy checks his favorite social media account. The old way wasn’t better or worse. It was just different. I know that having videos from my traveling relatives posted immediately gives me the option of viewing or ignoring the adventures. It wasn’t that easy back when we’d get our moving pictures back. Dad would set up the screen and projector in the living room and we’d all be expected to sit through reel after reel of the vacation we had just enjoyed – or not enjoyed, depending on the number of stops, the weather and road conditions and, of course, our age.
In recent days, I’ve been casually following several nephews and nieces as they vacation with their families in exotic spots around the country. One family is in the Rocky Mountains west of Denver, hiking rugged trails and bicycling through warm sun and cold rain. Another family is somewhere up in Alaska, hiking their own trails, fishing Alaskan streams and flying into the back country to see grizzly bears in the wild. A third family is in Hawaii, hiking, swimming and finding secluded and beautiful places in the islands.
I look at the pictures and wonder if these relatives are in another dimension. I’ve never been to Hawaii or Alaska, so I have only a vague awareness of what kind of country each offers. I’ve been to parts of Colorado, even to one of the places a niece and her family visited and biked. But when I’m in the Rockies, I mostly sit or walk slowly and study the peaks and valleys, the streams and skies.
I can’t really put myself in the place of any of these relatives and their families. They hop airplanes and fly halfway around the globe for a vacation. They take trains and boats and what all else. They fly somewhere to see bears. Imagine that. The closest I can come to that experience is a drive through Bear Country out in the Black Hills. We didn’t have to fly anywhere. We didn’t even have to get out of the car. We simply paid our admission fee and idled our way through the attraction.
I sometimes wonder what my dad would have thought of these travelers who leave the familiar grounds for places they’ve read about but never experienced. My dad loved to travel – always by automobile and never until after we finished harvesting the last acre of grain on our farm.
I’ve written, I think, about the two really long trips we took in my young years. One time we headed up through North Dakota and into Canada and looped west to the Pacific Coast and back, somehow taking in the Mormon Tabernacle in the process. The other time we headed east from Lyman County, crossed through Minnesota and Wisconsin, ferried across Lake Michigan and wound up at Niagara Falls. We returned through Canada. Somewhere along the way, we saw the locks at Sault Ste Marie.
Other than that, our summer vacations were to the Black Hills. We saw the same sights each trip, stayed in the same cabins each time, mostly ate bologna sandwiches and potato chips, either in the car as we traveled or at a highway turnout near a shallow, fast-flowing creek. We climbed the steps to Dinosaur Park, waited while our mother shopped for souvenirs (mostly salt shakers), listened in embarrassment as our dad explained rattlesnakes to the guy standing in a pit of them at Reptile Garden and otherwise enjoyed the time away from the farm.
Then we waited a couple of weeks to get the pictures and film to prove we’d really done those things.