While growing up our next door neighbours took vacations to Disneyland and came back with Mickey Mouse ears… oh how I wanted a pair of my own. I also heard stories of other people’s experiences of far away places in Europe and even spending the whole summer at Grandma’s house. My memories were a bit different to say the least.
Every summer for exactly a week, my vacation was to visit the relatives in what is known as the “Kootneys” in the center of British Columbia. Don’t get me wrong this area of BC is beautiful, it was just that my Dad had 2 weeks off, but someone managed to cram everything into 7 days, so he could get back to the West Coast to drink with his boozing buddies.
It was the same routine every single summer from the time I was born till I was old enough to know better. My Mom would load my brother Tony and I into the car, while my Dad would spend an extra hour going over the car with a fine tooth-comb making sure we had enough oil,gas and air in the tires. I still believe he only did it to test my Mom’s patience. Once we were on the road, my Dad had a one track mind and didn’t want to stop anywhere else until we arrived at our destination. He would only stop in Princeton for breakfast and at the odd gas station.
Most of my young memories are quite vague but, what I do remember is how I loved being at my Aunt Mabel’s (My Mom’s sister) place, she was a warm and wonderful person. She had a small farm by a river and I remember swimming in the river (once I acquired a leech on my foot, which at that age it didn’t even faze me). There were chickens to feed and a cow to milk on her farm. I loved it so much, I always imagined being able to stay there all summer. My brother and I would always play with my cousins, while the men drank and the women cooked and chatted. Believe me when I say, it wasn’t terrible, in fact it was awesome, it was just that a day or two on the farm went so fast and it was time to leave and go elsewhere.
The last stop was always Creston BC, where my Father’s parents lived (my Grandparents). I always looked forward to seeing my cousin Cheryl (Carlita) and again our visits were always cut short. My Dad was always in a hurry to get back to Vancouver, and because of it, you were never able to get to know anyone, how could you. Unless, you spend time with your cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, you never get close to them.