Last week, I traveled with my husband and two of my sons to Crane Lake, Minnesota. The closer we got to our destination, the density of the trees increased, and our connection with the outside world weakened. This location is all about social distancing. Even if COVID-19 restrictions hadn’t limited our ability to visit tourist attractions, there were limited tourist attractions to be seen. Even if we could have gotten the boys’ passports, we couldn’t go into Canada. In fact, our original thought–when we were making vacation plans in February–had been to go to Flag Island. Because getting to that particular destination requires crossing through Canadian waters, we wouldn’t have been able to go on vacation.
So, there was little disappointment about what we couldn’t do because what we could do was still possible. While in some ways our vacation became an extension of what we have been experiencing for months, it was in a place where we could appreciate memories, simplicity, and rest.
We remembered past experiences. Fifteen years ago, we rented a houseboat from a resort down the road from the cabin we stayed in last week. We think we saw the exact houseboat at the docks. My husband and I recounted how little we knew then about boating. And vacationing. And parenting. We spent time looking for the island where we had spent that week. We didn’t quite find it. The search brought to mind a poem I wrote two years after that first trip, which appeared in my first book The Last Time We Were Children.
We lived in current simplicity. As I mentioned this trip felt like an extension of the isolation we have experienced for the past few months. We realized that our lives changed little during the stay-at-home orders. In many ways, that, too, was an extension of what we had already been doing. My youngest son completed his senior year of high school in May. With that, our homeschool journey ended. The same month and year I had my first book published, our family began homeschooling. One of the reasons we chose Crane Lake was that I wanted to celebrate the reaching of our educational destination. But again we extended our past experience. We saw two butterflies that appeared to be the same, but I discovered were different. We had a staring contest with a deer. We spotted a Golden Eagle. My son used his new camera to capture these images. I wrote poems.
We rested. Sometimes less is more when it comes to activity. Although we fished, we didn’t catch much. Although we enjoyed good food, it was mostly what we had brought and cooked ourselves. The same was true of our daily mode. We did what we had brought with us. Most of my time was spent doing Bible studies, reading, knitting, and walking. The boys played their games, listened to music, and read books. My husband needed rest the most after a recent job change. I can’t count the amount of times we had to reboot the router so we could check in with our house-sitter, keep up on the news, and log-in to our online church service. But, there was rest in not being able to “connect” except with each other.
As I begin this week, I am refreshed. Isn’t that the point of a vacation? Often we have returned from a trip and thought we needed another one! In many ways, I think we completed this journey well.