Vacation? #SOL22 14/22

Describe your ideal vacation. Does it involve going into a dark, wet, hand-carved, dead-end tunnel with a group of energetic pre-teen boys? If so, today would have been your day.

The last time my children and my nephews were together was July 2019, pre-pandemic. Their reunion during this week of March Break has been, well, loud. In two short days (and today isn’t even nearly over), they have done a “Polar Bear” dip in the lake (54F/12C) – then done it again because their aunt offered them $25 if they do it five times for five minutes and they love money, met their (adorable) baby cousin, convinced their grandfather to take them tubing even if the water is ridiculously cold, gone to (distanced) church, played Dungeons and Dragons (with my partner as their patient Dungeon Master), talked about D&D until we forced them to stop, exhausted their grandparents’ dog (who did not know this much non-stop action was possible), watched 40 gazillion episodes of The Simpsons, and gone on an adventure to Stumphouse Tunnel.

The Stumphouse Tunnel was carved into a mountain in the middle of nowhere South Carolina before the Civil War – apparently as a potential train tunnel. I would be able to tell you more about it, but we didn’t have time to stop and read the signs. We *did* have time to go to the end of the tunnel, climb over top of the tunnel to the peak of the “mountain,” have a picnic, and then go off-trail and clamber down the nearby Issaqueena Falls. The day was gloriously sunny and warm (at least for those of us from Ottawa).

After a few hours of climbing outdoors the kids were almost worn out – but not quite. They contemplated Laser Tag but opted to come home. We’ve played the family version of Cards Against Humanity and some of the adults (ahem – me) took a nap, but there’s still spaghetti pie to make (it’s pi day) and apple pie to eat and at least one movie to watch.

I’m exhausted and as happy as I’ve been for a while: writing on a couch with a cat curled up next to me, listening to boys laughing in the next room, to one boy and his grandfather cooking, to my partner and my stepmother deep in conversation.

Happiness sneaks up on us, doesn’t it? Even when your vacation day involves hiking in a cold, wet tunnel.

16 thoughts on “Vacation? #SOL22 14/22

  1. This tunnel sounds interesting and this post is brimming with craft moves that I keep noticing and going back to. I learn so much about writing from noticing what you do – the listing, the asteriks, the em dashes, the colon, the question at the end (my favourite part where you are having a conversation with the reader) and the paradox of the best times being “a cold, wet tunnel”.

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  2. It does sneak up on us. Your writing brings it sneaking in, sometimes. Getting 100 or so trees tapped while wearing snowshoes will do it, too. I’m so glad you are getting to revel in thus, friend.

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    1. Someday I’ll have to participate in tree tapping – your pictures look amazing. And just knowing that people are out there tapping the trees makes me happy: Spring is on its way!


  3. It all sounds so fun and normal…but you may not feel rested at the end. However, this does feel like it’s nourishing the spirit. I really like the line at the end “Happiness sneaks up on us.” The tunnel looks really cool…from this distance, and the falls look glorious. It’s great that the cousins and everyone else are able to be together again. Melanie’s comment made me go back and find all the moves she mentioned. I confess that at first I just enjoy and don’t try to pull back the curtain…but she was right… it’s subtly crafty….and that’s much better than blatantly crafty.


  4. “Happiness sneaks up on us…” absolutely, it does! Your break actually sounds lovely to me: time with family, some active stuff, some couch potato stuff, some family stuff. As for the ideal vacation in the cold tunnel with pre-teen boys, well…you deserve a merit badge for that one…


  5. In my estimation, you’re a brave & confident slicer. Why? Because this entry probably could have filled your quota for the rest of the month. I’m glad you took the approach you did as this day sounds overstuffed with fun.

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    1. Ha! I could have slice about many many moments from the day – in fact, it took me a while to figure out how to write about it. In the end, my husband gets credit for the opening line and from there is was clear that I needed to capture the overall feeling of the day.


  6. How fun is that, even if I wouldn’t join you in a cave, no matter how much I was paid! It’s amazing how much kids can get up to and how much energy they can expend… not to mention the dog!! I too love listening to life and family activity going on all around while I relax! How glorious to meet up again, that’s how long since I’ve seen 3 of my grandsons in another state in Australia, one was 2 at the time, so he’s not even going to know who I am!!

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