The Urchin love of travel goes way back to when we were mere tykes, being carried off to faraway lands by our parents during the school-less months of summer. We like to think that these early travels have somehow shaped the way we travel today. Here are some of our fondest memories of Urchin childhood travels.
Every August of my childhood, my mum, aunt, and I would pack ourselves and at least two dogs into an RV and embark on a two- or three-week road trip. We explored almost the entire American west and much of southeast Canada. While I loved the craggy peaks of the Rockies and the big open skies of Wyoming and North Dakota, one of my favourite holidays spanned from Chicago to Meldrum Bay, Ontario, to Nova Scotia.
It was one of the first times I had been in another country, and while Canada is similar to the States in many ways, it filled me with the most excited curiosity to observe the differences. In Meldrum Bay we saw the starriest sky any of us had ever witnessed, a trend that continued throughout the trip, and we each were able to wish upon at least one shooting star.
I was positively swoony and enchanted with Prince Edward Island, where we got to visit Green Gables, which inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. In the wild, windswept pony-dotted countryside of Prince Edward Island, I imagined I was Anne, just on my way through the fields for another adventure. On the drive home, we spent one night in a campground and my mum and I took advantage of the north’s long summer nights, and later, the full moon, to walk to the water. On the way back to our campsite, she terrified me with a story about being abducted by sea kelp, naturally one of my biggest fears. Even our stopover at the Bay of Fundy to walk on the ocean floor for about 18 hours (just kidding, mum!) remains a family joke after all these years. Leave it to Canada.
I feel very lucky being able to say I spent my summers at Possum Kingdom. And I don’t ever remember seeing a possum, however let me regale a few highlights of my youth. Covering myself head to toe in mud for no obvious reason. Waking up early to go tubing on the lake. Jumping from cliffs into a debatable depth of water. Bathing in the lake until the neighbours called to complain. Building skyrocketing bonfires until the neighbours called the police. Feeding the ‘magic tree’ a mixture of sauteed juniper berries and prickly pears in hopes of finding rubies. Building a pit-trap to catch a caveman. I could go on for a while.
Possum Kingdom is a flooded canyon a couple hours away from Dallas in what was once a fairly underpopulated part of the state. When we first started visiting my dad’s friend’s house, I was six years old and there was maybe one other house on the cove. We kids ran around like the little heathens we were on motorcycles, go-carts, and 4-wheelers. By the time I stopped going there at age 12, the lake was overrun with McMansions and people did not appreciate our insanity. Well fine, I’ll just take my insanity elsewhere, thank you very much!
I went on a lot of fun trips with my family as a child, but none of them had more of an impact on me than the last time I visited my relatives in the Philippines. I didn’t even know it at the time, but my experiences would be among the earliest instances of culture shock education, a sensation I now chase as an adult.
It was my third time visiting the Philippines, but it is the only visit that holds place in my memory, since I was only a wee child during the first two visits. I remember my last trip there almost vividly. I was fifteen and very much an American teenager. While I wasn’t completely out of hand, I was in somewhat of a rebellious phase, and today I can almost look back and hear my parents say the phrase, ‘This trip will be good for him.’
Of course I didn’t know that at the time. I was fifteen and didn’t know anything except black clothing and punk music. But despite those inevitable episodes of teenage solipsism, I do give my younger self credit in three regards: I was curious, I was observant, and I was open-minded. These are three things I try to maintain, especially when travelling, even to this day.
My parents are wise, and they knew the trip would have the ability to set my mind on a certain track toward adulthood. This, along with the three traits mentioned earlier, is the reason this trip remains a part of me, even though I didn’t realise its importance until now.
In fact, this short little story demands its own article. How’s that for a bit of spontaneous Urchin-on-the-go brainstorming?
UPDATE: Read the full story, starting with part one.