Everyone's favourite childhood memories are different, some reminisce about school, others about sports, mine tend to be about summer fun. Most of it surrounds the holidays and adventures that I went on with my family during the brilliant months of summer. We were not a particularly rich family so jet setting across the world was never really an option. Nevertheless, our holidays were always fun and full of excitement and arguing. What else could you expect from a car full of young kids?
The best vacation was probably this one trip that we took to Alaska. We hopped into a camper and drove all the way from California to the great state of Alaska, in what was definitely my most favourite experience growing up. Granted at the time I was a teenager and as such I was not at all keen about spending the whole summer cooped up with my family.
Despite my protests, my folks stuck to their plan and said that we all had to go. Begrudgingly I went along, with only a book to keep me entertained during the long drive. This was before the digital age so there were no playstations or computers to take along.
The vehicle that we rented was a small camper complete with a makeshift kitchen that had a really small stove and a fridge kept cool by a big chunk of ice. Each of us kids were assigned our own little storage area, with mine being right on top. I remember that as I sat there filling up my cupboard, it dawned on me that most of the stuff that I had intended on bringing simply would not fit! In fact I was going to have to leave most of it behind and that annoyed me. So the holiday really did not get off to the best of starts.
We left right after school closed for the summer and the drive took us all the way down the Californian coastline. We drove through Oregon, the capital city, British Columbia, passed by our neighbours in Canada and then finally reached Alaska. There were some memorable pit stops along the way. I remember enjoying the rainforest, a remarkably friendly racoon and even running away from a slug at the Olympia National Park. When we stopped over in Vancouver Island, we took the opportunity to visit the Butchart Gardens which was filled with glorious flowers, and nature at its most beautiful. That was really the turning point of the trip for me, the moment it dawned on me that I ought to be appreciating this opportunity instead of sulking.
From there we went on to Dawson Creek which was the beginning of our road to our final destination. We took the ALCAN Highway. I believe that the conditions along the road are much better than what it was when we made the trip. At that time, it was little more than a dirt track, not really a proper road. We became accustomed to the dirt and dust, making do with dirty clothes and waiting out turn to clean up in the tiny sink.
It might not have been in line with other people's ideas of great summer vacations but it was fantastic in its own way. As the trip progressed we actually bonded as a family and ended up having a great time together. We played games, talked around the campfire and just had a good time with each other. All these simple things made it so very memorable.
The raw natural beauty of Alaska was spectacular. From glaciers to lakes and forests, there was everything that made the great outdoors amazing. It was definitely a slightly different take on summer fun, but it sure was amazing.