Off to the west

Aug 17, 2006

Tomorrow we finally leave on vacation, now that the summer is almost over. This didn’t seem like a bad idea when I was planning the trip several months ago, but now that we’ve made it through the whole summer it feels odds to be taking a vacation right at the end for some reason, I think because the whole summer season is telescoped into the meager 10 or 11 weeks the kids get off from school. Between swimming lessons, basketball camp, skating camp, Storyland, etc, etc, the weeks go by quickly even for them. Chloe is quite indignant that school is already about to start again, a marked contrast from when I was that age and the summers still seemed to go on for a long time.

For the fifth time in 10 years we’ve centered a trip around the Worldcon, this year’s being in Anaheim, where I attended my first Worldcon back in 1996 when Chloe was less than a year old. Although this edition is the weekend before Labor Day weekend, which makes the logistics much easier to deal with in that the kids don’t miss any school, I’ve always felt that the summer is not the ideal time to go on vacation, mainly because that’s when everyone else goes. Most everything you read about Disneyland and the Grand Canyon say “don’t go in the summer, it’s too crowded”. But people go in the summer because that’s the only time they can go, so what can you do? Next year’s Worldcon is in Yokohama, so that’s out, and ’08 is about to be decided between Chicago (site of the 2000 Worldcon), Columbus and Denver. Based on dates and location alone, I’d go for Denver, but I doubt it will win.

In ’96 when we went out west for the first time, as I said Chloe was a baby, so you couldn’t plan too much and you had to be flexible. We took her to Disneyland and went down to San Diego for a couple of days and went to the zoo, it was my first Worldcon so I didn’t want to miss out on too much of the festivities there, so that was about it. This time it’s one of those “let’s do as much as we can in case we never go back” trips. We thought the Grand Canyon would be worth a side trip (it’s only 480 miles away, after all), and Beth wanted to see the big trees, so Sequoia is only a couple of hundred miles away, in a different direction, but so what? Just about half way between the two parks is Las Vegas, so we’ll spend a night there too. In summary, lots of driving in the first half, but then 5 nights in Anaheim for the Worldcon to settle things down a bit.

As I’ve been researching this trip, I noticed a marked correlation between some of the locations we’re visiting and the legendary trip my family took to California in 1968. It’s too much to go into now, but I’ve spent a little time trying to piece together exactly what our itinerary was then, based on the home movies and some entries from Grandma’s diaries detailing what postcards she got when from which locations. This go-round, besides the two parks, we’ll go right by Hoover Dam and Calico Ghost Town, two other stops from that previous trip when I was five and Jill was two, culminating in Disneyland, which was only 13 years old when we were there, 3 years before Disneyworld even opened. Last night I played through the video of the home movies from that trip and took digital pictures off the tv screen of any shots from these locations that had us in them, then had them printed out at Walgreens, and we’re going to take them around with us on a visual scavenger hunt to see if we can identify the same locations 38 years later. The pictures are kind of washed out and fuzzy, to make it even more of a challenge, so I’m not sure how we’ll do, but it’s worth a try.

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