September travel for the Labere family has traditionally involved a stop at Revelstoke Mountain to hike to Miller Lake (pictured) and Eva Lake. (Lachlan Labere photo)

September travel for the Labere family has traditionally involved a stop at Revelstoke Mountain to hike to Miller Lake (pictured) and Eva Lake. (Lachlan Labere photo)

Column: Waiting out wildfire season, longing for a return of the family vacation

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

It’s been a long time since I’ve gone anywhere for a vacation.

This thought hit me last Saturday as I was having lunch outside the Westgate Public Market.

As I ate, for something to do I watched the traffic go by on Highway 1. So many vehicles travelling east and west, at times bumper-to-bumper. I guessed a lot of it was people doing their own vacation thing. The air thick with wildfire smoke, I hoped they weren’t here for the scenery.

Before the summer started I heard mixed opinions on how the season would shape up, tourism-wise. Some suggested it could be another slow one, tempered once again by pandemic restrictions. Others figured if restrictions eased up enough, the summer would be bonkers – even if the border didn’t reopen.

I’m not sure which prediction was most on the money.

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Restrictions were eased but we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. On top of that, we’re coping with a relentless heatwave and intense wildfire activity that has put a lot of locals on high alert, with go bags ready in case there’s need to evacuate.

Even if travel conditions were more favourable, I’m not so big on summer getaways. Up until about when our son started Grade 1, our family would typically take a week or two off in September to explore different parts of the Interior and a bit of Alberta. Often we’d pack a tent and stay in national or provincial parks. On the same trip we might stay at a hostel or hotel in whatever community happened to be our stop for the night, or the week. There would be sight-seeing and hiking, eating and exploring, swimming and stopping at community parks, and plenty of walking through downtowns and neighbourhoods, wondering what life might be like for us there as residents.

Of course, once we got home, we were always grateful to be home. Isn’t that how it always is with travel?

It’s been years since we’ve have a vacation like that. School and job-related changes have put a damper on family travel in the summer and the shoulder season. It’s been years since we’ve vacationed anywhere together, other than spring break trips to Vancouver to visit family. Last time for that was March 2020, when my son and I had a brief stay with my mom – a visit cut short by COVID-19.

I was on the phone with my mom on Sunday. She was happy to tell me that after so many months of pandemic restrictions, she was finally able to hug my niece and nephew. When the summer’s over, I’m hoping we’ll be able to squeeze in a trip to visit her. I know she’d love a hug with her grandson from Salmon Arm.


lachlan@saobserver.net
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