Passage to Anywhere

By Rose Ann Sinay

Our bucket list is a page long. It’s split into three columns: “his,” “hers,” and a space for a (happy?) compromise.

The first item on my list is a trip to France – Paris – the heatbeat of the country. I want to see the Eiffel Tower. I want to walk under the great stone arches of Notre Dame breathing in the history, the drama, the lives and the ghosts of years past. I want to eat bakery fresh croissants at an outside café with a cup of strong coffee, and then, spend hours at the Louvre Museum (tourist all the way) absorbing all the dust motes that float through the air carrying centuries of creative energy. At the end of the day, I would enjoy a dinner of duck confit before laying my head on the pillow at the Hotel Ritz. Ahh. . . it’s my idea of a dream vacation, but not one that my husband shares with me.

My husband’s idea of a real adventure is going to a dude ranch in Montana. Think Billy Crystal in City Slickers round ‘em up cowboys – or is it, shoot ‘em up cowboys? He wants the raw adventure: eating pork and beans in a tin cup, herding cattle, sleeping on the ground with a jacket rolled up for a pillow staring up at the stars, surrounded by the smell of horses and their sweaty riders.

So what lies between the historically romantic ambiance of Paris and the giddy-up-go of a dude ranch? Alaska. Or, at least it is on our map.

Some lifelong friends had the same idea. We could go together. The plan was sounding better and better – luxury cruise, good food and drink and a spa! Once on land, there would be all the elk and moose walking through the woods that my husband could ever want to see. Maybe, he could fish the salmon swimming upstream and catch one for our dinner. We read books on Alaska, talked to friends whom had already made the trip. We were ready.

And then, as it happens in reality, our trip had to be postponed. We were disappointed, but Alaska would still be there when we were ready – hopefully before either of our knees (or other body parts) gave way.

Two years passed. Our small vacations were lackluster, to say the least. It was time for the big one. Our friends, Judy and Chris called again. They were ready to do a return trip. Were we ready, they asked? “Hell, yes,” we replied.

We prepared again. We re-read our literature and planned our itinerary. It was time to purchase tickets. We were doing it! I didn’t even mind that the croissants we would consume on the ship would be not be the savory pastry served at a quaint French restaurant.

And, just as our plans gained momentum, it happened, again. Life stepped in the way. Plans were cancelled. Were we ever going to get there?

After a hectic and emotional year of family “happenings,” we were too tired to think about planning a vacation. The only trip we considered was my husband’s 50th high school reunion in Connecticut. That meant, of course, side trips to New York and Massachusetts to see our grandchildren, Addie and Mila-Rose. That, in itself, would make the long drive worth it.

Our first stop was our son’s house in the woods of the Berkshires. Addie informed us that we would be sleeping in her room that had been recently decorated in a forest theme. Stuffed squirrels, bears, dragons and a moose peeked at us from the corners of the room. White birch tree decals lined the walls. The ceiling was covered with constellations of stars that made me dizzy as I tried to sleep that night. My husband was in his glory sharing a pretend camping trip with his granddaughter. Between the walks in the forest with Addie and the “possible” bear sightings, our indoor/outdoor camping experience was as close to Montana or Alaska that my husband was going to get for a while.

Finally, we were off to Connecticut to my husband’s high school reunion – to the guessing game of faces that would have changed considerably over the past 50 years. It was further proof we couldn’t ignore the expiration date on that long bucket list any longer.

Judy and Chris, the couple whom we had made and ditched vacation plans, were the first people we saw on our reunion weekend. “Want to try again?” they asked. They’d been to Alaska so many times they could be our own personal guides.

So maybe a fifty-year high school reunion is an event everyone should attend. It reminds of who we were, where we are, and how far we can go. Sure, we all look a little different and walk a little slower, but the hopes and dreams are still the same. I think this is the year we make it to Alaska . . . the third time’s the charm.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay

    Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer newly relocated to Connecticut. She continues to write about moments worth remembering, graciously provided by family and friends.

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5 Responses to “Passage to Anywhere”

  1. Erika Hoffman says:

    Yes, life does get in the way of great trips; nonetheless, those treks are always worth taking as one comes back renewed and also more knowledgeable about something or other! We went to Alaska with friends about 10 years ago. I’ll never forget that trip. And it gave me lots to write about! Hope you go!

  2. Linda O'Connell says:

    I love this essay. Just proves when life gets in the way, you don’t have to can the trip, just postpone it. You will love Alaska.

  3. Tammy Rohlf says:

    After reading your story so glad I just renewed my passport. Time to start on that bucket list!!

  4. Mary Ann says:

    I loved this! Although I, too, have a Travel Bucket List, the grandkids always trump the faraway places.

  5. Deb Ilardi says:

    Ro, you keep us reading and feeling those emotions so well. Thank you for another wonderful essay and an amazing insight into the personal side of you writing.

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