Some Time Away

I like routine, a lot. But I have also appreciated this break.

watercolor a canoe on a calm lake
Image created via Midjourney

It has been a few years since our family has done anything for spring break. We had plans to go to Arizona in March of 2020 that we had to cancel due to the emerging pandemic. Last year, I had just started a new job and vaccines weren’t widely available. We’ve done a few road trips in the summer, taking advantage of spending time outside even as the virus lurked in the background.

But this year we have three kids with simultaneous spring breaks. With 4/5 of our family vaccinated and mask-wearing proficiency, we felt like we could take a road trip. We had plans to drive to Madison, spend two nights there, and then continue to Duluth, Minnesota for an additional five days.

However, a few days before we were due to leave, I began to feel poorly. It finally got so bad that I went to Urgent Care. I was diagnosed with an ear infection and right on the brink of a sinus infection (doctor told me that I wasn’t quite there yet, but he could see that one could develop based on my symptoms and past history with sinus infections). I was prescribed antibiotics.

We made the decision to cancel the Madison part of our trip, to give me a few extra days to recover. Fortunately, I’d been in the mindset of “in case we get Covid, I need to book places with flexible cancellation policies” and was able to get refunded on our Airbnb. By the time we left on Monday morning for Duluth, I was feeling much better.

The weather had been warm for the preceding week but turned chilly as we headed to northern Minnesota. The cold didn’t (entirely) spoil our plans. We went to a train museum and toured a historic mansion—both inside activities. And yesterday we drove a scenic route along Lake Superior, stopping to take photos along the way.

Even though I’m sure the area is far more beautiful in the summer, I appreciated the frozen lake and crispness of the air and snow. We’d get out of the van and instead of hearing the warm sounds of birds or other people, we only heard the strong wind and waves.

We also did a whole lot of nothing – spending our afternoons holed up in our Airbnb, playing video games or reading. The change of scenery was welcomed.

We always take family trips right before school starts in August and they are jam-packed with activities. Usually we’re traveling somewhere interesting and want to soak in as much as possible. With Duluth, a small-ish town, at an unpopular time of year for tourists, we could take some time to relax.

I’ve had a daily writing habit for a long time and found it challenging to write at the Airbnb. I don’t have a good space to write comfortably. This post is composed with my Surface placed precariously on top of a mountain of pillows on my bed. I was distressed for a few days, feeling like I was falling “behind.” I realized that in the future, I’ll need to plan for trips better so that I don’t feel pressure to be productive while on trips.

But I’ve also been able to step away from work-work. Everything was covered, all deadlines had been met. I checked my email occasionally—but at my choosing (and perhaps the remnants of many years of working while on vacation). This time, I felt like I could truly step away. Not do anything work-related if I didn’t want to.

We head home later today. Eight hours in the car. The kids were very well-behaved on the trek here; we’ll see if it holds true on the way home now that they’re worn out from the week. We’ll have the weekend to recover at home before it’s back to the regular routine of school and work on Monday.

I like routine, a lot. But I have also appreciated this break.