After a year of social distancing, this family is ready to post up their tent trailer and make new memories that will last a lifetime. (Jennifer Bardsley)

After a year of social distancing, this family is ready to post up their tent trailer and make new memories that will last a lifetime. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Cooped-up social distancers come down with wanderlust

Now what? Last year’s visit to Glacier National Park in Montana was canceled it due to the pandemic.

One of the things the pandemic has taught me is the importance of seizing opportunities to do fun things with our loved ones: vacations, restaurants, family gatherings, sporting events. If you can do it safely, do it, and don’t feel guilty about the cost. Life is too short for regrets.

I’ve never taken my kids to Disneyland, for example, and now it’s too late. My son doesn’t want to go, and my daughter is so excited to return to in-person school in the future, that she wouldn’t want to miss school again, not even for a trip to The Happiest Place On Earth.

If I could go back in time to 2006, I would tell my former self to find the money somehow, and fly to Anaheim, California. Plus, I’d buy all of us Mickey ears. I can almost picture us in matching T-shirts that my husband would have burned as soon as we came home.

Vacation memories are priceless. I hold these memories dear to my heart and pull them out during difficult times to cheer myself up. I haven’t made new travel memories in a long time, unless you count the exciting trip I took to the mailbox yesterday afternoon. Thrilling, I know.

Thankfully, with warmer weather and vaccinations on the horizon, I can dream of future trips in our tent trailer. Nothing will ever compare to the two weeks we spent in Jasper and Banff national parks in the Canadian Rockies three years ago, but last year’s planned visit to Glacier National Park in Montana was supposed to have come close — until we canceled it due to the pandemic.

Theoretically, we could recycle those plans and go to Montana this summer, except for this weird thing that has happened — our kids are growing up.

My son turns 16 soon and is itching to get a summer job. He volunteers every week at the local food bank and enjoys working hard and interacting with co-workers. For him, it’s a fun break from the isolation of virtual school. Now he wants to do something similar for a paycheck.

My husband and I are pleased that our teenager is taking this step on the path to adulthood, but it makes planning a major trip over the summer impossible, since we won’t know his work schedule. So instead, we’ll fit in a short trip to North Cascades National Park where there are plenty of first-come, first-serve spots.

Not having any camping reservations this summer makes me nervous, so I booked three nights in a cabin at Bay View State Park for my daughter and me. She’s growing up, too. (Funny how that happens.) Now that she’s turning 12, we might actually be able to chillax on the beach reading books and listening to music together like almost-grownups.

We would take the tent trailer, but I’m not strong enough to assemble it on my own, even with my daughter’s help. The support rods over the bunks defeat me every time. Hence, the cabin.

In our tent trailers or a cabin, I hope summer 2021 will provide magical vacation memories to add to my collection. Those memories will be golden, as far as I’m concerned, and I want to create as many of them as possible. My new motto is “carpe diem.”

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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