I can look back now at age fifty-four (almost) and see how different things can be. Now-a-days, when parents want to take their children on a vacation, they ask them what they want. They gather them around the kitchen table and discuss everything the kids want to do and give them what they want.
When I was young, though, my father never told us where we were going until about two weeks before. The idea was that the parents would show the kids something they hadn't seen but might enjoy. To give them an experience they wouldn't otherwise have.
One summer day, Dad said to us kids, "we're going to Prince Rupert." Prince Rupert? What on earth is there to do in Prince Rupert? The idea, he said, is to travel up the coast and we will be sailing on a ferry out on the ocean. Oh.
We set off in the car when the day arrived. We stopped at a motel. The cupboards were locked but Mom refused to pay the two dollars they wanted to open them. She thought they were ripping her off and instead made us sandwiches. The next day we drove some more and then parked where the ferry was. In those days parking at the ferry terminal was free. We would not take our car to Prince Rupert.
So we boarded. It always seems to take a long time for boats, trains etc to leave when you're a kid. It seemed like forever before we pulled away from the quay. It did not take that long to find out that I was terrified by being on the water. As soon as the ferry got out of sight of land, I panicked and ran to my stateroom. I lay down and felt sick. I didn't come up again until land was sighted again.
I must say here that I loved my stateroom. It was tiny but I thought I might like to live somewhere like it someday. When I grew up I like bigger rooms but then I liked tiny.
Off the coast of Prince Rupert we saw some whales. And a couple of older American tourist ladies, going on to Alaska expressed surprise that there were bald eagles flying over Prince Rupert. "But bald eagles," they insisted, "are American birds." They were nice women but not knowledgeable about animals dispersion.
Prince Rupert made almost no impression on me. I have no memory of the town, the people or any stores at all. I know we went ashore because the ferry was going on to Alaska. So I guess I didn't learn anything from our trip. But I find myself wondering if any of those kids today are missing out by not being surprised by something new their parents picked out for them. Or maybe I'm just getting old.