Vacation is a State of Mind, Not a Place: Part II


There was no listening to any, not even ONE of the Great Speeches of the 20th Century. Not on THIS week. Oh no my friends. This week we DEFINED the meaning of a staycation, but we did NOT stay. We went…

…to Painted Rocks Trail…a ten mile hike…backpacks stuffed with our personally picked packable lunches and drinks from the grocery store. My drink was a carefully chosen $3.49 Strawberry Serenity: a gluten-free, Vegan, non GMO bottle of something liquidy that was supposed to reawaken, rebirth, repurpose and redefine me.

What it did instead at mile five was spray all over me and my glasses causing me to dance around like a whirling dervish and make the children roar with laughter at my unwillingness to just set the exploding glass bottle down. I wanted at least a TASTE of $3.49 serenity-it was more money than a large beer would have cost.

The trail we hiked paralleled the Little Spokane River and we inhaled the scent of life emerging from the decay of winter and felt the glorious sun on our faces for the first time in months.

Someone previous to us had planted nickels and dimes in the bark of various trees along the way, turning the hike into a treasure hunt, and then a competition, and then a fight resulting in tears, a shove, a stick poke, more tears and then an “ephinanic ah-ha” when they each at various moments opted to replant their found riches for someone else to discover. The experience slowed back down from there and bugs, birds and critters were once again noticed. Me, I just watched from the rear in quiet pleasure. No sense interrupting a perfect evolution of thought, since no eyes were lost during the stick poke.

Plus I was kind of sweaty from all that walking…and really sticky from serenity.

Painted Rock 1

Painted Rock 2

The next day we drove north to the local zoo. $33 later we were all a little glum over the idea of caged, fat, bored lions, tigers and one dog-food-fed bear who plopped down right in front of us, back legs kicked out like a person, big bear balls flopped out for all of us to witness.  His blank stare said “I really don’t give a f*** anymore.”

We got frappes at McDonalds to chase away the zoo blues and drove further north to Diamond Lake where we breathed in the warm, lake wind, threw rocks (at the water, not each other…mostly) and put our toes in the frigid, recently thawed water. We pretended that the lions, tigers and bear were all roaming freely like we were.

Lake 2

Lake 1

There was a slight set back mid-week because I needed (like a meth addict) to put some work in and therefore used up all my before noon Zen-time being kind of pissed off. I called my husband to inform him that I was quitting my job to become a full time “writer-mother-lover-of-all-people-so-long-as-they-were-not-any of my-EX-customers” and that he would probably have to get a second, and possibly a third job as I would require extra cash flow on account of I would need to buy some new clothes to fit my new role in life. (Picture cute flowing long skirts, dread-locks, flip flops with pretty sequins on them and tie dye t-shirts.) I think he must have hit a tunnel or something because we were disconnected… which was weird.

I was kind of hoping that the house would not be in order so I could just sulk in said house. But clearly my children were desperate for adventure because the house was in order.

So we went bowling.

And we fought and bickered and complained (it was mostly me and Maria doing that) and that was before we even pulled out of the driveway, which we finally did. But then Maria called my phone (which I let Dan answer) asking if she could PLEASE go bowling, that she would be NICE. I let Dan decide if we should turn around and get her. He is a kind person (unlike his mother) and felt it right to turn around and retrieve his wicked sister. He likes power but does not use it for evil purposes (when there are witnesses). He relayed her message to tell MOM to ignore her red puffy eyes when we picked her up, that she was fine, it was just allergies.

I declared it to be Silent Bowling Day but the tater-tots made it hard to stay quiet…they are such a cheerful food. We actually had fun but we went in shifts. That’s the problem when Siwinskis play games that keep score…on a large television screen. But soft-serve ice cream cones after bowling soothed the egos of those of us who bowl like crap (me) because more than state of mind, vacation is about the food.


And while I did not order this when we were bowling…


…because that would have been wrong…Maria doesn’t know how to drive yet…I did have a Bloody Mary when we got home, but just one. It helped with the “vacation is a state of mind” bullshit.

BUT the next day it happened. We had one-of-those-perfect-days that keep you coming back for more. As the perfect drive is to golfers, as twenty-one is to gamblers, as the Super Bowl is to the Steelers, was THIS day to the Siwinskis. The two eldest man-sons decided to come with us on a spontaneous visit to Palouse Falls, where, one hour west then another forty five minutes south of Spokane, smack dab in the middle of rolling farmland, lays a very big, deep hole (picture a miniature Grand Canyon) complete with a pretty falls.

Palouse Falls

I held zero hope for a flawless, fun trip. Those of you with large families understand the statistical odds against six children and one narcissistic mother making it even fifteen minutes without a fight of some sort. But WE, my friends, made it the entire afternoon without anyone spiritually or physically hurt for longer than thirty seconds at a time, which is kind of like the five second rule when food falls on the floor.

Milkshakes on the way there helped.

I have to make note that there is a marked elevation of noise immediately AFTER food intake with my children, which can be very disturbing when you forget to bring your earplugs. But I had a milkshake too. Mine was peanut butter, which is mood altering nectar.

Mom and Maria

We drove, we sang, we played brainy clever car games, we laughed, we TALKED, we hiked on steep treacherous trails, narrowly skating several near death opportunities to find various treasures: sticks, rusty railroad spikes , nuts, bolts and a fifty pound rusty tractor bumper (which Duncan lost interest in hauling by the third  steep, rocky hill back to the car). We got dirty and we arrived home satisfied, happy and loving each other more than we can remember having loved. The kids found out that night that it was national sibling day, and grinned at each other (and me) with self-righteousness.

Palouse 2

By noon on Friday, I sent them all to say “hello” to their grandpa, who wasn’t at his office (he may have been hiding) after a morning game of Life turned really vicious. National Sibling Day was f’ing OVER.

I did the house tidying that day in solitude. But later there was a lemon-aid stand where Mitchel played his new birthday money guitar to lure in the high paying suckers customers. They made NINE BUCKS. Then we (mostly me) painted rocks to make a rock garden in the front yard. I decided that I was going to start a Rock Painting Therapy business. Do you SEE how important it is to take time off? I mean who THINKS of shit like that when they are busy working all the time? Grant may NOT have to get a third job after all.


Saturday, David announced to us that he hoped it would RAIN because he wanted to lie on the couch and be LAZY. Everyone actually agreed with him, which means the week was a success: my kids were craving BOREDOM and green vegetables (I made the vegetable part up) and I was craving my out of the house job once again.

But here’s the thing…these children of mine…these people whom I got the great privilege of helping make and continue to help grow…are nifty, colorful, individuals and I really, really, like them! They talk and laugh and yell and fight and EAT… a LOT…and they are wicked smart. I rediscovered this, like an explorer of a new land, when I allowed myself to lift off the heavy (mostly mental) burden of work I had created for myself: it was hiding the very treasure I actually work FOR.

This state of mind is a place I really want to stay…but without so many tater-tots and milkshakes: I need to look good in those long, flowing skirts. Tie-dye t-shirts and flowing skirts are the new black suits, didn’t you get the memo?

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s