Friday, August 04, 2006

I just got back from my three week vacation to Northern California with my son Wesley. It was a bittersweet vacation. Not complaining mind you. Many hard working folks never get out of the house long enough to enjoy themselves let alone travel as extensively as I have over the years. I had a great time, as I always do, but there was a sense of sadness that settled over me as the trip winded down. Before I desribe what prompted my sadness let me first share what was sweet about the trip.

What was sweet.......

1. Beating the heat.... While friends and family were scorching, sweating, having second thoughts about global warming, taking cold showers, and generally cursing the weather I was staying cool in the shade. Not that I needed to be in the shade. Northern California, along the coast, never gets hot, and I mean," never", which is one of the reasons I love to hang out there almost every summer. The highest temperature in Eureka the entire time I was in the area was only 68 degrees. That's right, 68 degrees!.....The mornings were so cold you could see your'e breathe.

2. Spending time with my son Wesley....Growing up I never spent much time with my father and he died while I was only in the seventh grade....so.....I am determined to spend as much time with my two sons as they will tolerate. Vacation time is important to me because it provides an excellent opportunity to bond with family members which is why I have made it a priority in my life for the past twenty years. While Wesley didn't have as good a time as I did I am very happy that we got to spend this father and son time together. These are precious moments that I am sure will be remembered forever....and.....are one of the foundations for a strong father, son relationship. Teenagers today lack important cultural rituals to initiate them into adulthood/ manhood and I can think of no better way to help our children become adults than spend significant/quality time with our sons and daughters.

3. Quality sleep......During the course of the school year I average about six hours of sleep a night and I am prone to wake up at least two or three times a night. During the course of this vacation I figure I averaged about nine to ten hours of sleep a night.....why the dramatic increase of sleep?....The combination of the weather, lack of distractrions, and daily activities/exercise that promotes good sleep. I don't sleep well in warm weather but I sleep like a baby when the night time temperatures are in the forties and the sun is obstructed by the trees and the fog.....

4. Dramatic improvement in my health.....When I left Bakersfield three weeks ago I was feeling pretty depressed about my health situation. My left knee was really bothering me and I hadn't lost any weight this summer which is something I generally do. Well....this vacation is just what the doctor ordered. My knee feels much better despite the fact that my son and I hiked and rode our mountain bikes about two hours a day....go figure....and....I have lost about two holes in my belt buckle. I feel great....The best I have felt in the last nine months....Now if I can just figure out a way to transfer all this good health momentom over to the stress filled school year....

5. New direction for the future?.....While attending a campfire one night I had a very interesting conversation with a ranger. It turns out he grew up in Bakersfield and taught school for twenty one years. I asked him how he became a ranger and he told me he took only one class at Humbolt State and just applied for seasonal work. Eventually the seasonal work became almost fulltime and that is when he decided to retire from education. I find the idea of becoming an interpretive ranger very appealing and something I think I would be very good at. For years I have pondered how I might get more involved in enviromental causes and have yet to get anything off the ground because I am so busy and I don't find the political angle on the environment very appealing....and.....I strongly believe that the best way to convert people to the stewardship of the planet is to get them out in nature and educate them about the wonderful world God has entrusted to our care....I don't intend to act on this inspiration before my two sons graduate from high school, but maybe in a couple of years I can began pursuing what I need to do to position myself to work in the California State or National Park system part time in the summer until I retire from education....I am inspired.....


What was bitter....


1. Having to juggle it all.....Last year my two sons, my girlfriend, and I all took a three week trip up the Oregon Coast. This year I took three seperate vacations and thus did alot of driving....and....missed the company of us all being together. Just not the same......

2. The end of a season in my life?.....For the past sixteen years I have taken my two sons for at least a two or three week vacation every summer....but....this may be the last summer that either of my sons goes on vacation with me. My son Paul stayed home this summer and his brother Wesley expressed he didn't want to be away from his friends for so long any more....and....both sons said they want to work next summer.....I feel very sad about this and at one point during the trip my eyes swelled up with tears because I realize this may be the last time I spend any significant time with either of my two sons. I have so many wonderful memories of our trips together to Canada, Yellowstone, Colorado, the Oregon Coast, Washington, the Sierra's, and the Redwoods, many, many times.....listening to....... the Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the Harry Potter series on tape. I will greatly miss our times together, hiking, biking, cooking, and sleeping under the stars in our tents, and just the thought that this probably the end of these special times makes me very, very, sad......

3. Coming back to Bakersfield.....I don't like living in Bakersfield....It's hot, crowded, and very polluted....and....down right depressing at times.....and my vacation time away just reminds me how much I don't like living here.....but....thank God.....I can get away during the summer.....because I don't think I could handle it otherwise.....I start work on Monday.....and start teaching class on Wednesday. Our school district starts two weeks before everyone else in the area because we get one week off at Thanksgiving and three weeks at Christmas....but....it is a long....long....haul....until November.....so..... as the memories of summer began to fade and I begin to think about another school year it's time to say goodbye, for now, to another great summer sleeping under the stars, hiking, biking, and just living life at the pace God intended. Life is indeed bittersweet..........

5 comments:

Dave said...

As always, beautiful photographs, Bilbo!

The idea of you becoming a park ranger sounds like a divine inspiration indeed. It makes a lot of sense as a "next step" for you, given your love of the outdoors and the stores of knowledge that you've acquired on that subject over the years. I encourage you to pursue that!

Re: the bittersweetness of sons growing up and wanting to do their own thing... I've felt some of that this summer and last. I've not had the opportunity for the long vacations with my boys over the years so I won't miss that the way you do, but I get what you're saying. It's a tough adjustment to go through, especially when you're giving up something so good in exchange for...what? You just have to respect their wishes and recognize that they have other friends, priorities, financial needs, etc. But I'm willing to predict that these summer trips have made an imprint that they will want to return to someday. Maybe ten years from now you will be a ranger up at Redwood National Park and your boys will bring their own families or friends up to visit you on the job!

Kansas Bob said...

Welcome back Bill. Seems that the better outweighs the bitter. Pretty cool about the belt holes - I can relate. Glad you are feeling better.

Bilbo said...

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the encouragment regarding the Ranger gig. Am also very much interested is pursuing photography at a more advanced level....but....don't see why I can't combine both Ranger duties and photography.I've got some ideas for photography on the back burner and hope to explore and experiment some in the near future. Up to now I have been pretty one dimensional....just photographing nature, beauty and all...but....may begin experimenting with the "dark side" of life and what we have done to the environment.I've seen some pretty nasty stuff on my travels and may start recording some of that on my future trips...good stuff about the future and my two sons. Intellectually I know there are other happy times ahead but the rapid changes in them over the past year has made the adjustment tough at times as you say.....


Hi Bob, Good to see you still hangin around. I'm prone to be pessimistic at times but am trying real hard to be more balanced. Life is a blessing and a priviledge and sometimes we all lose sight of this....

julieunplugged said...

Bill, park ranger! I think I saw it written in the clouds over the Redwoods and Bodega Bay! So that's what that sign was all about. :)

I can so relate to the bittersweet feelings. This may have been our last family vacation as a nuclear family, at least for awhile if not forever. Hard to ever know these things for sure.

Still, what you are feeling is real nonetheless... the time of young children who dote on parents is rapidly becoming memory and the future where kids see themselves alone with a family of their own making, without parents, is ahead.

And that is sad no matter how you say it.

I do think that while the past is gone, there will be some surprises in store for you. Can you imagine taking a granson on the same trips as you have with your boys?

My mom has done that with Noah, taken him hiking and camping. :) I think you have some surprises ahead and of course, as my grandfather always said, you have your memories. What else is there?

Heart,
Julie

Bilbo said...

Hi Julie,

Thanks for the inspiring comments about taking the grandchildren camping.It is something I would love to do. Just hope my body can hold up long enough to make that dream a reality.....Ahhh....Bodega Bay. I love that place...especially in the spring when the fog is practically non existent, the grass tall and emerald green, and the flowers are all in bloom....and....I look forward to the surprises you mention....thanks....