iowa vacations and the safety of flight: conversations from the car

On the way home from the dentist office this morning, I absent-mindedly shared with the kids that I needed a vacation. It has been awhile since we’ve taken a vacation, besides the long weekend in Oklahoma City earlier this summer. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we were pretty avid travelers prior to COVID. This has been the longest stretch of time I’ve not left the country since the mid-90s. Any time off I’ve taken since starting a new job last fall has been to do consulting work. Whaaa whaa. Tiny violin time. I have just been feeling…restless. I was hoping to do a big trip this fall but I’ve been in some kind of recession/inflation/work-your-butt-off mode and I’m thinking I’d better store canned goods under my house instead of spending an extravagant amount of money visiting southern France (my original plan). All this to say, that simple utterance about needing a vacation sparked a humorous conversation which left me smiling for hours. Neelah was the first to pipe in.

“I want to go to England or France.”

Noah: “I don’t want to ride in a plane. I will go to the airport. I love the airport. But I’m not going on a plane.”

Me: “I understand buddy, sometimes I get nervous when I fly, but flying is actually one of the safest ways to get around.”

Noah: “Not when someone bombs your plane.”

Hmmm. True. Or when you are hijacked. I spent a long weekend with a woman in Varanasi, India, just hours after she and more than a hundred other fellow passengers had been released from the hijacked flight that landed in Kandahar after taking off from Kathmandu. She was passing through Varanasi on her way to Bodh Gaya (where Buddha was enlightened) and I was simply wandering the streets, getting massages on rooftops, and taking morning and evening boat rides on the Ganges as bodies were cremated on the ghats along the river. She had been given the option to fly home to Canada, but felt that would mean the hijackers won. She opted to stay in India for a month as she had originally planned. I was at the beginning of a 6-month stay and had just survived the much anticipated and dreaded “Y2K” event in a foreign country. I admired her resilience. Since we were only within about 48 hours of her having spent a week on a hijacked aircraft, I was hoping her mental state would remain strong when everything finally set in. Her family had pleaded with her to return to Canada. I felt honored, humbled, and quieted to have been the first person she spent any considerable time with following that incident.

Neelah: “Well, then. I would like to go to England or France or Iowa.”

Me: “Iowa?? Why Iowa? We’ve driven through Iowa before.”

Neelah: “Yes, but I’ve always wanted to explore Iowa.”

Me: “No offense, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone use the words “explore” and “Iowa” together in a sentence…”

Neelah has had a fascination with Iowa since her class at school performed the “Music Man” several years ago.

Me: “Iowa is a possibility, and we can avoid flying. Maybe we can go to Chicago and spend a couple of days in Iowa on the trip.” I was thinking that unless one has family in Iowa, it probably shouldn’t be one’s final destination for a vacation. Who knows though. I’m sure there will be at least one person who reads this who can prove me wrong.

We started to consider when an Iowa (Chicago) trip was possible. There were at least two people in the car that felt skipping school this fall for a week would be a good choice. While it might not happen that soon, it was now on our (their) list of dream vacation spots. The conversation dwindled as we entered our neighborhood and encountered a man standing at an intersection near our house waiting to cross the street. A man with a 3-inch booger swinging from his nose, glistening in the sun. Neelah got excited and distracted and started screaming at him from inside the car “Eat it! Eat it already!” Our Iowa vacation was quickly forgotten.

Ahhh…car conversations.