Embarking on a Vacation from East to West

When making plans for our summer vacation this year, we had to build it around a trip to visit my mother who was scheduled to have eye surgery. We told her of our plans and she was thrilled, so we began designing our trip from rural Maine to Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is where she lives. My husband and college-aged son were not able to go, so I found myself making plans that included only me and my two middle-school aged daughters. We all had been to Santa Fe many times before, so it is somewhat a home away from home for us; consequently, we knew what we liked to do, and we knew what we did not need to see yet again.

As the plans got underway, I began thinking about the fact that Santa Fe is in the northern half of the large state of New Mexico, and not far (comparatively speaking) from Colorado, the state where I grew up and went to high school. As I was pondering the possibility of driving up to Colorado for a day or two, my mom phoned to say that her eye surgery had been postponed indefinitely. Did we still want to come? I could hear in her voice that she would be devastated if we did not, and we were looking forward to getting away from the heat and humidity of the east coast. The Southwest was calling and the plane tickets had been reserved. Yes, we still wanted to come. But now, we had freedom, we had possibilities, and we did not have a surgery or recovery to consider. Our summer vacation had just become a 100% vacation.

After talking it over with my mother, it was decided that after a few days in Santa Fe, visiting a few friends and relatives, we would drive north to Colorado and sight-see through the mountains for several days, before ending up in Colorado Springs in the fourth or fifth day, where we would visit more friends. By phone calls, email, and over internet link sharing, my mom and I planned our trek. Thankfully, my husband’s work travel had earned him countless hotel points, so it looked as though our hotels throughout Colorado would be free. Also, since we were flying into Santa Fe, we would use my mom’s car, a Hundai Tuscon, for her, myself, and my two girls; thankfully, we didn’t need to rent a car.

On June the sixth, ironically, my thirty-ninth birthday, we boarded a plane in Manchester, New Hampshire. We took Southwest Airlines, the best deal on the planet, and they don’t yet have service in Maine. It was a bit of a drive to New Hampshire, but definitely worth the money we saved. Since we had gotten our early boarding pass tickets on line the day before, we were in the early boarding line, so we all got seats together. For those of you unfamiliar with Southwest Airlines, there is general boarding with no assigned seats. The boarding takes place in three tiers, with those early boarders who snap up all the good seats; the middle boarders who take the rest of the good seats and a few of the lousy ones; and the late boarders who take what’s left: middle seats and parties that rarely get to sit together.

Southwest took us through Baltimore, where we changed planes and had lunch, and then a quick stop in Kansas City, where we didn’t even de-board. The flight was uneventful and the weather was perfect, so everything was on time. We all sat together, ate the peanuts, crackers, and sodas they gave us, and even watched a movie. Before assuming that Southwest Airlines shows movies on their flights, allow me to explain; we brought a portable DVD player with us on the plane that had a battery with about a three hour charge. We were able to watch one movie and part of another by putting the DVD player on the fold-out tray of the middle seat in our row. My daughters and I were entertained and the last leg of the flight went by so quickly, we could not believe we were already beginning our descent into Albuquerque. We had arrived!

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