Right this minute, friends are
traveling through France. I am excited for them – the vacation of a
lifetime. They post photos of their adventures on Facebook so I’m
following them across France: Paris, Cassis, Marseilles, geocaching
I’m not much of a traveler myself.
When my sweetheart asked where I’d like to go for my birthday, I
gave the usual answer: nowhere. Then I reconsidered. We’ve been
trying to get over to Crater Lake, a geographic wonder filled with
the bluest water in the world. We have friends along the way, two of
whom have birthdays on either side of mine so it would have been fun
to celebrate my 70th with them.
The birthdays happen during the Pacific
Northwest’s prime fire season. Like most animals, human or not, I
don’t do well under smoke-filled skies. Still, I’d gotten a bit
excited about a short vacation. Who wouldn’t? This would be our
first, ever, alone-together, no-deadlines, event-free time off –
kind of a mini honeymoon.
Back east, when I took vacations, I’d
usually travel to Provincetown, Massachusetts. So did a lot of other
gay people. I felt comfortable there holding another woman’s hand
on the street. Often, of course, these destinations became zoos where
non-gays could observe and mock our otherness, our mating rituals,
our gloriously outrageous entertainers.
Things are different now. No need to
seek out a gaycation destination. We decided to avoid the inland
threats and travel down the coast. We went as far as the Redwood
forests, turned all touristy, and visited The Trees of Mystery in
Klamath, California. It was terrific G-rated nuclear-family-type fun
– one of Mother Nature’s theme parks – even without gay
compatriots around us, though I wondered about the two motorcycle
guys in leather. I could have waggled my pinky ring at them, but they
never looked our way. We felt safe holding hands everywhere on the
My favorite things about the Trees of
Mystery were: the colossal trees (overawing), the gondola ride above
the trees (which we did twice), hiking the easy trail (also twice),
and learning life is good, even at age 70. I treated myself to a
Three Musketeers Bar, my sweetheart had a Babe’s Blue Berry Frozen
Daiquiri topped with whipped cream (named for Paul Bunyon’s Babe
the Blue Ox). A perfect day.
By the time we returned to our motel my
sweetheart had every symptom of the flu. I put her to bed and raced
to Safeway for Dayquil, Nyquil, a thermometer and orange juice.
I suspect anyone fortunate enough to be
able to take a vacation risks falling apart at the first incredible
moment of breathing free. I know I have. After spending a big chunk
of time working and taking care of home, dependents, bills, and every
other detail of daily life, if you even hint to your body that it’s
time to relax, beware. Your immune system may throw in the towel and
let the rough-and-tumble germs stampede.
My sweetheart is a good sport. She
wasn’t about to ruin our vacation or my birthday. The next morning
she insisted on visiting the local farmers’ market with me. She sat
in the car while I plunged into the excited energy of the noisy
vendors and shoppers. I was looking for late melons and found my
birthday present as well. It’s a red, handmade, oversized, slatted
wood cat on wheels that wiggles as you pull it (pictured). I tried to
pass it by. I only wanted it for decorative purposes, not to play
with, honest. My sweetheart named her Clovis.
We went for a little ride off the main
drag. Just followed our noses and ended up at a body of water called
Dead Lake. Looked for live birds, saw middle-aged couples fishing
(not everything was dead) and two homeless guys warming up on the
boat launch dock. Found a small airport and watched a commuter plane
land. Put my sweetheart back to bed and went looking for the hidden
Shangri-La of a park I’d found years ago. It was impossibly
overgrown and the dirt road had potholes the depth of Dead Lake. Guys
were coming out of the brush with skateboards under their arms.
Shangri-La no more.
Our long weekend went on like that.
Lots of quirky surprises. Lots of sleeping for my sweetheart, lots of
reading for me. Breakfasting on motel grub and the seeded baguette we
brought from home. (Were our friends in France eating baguettes too?)
Take out dinners from eateries recommended by locals. Long walks
around the harbor for me, snapping photos as I went of dandied up
trailer park spaces and surfers in the tame waves. Sitting at the
open motel window watching the harbor, falling asleep to the music of
barking harbor seals and a fog horn.
One day we drove on a fiendishly narrow
gravel road through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park where my
sweetheart felt good enough to accompany me on my annual birthday
walk over a bridge (all 60 steps of it). This bridge spanned a
tributary of the gloriously wild Smith River.
We stopped at every park and Ranger
station we passed. My sweetheart, on shaky legs, used a walking stick
to gather maps and, our passion, post cards! I bought a souvenir mug.
My sweetheart bought a souvenir watch cap. We found gifts for friends
and family. We took more pictures, especially of old buildings and
exotic manzanita trees. Such tourists we were!
We drove halfway home and stopped at
another seaside town. My sweetheart had splurged on a room high above
the ocean, which was prescient of her because the flu wasn't about to
let finish the trip in one day. As we approached the town we saw,
then smelled, oily-looking yellow smoke roiling overhead like
poisonous steam from a cauldron. We thought the smoke had reached us
from the hot, dry east! But no, it was a 60 to 70 acre gorse fire
just outside town, started by the backfire of an ATV on the dunes.
Gorse burns ferociously and had once leveled that whole town. Our
room escaped everything but the soggy smell.
We continued on home, our cooler filled
with leftover take out, anxious to get the invalid into our own bed
and rested. She was due at work in the morning. Our friends are
posting pictures of Saint-Remy-de-Provence today, including Roman
ruins and Van Gogh’s asylum. Our camera is filled with ghost signs
on old West brick buildings. Lesbian vacations, as varied and quirky
[Editor's Note: Lee Lynch is the author
of over 13 books. Her latest, An
American Queer, is available for pre-order.
You can reach Lynch at LeeLynch@ontopmag.com]
Copyright 2015 Lee Lynch.