Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harrison Hot Springs - revisited

Growing up, my family, along with other fifties post-war families took weekend drives as a form of recreation in the summer.

We'd pile into my uncle's station wagon with beach blankets, snacks, playing cards and assorted beach paraphernalia; the 'we' being an assortment of cousins, aunts and uncles. There being no such thing as seatbelt laws, we'd cram as many bodies as possible into that poor vehicle; usually six adults who would occupy the two front bench seats and at least as many kids crammed into the back compartment (I cringe when I think about it now, but that's the way it was back then).

The cousins would sit, backs to the side windows, feet towards the middle, staggered and stacked like sardines in a can. The lucky ones got pillows to lean against, but mostly we just took it for granted that we'd end the trip a bit battered and with numb bums.

I'm sure kids of today would be appalled at such cramped, primitive quarters -- being accustomed to SUVs with swivel captain's chairs, air-conditioning and built-in DVD and CD players -- but we thought it was cool. It was a time to bond: we'd sing, argue, play Volkswagen-no-return, fall asleep slumped onto an adjacent shoulder,
tell silly jokes, and laugh till it hurt. I'm not sure how the adults survived the noise. They must have had secret earplugs.

One of the places we'd drive to was Harrison Hot Springs. It was a long drive. Air-conditioning consisted of all windows open, including the window of the back tailgate and feet sticking out to catch a bit of the breeze. By the time we arrived, we'd be wobbly with half-asleep pin-prickly feet and legs. But it didn't seem to matter. We'd roll out of that old station wagon and head straight for the water. Meanwhile, the adults would set up a picnic under a willow tree and wait for us to realize how hungry we were. In retrospect, I doubt they were in much of a hurry to corral us back in and enjoyed a bit of quiet in the shade, sans kids.

All these memories came back to me when I spent a few days this past week at Harrison. It's still a very small resort town, as resort towns go. It's had a few setbacks over the years, but seems to be hanging in there. There are condos and boutique stores now, but it still caters to families who just want to picnic and hang out at the beach.

Some things never change: Kids, dogs, water

Some things do: Cool sand sculptures

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