Memories of Childhood Trips

I was reorganizing our storage space in Split this weekend when I came across a whole bunch of old photo albums. Looking at them, what I found most interesting was going through the trips I had with my parents. Most of them, early on, were to beach locations in New Hampshire (a favorite was Hampton beach. I think it was a favorite of many Quebeckers). In 1974, when I was 8, we moved to Africa for a few years then, later, I lived with my mom in Vancouver and Ottawa. But it wasn’t until my late teens that I really developed a love for travel.

For this post I’ve dug up a few old photos. I’m sure many of you will have a laugh at my expense. Others might find it interesting seeing how certain places looked in the 70’s and 80’s. If you’re a bit older it might bring up some memories of your own.

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: I have a lot of memories of my dad driving us from our small town outside Quebec City to the US East Coast. We would usually leave in the middle of the night and arrive at our destination sometime around noon. This photo was taken in 1973, probably on the way to Hampton Beach or Cape Cod. We would always stop to eat at a Howard Johnson’s. I had forgotten about Howard Johnson’s before seeing this photo. They were all over the place. This photo also brings back memories of the really cool car we had for a little a while (it’s a 1972 Javelin SST – I found something on it here). That’s me and my mom, I’m wearing a Yosemite Sam shirt.

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Below: Harassing the girls at the beach. I don’t know exactly what I was doing here but I like the other kid’s reaction (the one with the happy face t-shirt). It’s like “hey, I’ve got to get in on that action”. Look at some of the old cars in the background.

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Below: Yes, that’s my mom reading Playboy at the beach. I don’t know if that was a usual thing to do at the time but I think probably not. I’m sure she got lots of funny looks. 

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Below: With my dad and my best friend Robert. I think we had invited him to come camping with us. This was taken in 1974, probably in Hampton Beach or Cape Cod. 

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Below: In 1974 (I was 8) we left for Africa. We stopped off for a few days in Paris. 

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Below: We also went to Tunisia on this trip. I’m not sure why, or what was the routing, but I remember the beaches being beautiful.

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Below: We lived in Lusaka (Zambia) for about 2 years. I wrote all about that here

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Below: On one of our trips we went camping on Lake Malawi.

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Below: In 1976 my mom and I lived in Vancouver for a year. Then, my mom decided we’d move to Ottawa. We hitchhiked across most of the country, camping along the way. I remember one of our hitchhiking tricks was for me to hid behind my mom while she tried thumbing down a ride – drivers were more likely to stop for a single female than for one with a kid.

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Below: We didn’t have much money in our first years in Ottawa. My mom worked as a secretary at United Way while I went to school. But we always found a way to get somewhere. In 1980 the Canadian embassy in Tehran was instrumental in helping 6 American embassy workers out of Iran (the Iran Hostage Crisis for those who don’t remember). There was an outpouring of gratitude from the United States – including from Greyhound who offered free travel in the United States for Canadians that year. My mom took advantage and we went to Key West. That’s us catching a barracuda.

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Below: Oh no. The gangly teens. My dad lived in New York City and one summer I went to visit him along with my cousin Nelson. I’m guessing it was in 1980 or 1981. That’s me with my plastic baseball bat and game of monopoly. I don’t remember much of New York city except that it was incredibly hot.


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Below: In 1984 my mom remarried and we went to Morocco for the honeymoon. The new husband almost didn’t come – he didn’t like to travel. This photo was taken on Jamaa el Fna square in Marrakech. I remember being traumatized in Morocco: everywhere we went there were beggars clawing at you with their leprosy hands. And lots of them had a weird eye disease where the eye was all white and milky. Morocco was like a scary zombie movie for me and I didn’t like it one bit.

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Below: In 1985 (I was 18) I had my first trip without my parents. I flew to Paris and met up with my friend Laurent – after a few days in Paris we took the train to Spain’s Costa Brava. We spent about 3 weeks there, hopping around between the towns of Tossa de Mar, Lloret de Mar, and Palamos. Spain was inexpensive at the time and we stayed in small hotels or camped.

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Below: Our lives in Ottawa changed a lot during the 80’s. My mom went from being a secretary at United Way to working in the financial department at a large international non-profit (there were lots of night classes in between). In 1986 I moved to Montreal to go to university while she took a new job opportunity – to be financial controller in South/Central Africa, based of all places in Lusaka. Funny enough she ended up back in Zambia 10 years after we had left.
Her being back in Africa while I was studying in Montreal brought about a lot more travel opportunities. In the summer of 1987 we met up in Greece. The photo below was taken in Santorini. Note the absence of crowds. I read that you can’t walk around Santorini anywhere these days without someone halfway up your butt. 

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Below: Later that same year (1987), I flew to Zambia and spent Christmas there with my mom. We went on a safari, stayed at a resort on Lake Kariba, and spent a few days at Victoria Falls (the most fabulous waterfalls I’ve seen in my life. Iguazu doesn’t compare). 

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Below: I was back in Africa the following Christmas, this time in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe at the time was one of the most prosperous countries in Africa and it’s capital Harare was clean and modern. It was home to a lot of international non-profits as well as to a lot of expats.
We toured the country, going to the Great Zimbabwe ruins (incredible – and we had the place all to ourselves), Victoria Falls (from the Zimbabwe side this time), and Matopos National Park.
The photo below: we had arrived at the Matopos National Park very early in the morning to see these two white rhinos at the entrance to the park. The park rangers told us that every morning these two rhinos would come and greet them when they started their shifts (white rhinos are a lot less aggressive than black rhinos). It’s still my most impressive wildlife encounter.

Below: Matopos National Park will always be remembered for the time I got violently sick. A few hours after this photo was taken I started throwing up. I was throwing up every 20 minutes without fail. By early morning we packed up and drove to Bulawayo – stopping along the way so I could open the door to throw up. We got to Bulawayo and stopped at the first hotel we saw. Thankfully they had a nurse on staff. She gave me a bunch of pills. It took me about a day to recover. Somewhere along the way I had picked up a bad bug.

 

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That sums up my early trips. I was 21 when that last photo in Zimbabwe was taken. My 20’s were taken up finishing university, getting my first job (with very little vacation time), and getting married and having a son. But it was those early trips that really got me hooked on travel and that ultimately led to the lifestyle that Lissette and I have today.
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What were your earliest travel experiences?
How did they shape who you are today?

 

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Comments

  1. Because of a serious skull fracture right after my 13th birthday, I don’t have much in the way of childhood travel memories. There is one though–my first flight. My Dad had been assigned to NATO in a place just west of London and we flew to the Isle of Man for a week. It was a DC3 and my great Aunt was sitting next to me. The stewardess served us a cup of tea (what else) and went toward the back of the plane. It suddenly dropped, 500 feet and we were weightless.

    The seat belts were still on as I watched the contents of the tea cup rise, perfectly formed, then go back into the cup without a drop being spilled. My Aunt sort of freaked out a little. She moved, I didn’t. But watching the contents of the cup and her stomach deposit themselves all over her, did me in. I had the tea cup in one hand and the vomit bag in the other, being filled rapidly.

    The stewardess reappeared took our cups and I asked if we could do that again, my Aunt threw up again, then told me to shut up.

    Since then I have never been air sick (sea sick yes, in the air no).
    Ted recently posted…Things are different todayMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Quite the story Ted! That’s pretty scary. I’ve always been a plane geek (I find planes amazing and marvel at how they fly) but at the same time I always have a little fear inside me expecting the worst. I guess if you survive that experience ordinary turbulence are a piece of cake!
      Ugg, sea sick. That’s a whole other story…

  2. You had a rich travel experience for so young guy. Just 21 year old. As for me, I have never been to Africa.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Victor. There’s something about Africa that I love, I think it’s fascinating and the geography and fauna incredible. It’s the continent I’d like to see more of going forward.

  3. All I can say is, lucky you. Do you realize how fortunate you were? I never traveled as much in a car till I was 10 yrs old. It was all on a bike. MY first trip overseas was on a rickety ship, I was 17 already, my older brother worked on a merchant marine ship and was able to take me for free. Well I had to sleep in a make believe hospital bed on the ship, and we encountered a violent storm in the Mediterranean…….I got sick as a dog. So, my first flight was when I got to the USA, all by myself at 22. That was exciting, I got all dressed up for the occasion. Now we wear “T” and jeans. I envy your travel experiences, they are priceless.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      I don’t think I realized that I was fortunate at the time Sara – in fact I wasn’t very happy about being uprooted from my small town to go live in Africa (where I had to learn a 2nd language – English). But in hindsight it WAS fortunate and everything has worked out for the best.
      I’d love to travel on a merchant ship (I worked for the largest Canadian shipping company while in Montreal) but it’s difficult these days because of paperwork. But encountering a storm I wouldn’t like – I get seasick too.
      Love your last point. I remember when people got dressed up to go on an international flight. It was a big deal and we were all privileged. Now it’s basically a bus in the sky catering to the masses…

  4. Great fun! As you know, I’m a big fan of digging out old photos (and memories). A couple of comments – liking the hair in the first photo (do you have German/Scandinavian blood!) and the car in the second one. I wish my mum read Playboy and the style of shorts (prevalent throughout your post) are back in fashion – can you still squeeze into them, you would be right up there with the kids :-).

    P.s feel free to take about 3 months to reply. You can blame my admin assistant if you like 🙂
    Mark recently posted…Alternative Lviv, UkraineMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Yeh, I had the white hair going on – yes, my parents of German origin.
      And my mom about the coolest mom, I’m not surprised she read Playboy. Explains why I get in trouble sometimes…
      Oh yes, short shorts. Haven’t noticed it so much on guys but have noticed the last few years girls walking around with their ass cheeks sticking out of their shorts. Great in theory but not always in practice (there’s a lot of ugly asses out there).
      I best your 3 months 🙂

  5. I enjoyed this post, I love all the history behind this old photos. You have certainly travelled a lot from a young age. Sounds like you and your mum had a very close relationship? Interesting to see the Twin Towers photo, I visited NY in 1991 but don’t have photos of the Towers. I spent my childhood travelling to the same place every summer. ..my family’s house at the beach. My wanderlust was sparked by my Grandmother’s tales about Italy. My first trip abroad was in my early twenty’s. Thanks for this glimpse into your early years:)

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you Gilda. Yes, my mom and I have a very close relationship and I still travel with her at least once a year. I wouldn’t ever have had the opportunities to travel without my mom and would be a completely different person if not for her. Coolest mom.
      You come from Brazil, right Gilda? With some Italian blood? I’m sure you saw a lot of beauty in Brazil even if you didn’t travel abroad. But like me you had to be inspired by someone else. I think that’s how it always happens. I already see it with my son, he hated travelling when he was a kid but he recently just came back from a solo trip to Morocco which I thought was pretty courageous. I think he’ll carry on the family tradition…

  6. I am such a big fan of flashback photos and wish l had all my old albums with me. I would have been bombarding readers with them more than once a week till l ran out :-). You were such a cute little boy. Loved the stories and your mom was and l’m sure is still awesome. So many wonderful experiences you have and you can appreciate them even more now. Thanks for sharing :-).

  7. what a great idea for a post – i wanted to do the same thing but I found my parents have very few photos of our trips. dad was big on the slides back in the day. Great pics of you – you were so lucky to travel so much as a kid, although im sure it had negatives as well.
    Andrew Boland recently posted…Travel Itineraries – LaosMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      My dad took a lot of photos as well as slides. Somehow I’ve ended up with most of the photo albums in the family.
      Yes, I wasn’t happy about it as a kid. I think a kid just wants to be with his friends. But now I can’t imagine my life without travel. Makes you wonder though why travellers ended up travelling. I’d probably say most travelled as kids. How about you Andy?

  8. Loved taking this trip down memory lane with you and how awesomely lucky you were to have parents who shared their love for new places, a multitude of cultures and a range of experiences with you. Had to laugh at the zinc oxide on your mom’s nose as that was our version of sunscreen, too when I was a kid growing up in Southern California. Sunburns be damned! And just what was your mom doing reading Playboy? Actually, I feel like I’ve have an almost formal intro to your mom through this post and I’m really looking forward to meeting her when she visits Lagos next year. Great post, Frank!
    Anita recently posted…Playing Twenty Questions: Life as Expats, Life as Travelers, Life in Lagos, Portugal – Part OneMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you Anita. I’m sure she was reading for the articles (isn’t that what everyone says?). And thanks for having helped set my mom up in Lagos – I know she’s looking forward to her visit!

  9. Love this post! My grandfather traveled quite a bit in his day. One year he went to Ireland and brought me back a pair of Irish dancing shoes because I was taking lessons. I was about 7 at the time. The next year he was going back to Ireland and asked if I wanted another pair of shoes. I said “Yes, and I’ll come with you to pick them out.” Even at 8 years old I knew I wanted to travel! Well, I did indeed go to Ireland with my grandfather at 8 years old, along with my aunt (who worked for Pan Am and got us all free flights). We went to London on that trip as well. I guess that’s when I got the bug.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      That’s a great story Patricia. What a great experience at 8. I was the same age when we left for Africa and had my first flight. So exciting to do something for the first time, right? Pan Am – just shows how old we are. I always loved their planes and when I think of Pan Am I think of when flying was a privilege and a luxury.

  10. 1974 – The year I graduated from high school. You do the math!

    I’ve always enjoyed reading about your travels and visits with your mom. I’m a sentimental sucker when it comes to old family photographs and the stories behind the photos. I believe as individuals and as societies we have to know from where we came in order to move forward. Thank you for allowing us to learn a bit more about you and forgiving us (you do forgive us, right?) for gigging along with you at the classic photos. You were tall and gangling!
    Patti recently posted…Ending in Malaga & Beginning in Porto ~My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      It’s ok, I expect people to laugh. Even Lissette laughs looking at my old photos. I’m a bit of a sentimental sucker too.

      Gee, 1974. Boy, you’re old Patti. Just kidding 🙂

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