Thursday, December 13, 2012

Advent Calendar: December 13, 2012 – Holiday Travel

Did you or your ancestors travel anywhere for Christmas? How did you travel and who traveled with you? Do you remember any special trips? (If you want to participate in blogging about Christmas and holiday-related topics, visit GeneaBloggers' Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2012.)

When I was growing up, the only travel my family did during the Christmas holiday was visit our in-town relatives and friends during Réveillon after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve (if Mom wasn’t hosting it at our place) and on Boxing Day (we would go to as many houses as we could until it was time for supper at one of my aunts’ homes).

The year after we moved to British Columbia from eastern Canada, my Dad decided that since we were now living on the west coast we would take a trip south for Christmas – to Disneyland and Las Vegas! This kind of trip would never have been possible when I was younger and living in Ontario (Dad rarely liked to travel far from the comforts of his home), but somehow Dad and Mom agreed that since we were so close to these places we just had to see what magic California and Nevada had to offer us.

I had mixed feelings about this two-week trip. On one hand, I didn’t want to leave my new boyfriend behind at home (my future husband Michael and I had been dating for only a few months), but on the other hand, I was thrilled at the prospect of seeing Disneyland and Las Vegas for the first time!

My parents made all the arrangements, borrowed my Uncle Ray’s camper, and picked up a few CAA/AAA tour books and guides (the kind that lists attractions, lodgings and restaurants). We also packed our suitcases, camera and film, food and supplies for the camper.

Yvonne and Raymond Belair with their camper 1980
Yvonne and Raymond (on the roof) of their camper, 1980.

We had an early Christmas celebration a couple of days before we left, since we wouldn’t be home for Christmas Day. Michael came over and we exchanged presents.

On December 14th, we were on the road – California, here we come! We travelled on Highway 5 (I-5) through Washington and Oregon states (with overnight stops) and then switched to the Pacific Coast Highway in northern California. We enjoyed breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and stood next to magnificent, giant sequoia in Redwood National Park.

Maurice Jacqueline and Raymond Belair near Crescent City California 1980
Maurice, Jacqueline and Raymond near Crescent City, California, 1980.

After a few hours in San Francisco, we made our way to Nevada. As we drove through the Mojave Desert one day, I saw a flash of movement on the side of the highway and realized I had just seen my first roadrunner!

We spent a couple of days in Las Vegas, where we stayed at Circus Circus hotel/casino/RV park. I had fun gambling (I had just turned 21 that summer), my younger brother enjoyed the animal shows, and my parents celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary.

Circus Circus casino clown sign at night in Las Vegas 1980
Circus Circus clown sign at night, Las Vegas, 1980.

When we got to Anaheim, we parked our camper a few blocks from Disneyland. We spent four days there seeing as many of the attractions as we could. We also toured Universal Studios, visited Knott’s Berry Farm, and spent a few hours in Tijuana.

On Christmas morning, we attended Mass at a Roman Catholic church in Anaheim. For a family who knew only cold and snow on Christmas, it was quite a shock to experience warm, sunny weather and palm trees that day.

Maurice and Raymond Belair with Alice in Wonderland characters at Disneyland 1980
Maurice (right) and Raymond (centre) with Alice in Wonderland characters at Disneyland, 1980.

Maurice and Jacqueline Belair overlooking Hollywood 1980
Maurice and Jacqueline overlooking Hollywood, 1980.

We arrived back home on December 29th, filled with memories of a once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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