Treena Mielke

Mielke: The familiar feelings of travel

One week!

That’s all it took for me to discover what lies on the other side of winter.

It was delightful.

A Palm Springs holiday.

While I’m certainly not a travel agent promoting the life of a snowbird, I’m here to say that even though I only had a tiny taste of life outside the boundaries of Canada, the land of the true north, strong and free, it was absolutely awesome.

Of course, getting there, across the border was less than desirable, especially for me, whose mindset did not seem to time travel past having a clean house to come back to; sheets changed, laundry basket and garbage cans empty, and plants watered.

We left before the sun even thought about getting up, our vehicle slipping and sliding all over the icy highway, our driver’s fingers gripped so tightly on the steering wheel, I do believe the marks are still there.

But we made it. To the airport. Three hours early, give or take a few minutes taken on the side of caution as we sped down the icy highway.

Life inside an airport is sure different, isn’t it?

Even as I stepped past those sliding doors, I felt like some kind of alien who had somehow entered into a different world where machines beeped ominously spewing out boarding passes and strange-looking tickets that you had to attach to your suitcases, not in just any old way, but in a certain way.

I clutched my passport to myself, checking every so often to look at that serious, stern-looking woman pictured inside. Was that me? Wow! I do not look, in any way, lovely or charming. Actually, I look kind of scary.

So, as not to frighten myself further by staring at my somewhat scary picture, I close the passport, focusing on the here and now. Where is my group? I move closer to them, seeking the assurance of safety in numbers.

Luckily, for me, there are people in my group who know how to do the stuff we need to do at the airport before we can proceed further. So, I let them. I’m good that way.

Finally, we make it through the last leg of our airport journey, retrieving shoes, belts, and coats and all our other precious possessions from those little grey baskets that move curiously slowly through that x-ray machine, finally popping out on the other side, long before we do.

Finally, we are on the plane, buckled up and ready to take off.

I sigh with relief and close my eyes.

The next thing I know we have arrived.

Holy smokes.

I rub my eyes. Am I dreaming? Is this paradise?

It’s like someone has taken crayons and coloured in my black and white world of snow and ice with all the soft and happy colours of the rainbow.

Of course, we had to go through all that stuff again at the airport, but even as we do it, I feel a certain sense of elation, no doubt, having something to do with the fact I am surrounded by Palm trees and people dressed in shorts and birds flitting around chirping happily. And it is warm, so lovely and warm like the sun is embracing you in a long and gentle hug.

The house we have rented has a hot tub and a pool. I repeat. A pool and a hot tub. Once again, I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

We are home now. We filled out the ArriveCan app correctly. We had the required COVID test. We did all that was required of us and more, just to be on the safe side.

It is true. Taking required COVID tests before and after the holiday is an added expense and a test of endurance and patience. In fact, going through all the extra checkpoints at both airports does require time, patience, and perseverance.

But is it worth it? For one quick get-a-way out of this land where winter and COVID seem to linger endlessly.

You bet it is. And would I do it again?

For sure! In a heartbeat!

Treena Mielke is a Central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.