Peter an angel. Flew back.”

The first big trip I took apart from my parents and my brothers was to Thunder Bay with my grandmother Nettie, from August 19 to 26, 1971. She had been born there, in Fort William, as had my father, so it was, in part, a chance for her to take me to one of our family home places. I was 5 years old at the time, and so ready for a small measure of independence, so it was, I think, her helpful gift to enable that.

Tonight I opened a suitcase that I’d been carting around for years, a suitcase that I hadn’t opened in 30 years. Inside the suitcase, I found a blue travel journal with “My Travels” embossed in gold on the front. Here’s what she noted about our trip:

5 days sunshine, 2 days rain. Went by plne to Malton. Stayed at Royal Edward. Took bus tour up Mt. McKay and Kakabeka Falls. Took boat around Harbour. Saw oldest information centre in Canada. Had tour of “Nonsuch,” Hudson’s Bat Co. whaling ship moored in Harbour in Pt. Arthur. Visited Vickers park (beautiful flower beds, marigold bed ruined), walked past rows of very old beautiful birch trees, saw Nana’s high school, walked along Ft. William freight docks, saw polluted Kaministiquia River — snapped picture alongside tugboat. Visited Chippewa Park — Peter climbed up rocket — had rides — saw Sleeping Giant in distance — visited beautiful park in centre of city — beautiful flowers and founatins. Nestor’s for lunch, then drive to cemetery — saw Dad’s grave, visited Conservatory (beautiful tropical plants), saw Lakehead University, Peter ran elevator. Ate waffles in coffee shop. Wonderful week. Peter an angel. Flew back.

I don’t believe I’d ever read those notes until tonight, but I certainly remember almost everything she noted, down to the waffles.

When I started traveling with Oliver, I followed in her travel journal tradition; on the shelf here beside me are Moleskin’s filled with notes of our travels around the world.