What I did on my summer vacation

May 9-26, 2001
by Roy William Kuraoka

Text and photos 2001, John or Ondine or Roy Kuraoka

It’ll be a while before Daddy and Mama get their version of events up, so I figured I’d seize this opportunity to tell the world exactly what my parents put me through most of May, 2001. The photos were taken with a cheapo digital camera with occasional grubby fingerprints on the lens. Want more pics? Ha! You have to wait for Daddy to get a slide scanner.

I woke up on May 9, 2001, just as happy as could be. There I was, in my bed with my tiger, and all was right with the world. Then, unexpectedly, two of my absolute favorite people in the world showed up - my Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Bill! I should have suspected something, but I was only eleven months old and very nave. As I write this, I’m one whole year old, and much wiser.

Suddenly, I got scooped up and strapped into my car seat. As an aside, I must say that I never know what to expect when I’m strapped in. Did you know my Mama and Daddy once got lost going to a park not ten minutes away from home? Yes, they did, and it was nearly an hour before I was set free. So, you understand my trepidation with this whole car seat thing.

We went to an “airport,” which is a place filled with people sitting on chairs. I grubbed around on the carpet and flirted with some women. Then, I felt, my job was done and it was time to go home.

But no! I got trundled aboard an “airplane,” which is a long car with tiny windows, and strapped in again. Can you believe it? Then, with a big noise we started driving through the air. Mama and Daddy were right next to me, which was a comfort but also made me worry who the heck was driving?

We went up down (Nashville, Tennessee) up down (Baltimore, Maryland) up down (Albany, New York). Every time we went down, my ears hurt. I tell you, I aged a month right there, a heck of a price to pay for $99 coast-to-coast airline tickets. The next morning (still in Albany) I woke up with a fever. You’d think that with a fever a person could get some rest in his own bed. But, you’d be wrong. Instead, I was strapped in again and we drove for hours until we came to a place called Boston. The weather, at least, was familiar - warm and sunny. We went up in a little glass room to number 8, then walked around way up high until we came to a strange front door.

I knew it wasn’t home because it was so clean and uncluttered. They tell me this is a hotel. Thanks to some of Daddy’s connections, we stayed in the very posh North Shore Suite at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge.

I liked looking out the window, to the river and the boats and the road and the trucks below. The river’s name is Charles. See the three towers on the left? Their name is Warren. The one on the far left is where Mama lived when she attended Boston University. Marsh Chapel (to the right) was where her friend Maureen got married. I also liked going out on our indoor balcony and watching the funny little rooms going up down up down.

Days went by, I tell you, days! They had a pen for me to sleep in, which I did, reluctantly, but all the time I was wondering what the heck was going on. One day, we went out to visit B.U.

Here I am in front of the engineering and science building, pondering the significance of this thing that looks like an explosion.

Another day we went to a place called “Haavid.” The weather was warm and so was I, had anyone bothered to check. Suddenly, it occurred to one of my parents to check my temperature. No duh! It was only 102+. Sheesh. We headed back to the hotel, but a storm started rolling in, fast, and there was wind and cold and dust and grit everywhere. With that, they started running - I tell you, running - through the streets with me in my stroller. They put a sweatshirt over my face to keep the grit from sandblasting my eyeballs, then actually started pulling me backwards! I stayed very quiet, sensing that now was not the time to point out the obvious: that if we had just stayed home this wouldn’t have happened.

We got back just before the rain started falling in sheets. The next day (Mother’s Day), Mama disappeared for a while, and the day after that Daddy disappeared for a half day or so. Yes, half my staff took off for hours at a time, while I was too feverish and weak to complain. Can you believe it? I broke out in a rash, lots of little red dots all over my body, and still they abandoned me in turns, first one then the other.

I found out later that Mama saw a show called The Vagina Monologues. And, Daddy saw some boats. Here’s the U.S.S. Cassin Young, a WWII destroyer.

And here is the grave of Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Malcom. An awful lot of warring going on here. How safe is this place, anyway?

One day Mama’s friend Maureen came to visit. She brought me a stuffed fish, and a bag of food for Mama and Daddy. I guess this is what we’re reduced to now, people I’ve never met bringing us food. There always seems to be enough for me, though, so that’s OK. The Maureen person seemed friendly enough, and the fish is pretty cool. To this day, it keeps me company in the car seat.

Some of my stuff has shown up here, like my car, blocks, and piano. Still, the thing I most like playing with, when I get the chance, is my food.

Just about the time I started feeling better, and resigned to being a hotel-dweller, I got packed up, strapped in, and bundled off to yet another place! The new place was nice because I had my own bedroom. Will I ever be home again?

It turns out that we are at a timeshare in Hancock, Massachusetts. The owners of the timeshare? None other than my Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Bill! I can’t believe they would do this to me. Still, it was a nice place to be, if you can’t be home. Here’s the view from the balcony. I understand those exfoliated strips are called “ski runs.”

I felt that my parents were deliberately keeping me from the dirt and rocks outside. See my hopeful, plaintive look? I want out! I want out! And there Daddy is with a camera, of all things. See what I have to put up with around here?

Ah, finally, outside at last. Now if I could just get to that bulldozer thing.We visited a Shaker Village. I know how to shake now because I have a maraca, and I can assure you that there was no shaking going on. There were a bunch of houses that we didn't go into, and one round stone barn that we did go into but all the sheeps started yelling at us which was just too much for me.

We visited another place called “Bennington” in “Vermont,” which had a nice lawn for me to grub in. Ah, bliss.

Then, we went to a place called “Northampton,” which is also in “Western Mass.” We met Mama’s fellow Smithies, Sue and Liz.

I liked Sue because she had a great fuzzy shoulder and I could pull her to me.

I liked Liz because she had some neat balls around her neck. I can say “ball.” “Ba-o,” I say. “Ba-o.”

Here are Mama and Sue and Liz. And me, of course, in my usual place in the center.

One day, we went to a place called the “Natural Marble Bridge,” which is a bunch of rocks that are much too big for my mouth, but at least they had a nice stretch of lawn and dirt for me to grub around in. Another day, we went to the Berkshire Museum. I liked the big bugs in the water tanks - I think they’re called “crabs,” but one was called a “slipper lobster.”

Finch on line two! Sparrow on line four!

Here I am manning the bird call center. This was fun! I liked listening to the various birds. Oh, how I howled when Mama and Daddy took these phones away from me.

This fellow is called a “Triceratops.” Can you say “Triceratops?” I think I can say “Triceratops,” but for some reason it comes out “bootje op bah.”

You know, I’ve seen a few of these now, and I’ve never seen one move. Even when I chomp it on the nose.

We also visited this neat driveway. It was supposed to be a farm, but they were closed for the off-season.

Fortunately, where we stayed had these neat doors. Guess what’s in there?

It’s me! I’m in here!

Well, we finally went to back to Albany for a day and night (and the very first Shaker Village, this one with a loud and sudden turkey for crying out loud - I swear, my ’rents are trying to give me a heart attack), then got back on the airplane for yet another long drive. Where were they taking me now?

It was quite a relief to see Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Bill at the airport. Then, I got strapped into yet another car seat! You’d think ten, eleven hours in a car seat would be enough, but, once again, you’d be wrongo bucko! I was aghast. I couldn’t believe my Grandma Barbara allowed this.

But, we arrived back at home, where I slept in my own bed for the first time in forever. It’s good to be home.

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