We didn't really go on family vacations. We went to my step-father's, friend's, mother's cabin, once, and camping at Bissel's Hide-a-way (I'm spelling this wrong) a few times. But twice we drove out to my step-father's grandmother's house in the tiny town of Merlin, Ontario. In a previous post I described the religious environment I grew up in, but this woman HAD RELIGION on a whole other level -- the no dancing, no TV, no folly level. I was used to hyper-religious people but she kind of scared me. Plus my brother and I found shotguns in the kids' guest bedroom closet, and that's just unusual.
On these trips we'd spend a week, or a few days (I don't know cause I was on kid time. Could have been a month for all I know.) driving around along wheat and tomato fields visiting strange second-cousins and old spinster aunts who lived with cats, spiders, and pre-war decor that I mistakenly took for Victorian era (and crazy witchiness without the paganism) because I didn't really know what that was except that it was old -- and this stuff was older than anything I'd ever seen.
These people of way-in-the-hell-over-in-that-direction-Ontario had lots of funny ways. I think this was the first time I really understood that geographical and cultural differences can exist within short distances -- even among white people with the same last name. On my first day in Merlin, my great-grandmother sent me over to the Knechtels to fetch a bottle of "katsup". I was used to being sent to the store for cigarettes and a 3-litre bag of milk. I didn't know this katsup thing. I vividly remember wandering down the orange aisles thinking "What is katsup?" and "Why does everything start with the letter k?" But later I discovered "THE BEST PARK RIDE EVER" (my brother and I still talk about it with a tone of awe), and Harmon's HOT FIRE-PIX, so it was okay and I could live with the other stuff.