Sober Vacation

I have returned from what is becoming a yearly sojourn to the cabin on Lake Superior. This year, I took my twenty-six-year-old niece, daughter of my brother Steve, who died in 2013. She’d never been to the cabin. Her father likely was too preoccupied with booze. Alcohol will do that to you. It’ll keep you wanting to stick close to home. Close to your supply. I wish I could have made the trip with him once he got sober. But he had only three months of sobriety before he died. He was 52. The same age I am today.

Steve died eleven months after my eldest brother died from cirrhosis at age 56. He died five months after my father died. While my father did not die from alcohol, he was an alcoholic of the binge-drinking variety. The angry, violent, binge-drinking variety. Until the Alzheimer’s got him. And then he was a sweet, kind, loving man.

This year’s trip was my second to the cabin since the death trifecta. It was to be my first boozeless trip to the cabin as a grown-up. Last year, I brought a drinking friend. And drink, we did. Day drinking. Night drinking. Grill drinking. Deck drinking. Card-playing drinking. Drink, drink, drink. I cried a lot that trip. I probably would have cried sober. But not as much.

Flash forward one year. As my niece and I drove across the border into Canada, we made our grocery list. She had added wine to the list, and I broke the news to her that I stopped drinking in January. She scratched wine off the list and said maybe she’d just drink beer when we played cards with the uncles. Throughout the week, we talked about our relationships with alcohol, and her father’s relationship with alcohol. By the end of our trip, which she ended up doing sober, she had committed to herself to stop drinking. She sees the red flags in her own drinking, and I expect seeing me give it up, she realized you don’t have to have hit her father’s low bottom before stopping. I don’t know how long she’ll continue with sobriety, but I’m hopeful she’ll not find herself in her father’s shoes, twenty-five years from now.

When we arrived at my uncle’s cabin for our first night of card-playing, I wasn’t sure how the relatives would react to my abstinence. After all, I come from a long line of drinkers. This side of the family includes an infamous bootlegger from the Prohibition era. Maybe not on par with Nucky Thompson, but still, my family’s bootlegger achieved a certain amount of notoriety in Michigan. I would be spending time over the next few days playing cards with a couple of uncles who are direct descendants of that bootlegger, and who are known to partake themselves. Would I be blackballed from the card table?

As it turns out, no one cared that I wasn’t drinking. One of my aunts was curious, and asked me about my decision. I told her it began as a sort of protest.

“The shit was killing everyone,” I said.

“Not everyone,” my uncle said, as he sipped his scotch.

Yes, in addition to a long line of drinkers, I come from a long line of smartasses. I explained that in addition to the protest, I had found myself drinking more than I wanted in the wake of all the dying. And upon stopping, when I found my sleep had improved tremendously, that was enough to keep going. My aunt gave my uncle a sideways glance. He responded by taking another slug of his scotch. And then I beat him at cards. (Counting cards is easier sober. Yet another advantage to sobriety.)

This vacation came when I had more than 240 booze-free days. Far enough along in my non-drinking career that going without booze is no big deal. I don’t miss it. In fact, I prefer not drinking. I never thought I’d say that. I was certain going without booze would feel like deprivation. Lucky for me, I did my booze-free experiment long enough to figure out that after a time, it feels a lot more like freedom than deprivation.

Today is Day 261–104 Days to 365.

Without further ado, a few images from this year’s trip:

Canadian Caterpillar

Canadian Caterpillar On Wood

Cashew

Chipmunk. The niece named him Scout.

Chipmunk with Bursting Cheeks

Scout’s cheeks bursting with nuts

There's a chipmunk on my lap

There’s a chipmunk on my lap.

Pinguisibi (Sand) River

Pinguisibi (Sand) River

West View from the Deck

West View from the Deck

East View from the Deck

East View from the Deck

Pancake Bay Sunset

Pancake Bay Sunset

Glorious Gray Day

Glorious Gray Day

Gulls at Dusk

Gulls at Dusk

Pancake Bay on Fire

Pancake Bay on Fire

About Unconfirmed Bachelorette

Unconfirmed Bachelorette, a/k/a Ella, is a 50-something-year-old lawyer who wishes fervently she could retire from the practice of law and write full time. Never-married-childfree Ella resides in Austin, Texas with her three fluffy black rescue cats.
This entry was posted in 100 Day Sober Challenge, Canada, Ontario, Sober Vacation, Sobriety and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Sober Vacation

  1. A sober life is a better life. On vacation or hard at work. That’s what I say.

    Cute chipmunk.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ainsobriety says:

    Beautiful
    Life is better sober. I hear you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Millie says:

    Congratulations to you on day 261! gorgeous pictures, sober holidays are fabulous!

    Like

  4. Congratulations on 261 days. Sobriety looks good on you.

    Lake Superior is a healing place. My daughter lives in the Keweenaw Peninsula (in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) and I visited her this summer. I felt compelled to take a few smooth rocks from Superior’s shore. They are now my worry stones. I meditate with them and it seems as though my negative thoughts wash away in her waves. I’m not really a hippy chick but there’s something to the healing powers of nature.

    Sober On!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen says:

      Wonderful pictures of your vacation. I don’t drink either, now if I could find the same resolve when it comes to chocolate, I’d be set. 🙂 Alcohol just brings on the stupid with our friends and family.

      What kind of cards do you play? Here in WI it’s Sheepshead. Glad you had a nice time with your niece, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Karen, I am powerless over chocolate, too. We can’t win them all. We play Thirty-one. We used to play Hearts, Spoons, Canasta, Euchre, and Cribbage. But it’s been a while and I think I’ve forgotten them all. I’ve not heard of Sheepshead. I’m going to google it. You are reminding me of so many good times! Thank you, Karen!

        Like

    • Thanks, VG! Yes, nature is a magical balm. I used to be a hippy chick, back in my youth. I aspire to be one again some day. I love the idea of choosing Superior stones as worry stones. I have piles in a cupboard somewhere I stashed years ago intending to polish them. It’s time I dug them out and got to work. Thanks for the inspiration.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. gertmcqueen says:

    good to see that all is going well…wonderful pictures!

    Like

  6. Shiboriii says:

    Given how many alcoholics there are in my family and how it damaged my own life, this post is really touching me. ❤ to you. Stay sober, you deserve so much more than a drink.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jim Mcg says:

    One day at a time, as they say. I still enjoy a drink, but I absolutely hate hangovers, which has effectively ended the binge sessions of my youth. Waking at the weekends, or even better when on holiday, fresh and looking forward to the day now outweighs the buzz the booze can give me. By some margin.

    Like

    • I was not often finding the sweet spot of enjoying the drink without ill-effects. So I decided to run an experiment and see how I felt. I gave it 100 days. I felt better. And so decided to carry on. Added benefit: saving lots of money toward early(ish) retirement. (My wine habit had gotten pretty snobby, i.e., expensive.) Waking fresh and not having to go to work, I imagine, is even better! Getting closer….

      Like

  8. josie416 says:

    Lovely post. Moving, well written, great pictures. You are winning despite the genetic cards stacked against you. Yay you!

    Like

  9. Wonderful location! Your photos are breathtaking!
    I’m very happy you did not drink 🙂
    Yes, a sober life is a better life: I don’t drink but my mother… no comment!
    Ciao
    Sid

    Like

  10. What a jewel of a spot. And you are fully aware of the wonder of it. Congrats and onward! (Cool about you changing career path. Life’s better lived unstressed. It will work out)

    Like

  11. EllaBee says:

    Those photos! Absolutely gorgeous. It’s great to hear you’re doing well.

    Like

  12. Great pictures! Congrats on day 261, you’re almost a year sober and that’s very cool :).

    Like

  13. David says:

    You’re doing well. Good that you were able to improve your card-counting skills. And, your photowork, darn good. How’s your three black cats?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: It’s my life. | Unconfirmed Bachelorette

  15. Tahira says:

    Bravo to you, Ella!
    And, by the way, summering at the cabin in Canada doesn’t seem too shabby. In fact, I could do that full time.

    Like

    • Thank you, Tahira! I sometimes fantasize about doing it full time, but I wouldn’t know what to do with all that snow. My parents sometimes stayed until the first snowfall was forecast, and then headed south. Their plan was a pretty good one.

      Like

  16. CurvyLou says:

    “More like freedom than deprivation”—Yes, me too! A much more helpful interpretation than the “I can’t drink” of deprivation. So much time and energy get tied up in drinking, both emotional and physical energy. So many more choices, when we aren’t continually sapping ourselves with booze.
    My grandfather was a bootlegger too—home brew beer. I remember telling me my father and his brothers always had to be quiet around the house. If they were too noisy or if anyone dropped anything heavy, you’d hear the “pop, pop, p-pop!” of lids flying off bottles in the attic. I love that story.

    Like

    • Lou, the farther away I get from the booze, the less interest I have in it. Like any addiction, I suppose. Yesterday, two of my colleagues had a very long and animated conversation about how much they love wine. The buttery Chardonnays. The crisp, almost fizzy Pinot Grigios. It’s like they were talking about a lover. I have to admit, for a moment I was wistful. And then I remembered it’s just the effects of very good marketing.

      Hilarious we both have a bootlegging history. That is a funny story.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Nancy Mehuys says:

    Wauw great serie pictures !!!! Very beautiful and pretty ☺

    Like

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