stay cation

I’m on vacation this week. There’s vacation, and then there’s vacation, as most of us fully understand. When someone says they’re going off on vacation, it was usually understood that they were packing up and going somewhere special for the week (with or without kids). In the modern usage, vacation can just as easily mean taking a little time off and puttering about the house for a week.

The latter is my vacation this time.

I’m trying to remember the last vacation of the former sort. My wife has taken me to D.C. for a long weekend, we flew out to San Francisco and drove to Lake Tahoe some years ago, but that, too, was more of a long (albeit much too short) weekend. There was a time that we went up to the Finger Lakes for four (or five?) years running, with mixed results. Again, my wife asked me to meet her in Phoenix one year (she was on a business trip), and we stayed in Sedona and made the obligatory trek to the Grand Canyon. She lured me out there with the promise of a Mustang convertible rental – how could I refuse? And there was a short trip out to Seattle and Mount Ranier in there, somewhere.

But, of late, it’s been the stay at home type of vacation.

It is said that Americans don’t take (or get) nearly enough vacation time, when compared to the rest of the industrialized world (read: Europe). I suppose that if I only had one or two weeks each year, I’d want to make them something special. Fact is, as we get older, we find that we have more and more vacation time, so that doesn’t translate into a vacation-prime every time we take off. Personally, I’ve come to schedule a week off in the Spring for yard clean-up, and another week in the Fall for the annual raking of leaves and (again) clean-up. Then there’s the ‘Tween Week (Christmas to New Year’s), when it’s just “silly” to work. All of these are, by definition, staycations.

Star Trek quote:
Kirk: Ah, Mr. Scott. You’re looking well.
Scott: Aye, sir. Had a wee bout, but Dr. McCoy pulled me through.
Kirk: Were you ill?
McCoy (whispered to Kirk): Shore leave.

I think that I, too, am allergic to shore leave. When I go to work, I know what I’m doing, I’m pretty good at it, and there’s a sense that I’ve accomplished something. Left to my own devices (vacation), I have no idea what I’m doing. I wake up each day, and my first question is, “What do I want to do today?” And I’m no good at coming up with things to do. By Thursday, the week will have almost passed, and I will have done nothing – nothing to write home about, as they say. Then I’ll be overcome with wasted-vacation-guilt and force myself to go somewhere, do something, just so I can say I did.

So far, it’s Monday afternoon, and I’ve worked on my website a bit. I’m waiting for Mr. UPS to drop off a package of parts, so I can get TFrog‘s door handle replaced. I’m going to schedule a tune-up for the furnace. And I have to cut the grass, since I put it off this weekend (knowing I had nothing planned for today).

But I was reminded of the last vacation that was painful to end. We spent a glorious week in a rented shore house on Lake George, just south of Ticonderoga (the much preferred end of the lake). We had two channels on the TV, and a 1,600 foot hill behind us, which we climbed so that we could have a cellphone signal. The rest of the week was spent exploring, relaxing, hiking, etc etc etc, and the day we packed up to come home hurt. One of my last photos of the trip has haunted me ever since, a reminder of what vacation should be – a place you just don’t want to leave.

Lake George good-bye

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