My Spring Vacation
I have been reflecting on my vacation. I have also been reflecting on the process of going on vacation. I didn’t report out on my vacation right away because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write. I thought I’d just let it stew for a while.
I decided that what I learned on vacation was that I learned a lot.
Think about it. There are all kinds of vacations and we all have our favorites.
Some folks like to go on wild adventures. They seek the thrill. My husband and I went on a river trip once that included Class IV rapids. He came way too close to drowning early on in the trip and I didn’t have so much fun myself. I would never do that kind of vacation again. Now I hate anything that involves mosquitoes, camping or even long treks in the woods. I used to love to snow ski. Now that I’ve had back surgery, my surgeon pretty much put a stop to that.
Some people like to go to a beach and lie in the sun and read novels. Not me. I used to do that, about 35 years ago. My husband talked me into no longer laying in the sun right after we married. I’m glad he did. My skin was not cut out for it. Too often I got burned and spent the evening miserable. My skin is currently in good shape and I’m happy about that. Because I don’t lie in the sun anymore, my body isn’t used to it either, so it’s no fun. I’d rather read a novel curled up in front of the fireplace or sitting in the shade. I did get one novel read on this vacation but it’s no longer the center of my activity on a vacation. I have to get up and move more.
Even when I have been on a cruise, I have come to the realization that the best part for me was taking the shore excursions. If the excursion involves seeing an old ruins or a famous building I’m all over it. I love to follow a well-versed tour guide while they fill me with new information about what I am looking at. I have decided that what I like to do best on vacation is learn.
That doesn’t mean I’m about to go to space camp or go into a lab for a week and learn some new thing that involves petri dishes. What I have always known is I like going places I have never been, and learning about those places and the people who live there, or have lived there. I like to find out what life was like for them in older or even ancient times. I like to learn how they lived, how they ate, what activities they were involved in, what the politics were like at the time, what technology was available to them; stuff like that.
I realized that when I took these trips, I didn’t always have to go far. Maybe I traveled just 30 miles during a weekend to learn about life in the old mining days in southern Wisconsin. Sure it was a thrill to go to Iceland and learn what it’s like to live in a place that is in the dark much of the day, or conversely light much of the day, and basically sits on a field of volcanic activity. Last year I went on a short weekend trip to Saugatuck, Michigan. We toured a ship there called the SS Kewatin. That ship was about one-third the size of the Titanic. It sailed around the Great Lakes during the same era. The shopping in Saugatuck might have been my favorite, or I could have laid on the beaches there, read novels and swam in Lake Michigan, but my favorite parts of that trip were when we toured that moored ship museum, and when we took a sand dunes tour and learned about how to dunes were formed; what logging did to effect the dunes, how deep the dunes are and how the environmentalists are working to preserve them today.
While on this most recent vacation I toured Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home outside of Charlottesville, VA, and I also toured The Biltmore in Asheville, NC. The Biltmore is a massive estate owned by the Vanderbilt family. I learned a ton at both places. I learned so much that even sharing the highlights is going to require another column. So watch for that coming soon.