Opinion: Two-Hour Vacations

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Commentary by Ward Degler

My wife and I don’t get to take vacations much these days. The big reason is the expense. Everything costs more today than it did a few years ago – airfare, hotels, rental cars, dining out. And when was the last time we saw gas prices below two bucks a gallon?

Rather than bemoan all of this, however, Jeanne and I have come up with a solution. We take two-hour vacations. Here is how it works:

If we are going to run errands, we lock up the house, pile into the car and head out. On the trip there, we look at the scenery as though we have never seen it before.

“Oh, look, those folks are building a deck at the side of their house.” We’ve seen it a dozen times before, of course, but not like today. Today we are on vacation.

“Yes, and check out that neat white fence across the street.”

“Very pretty, and it sets off their lawn beautifully.” The fence has been there as long as we’ve lived here, but today we are seeing it as part of our vacation.

An extended vacation may take us to the east side of town to visit family. On the return trip we may take a different route. Things look fresh that way. Just like when you are on vacation. We ooh and ahh at beautiful scenery, and sometimes shake our heads sadly at a boarded up building or a neighborhood that has fallen on hard times.

Sometimes we get lost. Our special vacation route may take us through unfamiliar parts of the city, and more than once we have wound up following a maze of streets to a dead end in a cul-de-sac.

We take note of lawns, driveways, architecture, flowerbeds and landscaping – especially trees. On some of our vacation trips the dead ash trees have already been removed, while in other places they remain upright, bare and tragic.

It was only a few years ago that many of our fir trees succumbed to drought. And we’re old enough to remember when Dutch Elm disease marched across the country killing all of our nation’s elm trees.

One of our favorite vacations involves going to church. Sometimes we decide to attend Mass at a different church in a different part of town.

Sometimes, we include a stop for lunch or coffee as part of our vacation. We take note of the really good places so we can recommend them to our friends.

Sure, I know this is slightly silly, and I’d be happy to talk about it. But I have to run to the post office, so we’ll be gone on vacation for awhile.

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