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April 12, 2006

Vacation Destinations

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I'm writing this as the "spring break" (i.e., Easter Vacation) season is about to wind down. Time to start thinking about summer vacations.

For most folks, summer vacation is a time-money equation. Perhaps you can afford a decent vacation but only get ten days a year vacation time from the job. Or (more likely) you have enough time for a vacation but not enough cash to take a really flashy one that will draw envious scowls around the office water cooler in the fall.

Some people simply like taking the time off from work and are content to putter around the house and yard even if they could afford to do something more adventuresome. That is not my idea of a vacation. I like to go someplace besides home.

Back in the 60s when I lived in Philadelphia one could still hear of the age-old dilemma "mountains or seashore?"

This made a lot of sense in the Philly context. The Jersey Shore was only about 50 miles away at its closest point, so getting there was easy if you had a car. And if you didn't, my hazy recollection is that there was passenger train service to Atlantic City back then, if that pre-casino town was your cuppa tea.

Or you could head for the Pocono "mountains" (where I come from, anything much shorter than Mt. Washington NH qualifies as a hill), about a 100-mile drive to the north.

New Yorkers had a larger range of choices. Beach-wise there was the northern Jersey Shore (Barnegat to Sandy Hook) or any number of places along the southern shore of Lon G’island. As for "mountains," besides the aforementioned Poconos there were the Catskills and the Berkshires at comparatively short range and the more distant Adirondacks in New York State and the various ranges in Vermont and New Hampshire. Bostonians had Cape Cod for seashore vacations and the New England hills/mountains as a convenient alternative.

Sorry, but still not my cuppa.

Maybe I just might barely kinda almost be able to tolerate a shore/mountain holiday as I age towards The Big Recycling Bin in the Sky. But when I was younger, the idea of going someplace for a week or two and doing almost nothing was incomprehensible. I figured I would get stir-crazy. Go nuts.

As a starving grad student, I didn't really take a vacation except one summer when I drove out to Seattle to visit my family. I went to the Jersey Shore to get away from my non-airconditioned apartment, but that was just day-tripping.

When I worked in Albany I'd use my vacation time for drives to Seattle and California. Oh, and one trip to Ottawa, Montréal and Québec.

Later, when I had kids and an economically precarious consulting business, I'd manage to send the rest of the family to my wife's family farm in the western Catskills for a month. Since I did a fair amount of sales-call traveling anyhow, I simply kept working through the summer. But we did drive to Yellowstone one year and went to Disneyland once or twice.

What are your vacation preferences or strategies? What are you planning for this summer?



posted by Donald at April 12, 2006


Strange that your should mention that recycling bin. Whenever I ask my girlfriend why my wife had to die she says: "It's just nature's way of recycling."

(And, by the way, my girlfriend is a great girl. I can ask her about these things. She's a big hearted Filipina.)

I haven't got much time left. I can hear all the departed calling me from the other world. So, I can't justify idle vacations.

Have to go see the parts of the world I haven't seen before I'm called to the other side. Probably southern Mexico and Central America first, then my wife's hometown in the Philippines. I have a blog friend in Hyderabad, India. I'd like to go see her, too.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on April 12, 2006 8:26 AM

The wife and I usually go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada (in California). It's the finest summer weather in a mountain range of that size anywhere in the world. Almost guranteed sunshine and incredible trails. I recommend Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks. They are the best kept secret on planet Earth. If you don't like roughing it, they have wonderful High Sierra camps that you can walk into (or via horse) and you stay in tent cabins with all your food taken care of. A little piece of Valhalla in the good old USA!

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on April 12, 2006 9:05 AM

Around here it's the beach in the morning and the mountains in the afternoon. For day trips there's the desert.

Since I'm on permanent vacation I never have the money to really enjoy it.

Posted by: Alan Kellogg on April 12, 2006 10:02 AM

While Jersey has its firm (perhaps even copyrighted) mitts on the "Shore", Delaware, that little spitoon of a state just south of NJ, has its "Beach". That's most probably where a week or two will be spent, probably in Lewes, a small and quaint town that will be not be either in about 10 years.

Haven't been up north to Montreal in a criminally long time; Montreal in the summer is an under-rated pleasure. A great city for both walking and hiking.

Posted by: DarkoV on April 12, 2006 11:18 AM

One problem is that my wife and I have very different ideas about vacations. She goes more for leisure, especially of the sort you'd get on a cruise, while I'm very active and much more into exploring new places. We'll have to figure out something for this summer, depending of course on our budget. Maybe a return to the Mouse (we were there a couple of years ago), or possibly San Francisco.
By the way, New Jersey Transit still has regular train service from Philadelphia to Atlantic City.

Posted by: Peter on April 12, 2006 11:20 AM

So you have made the long haul across the nation. I-90 I assume. When people comment about similar trips, they always find it boring, or BORING! And I usually say something like:
Yes, miles and miles of soybeans, corn, wheat and cattle. Pretty awesome that bread basket that feeds the US of A and a good portion of the world. But now you know several things.
Was that Louisiana Purchase a steal or what?
How would you like to do that trip in a covered wagon or as the Corps of Discovery?
You now know the meaning of the phrase, “amber waves of grain” in spades.
And you understand my farmer brother’s quote from the last oil crisis, “Let them eat their oil!”

Posted by: JG on April 12, 2006 11:40 AM

Charlton -- I'll have to check out Sequoia-Kings Canyon sometime should I move to CA.

Alan -- Refresh my memory. Do you live in San Diego or the LA area? Those places (and few others) allow that kind of day-tripping.

JG -- I've driven coast-to-coast (well, coastal state to coastal state, not literally shoreline-to-shoreline) 20 times, 10 in each direction. This was done during the period 1965-82. I plan to do a post or two about this sometime.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on April 12, 2006 6:07 PM

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