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Jul 27, 2012

"I'm back!" + Vacation Ambivalence



Friends, I'm back from my break -- also known as a vacation -- actually just four days on Fire Island, where we sublet a place from a student of Michael's. 

As many longtime readers know, I'm not into vacations.  Traveling with two chihuahuas is not relaxing.  And while Freddy loves the beach, Willy doesn't -- he's constantly smelling other dogs in the air, and he's afraid of every dog other than Freddy, which is a drag for him and for us.

Even though getting to Fire Island takes less than three hours door to door and it's all done without a car, it's still a hassle.  Moreover, the older I get, the less I like the beach: the sun, the sunblock, the wind, the sand -- everything.  I actually do swim in the ocean; that's the only part I like.  But since the dogs go ballistic if I walk away, it has to be done when the dogs are locked up at home.  They're just not ideal vacation dogs.





On the upside, I got to wear some of my new summer outfits and, thanks to Michael's culinary skills, we ate (and drank) extremely well.





The best part of going away was taking a break from our respective iPads, iPhones, Macbooks, etc.  I read a beautifully written, very moving novel, Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety, and watched the riveting, Tabatha Takes Over on Bravo, in which the blunt-n-bossy hair salon whiz whips Flavio's Beauty College in Torrance, CA into shape.  I've only seen this show a few times (always when I'm on vacation), and I can't believe it's still running: who knew the world of hair styling had so much drama?


On TCM, I caught the 1938 film adaptation of Pygmalion with Wendy Hiller, which is one of my favorites.  (Remember, we don't have TV in NYC.)  It's dated (to the point of extreme discomfort), but well done.



Shortly before we left for Fire Island, I watched the jaw-droppingly bad, yet thoroughly entertaining The Razor's Edge with Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney, from 1946.  Terrible literary adaptation, overacted and overproduced, in which none of the actors seem to know what they're talking about, but oh, so glamorous!  Gene Tierney had a very strange screen presence -- beautiful but brittle -- and it's hard to separate the character from the apparently troubled performer.  Tyrone Power is handsome and charming and...Tyrone Power.


Readers, my extreme ambivalence about vacations is more complex than I've stated here, but suffice it to say I'm glad to be back with my sewing machines, my blog, and all of you again.

You can check out our most recent vacation pics -- nearly identical to all our other vacation pics -- here.

In closing, friends, do you enjoy vacations or are you, like me, happier to stay home and do what you love to do?

Are vacations overrated and/or oversold -- tourism is an industry, after all?

What defines a vacation for you?

Have a great day, everybody!

57 comments:

  1. I'm with you: Vacations don't thrill me: packing, travelling, unpacking...it's far too close to moving house and with a lifetime of being either a Military child, in the Military and married to a serviceman, i'm O.V.E.R anything that even vaguely resembles moving anywhere LOL

    We're organising a week long trip to celebrate my father's 80th birthday in September...it means coordinating 3 of us possibly flying at different times to spend a week as a family with my extended family...Sadly because we're flying i can't take our dog; that would have made it much more enjoyable because my parents live in a bush setting close to the coast.

    Maybe i've just had the vacation of a lifetime yet?? who knows.

    Welcome back; it's good to have you back.

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  2. mari.hafenstein@att.netJuly 27, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    I leave my kitties when we vacay and I can handle about 4 days before I start missing home terribly. I do not enjoy driving vacations. I want to go get on a plane and get there and have my fun. The actual travel time is a pain. But, with all the regulations air travel has become expensive and inconvenient.

    Welcome home!

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  3. interesting--it's not vacation if my dog goes. She doesn't travel well, and I spend all my time fussing over her. But, if I leave her home, then I miss her, and that *almost* makes a vacation no fun too. My best vacation so far was my honeymoon--we took a 7-day cruise. And that was by far the most relaxing and wonderful trip of my life! Once you are on the ship, you don't have to think about food or laundry or anything--just relax, read a book, go to dinner, etc. You don't have to make the bed or clean the bathroom--it's really lovely ;)
    I live by the beach and hardly ever go--it's really kind of dirty and a pain, as you said. But it can be really relaxing to sit alone on the beach to think--fully clothed and you don't have to worry about sunscreen. I don't go for vacation, but on occasion, to get away from business/stress, the beach is a haven.

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  4. I like the occasional time away but I actually prefer my vacations to consist of my husband and children leaving and me staying home so that I can sew in peace and make what only I want for dinner. I do however love a good day trip to the woods or occasionally the coast.

    And "Crossing to safety" has long been one of my most loved books.

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  5. How interesting! I really don't care for vacations except to go visit my family. Otherwise... so much money and hassle. However, my husband gets stir crazy and loves to travel. He's been quite frustrated that we haven't gone anywhere in a couple of years due to family issues.

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  6. I've never read The Razor's Edge and I agree that it's a very Hollywoodized approach to spiritual awakening, yet I always find it moving. The scenes with Clifton Webb, who plays a snobbish, flamboyant, socialite who's gay (it's never said, but it's obvious) are hysterical.

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  7. Well, we'd like to go to Italy and France for a biking trip. My husband would go for road rides in the mountains, while I would toodle through the countryside. The only caveat is that the dog could not go. I won't have her flying cross the Atlantic. I would miss her terribly after only a few days. So we just go on mini vacations every weekend by riding our bikes in the SF Bay area where we live. I say it's pretty enough here and the weather is nice a lot of the time. The food isn't bad either. But someday...we will take the Euro bicycle trip.

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  8. I'm in your camp! My husband just made reservations to go north from where we live for a weekend and I was already sweating bullets. It certainly isn't the company, it is just that I too would rather be lazy at home, or sewing. When people complain about not going on a vacation, I'm kinda wondering why? I do love to travel over seas though I must say, but I get a little crabby when things are't super perfect as far as comfort. My daughter lives in London, and I'm not a racing to go over there. I miss her, but I don't miss the hassle of getting around London, and how expensive everything is.....see, I'm already complaining.

    Glad you are home safe and sound, and back on here. We missed you :)

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  9. I love vacation, if it is not a intercontinental trip! Long flying trips are alwful. My husband, like you Peter, hates beaches (except in the middle of Winter) as much as mountains...and that's why most of our vacations are done in cities. I can not complain, because Germany is very central and I can get to know beautifull places. At least for a week, I do not miss my home! :)

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  10. Vacations meant (and mean) a lot more to folks that work at a "regular" job the other 50 weeks a year.

    When two weeks was all the time I had off back in the 90's, going to the beach in Delaware and North Carolina was great! Then I basically lived "at the beach" when I spent a few years living on a sailboat, cruising the Eastern Seaboard and the Caribbean. If I never see another palm tree, white sand beach or turquoise water I will be fine.

    So, I'll echo what previous comment-makers have said; vacations have become overrated, especially for those of us who are living the exact life we want to live in the place in which we want to live it.

    Glad you are back!

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    Replies
    1. I do remember, when I worked a full-time office job, living for vacation and feeling like I had to go somewhere or it would be wasted. Thankfully I no longer feel that way (or have that schedule).

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  11. Vacations -- I like them if they are not too long or too expensive. And I prefer having something interesting to do rather than aimless touristy activities. Four days at the beach doesn't sound too bad, but longer than that would get pretty boring unless you're there for the sea air because you're recovering from an illness. Maybe your daily life is already enjoyable enough?

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  12. If I had to take one of those vacations which consisted of lying around on the beach for several days, I would have to be sedated. I only find vacations interesting when there's something to do -- be it travel, museums, theatrical performances, anything...but don't expect me to sit around and do nothing. That is not relaxing to me whatsoever; plus, I usually am not very fond of the beach, unless it's winter. Then I find it compelling.

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    Replies
    1. Similar to me. Love architecture, museums etc. Love the beach after a storm, and on a rainy day.

      Josette

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  13. I hate to leave my house. I fret about everything and feel like I need to finish all my housework before I leave. Also, I, too, would rather stay home and putter (because I do work a 40-50 hour a week job). That said, once I'm somewhere else, I'm happy. I feel liberated from the usual and it stimulates reflection on what is usual. We're leaving tomorrow for vacation so I am in high dudgeon about departure. We are driving (8hours with no cats but 3 kids) to a house in France with a pool (and a dishwasher!) and I have two new books to read: Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies and a biography of Michaelangelo by Hirst. And a neglected embroidery project already packed to encourage vacation puttering. So after all, I do enjoy vacations. Maybe you should change your destination from beach to countryside if only for Willy's sake. Needless to say, you were missed here.

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  14. Welcome back! While I enjoy vacations and getting away from the everyday experiences, I always look forward to coming home. I've learned to leave my dog with a babysitter when we go. She does a lot better than with us on vacation.

    But, sometimes, the best vacation is just staying at home!

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  15. I love just staying and home doing the things I love. But alas my husband likes vacations. Last time I took my sewing machine with me. I enjoyed myself so much more. Try it.

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    Replies
    1. I have done that before and my crafts.

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  16. I love vacation as a term for anything other than going to work, but there are different kinds of vacation and I appreciate them all.
    Staycations are great for just doing the things I've claimed I haven't had time for and exploring the area around us. They don't have to be long, a lot of 3-4 day weekend type things.
    Travelling within Canada is not cheap but meets my interestes of seeing more of the country and lesser travelled locations. It is exciting and interesting but not always rejuivinating because there is a lot I want to see and do.
    Travelling to Mexico/Cuba/whereever on an all inclusive vacation is great for checking out and doing very little for a week.
    And then there is vacationing with the in laws. Because they live far away, we usually dovote a good chunk of time to seeing them.

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  17. A vacation for me is not being at work. It seems to be enough.

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  18. We have a Wanderlodge down by the river where we can go boat. When we stay home we work too much because we constantly see stuff that needs attention...BUT...when I am "home alone" it is like a vacation cuz I do what I want. :)
    And that always involves sewing or some form of creation. PS...I do have my little Elna Lotus down there tho...so kind of like a second home away from home.

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  19. Isn't is lovely to come back and realize you're happy to be home? I love that.

    If you haven't read "Angle of Repose", put it high on your list!

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  20. I love vacations(holidays to us Brits) and I'm just at the start of one now with a 4 hour drive in the morning to look forward to but then we arrive and its fun for the week with no work or dull dreary day to day routine. Your dogs are fabulous though and I would stay home occasionally just to hang out with them if that was an option!

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    Replies
    1. I wish we could take you up on that! LOL

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  21. i LOVE that book!
    great photos too... thanks for sharing them.

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  22. When we go away "en famille extendee", it involves taking the most part of three sewing rooms (mine, sis' and mother's)and setting up in the communal dining room of the camping place we go to. Then we treat the whole thing like a sewathon, while the menfolk tend the kids and animals. I don't have to go to a beach or anything like that, it's bliss! :)
    Evidence: http://amamus-amatis-amant.blogspot.co.nz/2012/01/how-sewists-go-camping.html

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  23. When I was a kid my parents owned a cottage on a lake. From about the time I was 12 till 17 we stayed there from July 4 till labor day. I loved it! Being at a lake is still my favorite way to spend time off. I enjoy going places on vacation but also enjoy returning home. And the last few years I haven't been able to afford anything but staying home and relaxing, which is wonderful too. Any time away from work is good.

    Glad you enjoyed your vacation and I'm really glad you're back. I was going thru withdrawals from lack of posts.

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  24. Staying at home, definitely. Raised military, married military, I love being in my own home. Nothing else compares to my sewing room.

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  25. I just have to comment because I grew up in Torrance, CA and had my childhood pixie haircuts done at Flavio's Beauty School! We took my daughter to Honolulu when she was 2....no fun at all! I can imagine it's about the same with chihuahuas!

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  26. Before I got cable at my house, I was on vacation and the hotel had cable, so i got sucked into a marathon of Tabitha's Salon Takeover. I had to snap out of it, get off my butt and go enjoy the city i was vacationing in; otherwise i would've just sat in the hotel watching hair drama the entire time!

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  27. Being a full time crazy person i have to say i have never understood why people have a vacations/Holidays, mostly from the point of view that you spend most of the year working to acquire the stuff you need, and then spend the only free time you all have to use it, going far away from it all, to some place that hasn't got any of your stuff near it.
    I need my stuff around me, all of it, else i get bewildered.
    Personally I think a Party is far better than a vacations/Holiday, its like a mini holiday but with out the packing, and home time is mostly up to you.
    Very pleased to see you both back, I missed MPB more than I dare admit.
    ( I sewed a bathroom hanging caddy whilst you were AWOL, and its hideous, the fabric is a wrinkled peach colour, I embroidered the legend " It puts the lotion on the skin" on to it.

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    Replies
    1. You are a hoot and a half, and you make total sense.

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    2. Dear Itscurrentlytwoam,
      I love your comments so, so much! Just had to write in and let you know.

      cait

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    3. Don't encourage me :) you adorable people.

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  28. Hi Peter,
    Just had to come out of lurkdom to chime in. I just love vacations! We try to get somewhere else for at least a week if not two every year (it was London with our daughter-20 year old, this year, Italy last year for two weeks). We have a family move in and look after the cats and dog if all three of us travel. We do however, usually spend a week at home in July each year. We are blessed to have a small above ground pool to spend time by for that week. We are real art and culture nuts so we enjoy whatever art we find no matter where we go (including smaller cities here in Canada). I know we are so lucky to be able to travel this way, but we didn't have the funds to do so until the last decade or so. I do of course love coming home and having a few days at home to sew etc. is also my idea of a great vacation. Sorry to be so long winded.
    Deb J.

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    1. Oops that was a family "member" move in, not a whole family!
      Deb J.

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  29. I actually like to stay home. If you think traveling with Chihuahuas is hard, try hauling two standard poodles and a mixed breed (aka Labradoodle) along. We have a vehicle just for them. And all of the stuff.
    I love my shops; sewing and repair. My favorite vacation is to get up early and head out the the repair shop before 7:30 with my coffee. Then I just putter or work on a machine. Once I get one all fixed, I move up to the Sewing Loft and make something. The dogs hang out with me, faithful, wonderful companions. Then I get up and do it all again. Sweet.

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  30. We rarely go on "vacation", mainly because we probably couldn't agree on a place to go. Every year we go to my husband's Navy ship reunion. I look forward to seeing everyone and we go to cities that we would never have visited on vacation. My husband gets to visit and tell sea stories and us ladies shop. Perfect.

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  31. From the pictures it looks like you guys had such a great time! :)
    I LOVE vacation and I could spend 365 days a year on holiday :) Just recently, I made a a two-week trip to Israel et ten-day trip to Minnesota & Chicago. I love traveling the world, discovering new places, meeting new people, trying new food and living new experience. Because I travel very often, I've learned how to pack quickly and efficiently, and how to make the most of my holiday. Also, I prefer travelling alone. This way I find it easier to meet local people and make them trust you.

    Usually, I try to make two three-week holiday breaks a year: one in the summer and on in the winter. When I lived in Europe, where everything is so close, I used to travel every second weekend.

    All in all, vacation to me means a discovery! As much as I enjoy sewing (you agree, it would be difficult to fit a sewing machine into your bag), travelling in the best thing in the world for me!

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  32. Peter, I love exploring, meeting new people and checking out different restaurants, and then again, I love where I live and I love hanging out with my animals, my sewing and having nice quiet meals on the balcony with my DH. For a change of scenery, I'm more than satisfied with day trips. Maybe I'll be ready for a real vacation at some point but, right now I just don't see a reason to leave a place that makes me happy.

    Maybe your ambivalence lies in being happy where you are?

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  33. Welcome back Peter, I missed your posts! After reading all of the above I no longer feel so bad about not being able to afford a vacation in decades. My aged and peculiar dogs would complicate things as well. I feel a revived appreciation for puttering at home, and live in the SF Bay area where the weather is temperate and day trip options are many. I guess I'm pretty lucky after all.

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  34. I think that "The razor's edge"is a great movie! I don't agree with you at all. Sorry!

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  35. Welcome back Peter, missed your blog updates. I agree with you when it comes to beach/summer holidays. I live in Sydney which is surrounded by beautiful beaches but rarely go there. it gets too hot plus when you go to swim, the water is packed with jelly fishes. As you can see pretty nightmarish experience...We are not allowed to bring pets to the beach which is good thing in my opinion.

    Other type of the vacations I love - especially when it comes to traveling overseas. For example I am about to start my US East Coast/Canada trip which I am truly looking forward it. In addition to that I am looking forward to MPB Day....

    In summary, not so keen on beach and summer vacations but love international travel and visiting new places. we (Rob and I) are definitely active holiday makers...I can't really sit still and do nothing

    cheers Mike

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  36. I'm not a big fan of vacations unless I am going to visit someone. To me the best vacation is time at home enjoying all of the projects I never can get to when I'm working!

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  37. DH and I are beach bums, we are retired and live at the beach. We only want to leave "Paradise" when it gets cold (below 60F)and then we want to go somewhere warm, to sit on the beach.

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  38. I'm so pathetic but if I can't go to someplace really different, like another country and stay in a wonderful and comfortable hotel -- without dogs -- than I'd just rather stay home and sew and paint furniture and completely clean and organize my house, make new curtains, etc. Is that bad? No, I'm 59 and I feel as though I've done so much. I don't need to eat in another high priced restaurant or lay on another beach. The only thing that really appeals to me about a vacation is: I don't have to work.

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  39. My first husband's idea of vacation was sitting on his mom's floor, leaned up against the couch and watching her TV, munching popcorn. My second and current husband took me to the Jersey shore for my first vacation as an adult and I fell in love with it. So for me vaycay is laying on the beach and enjoying the sand, surf, smells and food! LOVE IT!

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  40. Since I have two small children, my vacations are nonexistent and protected by the Eighth Amendment. I used to travel a lot with my hubby before we had kids. Maybe once everyone is potty trained and not protesting sleeping somewhere other than their own bed, and able to stay awake past 9 pm I'll think about it again. As it is, we put in a pool last summer and are just as happy teaching our kids to swim. Traveling with children sucks no matter which way you cut it.

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  41. I love the make-up in that version of Pygmalion! I often wish all the photos of outings that get posted on FB, et al were in black and white for this reason ;) For me, vacation is that part after I get off the plane, wash clothes and get the pets back from friends and get to absolutely VEG OUT for a day before I get back to work; this practice is seriously underrated. Not a stay-cation, per se, but the stolen hours before anyone knows to bother you again. Cheers.

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  42. We vacation in a mini-motorhome with the kids. For us, the journey is as much part of the vacation as the destination. We love to camp (in camping resorts with full amenities) and our kids absolutely live for it. The motorhome is a mini-version of home, so we are quite 'settled in'. This is a great time for intense family bonding, road-side attraction visiting, and getting a change of venue that both refreshes and makes us appreciate home when we get back. I hate the preparation before hand, and sometimes wish we didn't have to go through all that and just stay home, but it just wouldn't be the same.

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  43. I love vacations once I'm there, or at least once I'm out of the house. We both work full time and we have two small children and a large, old dog, so preparing for vacations is a freaking nightmare. Packing, making arrangements for the dog or planning how we will bring him with. Wrapping up work projects so we can try to walk away from them for a few days or a week. I'm pretty crabby for the entire week before a vacation. But, once we get there I let out a huge sigh and smile and soak it all in.

    What kind of vacations? Any. We go fishing in Canada (with kids), camping (with kids and dog), visit relaatives on the Georgia coast and recently had our first real vacation as a couple to Key West. All were fantastic. I'm really looking forward to taking the kids overseas and to see the CA Redwoods when they get older. Too many places, too little time!

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  44. Welcome back!! I used to love going away on vacations, but now everything is such a hassle and I fret about everything. These days, the job is all-consuming, so vacation means working even harder before taking off, and then working harder to catch up when I get back.

    Thanks for the pics. It looks like a great place.

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  45. Hubby and I go to Maine every couple of years and take the dogs. They are good travelers and we love Maine. He LOVES to travel and I mean travel...he wants to go to Tonga next. He has been all over the world. I am content to stay home. That is a vacation to me. people, crowds, noise...ugh!!! I better stop writing or I will talk myself out of NYC and MPB Day..no never!!!

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  46. Peter, Glad you are back. I was away this weekend at by in-laws rustic mountain cabin. I think the amount you enjoy vacations has to do with how much you enjoy your usual life. You, Peter, enjoy life and don't need to get away for more enjoyment. I have a job that at times I'm not particularly fond of and I enjoy going away to get a perspective on things. At the cabin we have no electronics and it is very nice to read, knit and plan new projects. I don't have time to do that at home where there are so many chores I must attend to.
    Glad you are home in your comfort zone.

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  47. I'm very late to this discussion, but it really struck a nerve. Vacations used to give me anxiety so badly that I preferred not to have them at all. It wasn't the pleasant getting-away-from-it-all part that gave me fits, it was the knowing I had to go back to "it all" at the end. I could not relax and enjoy myself, and as the last day approached, I would become more and more ill until I was sleepless and shaking with fear when I got home and almost unable to go to work. Thankfully I don't have to deal with it any longer, but it was a serious problem, and I suspect I'm not the only one to suffer it.

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  48. I've found that a feel differently about vacations as a stay at home mom than I did as a full time software engineer. When so much of my regular responsibilities are going to follow me on vacation, I don't want to tackle complicated vacations that I enjoyed during my pre-kid days.

    One vacation that works SUPER well for our family is going to "Family Camp Week" at the overnight camp I attended as a child. It's one week of staying in simple wooden cabins, swimming in the lake, doing archery, volleyball, sailing, arts-n-crafts, etc. The best part is meals in the dining hall - food I didn't cook, shop for, or need to clean up! Utter bliss! (And no hassle of going to a restaurant with a young child.) And the other families that go there are SUPER nice - we totally look forward to seeing the folks there.

    The other favorite vacation is going to the NJ shore with my parents. A big factor here is that I grew up spending two weeks of every summer at my grandparents shore house, and I ADORE swimming and boogie boarding in the ocean. (And NJ water is sooooo much warmer than New England beaches - brrrr.) I don't expect my parents to do much child care, but just a bit of keeping an eye on the kid (while I get in a good swim) here and there, and that makes it really nice. I find it also feels really good to have four adults, rather two, tackling the various cook and clean up type of chores.

    I have no problem leaving the cat behind when we travel - she stays with either my parents or the next door neighbors. (She HATES the car.) However, I have never done a vacation without my child.

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  49. it is looking like Marlton is my vacation spot

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