My Vacation: So Many Options, Not Enough Time


Because Independence Day was on a Monday this year, lots of people got a three-day weekend. How fun!

Unfortunately, this three-day weekend only left us pining for a four-day or five-day weekend… namely, summer vacation. By the time we get it, we’re often ready to crack.

I hosted a foreign exchange student from Paris one summer and, even though Thomas was only 16, he gave me valuable insight to a major difference between our two countries. “You Americans live to work,” he said. “We work to live.”

Today, Thomas and his young family are traveling the world, according to numerous enviable photos I see posted on Facebook. Whether they own a house or car, however, is questionable. From what I saw of Paris when I was there, everyone rents and walks. It’s a different culture.

Here in America, we do work hard. We work long hours and long days and often put in overtime. “What do you do?” is one of the first things we ask when meeting someone new because, whether or not we admit it, our jobs help to define us. (Doctor? Oooooh. Protologist? Ahhhhh.)

No matter what we do, however, everybody looks forward to their summer vacation.

When my own children were school age, we’d postpone the big family vacation until August. My logic was that they’d have tired of all their toys and every local attraction by then. By the time August rolled around, “tired” was an understatement. They were so bored they were at each other’s throats. What a perfect time to load them into the car and drive for several hundred miles!

The great thing about Florida is the number of attractions it has. There’s the natural stuff (water and swamps and Lion Country Safari); and the unnatural stuff (Disney World, Universal Studios and Lion Country Safari).

There’s great stuff to eat (fresh fish, fresh fruit and barbecued everything); and great stuff to drink (frozen margaritas, frozen daiquiris and melted ice cream).

And it’s a melting pot, sometimes literally. Go to the beach on any given day and you’ll see the bronze skin of people from many different lands splashing in the surf right alongside pale people like me who have never heard of sunscreen.

Everyone knows there’s a lot of summer fun to be had in Florida. Of course, there’s a lot of fun to be had outside Florida, too. The Bahamas are fun, and they’re just a boat ride away. Your spouse’s parents’ house is fun, but you’ll need to unwind with a trip to the Bahamas afterward. And, of course, there’s poor little Cuba, trying hard to be fun again.

It doesn’t matter where you go on your summer vacation, you’re going to have fun. Even with the occasional flat tire, missed flight or really bad sunburn, it beats working. As for me, retirement looms large on the horizon, and I’m dreading it.

It turns out, I will really miss summer vacation!