June 8, 2018

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

No excuses: Take a vacation this summer, you’ll be glad you did

Cynthia DewesJune is the beginning of the vacation season. Vacation: what a great concept. We think of time off from work, relaxation, seeing new sights or just sitting around savoring old sights. In any case, we look forward to it every year.

Today, vacations can be pretty expensive. We think of going to Disney World or staying at a resort by the ocean. Or maybe we visit New York City or Washington, D.C., seeing the wonders of the big city and the history of our country.

As I’ve mentioned before, gasoline was cheap when we had a young family, and no one knew about polluting the atmosphere or global warming, so we’d take vacations driving around in the car. For us, with no money to spare, this meant camping out, cooking our own meals and visiting sites that required little or no money for admission.

Dad was a history buff, so we stopped to see every obscure fort, battlefield, pioneer settlement or historic dot on a tourist map that he could find along our way. The boys were fairly interested, and our daughter would read her book. I’d be planning what to fix for dinner after we stopped in the next town for a few groceries. You’d be surprised at how fast even kids could tire of hamburgers and hot dogs.

By the time we found our campground and piled out of the car, Mom was on overdrive and everyone else knew to stay out of her way. I’d slam pots and pans around, yell, stamp my feet and sometimes cry as I got dinner ready. Meanwhile, the kids helped Dad put up the tent and lay out sleeping bags. By the end of the evening, tummies were full, peace was restored and we’d sit around the campfire telling spooky stories.

On Sunday, we’d find a Catholic church and attend Mass. One memorable Sunday we sat up in the balcony of a little country church, trying to be unobtrusive. Our clothes were wet from a rainy night outdoors, and they steamed unpleasant odors. Our hair looked like thatched roofs, and we hadn’t had the opportunity to brush our teeth so we were trying to keep a low profile. We figured God wouldn’t care what we looked like.

We were fortunate to see all the national parks and other places before they became too “touristy,” and they gave the kids something to connect to when they studied an event in school. The western expansion, the plight of Native Americans and many other historic references became understandable.

Maybe we can’t take a car trip any more, but we can and should take a vacation, even on the cheap. If we don’t vacation at least once a year, I believe we can burn out. In the end, they are worth the time and whatever money we spend. And it is possible to vacation for less money if we make a plan.

In Indiana, there are beautiful monasteries and abbeys to visit. There are many reservoirs and forests where we can swim, go boating or fishing, hike and camp out, and they don’t require large expense or long auto rides. Cities offer museums, movies and sports venues for modest costs, and there’s always the public library with free lectures and books on everything imaginable. In other words, there’s no excuse, so go have a great vacation!

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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