So What Happened to Vacations?

 Posted by at 11:02  rants
Feb 232015
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I hate vacations. There’s nothing to do.

David Mamet

I’m confused. 

I confess that my upcoming vacation has kept me distracted. Serious vacations are new to us or at least memories from the past.


Going over our plans in my head in order to nip in the bud any potential problems, I can’t help thinking about vacations from the past. Times have changed. Today it seems that people yearn to get away from reality in some safe environment. People want to escape the harsh realities of 21st century America in make believe and indulgence. It is escapism, pure and simple. Maybe it is justified to want relief from the rat race and maybe it helps people cope with a meaningless job and a dysfunctional family. But I’m not buying it. The only benefit from two weeks on a Caribbean beach getting daily massages and drinks by the pool is a pile of debt. It doesn’t make you a better person or get you a better life. All if does is let you catch your breath. That’s not a vacation! That’s a cop out. The vacations I remember best were no walks on the beach or Mai Tais at sunset. They were serious commitments and wimps weren’t allowed.

Back in the Day…

When I was a kid, we took family vacations and what a family vacation meant to the Carlson’s was packing the whole family in the car and driving somewhere. Only rich people flew when I was a kid in the 50’s and nobody went anywhere to do nothing. Family vacations were road trips. We took a one week trip to Washington DC in ’53 which meant about two days in DC and four days on the road. Four days on the road with three boys under 10 in the backseat of a Chevy Bel Air Sports Coupe is not for the faint of heart. My parents took this all in stride because they wanted us to see our country’s capital. It was an educational experience. Somehow we took in all the National Landmarks and the Smithsonian and on the way there hit all the state capitals on our route. I remember that trip fondly and I  can’t remember much about fighting with my brothers in the back seat. Now that was a vacation. Thank heaven for the Burma Shave signs,

There were some shorter vacations to the nearby Ozarks and scenic Colorado but there was nothing relaxing about our family vacations. Every social and relationship skill we had ever learned was tested and found wanting. It was always a relief to get back home to get some quite time and personal privacy. Still, those vacations are my benchmark for defining a good vacation- engagement.

So I don’t get resorts! 

When I think about vacations, you don’t find me yearning for a mindless week of self-indulgent indolence. Vacations are for self improvement, adventure and testing yourself. You wouldn’t catch my parents on a cruise or lounging on the beach and I guess the apple doesn’t fall very far away from the tree. Vacations were not relaxing or self-indulgent. Nobody puts three young boys in the back seat of a 1953 Chevy Bel Air hardtop and drives for two days just for the fun of it.

It must be those self-indulgent boomers. 

Campo Santa Margherita

Today, it seems that the only reason for vacations is creating the opportunity to do nothing at the highest possible cost. I blame it all on the self-indulgent baby boomers who never had to work for anything in their lives and now feel entitled to continue asking. But no matter, I’m no boomer and I’m off the Venice to hob nob with the Venetians in the side streets and Campos away from the tourist meccas. We;re going to shop at the food markets, sample the dishes at the home style oosterrias and drink Bellini s in the Campos. We don’t know much Italian but it doesn’t worry us. We will be immersed in Italian culture and testing our ability to communicate beyond the constraints of language. It’s not a road trip but somehow, I think my parents would approve.


Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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  4 Responses to “So What Happened to Vacations?”

  1. We went on a 2 week vacation in a Chrysler LeBaron to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore… all 5 of us in one hotel room.
    it was educational but a long trip.

    Have fun in Italy but don’t come back with a red striped shirt and one of those straw hats with the ribbons on it….

  2. Justin,
    Now that’s a vacation, not a roller coaster is sight. What about a gucci loafer?

  3. Ralph, you are doing what I have done for years, immersing yourself in the local culture. I have to be doing physical activity on holiday, baking on a sunlounger isn’t my idea of a holiday.

    You will find the locals will take to you in Venice, especially if you mix and try to speak the lingo.

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