As Americans we know how to work, we just don’t know how to relax. Remember when we were children counting the days until we could take our three-month summer vacation? Playing a pick-up game of baseball from dawn until dusk, only stopping for lunch or if we lost the ball over a neighbor’s fence. Twenty or thirty years ago we didn’t sit glued in front of a television playing video games, we hit the open road on our bikes seeking adventure, fished at a local pond by day and caught fireflies by night – carefree was our mantra.
When our parents could take time off, we heard the familiar refrain “why fly…it will only take us three days to drive there!” We loaded up our cars and saw the world around us, not from 30,000 feet, but one mile at a time, one diner or undiscovered small town along a thousand-mile journey. When did we lose this attitude, and more importantly, how do we get it back?
A recent study by Expedia.com does not paint a very good picture for how we vacation.
Americans report an average of 14 vacation days received
Americans do not use 438 million vacation days – primarily due to work schedules and demands
When we are away…we are not – almost a quarter of Americans regularly check work email while away
Learn from the other side of the pond
Germans report having 26 vacation days a year
Spain – 30 days
France, our big winner with 36 days, or more than 7 weeks a year to relax and unwind
So what do we do? Find the kid in us and load up the family for a getaway, even if for a few days – we earned the vacation, let’s use it.
Here are a few of our favorite spots around the country:
Montana – no city in particular, just the state in general. If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to wind your way through one of our most expansive areas of undisturbed wilderness, do it. Fly fishing, scenic vistas, great food and great people. You haven’t lived until you have seen Glacier National Park and Yellowstone is just a short drive away in neighboring Wyoming. If you have to take your golf clubs, make a stop at Old Works in Anaconda and play golf in shorts surrounded by snow-capped mountains – the price is right, the season is short, but due to the elevation you can bomb 400-yard drives like the pros!
Head South – as far South as you can go in the United States. We all know that Florida is home to a popular Key%20West%20Sunset.jpgmouse with ears and theme parks galore, complete with daily fireworks displays. Overseas%20Highway.jpgWe recommend taking in the beauty that only Mother Nature can offer by watching the sunset as you cruise down the Overseas Highway or U.S. Route 1 from Key Largo to Key West. Surrounded for nearly 100 miles by water on both sides, it is a great quick escape.
“Is this Heaven…no, it’s Iowa” – Want to rekindle the kid inside you? Load up the family and head to Dyersville, Iowa to visit the Field of Dreams. Nestled inside of an Iowa cornfield, this baseball diamond doesn’t have the million dollar players or $50 a seat admission. Bring a glove and a ball and just play catch, run the bases like you were 5, or sit and watch a pick-up game. No one keeps score so you all walk away a winner. It is America’s pastime the way it was designed to be played…for fun.
I realize that while writing this I haven’t taken a vacation in more than two years. I have plenty of frequent flier miles from business trips, but I think a small plot of land in Iowa is calling my name. My son is just learning to throw a ball and I can’t think of a better place to “have a catch” with my son than at a place where dreams come true.
A quick update from my journey to Dyersville. Just like the many that have traveled to a small town in Iowa for no particular reason, we have returned. Galena%20035.JPGTo our surprise and delight, when we rounded the corner to enter the farm, we were the only ones there. Seems that after Labor Day the crowds tend to be a bit more intimate, but we were certainly not disappointed. As a father it brings a tear to your eye to see your 16-month old son take his first swings and run through the grass without a care in the world. For this writer, to answer the question, “Is this heaven?” Yes…it was, and I will never forget it.