Another one of my monikers at work has been “Vacation King.” That’s because I typically take three weeks of vacation each year. One week is for Vegas. The other two weeks are usually out West, often a driving “outdoor” vacation.
How am I able to take all this vacation? By the time I came to my current job in 1993, I was earning four weeks of vacation a year. So not only did I have the time for three weeks of vacation, I was saving a week for future use.
Last year, my reign began its decline: I took only two weeks of vacation. In May, it was a week in Vegas. In November, we drove 500 miles of the California coast from Eureka through San Francisco and Big Sur, ending in San Simeone. (If you missed the photos, you can see them here.)
This year, my reign ended. I’ve not taken any vacation time at all, not even to Vegas. There’s a logical reason for this: after I retire next August, I’ll be on permanent vacation. I’ve been saving my vacation hours so I can use them next year to work a four day week beginning in February and then a three day week beginning in June.
Since power hates a vacuum, a new Vacation King has emerged and I must acknowledge that he’s doing a fine job maintaining my traditions. The new monarch, Patrick, has a special attribute which will ensure him a long and prodigious reign. His wife is executive director of a statewide nonprofit organization and travels extensively in her job. Since she’s racked up a fortune in frequent flier miles and hotel points, it’s no big deal for them to spend a long weekend in Montreal as they did earlier this year.
Although my reign has ended, I have many great memories and that’s what travel is all about. Here’s a few of my favorites:
My first overseas trip after coming to the U.S. was in 1988. Susie and I spent a week in London and three weeks in Italy (Venice, Florence, Rome, and Naples / Amalfi Coast). London was OK, but Italy was magnificent! Susie liked Venice but I preferred Florence.
In 1995, we spent three weeks in Asia visiting the Philippines, Hong Kong, Macau and Thailand. It was my first time back in Asia since leaving in 1970. Susie seemed to enjoy Hong Kong the best since it’s not as “Third World” as the Philippines and Thailand. And the shopping is unsurpassed.
Another memorable trip was three weeks in Hawaii. We visited Oahu, Maui and Hawaii. I liked Hawaii best, especially Volcanoes National Park.
A trip that mixed all sorts of environments was three weeks in Oregon. First, we drove the entire coast from Astoria to Crescent City, just over the border in California where we saw giant redwoods. Then we crossed back into Oregon, driving into the Cascades area to visit Crater Lake as we made our way back to Portland. From Portland we drove the Columbia River gorge to The Dalles and looped back to Portland taking the Mt. Hood highway.
We took another three weeks to drive from Seattle across the northern Cascades to Glacier National Park and then on to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Yellowstone is easily the best single national park.
But the top outdoor area for me is the Four Corners area where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet. From Arches National Park south to Four Corners and then to Mesa Verde in Colorado is the most spectacular scenery in the country.
I doubt I can make it until August without a vacation. It’ll probably be Vegas in January. Maybe you need a vacation too – how about Kokomo…