A word or two on vacations

In the last twelve months, I have gone on the following vacations: (1) My family’s annual week-long vacation in Presque Isle, WI where we rent out cabins at a *resort* we’ve been going to since 1986; (2) a Thursday through Sunday night red-eye to LA to visit my beloved, Sarayu, in March; and (3) a weekend in Door County, from which I returned on Sunday.  So, while I guess I haven’t gone vacation bonkers in the last year, I remain a very big fan of, and advocate for, vacations.  I was reminded of this on Friday night when we arrived in Sister Bay after a long drive, made longer by my aging Subaru’s oil and coolant problems.  That car just refuses to remain hydrated!  Anyway, as I was drifting off for a nap before partaking in the best restaurant fish fry in America (the perch at the Sister Bay Bowl — I adore my friend Ingrid for tons of reasons, but near the top of the list is for her unequivocal adoration for the Bowl. No recommendation, in my experience, has ever been more right.), I thought to myself, “This is so nice.”  I know that we were just staying in a nice lodge room 300 miles from home and would be there for only two nights, but it just hit me what a lovely feeling it is to be away from home.  I love my home, but it’s nice not to have to worry about dusting or vacuuming or checking email or doing errands.  It’s just such a peaceful feeling to be able to actually take a deep breath and then, instead of going back to the grind, to be able to do whatever it is I want to do.  Of course, the options are limited, but they don’t feel limiting or, more importantly, obligatory.  So, I decided that instead of feeling guilty about spending money or worrying about whether I really deserved a vacation, I would try to enjoy the quiet and the peace and the time away from the Things I Must Get Done.  So, while Door County was pretty chilly this weekend, which limited some of the choices we had, and while I had a terrible asthma attack and somehow lost my inhaler between Pebbles, WI and Sister Bay, which resulted in an annoying trip back to Sturgeon Bay on Saturday morning to hit up the pharmacy, I enjoyed the time just being away.

And then, when I came home Sunday night, I enjoyed being home again.  I cherished my bed and my dog and my kitchen and my couch and my space. 

In these stressful economic times, I worry that many of us will forego vacationing in an effort to tighten the belt on spending.  I hope this doesn’t happen.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but I hope that we all make time to get away from the everyday. 

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34 Responses to “A word or two on vacations”


  1. 1 Sarayu May 18, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    I simply couldn’t agree more. It’s funny, the older I get the more I realize that so often when we think we’re doing what need, it’s the opposite that’s actually true. Whenever we stress about money, we want to hold onto it more, and although that is of course a logical choice, it’s also important to keep living, and more importantly, enjoying our lives. Money and stress will always come and go, but taking time to appreciate our lives, our friends and ourselves, well, that’s just priceless.

    I know I’m being a little sappy but I’m just so glad you took a little break. You’ve been working your butt off non-stop and you deserve some fun and relaxation. Furthermore, you’re probably more productive after a break than without one. Most of us are.

    Now, how about another vacation out west?

  2. 2 gracieandkate May 18, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    I’m on it! I definitely want to make it annual. The only questions are (a) whether this will annoy the bananas out of you and (b) what the timing should be. I LOVED seeing you on your bday, but I also realize that people don’t always want to entertain guests on their birthday. See, peeps, I’m not totally obtuse. So, we need to work out these kinks and then I will be on my way. I love visiting Sarayu in LA! What took me so long? No clue!

  3. 3 Kristin May 19, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I don’t care where you go (I’m kidding, of course) as long as I see you in July because every day I think about it and get very, very happy.

  4. 4 Kristin May 19, 2009 at 9:52 am

    But while we are on the subject of vacations, I don’t have any coming up really, until September. My parents rented a house on the beach in NJ so we’re all gathering, even super pregnant Tara.

    But the third weekend in June I am going to Gettysburg with my dad – that’s right, just my dad – to walk down memory lane a bit and see the new visitor’s center that just opened. That will certainly be a getaway from the everyday.

    I really just want to go to Spain. Oh well.

  5. 5 gracieandkate May 19, 2009 at 10:13 am

    That’s a cute one — a vacay with Pops.

    I, too, am VERY excited about July. We are looking to buy a new car so that we can make sure we make it out there in one piece. Any suggestions, anyone?

  6. 6 Sara H May 19, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I’ve been thinking about vacations lately – looking forward to my own in July, and accepting that it probably is my fate not to get to Europe in the next decade or two but maybe at this stage of the game that’s not even my thing anyway. I think it would only stress me out. The thought of the first night of the annual July vacation, with some truly excellent pizza and some beers with my parents/sis in some hole in the wall in north woods, sounds delightful and stress-free (as long as no one has too many beers). Nothing else to do the rest of the week except go where the weather takes us, whereas if I was Traveling, I’d have to DO stuff.

    Bottom line, I think I just want to hang. Away from the home with cleaning chores and near a pretty river with some good food/drinks/peeps. Not sure why I feel the pressure to Travel.

    You are right – there is nothing like coming home after vacation!

    PERCH. Not enough places have perch in Madison/area.

    Russ yelled at me for not telling you to go to Phil’s for burgers.

    All that work on your argument, and then they decided they shouldn’t have taken it up anyway?

  7. 7 Sara H May 19, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Suggestions on a car: do NOT run over road debris in the middle of Alabama, this is the makings of a disaster. Loving our Forester otherwise, though.

  8. 8 Kristin May 19, 2009 at 11:00 am

    I don’t know anything about cars. Except that hybrids really aren’t all they seem cracked up to be.

  9. 9 gracieandkate May 19, 2009 at 11:20 am

    I have begun thinking about that recently too — not sure I really want a hybrid anymore. Seems better to just buy a good, reliable car that gets some decent mileage.

    Heather just bought a Forester, too. Right now I have a 96 Outback, which is pretty great but, like I said, it’s leaking all sorts of madness and the last time I took it in (Friday) the dreaded words ‘timing belt’ were mentioned.

    And about my decision — I know! I’m all sorts of annoyed. Everyone, that case I argued about a month ago in the supremes, well, the decision came down today and the court pulled a fast one on me (well, I saw it coming) and said, “Improvidently granted,” which means they said nothing other than, “Oops. Go on about your business everyone, we don’t want to say anything of substance.” Very annoying when I put in all that work. They are not my friends this week.

    Is Phil’s in Two Rivers? On the way home, we stopped in Algoma to get some smoked fish for our mommies and I really was craving a burger so we went to some restaurant and it was very disappointing. There’s little that’s worse than treating yourself to some yummy burger meat and having it disappoint, in my opinion.

    Aaron makes a damn good perch fish fry (or bluegill) so my fish fry cravings have been ubersatisfied.

  10. 10 Kristin May 19, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Love the pictures! Was that really a Scottie parade?

  11. 11 gwendolyngarden May 19, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I agree about vacations– I’m married to a farmer’s son who always hates to leave his cows and get away for awhile– but I LOVE to travel– to figure out a totally different place, see what is exciting…

    Last year I skipped taking any vacations and have never had a worse year. I ended up burning all my vacation time anyway, just because I was so desperate for a vacation. Not taking a vacation is penny-wise and pound foolish… I’m always a lot more productive when I come back.

    As for the cars– you can judge for yourself on the hybrid: My Hybrid SUV actually gets around 30mpg. It’s not nearly as good gas mileage as a small car, but I can haul puppies and antiques and kayaks with abandon. If we’d have bought the same model and same model year (both used) we would have saved $10,000. That’s a lot of gasoline. For what it’s worth– I’ve heard that buying used saves you thousands and thousands of dollars in depreciation. You can see what prices are available for the model your want on places like http://www.autobytel.com– but new is nice because then you can pick the color.

  12. 12 gwendolyngarden May 19, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I meant- bought the same model and year NON-HYBRID

  13. 13 Sara H May 19, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    I think the Forester gets better mileage than the other cars of the same size (CR-V, etc.). And it’s SUV of the year or some such crap.

    Phil’s is in TR – the ultimate greasy spoon that has been around since before I was born. Famous less for the burgers, which are good, but more for the raw fries with gravy (which is like really thick potato chips with gravy, don’t ask me why they’re “raw”).

  14. 14 Sara H May 19, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    And ditto on the used car biz, as long as it’s something reliable (probably not German, I guess). We have a used sedan that’s our primary car and we haven’t had to repair it yet, and lease the Forester for hauling.

  15. 15 gracieandkate May 19, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    The thing is, though, financing for new cars is way better than for used cars, so I can’t agree that you really save thousands. I mean, I realize you “lose” thousands when you drive a new car off of a lot, but that doesn’t mean that buying used would save someone like me money. If I could do what Ms. Certain just did and pay for a car outright, then it probably would. But I have to finance. And rates for used cars are about twice that for new. And right now, there’s lots of great financing options.

    And I understand that you’ve saved money, Gwennie, compared to if you had bought your Ford in a non-hybrid, but I don’t really need a big car. I have a canoe that can fit on a sedan and a dog that can go in the back seat. Bigger cars and SUVs (and, keep in mind, I have an Outback right now) are cool and nice, but I got along just fine with my Civic Coupe, too. I’m not here to rail against SUVs or anything (ha!), but I just know I don’t need one and even though they look super fun, I think I’d just end up feeling too guilty about it because I just don’t need it. At least that’s what I’m saying today. Stay tuned because tomorrow I may be extolling the virtues of my new Highlander.

    Aaron and I just went to Toyota and tried out the Corolla and the Scion (which is defintely a bit of an SUV) and didn’t like either one. Before we got in them, I think we thought we’d buy one, but no sirree. The Corolla was just boring and I felt I couldn’t see out the back. And the Scion was just odd. The instrument panels are in the middle of the dash — as if the passenger has just as much a right to them as the driver — and the windshield felt like it was in a different state — I could barely reach the rear window mirror. So, no thanks. Off to Honda tomorrow.

    It’s kinda funny about trying them out and then not liking them. When I bought my Saturn in 2002 — my first car — I didn’t even test drive it. Hee hee.

    And I am with you 110% on not buying German, Ms. Hynek. No thank you.

  16. 16 gracieandkate May 19, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    Oh! And Fee, yes, it was a Scottie parade. We overheard this woman saying, “People come for all over the country for this.” But we saw license plates only from Wisconsin and one guy sporting an Illinois name tag.

    And Sara, I totally understand what you mean about vacationing and Travelling. I would go back to Italy in a heartbeat, but having had the good fortune to have been there before, I would definitely take part in lots of wine at outdoor cafes and people watching. I’d stroll around, but I can’t really take the To Do List anymore, either. That’s why I like Door County and Up North in general so much. There’s isn’t a lot To Do except relax and enjoy yourself. Ah, vacation.

  17. 17 Kristin May 19, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Am not trying to be daft, but: why not German?

  18. 18 gracieandkate May 19, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    This could be completely off base but, for me, (a) they’re German and (b) their rep is that they break down a lot and are super expensive to fix.

    Now stop being daft!

  19. 19 gwendolyngarden May 19, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I am in no way advocating that you buy an SUV or not, just trying to give you comparable gas mileage for a hybrid v. non-hybrid for your decision. I think we get 5 or 10 miles per gallon better generally. We do about 1-2 miles per gallon better than a non-hybrid in the winter. I don’t think the hybrid is worth the money.

    I like the space of an SUV, which is why I chose it, but I think I would have been wiser to buy the non-hybrid version and use the money elsewhere… because, as I said, 10K is a lot of gasoline.

    That said, buying a car will probably save you a lot more money on fuel. And many cars have as much space as my SUV.

    New cars are brilliant- you are guaranteed that no one puked in the back and you never have to wonder– why did someone trade in a perfectly good car with 15000 miles on it?

    Can’t wait to see what you get!

  20. 20 Kristin May 19, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Oh. OK. I mean, I just finished e-mailing with Kelly about how her stupid Volkswagen has to be fixed for the one bajillionth time before she comes to visit this weekend. But then I know other peeps who have never had a problem and wouldn’t buy anything else.
    Until now, the only people I’ve really known who won’t buy German are Jewish. I used to think I wouldn’t, but I would. In a second. Those Volkswagen’s are adorable. Are Saab’s German? I don’t think so. Anyway, I want one of those the most.

  21. 21 Kristin May 19, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Too many apostrophes. End of day.

  22. 22 Sara H May 19, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Methinks the Germans are expensive to fix. I had an audi, and hoo-eee, I was glad to get rid of that puppy (and it did not perform as advertised, either – not that fantastic of a winter car, notwithstanding AWD). Sometimes I miss the sporty-ness, but not quite enough to go back there.

  23. 23 Kristin May 19, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Gotcha. Looks like, until the American companies come around (IF they ever do, the best idea is to stick with the Japanese.

  24. 24 gracieandkate May 20, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Gwennie, I know what you were saying. And it was very good info. I was more just talking to myself and telling myself, “Kate, though they’re cool, you know you really don’t want the SUV.” And you haul a lot more crap than I ever will (ie mulch) and my lawn looks like crap because of it.

    Terry & Steve have a Passat and I know Terry HATES it. And Ben used to have an Audi and it was hilarious — it was so BIG. It was like a Buick or something, only bigger. And the battery was in the back seat. And it broke down all the time. And parts and labor are just more expensive in those crazy German cars. Well, I don’t know about labor but I suspect so since there are fewer people who will work on them. I think Saab is Swedish.

  25. 25 gracieandkate May 20, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I really liked my Saturn.

  26. 26 Kristin May 20, 2009 at 10:59 am

    What do I know anyway? Cars are probably the last thing I talk about on a regular basis. Thankfully I won’t be owning one anytime soon.

    Also – I look up Saab and it’s definitely Swedish but in some way owned by GM also. Eek.

  27. 27 gracieandkate May 20, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Weird! And you know tons — remember that little roadster you had? That got us all over the country! I loved that car.

    Wanna hear something funny (slash a bit sad)? My dad returned to his house (in Ohio) the other night after being out kayaking for the day. Drove into the garage — oops! Kayak atop the car! Garage door? Ruined! Eeks.

  28. 28 Kristin May 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    Hee hee. I did have a car once. So weird.

    Oh no!!! for you dad! That sucks royally. I would totally do something like that.

  29. 29 Sara H May 20, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I love Buicks. They last forever. Expensive, though.

  30. 30 gracieandkate May 20, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I was just wondering if anyone even drove Buicks anymore when I got stuck behind one a block from my house today. That’s right: stuck a block from my house. I think we had a Buick for awhile when I was a kid.

    Well, since you’re all on pins and needles here, I’ll give you the latest: It’s looking like it’s going to be a Civic EX manual transmission. I am telling you, the thing drove like butter. It was AWESOME. Ooo, it was so great. Of course, though, no one has any manuals anymore and the guy kept trying to talk us into automatic (saying they had better resale, got better gas mileage over 70 mph and suggesting we were sick of driving a stick), but no dice, my friend. So, the only manual EX they had, though, was in stark white. It started looking better and better to me (I was trying to think of it as a Swedish mid-century modern type car) as we filled out all the paperwork to try to get one in black or dark blue. And now we wait. 3.9% financing for 60 months, so that’s not so bad either.

    And if all goes well we’ll have the leaky Subaru gone (sniff sniff) and the Honda by the end of the month. I will miss the Subaru. It’s been in my family since 96. That’s nothing to sneeze at. But when we left the DMV (had to get a replacement title since I couldn’t find it ANYWHERE [very strange, btw]), there was a huge puddle of green coolant next to Subs. Oops.

  31. 31 rose May 21, 2009 at 9:35 am

    KATE oh my gosh. That is so funny. I was going to pipe in with my story about my Subaru Forester which I do like now but which spontaneously caught on fire a couple of years ago (it was actually a defect—unfortunately we were one of the first people to buy the 2006 model–thats the drawback to buying new I guess).
    Anyway–besides the fire (they ended up fixing it but it was possibly some of the worst months of my life) we haven’t had any problems and will have it paid off in two months (YES!). So—it was totally a rare thing. Most ppl have very little problems with these vehicles.
    However–I was going to say—If I could have my manual Honda Civic EX back (it was old and rusted out and unsellable), I would in a HEARTBEAT. I absolutely loved that thing. It drove great. It took me back and forth from MI to MD time and time again (filled with two people and two dogs and a trunk full). Parking is super easy. It holds it’s value if you don’t let the damn thing rust to pieces (here in MD you can’t sell vehicles with rust bc they wont pass the inspection—back in MI I could have sold it without a problem). Anyway—I’m so excited for you! I’m totally going back to the Honda Civic the next time I need a car (which hopefully wont be for a very long time). Whew! Sorry for the long post…I missed the flurry of activity this week!

  32. 32 Sarayu May 21, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Oh, goodbye sweet Subaru, but I am excited for you about the Civic. I’m a big fan of the Honda and Toyota families. Boring as they may be, they get the job done. Nice work with the 3.9% financing!

    Buying a car is so exhausting, though. You must’ve been wiped out by the end of all that!

  33. 33 gracieandkate May 21, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I’m not quite wiped out yet but only because I’m on pins and needles to get the damn thing. The Subaru was put into the garage after yesterday’s events and we bused back to work. I’m nervous to even look at the thing for fear it will just crumble into bits (though, I must say, catching fire spontaneously is about the scariest thing I’ve ever heard!). I have tennis tonight out in Fitchburg and I think I’ll have to borrow Momma’s wheels to get me there. I just want to get the Subaru to the dealership and have them take her off of my hands (oh, sweet sweet car) and put me in my buttery civic.

  34. 34 Kristin May 21, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Our 198…6? 7? Honda Accord was the first new car my family had in my lifetime and I looooooved it. Oh I can still remember the smell and the plush NOT vinyl seats. Before that we had a Dodge Aspen station wagon which had its pluses of course, but you totally stuck to the seats when it was hot. Ick.

    Congratulations!


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This photo doesn’t wholly capture how annoying it was to put up with this medicine cabinet for four years. It infringed on the already tiny amount of space we had in our en-suite bath. So, on Friday, something amazing happened. #recessthatcabinet #brassisback #allthingsbrass #potterybarn #bathroomupgrade #happyinteriors
Aaron as hodag. #hodag #hodaginmadison #publicart #rhinelandercreature #madisonmakingsmiles #madisonwi #cityofmadison
I did not see this one coming. # # # I said something about how he should knock off the bananas #Brewers insults and he shot back . . . with this. #milwaukeebrewers #gobrewers #turninguptheheat #wisconsin #sconnielove #katokaelinblockedme #katokaelin #blockedontwitter
Miss you, Dad. #oneyear
Go Brewers!! #gobrewers #mylittlebrewer #turninguptheheat #gamefour #milwaukeebrewers #sconniefans #MILvLAD⚾️
There was a day when she learned to #dab and she didn’t tell me. And she just pulled it out at some friends’ house one night, like it was the most natural thing. And while I couldn’t stop laughing, I realized I was witnessing another example of what will be only more big steps away from me and the life I thought the three of us had together. And I know that is beautiful and how it should be. But catching myself, watching that moment, finding it in a photograph? It takes my breath away at how fleeting and transient and amazing this all is. Molly, you are my #everything. I’m better because of you. Being your mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me. By far. And I lived in Italy! #parenting #whyivoteblue #fallinwisconsin #moments #passageoftime #itgoestoofast

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