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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ask Arlee: Vacation Locations

Photo in or around Grand Teton National Park
Photo in or around Grand Teton National Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
         This past summer I spent over a month in traveling.  Vacation I guess you might say.  My wife was on her vacation time, but since I haven't been working I guess it's almost like I'm almost always on vacation.  And for me staying home makes for a pretty good vacation location.   But let's talk about vacations away from home.

       In one of my recent calls for Ask Arlee questions, Susan Kane asked

Where is your favorite vacation spot? 

        This summer found my wife and I in Ecuador and on a cross country road trip that took us to New Jersey, Tennessee, and something like thirteen other states as we drove the highways of this wonderful country.   All the travel was great fun.   I love traveling as much as I like staying at home.  Okay, call me easy to please.

        So far I've been able to find something positive about everywhere I've been.  I may not always be jumping at the opportunity to go someplace, but if I'm there I try to make the best of it.   Stick me in Odessa, Texas or Williston, North Dakota or whatever out of the way place and I'll try to seek out the points of interest that are there.  I'm not saying I'd want to live just any old place, but if other people are living there and seem to be relatively content in doing so, then there must be something worthwhile about the place.

        A lot of my adaptability comes from my years touring one-nighters with a theatrical company.  We played some towns that most people wouldn't think of going to unless they had a specific reason to be there.  Since we usually had at least a few off hours in these towns I'd try to find something to do there that might interest me.  Sometimes it was just going to the local mall or whatever they had there in the way of shopping.  A meal at a local restaurant was almost always part of the schedule since we had to eat.  And whenever we could we'd visit the birthplace of some famous person, a fort, a natural attraction, or some other point of interest.  There are some fascinating places in the United States as there are throughout the world.

        My ideal vacation would not be in just one place, but traveling on a road trip to see many places.  For example, I'd like to be able to take two or three week tours that were thematic in nature.  A tour of Civil War battlefields would be very interesting I think.   Or maybe picking a famous person and visiting the places they'd visited and lived.   A journey of this nature would be educational and fun.

        National parks are wonderful places where one can just settle in and see the sights.  I'm not so much for camping like I used to do and I know my wife would have none of that, but settling in at a lodge in a park like Yellowstone or Glacier would be enjoyable. The National Parks of the United States are some the best places to go for relaxation mixed with awe-inspiring sightseeing.

         On the other hand, cities and tourist destinations both have a lot to offer.  I've always enjoyed spending time in Toronto, Ontario.   Washington, DC and the surrounding area has enough attractions to keep one busy for a few weeks, as do many cities around the world.  Then there are the places like Orlando, Florida.  I don't like being in crowded places and having to wait in lines, but Disney certainly offers some cool attractions if you're willing to pay the price.

         There are so many places to go that it's kind of difficult to pick just one.   However one place stands above all others for me--East Tennessee.  That's where most of my vacation times have been spent.  Staying at my mother's house--the house where I lived while attending high school and college--feels almost as much like home as the house where I live.  

           Spending time with my mother and brothers and sisters is time that takes me back to days of my youth.   I enjoy being with my family.  Then there are longtime friends who I rarely get to see anymore.  When in Tennessee I usually have some time to catch up with at least a few of those old friends.  

            Places exotic or somewhat mundane but different for me are all fun, fascinating, and curiosity inducing.   I feel excited and adventurous when I'm traveling in places where I am but a passing stranger. But there's no replacing any of these places with home.  I feel like I've got two homes.  Those are my favorite vacation spots.

           Thank you, Susan, for the questions.  Anyone else have a question they'd like me to answer in a future Ask Arlee post?    Where is your favorite vacation spot?    Do you enjoy traveling?   What is your favorite mode of travel?   If you could settle down in any place in the world where would it be?

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26 comments:

  1. This gets me into holiday mode thank you Arlee! Summer is approaching here in South Africa, friends are arriving from the States next week, we're taking them to the bush (the wilderness within seems to come to the fore in Nature and wildlife) and then to Plettenberg Bay on the garden route. Beauty assails from every viewpoint. I love travelling to new and old places. Am planning a road trip for next year to explore SA and go to unexplored places.

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  2. Not much on crowds either. Sometimes that's the only way though.
    My ideal vacation doesn't involve me driving. Cruising around Europe would be cool. Visiting New Zealand would be awesome.

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  3. My ideal vacation would be Europe, the beaches of New Zealand and Australia. I hate crowded touristy places which have become so commercial that we are even paying for the air we breathe there.

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  4. Btw..need some blogger help, will email you the questions. So look out for me in your inbox.

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  5. Sounds like you had quite a summer filled with travel. I'm more of a home body these days, so short getaways or day trips not far from home work for me.

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  6. What a tough question to answer, but I loved yours. I mean, awwwww...

    I do love to travel. I tend to favor nature spots: forests, beaches, deserts, etc.

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  7. As you know Lee I have been to the US as we met up in LA. I also enjoyed Yosemite National Park, Niagara Falls, Toronto.....the list is endless, Loved Nashville especially visiting The Grand Ole Opry.

    Yvonne.

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  8. Susan -- Travel in South Africa sounds like such an exotic adventure to me.

    Alex -- I'd like to go to New Zealand and Australia.

    Rachna -- So much to see in Europe!

    Ryan-- Yes it does.

    Susanne -- I'm essentially a homebody these days as well. When I do travel it's fun for me to get away.

    Southpaw -- When I'm asked about favorites it's usually difficult for me to come up with just one.

    Yvonne -- I watched a TV show about Nashville last night and it made me want to go back there to see more of the city and surrounding area.

    Lee

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  9. I feel very much the same way, LEE. I have not done any one-nighters with a traveling troupe of entertainers, but I have made a lot of road trips throughout the U.S. when I was younger.

    And I too have ALWAYS found interesting things to see and do in just about every town I've stayed in or passed through.

    Some of the best memories are of events that occurred spontaneously - the parts of the trip that were not planned in advance. For example... my cross country trip from New York City to Los Angeles in 1983 found me lost one night in the Okefenokee Swamp with alligators closing in. It's a great, exciting memory... because I survived it.

    The thing is, my Buddy and I didn't even expect to see the Okefenokee Swamp on that trip. But when we found ourselves in its proximity, we decided to spend a night there, even if it meant we didn't get down to the Florida Keys (and we didn't). The Keys would have been neat to see, but not nearly as exciting and fun to yak about as our unexpected misadventure in the Okefenokee.

    What always boggles my mind is the people who will take a long trip to other parts of the country and then stop to eat at a Denny's or some other cookie-cutter chain restaurant. When I'm in a new place, I want to try the more regional establishments; I want to discover what's unique about 'Rupert and Martha Van Oslow's Golden Kettle Restaurant And Cheese Museum'.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  10. My best vacation is still my Germany/Italy trip that I took with a college friend. We had a ball and so saw so much while we were there. Truly a once in a lifetime experience.

    And, no, we didn't eat at any chain restaurants. (I read Stephen's comment... hahahaha). Although I did have gelato every day while in Italy. The last day twice. Ha!

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  11. As as east coast person, the beach is always on the list in the summer, but once I've done it, I don't need to anymore for another year. This summer, it was Hilton Head, SC, a natural, non-commercial, no-frills island that surprised me with enjoyment.

    Aside from the beach, I like to go almost anyplace that I've never been to. It feels like both a wonder and an education.

    You seem to have many miles under you! :)

    If I think of a question, I'll come back.

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  12. I love to travel, but there is no place quite like home. That being said, when I lived in Central America I visited some extremely remote places that few Americans have ever seen. The places were so different, with no McDonalds. One area you had to ride in a wooden bus to reach (no lie).

    Here in the United States I love to road trip since you get to see more than you do from a plane. I dream one day of road tripping in both Iceland and New Zealand.

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  13. Lee-

    I like road trips a little less in my 50's than I did in my 30's, but I can usually find a way to amuse myself in any town.

    I like the larger towns since they are most likely to have record stores (you never know what you'll find), but you can drop me in Oatman, Arizona (population 128) and I'll be able to kill an afternoon....maybe eating a burro or feeding the burros...

    There is a lot to see in this world, and you may as well see as much of it as you can while you can!

    LC

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  14. StMc -- I like to sample local cuisine although I must confess to eating chain food many times on recent trips due to time and availability. Getting off the interstate for a quick stop usually precludes looking for something more unique. But I agree with what you say.

    Robin -- Daily gelato while in Italy would be a must for me as well.

    Anita --Not being a beach sort of person I prefer the interior of the U.S. Many people opt for beach vacations though. Myrtle Beach is a popular destination for folks in Tennessee.

    Steven -- Iceland sounds pretty intriguing. I wonder how much road tripping you could do there?

    Larry -- I take the road ways over the airways any day unless I could afford to charter my own plane. In my traveling days visiting record stores was a regular activity for me. Almost every town had a record store of some type. Not so now.

    Lee

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  15. This post is absolutely incredible Lee, I knew the minute that I seen the title that it was going to be interesting because you've been to so many different places and it didn't fail to point, loved this buddy, you've done so much and seen so much.

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  16. I'd love to go to Japan. That's my fave place to go but now I'm also really interested in going to America both to expand my writing opportunities and to meet some of the writers and blogger I communicate with online. I think it's great that you've traveled, I've never left Jamaica.

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  17. I've done a bit of Civil War battlefields. They are less interesting than you might think.

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  18. Getting to go on one of those tours with you was really a life-changer for me. I had never really been anywhere. I could say that I learned a lot about travel from you, and you were a really good teacher! I still seek out interesting local and ethnic restaurants when I travel, etc.

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  19. I love traveling and haven't done nearly as much of it as I'd like. Good vacation suggestions.

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  20. I like your idea about theme vacations. It's great that you enjoy spending time with your family in Tennessee. I've heard wonderful things about it, and hope to visit one day.

    Julie

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  21. I envy you all the traveling you've managed to do. I'm working on seeing more of the USA in the next few years.

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  22. Yeamie -- I been to a lot of places in North America which is pretty limited compared to how much of the world there is to see. But I'm happy with that.

    Sheena-kay -- I know a lot of people in places in the U.S. who have barely left their hometowns and only traveled to a limited extent. Your situation is not unique.

    Andrew -- I've visited a few Civil War battlefields and found them immensely interesting. I think to have a thematic approach would make it even better. The battlefields I have visited have been very scenic to enjoy without even taking the history into context. Another awesome experience was visiting Little Big Horn. I'd been reading books about Custer and the Indians and going to the battlefield was almost spiritual for me. I'd like to go back.

    Kelly -- Thank you! You honor me. Those tours were so neat the way they were laid out and being able to take the players like yourself to new places. I never tired of visiting them and knowing that others were enjoying the experience made it even better for me.

    Jan-- I'd like to do more if I had the time and money. Traveling can be so expensive.

    Julie -- I highly recommend East Tennessee. The Great Smokies are a wonder for anyone who enjoys natural scenic beauty and hiking. And there's plenty of touristy things for those who like that sort of thing.

    Susan GK -- Traveling becomes easy and affordable when you're paid to do it like I was for so many years. I wish I could be in a similar situation again, though maybe to a more limited extent.

    Lee


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  23. Wonderful post! Oh how I'd love a whole month to travel, but I'm thankful for the past week I had for a much needed vacation :).

    Your memories of the theatrical company reminded me of when I sang in a band. We went to some pretty boring places (except southern California) but I was always interested in the people who called those places home.

    Cheers!
    Jen

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  24. I love to travel. Never been able to afford extravagant vacations, so I just move someplace and live there for awhile. Crazy, right? Well, it works for me.

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  25. Jen -- I never like to think of anyplace as boring. Sure there are more things to do in some places, but I think anyplace where there are people living willingly must have something going for it.

    Faraway-- I've not done too much extravagance, and for my money I'd rather keep it simple. Free state parks are nice. I'd probably rather go to some cheap county fairs than an amusement place like Disney.

    Lee

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