ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Books, Travel Planning, United States

When Does Vacation Really Begin?


My husband answers this query by snapping “when the plane takes off.”  Bill’s not big into anticipation.  In fact, I’d better not ask him too many questions before that plane takes off or we might not go at all.  On the day before we leave for any vacation, he refuses to pack until after midnight.

Begin at the Beginning

Like Bill, most people’s answer would in someway reflect that their vacation begins on the departure date or at least the first day they don’t have to report to work.  I’m not that way at all.  My vacation begins as soon as I dream it up.  The departure date may not come for years, but once a destination comes into my radar, it’s all part of the fun.

Using that criteria, this year’s vacation is already eight or nine years long.  During our sojourn in California, Bill once asked me if there was anything worth seeing up in Oregon and Washington.  This was back when we still hadn’t figured out that we’d never even manage to see all of California, because the cost of living was so high wed have to work all the time.  In order to answer his question, I did a little research.

Now, truth be told, I wasn’t very psyched about Washington and Oregon.  Both of the states translated directly into the words “cold” and “wet” for me.  I figured there would be some pretty scenery, but my real goal was to merely do the necessary due diligence and then suggest another destination.

That lasted all of about five minutes.  The first thing I tried to find out was when would be the best time to go.  The answer to that question led to the discovery that in the spring, Oregon is Rhododendron Paradise.  This was news to me.

A goodly number of my young days were spent around the corner from the Augusta National Golf Course at T. Harry Garrett Elementary School.  I decided way back then, when I was attending a round of the Masters with my Dad, that heaven was going to look like the 16th hole of the Augusta National in April.  The idea that there was someplace else that claimed to be Rhododendron Paradise seemed almost sacrilegious to me.

As it turned out, just about the time I started planning the Oregon/Washington vacation, Bill insisted I start studying for the real estate exam and we never got to go on the vacation.  But the idea of going to Rhododendron Paradise never left me.

Recently, as I penciled in activities on my calendar, I needed to save two weeks for a vacation.  Bill in a frenzy over the commodities market was in no mood to discuss destinations.  So I wrote a short blurb about a handful of vacations on my short list and told him to rate them from one to ten when he took a break.  The Pacific Northwest won.

With an important family wedding scheduled for mid-April, mid-May became the perfect time to go on our vacation to Rhododendron Paradise – which has the bonus of being near our wedding anniversary.

So now, I’ll pull out my faithful National Geographic The American Road Atlas & Travel Planner and spend a lot of time online haunting websites for both Washington and Oregon.  But I’d like to hear from you, too.   Have you been to the Pacific Northwest?  What’s on your “must see” list?  Are their tourist traps that would waste our time?  Do you have the inside skinny on out of the way gems?  I really want to know.

3 thoughts on “When Does Vacation Really Begin?”

  1. I can’t even begin to start. Oregon and Washington are my favorite places.
    But DO NOT miss Mt. Rainier National Park. Take the road up through Longmire all the way to Paradise! My favorite place in the whole world.


  2. “Vacation” begins the minute it becomes reality in my mind. A few years ago, when my son Tam (in Sweden) and I purchased my airline ticket to visit him, I immediately downloaded a Swedish language program. And, like you, I began trolling any websites that had anything to do with sightseeing in Stockholm. The real beginning of my vacation, though, occurred on the day I signed off for the fall semester, that year. That was my signal to start packing!


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