The alternative to a vacation is to stay home and tip every third person you see.
God is it great to be home! I don’t know which is more pleasurable – anticipating a well planned vacation or as the vacation winds down counting the days before you return to your comfy existence. We go full bore on our vacations. Vacationing with Kathy is like the infamous Bataan Death March in World War II – stragglers get shot.
Part of my post vacation ritual is to debrief myself – what went right, what was disastrous, what would we do differently and what were the highlights.
It never ceases to surprise me that vacation highlights are always unpredictable and some might say the mundane experiences. We visited Helen Keller’s birthplace. It met our expectations but what made the stop even more pleasurable was bumping into the gardener on the grounds for an extended conversation about flowers, shrubs and trees in the South. He had a PHD in horticulture and had travelled extensively (so much for preconceived notions as to what we thought he would be all about). I was raised in the South and had forgotten how much I enjoyed the natural outdoor beauty – magnificent large trees and a profusion of blooming flowers. The magnolias were in full bloom with their dinner-plate size fragrant blooms. I spent a lot of time in my youth climbing magnolia trees. Childhood experiences in the South are like no other. When we got tired of playing and needed a snack, we didn’t go to the refrigerator but picked a peach, shelled a few pecans or climbed up in the fig tree and pigged out.
I have many fond childhood memories growing up in what can best be described as a Gone-With-The-Wind antebellum style mansion. My great-grandfather who built this lovely home was a real estate investor and owned a very successful hotel. In the early 1900’s the hotel caught fire and burned to the ground. And even worse the property was woefully under insured. Where was Bill Dorman (an internet friend who blogs and sells insurance) when we really needed him. The family was financially ruined. It was your typical riches to rags story. Fortunately the house was purchased in 1970 by a group of investors who restored Rosemary Hall and converted it into a B&B.
The South that I knew growing up as a child no longer exists. As an example, while travelling through Mississippi and Alabama we always looked for Italian restaurants and were never disappointed. Pasta and wine is part of the good life for us. Kathy worried that we would be living on nothing but catfish and crawdads.
For me, the highlight of the trip was discovering a cypress swamp while travelling up the Natchez Trace in Mississippi. It was serene, beautiful and profoundly mystical. I felt like I was entering an alternate parallel universe.
Although we had many wonderful experiences and met a whole bunch of interesting, gracious and charming people, it is REALLY good to be home.