Getting Away Without Going Away

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A new word has been added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, a testament to the dynamic nature of language and to the humans that use it.

The lucky inductee is a noun, and yet another byproduct of our economy’s sharp downturn.

I’m talking of course about the increasingly popular “staycation.”

Just because summer break is over doesn’t mean the travel bug goes home.

The first thing we all check on our kids’ school calendars is when the vacations and days off school are. Many of us however, will have to be a little more creative this school year in how we plan our vacation time.

Billy Joel sings of a New York state of mind and in James Taylor’s mind, he’s gone to Carolina.  And we all understand the concept of armchair travel, but that is such a solitary activity.

A staycation gets you out of your armchair and is fun for the whole family.

I want to write a spinoff of the iconic travel guide, “Let’s Go”, and call my book “Let’s Stay.  A Step by Step Guide to Enjoying your Staycation or Holistay.” (That’s the British term for it)

I don’t want to brag, but I did learn a thing or two from our first staycation, over Labor Day weekend, which was a smashing success.

The first step – plan ahead.  Whatever you will be doing, put it on the calendar like you would any other trip. On our calendar, I wrote “The Fales Family Great Backyard Campout” and we treated it as if we would be out of town, politely declining invitations to barbecues or playdates that arose.

Next, you must unplug. Shut down the computers, Blackberries or iPhones. It is amazing how different the feel of our own environment becomes when we can hear and see it more clearly.

Have an itinerary. Merriam-Webster tells us that a staycation, is “a vacation spent at home or nearby.” So feel free to leave the house, as long as it’s part of the itinerary and not to run unrelated errands.

Here’s a tip: Look in the fun-filled and comprehensive calendar section of the Newport Beach Independent and decide to see a play or a concert, or attend a special exhibit at a museum.  The jazz series may be going on, or a car show may be in town.   Rent kayaks from the Newport Aquatic Center or plan a family bike ride to a favorite spot.

One step that you will not have to worry about is making arrangements for the goldfish or the dog.

Once you transform yourself from a mother, wife, employee or volunteer, into a staycationer, the rest falls into place.  It’s the vacation mentality you are going for, so just like a real trip whatever isn’t done when your staycation starts, let it go until you “get back.”

Our Fales Family Great Backyard Campout was a wonderful time spent with the people I love most. The adventure included the six of us all helping to barbcue a steak dinner and then eat outside, toasting ourselves.

Following dinner was a fire in our outdated fire pit surrounded by mismatched beach chairs.

And what would a campout be without s’mores?  Once we had our fill of marshmallows, we headed into the tent for some ghost stories and family bonding. (Author’s note:  How can it be that “family planning” is in the dictionary but “family bonding” is not?)

I felt so warm, so cozy in the tent.  The old adage about the things you want being in your own backyard came to mind.  We were all together telling not too scary ghost stories and a calmness settled inside the tent. I would be hard-pressed to come up with a time in which our family was more in harmony and at peace.

Then my husband farted.

That sent the kids into a wild screaming laughing frenzy, struggling to unzip the tent door as quickly as possible. They ran in circles around the tent, like transplants from the Island of the Lost Boys.

Once back in the tent, the kids sang and danced and argued until Mr. Sandman finally won the battle with the last one.  I’d like to think they were as happy there as they could have been in Maui or Italy or China.

James Taylor, you say you’ve never been to Mexico, but you’d sure like to go?   With your busy schedule, may I suggest a staycation?  Put the date on the calendar, purchase a sombrero, make a pitcher of cold margaritas, and plant yourself on a lounge chair by the pool. Make sure to have a bowl of chips and salsa nearby, and turn off your cell p

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