jenett: the milky way emerging from silhouetted hills (Default)
jenett ([personal profile] jenett) wrote2013-08-14 09:45 am

Eleventh salon: What makes a vacation a vacation?

Welcome to the eleventh salon! Wander in, invite a friend to come along, and chat! (Not sure what's going on? Here, have a brief FAQ.) You can find previous ones in my salon tag. Please take a quick look at the reminders at the bottom of this post, too.

I am now on vacation, so you get vacation question, round two!

What makes a really great vacation for you? Are you a person who just wants to sleep and recuperate and drink thing with little frilly umbrellas in them? Do you want to go to interesting and unfamiliar places and explore the world? Do you want to do this with other people or on your own?

My usual vacation is either "Stay home and get things done on projects" or "Go visit people I like in place I am not currently living". The current vacation is the latter, though not in my most usual place for it, and I'm contemplating what it would take to go do two weeks in England in the fall of 2014. (which would be a Go See All The Things vacation, for slightly odd values of 'Things' because I've already seen most of the obvious tourist things, and have a very specific "This museum and that place" set of goals.

(I am currently in a room filled with interesting and fascinating people in person, and there will be other people around tonight, so comment replies slightly slower than usual.)

Quick reminders

- [personal profile] jjhunter did a great guide to following conversations here on Dreamwidth. Also a roundup of regular Dreamwidth events.
- If you want to post anonymously, please pick a name (any name you like) that we can call you - it makes it more conversational and helps if we have more than one anon post.
- Base rule remains "Leave the conversation better than you found it, or at least not worse". If you're nervous about that, I'd rather you say something and we maybe sort out confusion later than have you not say something. (I've heard from a few people who worry they're going to say something that's going to be taken weirdly. If it helps, I am usually around and if there's a thing you'd like to get out in the conversation, but you're not sure how, feel free to PM or email or IM me, and I'll nudge the conversation that direction.)
- The FAQ still has useful stuff, and I added some thoughts about getting conversations going a few weeks ago.
- Comments tend to trickle in over the course of a day or two, with a few nearly a week later: you might enjoy checking back later if you're not tracking the conversation.
lizw: photo of two avebury stones in the snow (avebury winter)

[personal profile] lizw 2013-08-14 02:19 pm (UTC)(link)
I like to be outdoors most of the time on vacation, preferably long-distance trekking on trails that are new to me. Part of the point of this is to get into a meditative state, so I like the trails to be well signposted so that I'm not stressed by having to navigate, and I like to walk either on my own or with people who can do the "companionable silence" thing. [livejournal.com profile] boxcat is always top of my list. I also particularly like trails that end up or pass through places that have a spiritual significance for me.

For environmental reasons, I prefer trails I can reach by train in a reasonable time (for values of "reasonable" that can include an all-day train and a sleeper train along the way.) That said, there are some trails in the US and in Asia that I'd love to do some time, perhaps combined with a work trip so that I feel less guilty about the CO2 footprint.
lizw: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)

[personal profile] lizw 2013-08-14 03:13 pm (UTC)(link)
[personal profile] boxcat is from Cornwall, so if you'd like me to ask him about less-challenging walks, let me know. I can also dig out some UK websites that provide walking directions with maps and difficulty levels, if that would help.

If your theoretical trip to England includes social time somewhere in reach of London, do let me know :-)

(Anonymous) 2013-08-14 03:24 pm (UTC)(link)
That would be exceedingly excellent! I was poking around on assorted websites, and contemplating what I might be able to work up to with a year's notice. (My aim, assuming I can get my boss to approve, is 2 weeks around late September or early October next year.)

The plan also involves at least 5 days in London, and social time, and you are one of the people I would especially like to see. (Because, how long have we known each other online?)
lizw: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)

[personal profile] lizw 2013-08-14 03:45 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, yay! *blushes*

Erm, thirteen years, I think? [livejournal.com profile] aegidian and I opened our marriage in 2000, which is what sent me to a.p.

So, useful websites:
Walk magazine, by the Ramblers - the UK's oldest walking charity/campaign group. Some of the routes are members-only, but I'm a member, so if you let me know which ones interest you, I'll get them for you.

Live for the Outdoors - similar idea, but less user-friendly. Again, I should be able to get you the subscription-only routes if you know what you want (but will probably let my subscription lapse when it comes due in June next year).

Walking in England, a great collection of links to free walks, but whether you get a difficulty rating depends on the site whose link you follow.

Do you have an idea of what sort of length and elevation change you'd be looking for, and/or other restrictions, or would it be better for me to ask [personal profile] boxcat for his thoughts nearer the time when you know how you're progressing?
Edited 2013-08-14 15:46 (UTC)
lizw: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)

[personal profile] lizw 2013-08-14 04:09 pm (UTC)(link)
Okay, I shall ask!
alexseanchai: quill, ink bottle, and calligraphy (Default)

[personal profile] alexseanchai 2013-08-14 02:25 pm (UTC)(link)
It's not a vacation if there isn't some chance for relaxation. Obviously that's different person to person, but for me, staying home on vacation week means I'm evading the stress of work but not of home. (I live with my parents. So do all my siblings. My brother and I are saving up for places of our own, but it's gonna be a while.) I've got to get out, or else it's not a vacation.

My tentative plans for vacation next year are a week off at the beginning of the summer to either visit friends in Pittsburgh (six-hour drive thataway, not counting rest and food stops) or go to Shenandoah National Park (five-hour drive thataway, ditto) and spend a week doing nothing but writing, and then a week off at the end of the summer to do the other one. I'm hoping to someday have enough money that I can take two weeks to explore Ireland.
alexseanchai: quill, ink bottle, and calligraphy (Default)

[personal profile] alexseanchai 2013-08-14 03:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Cat, computer, and pleasant apartment all to myself sounds like paradise.
pj: (Default)

[personal profile] pj 2013-08-14 02:58 pm (UTC)(link)
I always knew a "real" vacation to me is the ocean. What I didn't realize until this year is how much waves have to be a part of that to get to my soul's core and feel the lift. We went to Provincetown, MA this year and it was lovely and fun and I enjoyed myself. The harbor is quiet, though, it made a difference. We went to the ocean side of the Cape one afternoon, but since we weren't equipped to stay any length of time it was not the same.

I like unstructured days, options to do things if I choose, and books to read.
zhelana: (Default)

[personal profile] zhelana 2013-08-14 05:24 pm (UTC)(link)
This! So much this. I love the ocean, even if it is too cold to actually swim - just seeing and hearing it makes my vacation.
pj: (Default)

[personal profile] pj 2013-08-15 02:24 am (UTC)(link)
And I don't swim, I drown, but the ocean has my heart and being.
witchchild: (Default)

[personal profile] witchchild 2013-08-14 03:04 pm (UTC)(link)
since I don't have a lot of extra money for touring/new place type of vacations, mine tend to be more relaxing ones and less about being a tourist since I go to places again and again where I know people. This year I tried to be a little different. During my California trip I made a point to *see* and *do* more stuff around SF, and in late May I played tourist for a week in NYC and rented an apartment in Queens. Both were great experiences.
jjhunter: closeup of library dragon balancing book on its head (library dragon 2)

[personal profile] jjhunter 2013-08-14 03:21 pm (UTC)(link)
A vacation isn't a vacation for me unless I experience a positive abeyance of my normal routines. (This is why it's easier to have a vacation somewhere other than where I usually sleep.) It's not so much a matter of sleeping in - I usually wake up as early as usual after the first morning - as doing and being different things than usual to facilitate stretching myself out of mental & physical complacence with my daily status quo and stock up on personal spoons to boot.
Edited 2013-08-14 15:22 (UTC)
cheyinka: An ateva riding a mecheita through the snow. (travel)

[personal profile] cheyinka 2013-08-14 04:49 pm (UTC)(link)
Do you have a hard time resuming your normal routines after that? I eventually hated any vacation from school longer than three days because I knew it'd take me at least the length of time my going-to-school (or going-to-classes, in college) routine had been disrupted for me to resume it.
jjhunter: Drawing of human JJ in ink tinted with blue watercolor; woman wearing glasses with arched eyebrows (JJ inked)

[personal profile] jjhunter 2013-08-14 07:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Very rarely. I think making sure that I don't go too far astray from my usual sleep patterns throughout & upping the exercise component (part of how I replenish spoons), as well as budgeting some low-key transition time at the end (at least half a day, preferably a full one) to spend back at home helps a lot.
woggy: A frog, probably of South American vintage (Default)

[personal profile] woggy 2013-08-14 04:04 pm (UTC)(link)
The keystone of whether something is an actual vacation or not, in my mind, is spending substantial amounts of time with folks I don't normally. Usually it's due to geographic concerns; my social networks have been scattered cross-country starting from a very young age, and as good as the internet is for day-to-day contact, there's something to be said for just Hanging Out Together for a week(end).

For most of college, I made twice-annual trips from Denver to Phoenix to visit a particularly close friend there; we never did anything astoundingly exciting (barring the one trip right after I'd graduated, wherein we went to Phoenix Comicon. But that was an atypical thing.) And that was okay. We hung out for a week, caught up on life, stayed up until 2am talking about whatever.

Not to say I'm averse to staying home and unwinding from work (I do that on a fairly regular basis), but that's not tagged as a 'vacation' in my mind.
cheyinka: An ateva riding a mecheita through the snow. (travel)

[personal profile] cheyinka 2013-08-14 04:46 pm (UTC)(link)
I want to do things, if I'm on vacation: it can be as simple as buying a hundred M:tG cards and making two decks and playing M:tG for a while, or as complicated as going to a museum. I've never gone-on-vacation by myself (having never lived by myself), so I don't know what I'd want to do in that case - probably visit people, and then do things with the people.

My husband interprets "time off work" as "time where no one should ask me to do anything", which means if we go somewhere (say, to visit his grandparents) all he'll want to do is stay in the hotel and use his laptop. But sometimes I can convince him it'll be all right if he surrenders a morning to something. :D
kakiphony: Chihuly exhibit at the KIA (Default)

[personal profile] kakiphony 2013-08-14 05:27 pm (UTC)(link)
This is a bit vague, but to me a "real" vacation (as opposed to an "obligatory" vacation) is one during which NO ONE (with the possible exception of my spouse) gets to have demands for my time. I get to do what I want to do at all times. That can be exploring new places, basking in the sun, visiting places I already love, or just staying at home and doing whatever I fancy at any given time (which can absolutely include cleaning and projects, as long as they are MY choice). This does not have to mean NOT seeing family and friends, but time away from work in which my family expects to be here or do this...not a vacation.
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)

[personal profile] silveradept 2013-08-15 12:52 am (UTC)(link)
This matches my definition as well. Vacation means that the normal rules of interaction and required routines are suspended, except by my choice. (Pets get to demand time, because I love them and want them fed.) I have not had proper vacation by this definition for a long time until last weekend. It becomes difficult to explain to Sig. Other that no, just because we go somewhere, it is not a vacation for me because pets and because lack of things I want to do.

Perversely, work trips sometimes feel more vacation-y than vacations.
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)

[personal profile] kyrielle 2013-08-14 05:32 pm (UTC)(link)
I often take "vacation days" from work that are nothing of the sort - I take them to catch up on household chores. That is helpful, but it's not restful.

For me, a "good" vacation is one that is fun, exciting, or relaxing. (All three would be great, but not necessarily *easy*.) Vacations have included:

* A weeklong poetry workshop at the coast. Beautiful surroundings, inspiring meetings of the class with a mix of readings and practice. Lots of free time, and the structured time was just lovely. (Fun, relaxing; only "exciting" in a purely mental way, but it was...this was nearly perfect.)

* Driving to the Grand Canyon and through Mexico - this was with my parents in high school. The winners were shopping at craft fairs in Mexico, and visiting the Grand Canyon. Not perfect, but fun and relaxing. I'd have enjoyed having more control - the time in Mazatlan was fairly boring, pretty but boring - but see "high school".

* Visiting relatives. This can be anywhere from an excellent vacation to terrible, and it mostly depends on how much I overschedule us and how much I expect. We've had some excellent vacations since the boys were born doing this - allowing time to do stuff around the area (or just swim in the hotel pool), but also hanging out with people we see not nearly often enough. It's so nice to sit and touch base.

Things I find matter:

Leaving myself enough down time. This is time to sit, read or day dream, and generally relax. Trying to do too much is the bane of vacations for me, and it's worse now with kids, since I *have* to do more than I otherwise would because hi, they still have needs and wants. And they're not at an age where letting them entertain themselves is necessarily wise, even when it's possible.

Time in nature. I want to have trees, and water, and the wind. I want to hear the birds. See the stars, maybe. I don't, however, particularly care for tent camping. I keep thinking I should get back to it and let my kids experience it, but I don't actually like the semi-protection, the cold, wondering whether my air mattress will deflate - seriously, why wonder, it will, the things hate me - etc. I loved the time awake at campgrounds as a kid, but I don't love the *camping*. So, isn't it lovely that my state parks have some with yurts, cabins, etc.? I don't really want to deal with a trailer - that's too much - but I admit I'd like a floor and walls. Maybe I'll go back to tent camping some year, but maybe not.

Making sure I have *enough* to do. If it's all total down time, it'd better be a 1-day vacation, or maybe 2 at most. I want to see something fun, or do something fun, or learn something. (Walks on the beach taking photos. Swimming - if I get to swim, not just spot for my kids. Visiting a zoo, provided it's a good one. Amusement parks - I do like rides, hehe. Going boating. Visiting people I know.)
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)

Food.

[personal profile] kyrielle 2013-08-14 05:36 pm (UTC)(link)
I wanted to pull this out separately - folks, do you eat the same on vacation? If not, how does it differ?

For my part:

I don't eat the same. I don't eat more, but I eat differently. All dairy vanishes from my diet on travel days and days I have important scheduled things - because the risk of not getting the right number of dairy pills is SO not worth it. I eat light foods, but enough of them, on travel days.

Sometimes distraction causes me not to drink enough water, so I take a reusable water bottle with me, and try to make sure I drink plenty. (If traveling by air, just dumping the water out before security and refilling it after works nicely.)

I do tend to "spoil" myself by eating foods I wouldn't normally eat as much of at home - more expensive, or not as good for me, or both - but not to the point where I expect to feel bad.

And a really good meal can be a positive in a vacation. (Case in point: an amazingly nicely-priced Friday night buffet that included excellent fish, shrimp, chicken, ham, and an equally wild variety of side dishes and desserts. Or the wedding potluck for mom, which seriously could give that buffet a run for its money.)
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)

Re: Food.

[personal profile] kyrielle 2013-08-14 07:48 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I use one of those translucent plastic ones, they don't swab those, they just want them empty. I love those - the ones we use have a nice tight cap that doesn't open when you don't want it to. (And for bonus, I have a super-pretty one that's dark purple with flowering branches on it.)
woggy: A frog, probably of South American vintage (Default)

Re: Food.

[personal profile] woggy 2013-08-14 06:01 pm (UTC)(link)
I tend to eat a lot more processed, prepackaged,restaurant, or otherwise not-homemade food while vacationing. A lot of it is pactical aspects; the chest freezer won't exactly fit in the car, and time and spoons spent preparing meals are ones not used for 'vacation' things.

That said, if we're staying with friends, there's usually at least one meal that we borrow their kitchen for. It's all about usage of available amenities.
kakiphony: Chihuly exhibit at the KIA (Default)

Re: Food.

[personal profile] kakiphony 2013-08-14 06:49 pm (UTC)(link)
When we're on vacation, all notions of being healthy tend to fly out the window. Dessert becomes common and I tend to drink more than is usual for me. (Partly, the up-tick in booze consumption is because any time we take on-the-road vacations we visit breweries and distilleries -- a known hazard for the wife of a barkeep). After about three days, I'm longing for a salad and force my husband to take me someplace with good vegetarian options.

I also tend to drink more coffee on vacation than I normally would. I blame this entirely on spending days with my husband, who is a caffeine addict. Sadly, I also end up drinking not enough water. When we get snappy at one another and have headaches, it finally dawns on us that we're dehydrated and we take steps to remedy it.

We do also try to eat regionally when we're on the road. This is a special treat in shellfish regions (New Orleans will always be Oyster City to me) and the deep south (good collards are seriously, seriously good).

And, as others have mentioned, vacation means restaurants and lots of them. Although we do stay away from fast food. Truthfully, meals are our biggest vacation expense.
mrissa: (Default)

[personal profile] mrissa 2013-08-14 06:08 pm (UTC)(link)
I am on a vacation of sorts too! I am in Lanesboro at a bed and breakfast with Mark for our anniversary. We took a long walk along the Root River today, because, um. What we do when we visit places is go visit their water. Trees are also nice. But "here we are, what shall we do, I know, let's walk by their water" is really one of our very standard things. (Why Mris does not often vacation in the American Southwest, Reason 316.)

I don't think of conventions as vacations because I am required to interact with too many monkeys for it to feel like a break, even if I'm not getting as much writing done as usual (which I usually am not). When I am on vacation, physical exhaustion is fine but emotional exhaustion or feeling overwhelmed is not really the thing.
woggy: A frog, probably of South American vintage (Default)

[personal profile] woggy 2013-08-14 09:25 pm (UTC)(link)
There are many pleasant things about Phoenix. The lack of water is definitely unsettling, though.

(Though I am curious as to what qualifies as 'enough' water to folks, and have this theory that the scales are calibrated very differently depending on which side of the Mississippi River one grew up on)
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)

[personal profile] kyrielle 2013-08-14 10:06 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm curious about your theory. More or less water for those east? I'd think it would depend more on what one grew up with than where?

(I grew up in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and I adore water. There's too much water if it's flooding, but otherwise, how does anyone live in these bizarrely dry places?? Heh.)
woggy: A frog, probably of South American vintage (Default)

[personal profile] woggy 2013-08-14 10:12 pm (UTC)(link)

My theory is that anybody who's grown up in the Great American Desert* is inherently used to a lot less water than folks elsewhere. Not that we don't have rain and snow and rivers, but it's not near as...ubiquitous as it is on the eastern half of the country. And yes, it's a geographic oversimplification, but I've looked at the rainfall charts and it's a difference of, if I recall correctly, about an order of magnitude between where my extended family lives (Michigan, Lower Peninsula, Kalamazoo area) and where I call my native biome (Denver, CO)

*Roughly speaking, from the Mississippi River west to the mountain ranges in CA/OR/WA; the actual coastal parts of the West Coast are, clearly, a different story altogether.

kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)

[personal profile] kyrielle 2013-08-14 10:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Ahhh. Yeah, the Willamette Valley is west of the Cascades, which I think are the range you are thinking of - it goes from high desert to lush watery landscapes there, give or take. (There's also the Coast Range, but that doesn't demarcate as much of a climate change, just makes getting to the coast in winter a bit aggravating.)
woggy: A frog, probably of South American vintage (Default)

[personal profile] woggy 2013-08-14 10:55 pm (UTC)(link)

Yes, the Cascades, precisely, and I believe the relevant range in California is the Sierra Nevada. (I have not ever lived that far west; my long-term habitation has largely been in Denver, with short stints at various times in Las Vegas, Phoenix and the last three years here in Boise (which is still technically desert by definitions of rainfall; it's just a high, cold-ish one)

Edited ('Lag' is not a part of the city name, no matter what fingers say.) 2013-08-14 22:59 (UTC)
kyrielle: A photo of kyrielle, in profile, turned slightly toward the viewer (Default)

[personal profile] kyrielle 2013-08-16 07:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Huh! And today I am linked on Facebook to a lovely page that shows factoids in maps. I have verified _none_ of the factoids but some seem relevant to this - the map of rivers in the US, the map of vegetation in the US, the map of rivers that feed into the Mississippi.... Some are just fascinating to look at. http://twistedsifter.com/2013/08/maps-that-will-help-you-make-sense-of-the-world/ - again, haven't fact-checked or even source-checked their data.
kakiphony: Chihuly exhibit at the KIA (Default)

[personal profile] kakiphony 2013-08-16 04:37 pm (UTC)(link)
As someone who was born and raised where your family is from and recently lived in the Front Range, I think you're right. Frankly, the first summer I visited Colorado it made me cry because the land seemed so dry and brown and just plain sad. (New Mexico did the same thing to me, on an even grander scale. I just couldn't get over the feeling that this is where we sent people to die as we drove through the state. I did like the Los Alamos area, but the desert just devastates me.) I got used to it after a while, but I still feel MUCH happier and more at home in green rolling hills with lakes and rivers every 5-10 miles.)
woggy: A frog, probably of South American vintage (Default)

[personal profile] woggy 2013-08-16 04:56 pm (UTC)(link)

Expressed beautifully and eloquently. Thank you. <3

(Now I'm wondering if there is potential for small-world stories here; not that you'd necessarily know me from elsenet, but perhaps some of my family. Just as a musing-about-things; I know there's a lot of geography and social landscape and so on and so forth)

kakiphony: Chihuly exhibit at the KIA (Default)

[personal profile] kakiphony 2013-08-16 05:15 pm (UTC)(link)
Most of those small-world stories are more likely to involve my husband than me. He has a lot of friends from high school who attended Western Michigan and Michigan State. Whereas I...uh...didn't really have high school friends and fled (to western Mass) after my sophomore year to attend an early admittance college program.

We both actually grew up about 45 minutes south of K-zoo in St. Joseph County. When I do have small-world stories from there, they tend to be from the few years I practiced law and was on the library board there. The only internet connections I have from that area who are fandom/geek related, I met through a HS friend of my husband's -- and I connected with them via bpal of all things!
kakiphony: Chihuly exhibit at the KIA (Default)

[personal profile] kakiphony 2013-08-16 05:17 pm (UTC)(link)
Or are exceedingly tangential through my real life college friend who grew up in Gaylesburg.
woggy: A frog, probably of South American vintage (Default)

[personal profile] woggy 2013-08-16 05:18 pm (UTC)(link)

Ah, oh well. It's still very nice to meet you. :D

elisem: (Default)

[personal profile] elisem 2013-08-17 02:23 pm (UTC)(link)
(Coming in late to say: Yay, BPAL!)
woggy: A frog, probably of South American vintage (Default)

[personal profile] woggy 2013-08-14 09:32 pm (UTC)(link)
I was musing on this myself earlier; the weekend before last was a major convention for me, and while I took nearly a week off of work for it, my brain hadn't really classified it as a vacation.

I think the major reason for it is not that I worked my arse off (as you do, when running conventions), but rather that essentially the entire weekend was spent in professional, get-shit-done mode. By the time Monday evening hit and we were at the Zombie Dog party (which would have been a perfect social cap), I was too sick to properly unwind, and just went home and went to bed.