Monday, June 23, 2008

Goin' on Staycation...

In a couple weeks, I get to take the first of my two weeks vacation for this year. For a week, I won’t have to get up at 2:30AM, I won’t have to swelter in a 100-degree dungeon surrounded by screaming machinery and the foul stench of hydraulic fluid, rotten milk, and diesel fumes, I won’t have to shout to be heard, and I won’t have to spend 8 hours a day wanting to beat a co-worker to death with a milk crate.

Where will I go on my vacation?

Will I go to the tourist Mecca of Orlando to follow the herds through the Disney and Universal Studios attractions? Will I go to Scotland and hike the Highlands like I’ve always dreamed? Will I bask in the sun on the white sands of a beach on Maui? Will I wrestle a kangaroo in the Australian Outback? Will I go back up to Maine and nibble on lobster as I watch the moose trample by?

Nope. I’m going on Staycation.

A what?

A staycation, according to several definition sources, is where one stays in the immediate vicinity of one’s home on holidays, ostensibly to just relax at home or to enjoy the sights and scenes in the local area that one may overlook during the year. I hasten to add to that & expand it to mean that the economy is so screwed that people just can’t afford to go anywhere or do much of anything that isn’t pretty cheap.

If I were to fly to Maine for a week in August, the flight (according to a quick check of Travelocity and the Roaming Gnome) could be done two ways. If we went from Charleston, SC to Bangor, ME it’s $729.00 per person, but if we went out of Atlanta (a six-hour drive) and flew into Boston (4 ½ hours from Bangor) it’s only $256.00 per person. By the same token, I checked directly with Delta’s website and it’s $757.00 per person to go Charleston to Bangor, and $228.00 from Atlanta to Boston. Now factor in a thousand dollars for the local-owned hotel (not even a name-brand hotel…those were $1400.00), and we’d need a car rental too. Call that $270.00 at Budget for the smallest thing on wheels.

Now, you have to show up 3 or 4 hours early for the strip search and shoe exam and retina scan and ID check for 5 forms of ID, and then you still get jacked extra money on top of your tickets for surcharges like aisle seat, window seat, or for having checked baggage. And you can only carry an eye-dropper full of any liquids in your carry-on bag. Forget about getting a snack or anything for free, either. Peanuts were outlawed in the Great Nut Allergy Crisis of the 1990’s, and possession of a nut or nut by-product is tantamount to smuggling a WMD onto the plane to murder all 300 passengers who may be allergic to nuts.

Conversely, the 1100 or so miles to Bangor from my place in Walterboro would take about 3 tanks of gas in our Saturn ION, with 13 gallons at $4.00 a gallon being $52.00 a tank for $156.00 in gas to drive the 18 hours up there, and about $40.00 in road & bridge tolls. Looks like it’d be cheaper to drive to Maine and spend 36 hours in the car.

And y’know, a week toodling around the coast of Maine (another tank or two) is still cheaper by far than dropping $71.00 a person for a single day pass to Disney (and another $71.00 to do Epcot), and $68.00 for Sea World, although Sea World has a special Flex Plan that allows you admission to six parks, including Busch Gardens and Universal Studios in addition to Sea World, for $280.00. Parking will cost another twenty or so bucks at each park. By comparison, Carowinds is a steal at 36 bucks a pop and 10 bucks to park if you buy the tickets online.

Oh, crap….you still have to EAT too. If you don’t mind bagels and fruit, you can scavenge at the hotel lobby before 9:00 to take care of breakfast, but call it three squares a day out on the town. Cha-CHING!

So, I’m staying home. Target shooting in the back yard is $13.00 for a box of 50 rounds of .45 caliber ammunition. A drive to the beach and back will cost me lunch and maybe ¼ tank of gas. A matinee at a movie isn’t so much providing you don’t partake of the $10.00 Jujube’s, $20.00 Coke, and $30.00 popcorn. I’ll sleep in. Sleeping in, well, that’s utterly priceless in and of itself, that rare commodity that I shall indulge in most decadently.

Actually, I oversimplify things. My stepson will be visiting from Arizona for the week, and we’ll be doing all sorts of things with him, including a day at the beach, a day at the movies, and possibly a trip to the zoo. But there’s always that other week I have stored up…

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