One month ago my husband and I were in New York, New York. I can now honestly say a more accurate lyric has never been penned, because truly, the city never sleeps.
Not so much as a micro nap or quick nod off in the back row.
It is constant and thrumming and alive. It is crowds, taxis, honking, bustling streets and towering buildings. It is vendors and barkers on corners. It is an uninterrupted stream of people and cacophony and sirens and lights and sights and stores and illuminations to dazzle and dizzy the senses. It is ginormous meets Liberace. It is the phantasmagoria of every imagination with everyone invited to one sensational party. And everyone is dashing in haste to arrive and indulge.
We were hustled along in the throngs at Times Square, Herold Square, down 5th Avenue and around Rockefeller Center. We gawked in awe at the 30,000 LED lights on the famous tree and we admired the grandeur of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We were entertained at prominent theatres by acclaimed movie stars and savored five-star cuisines, but never once were we able to see a star shining overhead.
In fact, it is the other side of the world from my little home town burg of Spring Valley.
I fancied the trip to New York my husband gave me for Christmas. I delighted in seeing James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson. I never imagined I would see Al Pacino within touching distance. Who wouldn’t dig that? It was an extraordinary experience.
But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, so, we boarded our plane and headed back to the land of 10,000 lakes.
As we drove into our driveway, I came to really understand that there is no place like home, silence is golden, and perhaps this country girl is a bit rustic for city living. Perhaps my little town blues will never fully melt away even in my new 55906 zip code. I unpacked my overfilled suitcase, poured two glasses of homemade wine and relaxed with my better half. This vacation had worn me out.
“Honey,” I said to my husband Mark, snuggling into him. “Next time we travel we should go to some remote, unpopulated, rural setting. Lots of trees and open skies, bubbling brooks and wildlife…well, wild life in the non-city sense of the word. Whattya say?”
I got no reply. He, unlike the Big Apple, slept.
I day dreamed.
My reverie was about a trip that would rejuvenate, refresh and reinvigorate the senses. An off the beaten path backwoods little paradise, where hiking for hiking sake is the sole purpose. No agenda. No mad rush to get to one extravagant destination or another. No heels, no dress clothes, no make-up, no hairspray. No fancy accommodations and room service, just nature, a tent and a sleeping bag, the double burner propane stove and hiking shoes. Oh, and bug spray. It’s a trade-off I am surprisingly comfortable with—swarming people for swarming insects.
We’ve been on camping trips before. They are on the top of my list of “vacations that rocked.” The laid back feel and relaxation and freedom are second to none. Hit the road and go. It’s that simple.
First picking the destination…and since Mark was sleeping, there was no harm in contemplating where in my mind I would choose to pitch the tent. Right?
We are crazy for Oahu’s Diamond Head Park where hiking an hour up the side of an extinct volcano is surreal and the views spectacular. Olympic National Park in the Pacific Northwest tops our list with trees so tall one can only wonder in amazement. Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky was too incredible for words and the miles and miles of hiking at Devil’s Lake State Park in Wisconsin left us breathless. We hope to return to these locations sometime again, but I was thinking of exploring some unfamiliar territory, some unknown neck-of-the-wood was waiting for us to traverse.
I am far too comfy to get up from the sofa and fetch a map or laptop, so out comes my mental bucket list and I begin to ponder.
I’ve heard Maine is lovely. Never been and light houses are cool. Check.
Last month a co-worker suggested Glacier National Park. Check.
Vermont. Like the name and they make good maple syrup. Wonder if it’s as good as ours? This could be the way to find out. Check.
Georgia. My daughter and son-in-law live there. Bonus—we could toss in a visit. Check.
I needed Google.
I studied Maine first and their many park offerings bragging about rugged coastlines and hiking trails, great camping, beaches and shelling. The reviews were favorable and many mentioned the peace and quiet and light houses. The Bay of Fundy caught my eye with whale watching and high tides. Nifty and something you don’t see in Spring Valley…or Rochester for that matter. I put it on the list.
Next I looked into Glacier National Park. Wow, 700 miles of hiking trails, biking, camping, grizzly bears and mountain goats and photographic views that seemed to go on forever and ever. A real must-see I decided. I penciled it on the list as well. Wait, grizzly bears?
Vermont. Sigh. I had spied the breathtaking and beautiful Burton Island State Park. Not only rich with history, but, I see it can only be accessed by a ten minute ferry ride. Talk about secluded and away from the city! Stunning and fits my criteria. Another one makes the list.
Georgia was now on my mind. I learned there are 63 state parks and 12 national parks and historic sites from which to choose. I am winding down. My eyes are blurring but I must go on. I choose the link that brags ‘The Best of Georgia State Parks’ and read on. I can select from the best waterfall. The best stop for civil war history, best unsolved mystery, best place to spot an alligator—no thank you, and the best reality check on Tara.
I took that as a sign and decide that like Scarlet O’Hara, ‘I would think about this tomorrow.’
Or maybe I’d just put the names in a hat and may the best national or state park be drawn.
What was certain was come next summer we would take a trip and commune with nature. Our tent, Coleman stove, propane lantern and cooler were at the ready in the garage. The double sleeping bag was ready to go in the front closet. Grab a deck of cards, a swim suit, and a change of clothes and off we’d go. Mark, ever the prepared boy scout, had maps, a compass, a Swiss Army knife and extra rope on hand. All we needed were some hot dogs and marshmallows.
Then I thought about our new stone outdoor fireplace in the backyard that would cook hot dogs and marshmallows with no more than a hike to the back patio. We could pitch the tent in the side yard and wake up to song birds chirping and whitetail deer 5 feet away and make coffee in a state of the art kitchen.
I guess I’d add the back yard onto the list to be dropped into the hat. After all, there is no place like home.