With gasoline prices still steep, many folks must skip the traditional summer driving vacation to some faraway marvel such as the Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore or Grandma’s house.

There’s always plenty to do closer to home, of course. All areas of the country have their natural wonders and hidden waterholes and Giant Balls of Twine.

But let’s talk really close to home. You can take a mini-vacation without ever getting in your car. A stroll around the neighborhood can feel like a real get-away-from-it-all if you’re in the right frame of mind. Relax and take your time and find a new way to look at the world. If you can think on a smaller scale, your typical suburb becomes a Japanese bonsai garden, carefully designed to please the eye. It helps if you’ve been taking cold medicine.

Here, then, is a little pamphlet I made up:


Trails are easy unless otherwise indicated. All water is potable except that slimy bucket by the patio. Hikers are warned that a large, floppy dog inhabits the premises; all food should be kept in sealed containers. Also, a big bearded guy sometimes comes out and yells at trespassers, but he’s harmless.

Fig Tree Outlook Trail: An easy hike, but not to be attempted in bare feet because of an expanse of hot concrete driveway. The reward at the end of this walk is a weedy pocket garden with a shredded bark floor. At its center stands a symbol of hope, a small fig tree that’s been in the process of dying for one year. Spectacular.

Transverse Trail: This short stroll can be challenging because of a stretch of thick, sodden lawn. Uphill a few steps, then a slippery downslope the rest of the way, past the Impenetrable Lantana Jungle and the Tangled Trees of Lower Front Yard to the safety of the sidewalk.

Around Back Trail: This strenuous hike involves a couple of squeaky gates and a variety of tricky surfaces, so it’s not for the faint of heart or the bare of foot. For those intrepid enough to tackle it, many mysteries are revealed along the way, including the bloodlike Drips of Red Paint that accidentally got on the sidewalk that time. Past the looming Basketball Hoop stretch the Inexplicable Plains of Sharp Gravel, which cannot be traversed without shoes. Beyond another squeaky gate lies the real prize, a burbling waterfall and scenic pool. (Swimming not recommended -- Department of Health)

“Up Your Berm” Trail: The most strenuous hike on the property, this risky path goes up a steep berm covered in landscaping bark and the occasional decorative boulder. Not to be attempted in sandals. If you can manage it, however, it’s only a few strides before you reach the magnificent Great Wall of Suburbia, a gray concrete marvel that only the tallest of men can see over without a ladder. Beyond that wall, a majestic view of the next subdivision.

As you can see, the world is filled with many wonders, if you set your sights low enough. I urge my fellow armchair travelers and computer addicts to get up and go outside once in a while. Take a fond look at the world around you.

Plan your hikes carefully, and you can be back under the air conditioning before you break a sweat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post, horseshit title. "Staycation" is the clumsiest, ugliest neologism to elbow its way into American popular culture since, well, maybe ever.