Column: Enjoying our mini vacations

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My wife Jeanne and I have been talking about taking a vacation for more than a year now. Somehow, however, it has never gotten past the talking phase. Many reasons, I guess. Mostly, “lacka.” You know, lacka time, lacka money, lacka motivation.

We were talking about this the other day and realized that what we have been doing instead is taking mini vacations. I’m not talking about weekend trips to here and there – although talk about things we could do over the weekend in Chicago have intensified recently.

Our mini vacations, it turns out, are trips to the store, to church, across town to visit family. They seldom take more than a couple hours but are filled with all the primary ingredients of an extended vacation.

For example, lunch at a dockside café on Geist Reservoir has many of the same flavorings as a seaside stretch in New England or a wharfside resort in Milwaukee.

A quick trip to the grocery store the other day was filled with the same awe and wonder of a foliage parade in Vermont. Our trees are every bit as colorful as theirs. And, not counting the cost of the groceries, it only cost about 75 cents in gas and wear and tear on the car.

We’ve attended mass in different churches around the metro area recently, and noticed the altars, pews and stained glass revealed artisan beauty akin to the great cathedrals of the world. With the added plus that the services were in English.

Dinner at a local downtown restaurant was reminiscent of the delectable cuisine lauded by Frommer’s Guide to dining in Paris or Stockholm.  A lazy drive through our neighborhood offered as much architectural pleasure as a carriage ride through the streets of Savannah.

Altogether, we’ve taken about 20 mini vacations already this fall, and we are busy planning others. A one-hour drive to Kokomo will provide vistas of some of the most beautiful farm fields and woodlots in the world – beauty to rival Canada’s finest. Besides, my favorite aunt lives in Kokomo, and we can take her to lunch with the same enthusiasm we would in Moscow or San Francisco – and with a much smaller tab at the end of the day.

There are other joys to the vacation mini persuasion. We don’t have to learn a foreign language or bone up on strange traffic laws. No poring over confusing street maps. Anything we buy doesn’t have to clear customs before lugging it home.

And, if the weather is rotten, we can always stay at home. We lacka very little there.


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