Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Essential Non-Essential Vacation

Sipping on a chilled margarita while relaxing on a beach in Maui. Wondering through the Acropolis in Athens. Gliding on a Gondala through the Swiss Alps. All things I want to do but never have. They're called vacations--an escape from the reality of routine and stress to a destination that offers relaxation, adventure and renewal.

For me, vacations are an essential non-essential. Do I need them like food and shelter?


Do I need them for mental health and excitement?


And, I must admit, I do vacations so well. Yes, they are expensive, but I've learned how to travel like a Hollywood star (well...maybe like an off Broadway star) on a thin wallet. I could actually write a blog about how to do this, but one blog is enough, thank you very much. A few strategies I have used to make sure vacations are part of my life are:

I use my Hilton Honors credit card for everything I purchase from that dark chocolate candy bar that my nagging sweet tooth demands to a dining room set for ten. The points I accumulate pay for luxury stays at plush resorts and quick stop hotels near an airport. I pay off my debt at the end of every month and have record of all my expenses. A win-win for me. Shhhh! Don't tell Mr. Hilton.

I also research the prime seasons for vacation spots and go the week before. Again a win-win. The crowds and costs are reduced, but the weather and accommadtions are ready for tourists. I could go on, but this post is not about cheap travel. It's about sending you a digital post card of the vacation I'm taking with husband, Keith, in the Pacific Northwest, USA--and it's a winner.

Here is why I love vacations:

      I get to pretend I'm in the movies:

Here, I'm Meg Ryan (or was it Tom Hanks) cruising on a ferry
in the Pugent Sound, Seattle, WA

Here, I'm Julie Andrews singing The Sound of Music. It's not
Austria but Mt. Olympic National Park, WA is a fine substitute.
(Always wanted to do that!)

      I get to see natural wonders:

       Wild flower growing next to snow, Mt. Olympic
National Park

Wildlife in its natural habitat.

     I learn things:

     I get to see what I learn about:

Awesome Mt. Rainier

     I get to experience what I learn about:

  Keith and I at Panoramic Point, Mt. Rainier

     I have fun:

Snow Beach,  Mt. Rainier
It was 75 degrees and sunny. The 700+ inches of
snow that fell this past winter hasn't come close
to melting yet.

Keith wants his skis.

     You may learn something new about your spouse:

Keith gets his hiking energy from candy and chips while
I munch on dry shredded wheat and mushy hotel apples.
My husband has the metabolism of a 15-year-old athlete.

You take in sights like this:

Mt. St. Helen's seen from the trail to Mt. Rainier

Hurricane Ridge, Mt. Olympic National Park

How do I feel as I experience this incredible vacation:
      A deep sense of awe at the natural wonders that surround me. Michael Stolis, main character in my soon to be released novel, A Stop in the Park, says it best when he describes how he feels when standing on a mountain top or in front of an ocean:
"Besides their magnificence, they’re where God lives, for me anyway. When I’m in the mountains or a forest, I sense an incredible energy, like I’m safe and cared for. The sounds of a stream flowing over rocks, birds chattering and leaves rustling are symphonic. Even I can unwind in the gentleness of the woods. But when I stand before the ocean, I feel God’s power and strength. The mountains are still, but the ocean is vigorous and its roar is thunderous. I feel like a grain of sand in its presence. No matter how important I think I am, when I’m face to face with the sea, all arrogance washes away."
I also feel gratitude because I am blessed to have the opportunity to experience such grandeur as I journey through this trip called life.

I'd love to hear about your favorite vacation spot whether it's a park close to home or someplace far, far away.
     Since we're talking about traveling, let's go to Ireland. I've never been, but when I visit, I'll be certain to bring along Extraordinary Dreams of  an Ireland Traveler by Rosemary "Mamie' Adkins. The descriptions in this book make me want to hop on a plane to a land of green, quaint town and castles. 

Here's the beginning of the description from Amazon:
Find romance in Ireland while you move back in time learning about a history so compelling.
Learn the locations you should not miss in Ireland and which ones you may want to think about twice.
There are many tours available so come learn which ones are the best for your dollar - Come travel to Ireland with us!


Patsy Cline sings one of my favorite travel love songs, You Belong to Me:


Advice From a Mountain:
 Reach for the sky.
Stay firm and resolute.
Stand straight and tall.
Aspire to your highest dream.
                                      Author Unknown



  1. It sounds like you really know how to travel the right way. I've never traveled abroad, but I have traveled extensively in the U.S. and it's been primarily work-related or trips that are necessary in order to visit family. I don't like to pay to travel--or at least minimally. I too use rewards cards and any money-saving advantage I can find.

    My favorite vacation spot is East Tennessee which is where my mother and much of my family live. We try to get together as much as we can since so many of my family members are scattered across the U.S. I care more about seeing people than I do places.

    Tossing It Out

  2. Hi Arlee ~ Rewards cards, if used wisely, can save a lot of money. Fortunately most of my family lives nearby so I can drive to see them. I've never visited Tennessee, but would love to, especially Nashville. Keith and I are nature junkies so when we travel it's generally to a natural wonder. We certainly live in a beautiful world. ~ Peggy

  3. I live in the Pacific Northwest and get to enjoy the beauty of Mount Rainier on the horizon whenever the weather allows it. However, your blog post reminded me that I need to do more exploring. There's so much beauty nearby! Now that summer is here, it's the perfect time to take day trips to the mountains or the seashore. Thanks for the inspiration!
    By the way, I use a travel rewards card for everything too -- groceries, gasoline, daily incidentals. The miles add up quickly! As you said, the trick is to pay off the card's balance each month. Otherwise, you could get into serious financial trouble.

    1. Hi Sandy,

      What a beautiful part of the country you live in. We are having a great time here.


  4. Cead Mile Failte Peggy and Guest!

    The Emerald Isle-Ireland-is a dream of a lifetime visit. While the Paciific Northwest where I live is so awesome and I never get tired of vacationing, we wanted to adventure overseas to find new friends in another culture. The history as our country is steep but there seems to be a calm with no arrogence even though you can find Castles everywhere-some in a modest setting.
    It seemed to us, Ireland is a laid back society with no particular agenda to hurry about, taking time to welcome their neighbors and visitors from afar.
    We dined in quaint pubs to five star restaurants. Stayed in B&B's to again five star hotels. Entertained while watching the traditional dance and music that still rings in our hearts.
    So why not save your rewards dollars, flight points and travel back in time and get to know another country-step out of your comfort zone and explore!
    Thank you for sharing your vacation in our beautiful Pacific Northwest. Peggy, pack your bags and explore the Atlantic Seas and it's wonders for your next vacation. Thank you for this incredible post.

    Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins

    1. Hi Rosemary,

      I would love to go to Ireland. You make it so enticing. Your book will be a big help. I also love the Pacific Northwest. You live in such a beautiful part of the country. We are having a great time.


  5. How lovely! I'm happy for you. And I love what your character says, especially about the ocean. Wonderful post, wonderfully written. Thank you for sharing.

  6. @ Peggy - "The Essential Non-essential Vacation" is very well-written and put together beautifully. I can tell that you enjoy your chronicals on vacation. It is a wonderful site. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Daron and I do like to share vacation stories. Can you tell I love get-aways.

  7. Good morning Peggy,
    Your pictures remind me so much of Austria and Northern Italy. We go to Italy once every two years to the Northern parts and stay in the mountains. It is absolutly beautiful and we walk up the mountains and even climb some of them. It is amazing how mountain air refreshes and restores me and yes, there is that contact with the Creator that is inexplainable. I love it.

    I have been in Austria in the summer where one can see snow on the mountain top and yet one sits out in a blazing sun and is warm. We stay at a Pension which is a lovely bed and breakfast hotel of a lovely couple that we know and there I sit in a lounge chair and sleep myself healthy.

    So reading your article makes me look forward to our vacation in October. Off to Italy we go to a quiet village in the mountains and I will enjoy it.

    Excellent article, very nice music,(I love Patsy Cline) and very well written.

    1. Hi Patricia,

      Along with Ireland, we want to visit Italy, Austria and Germany. Although I have summers off, my husband can't get more than 1-to-2 weeks off at a time. We need more than that to tour Europe, but are looking forward to it when he retires. Thanks for stopping by.


  8. Great post!
    You Belong To Me is the greatest travel song ever. Pity she is not the one traveling...but that is me reading this wonderful post- wistful.

    1. I love this song too. I know it's meant for a man (love) but I always think of my sons when I hear it--and yes I often get teary. ~ Peggy

  9. You Belong to Me is the greatest travel song ever. She is not the one traveling, but that is all the more apt for me while I read your wonderful post- wistfully.

  10. I am so there with you--especially there with you echoing Julie Andrews (we don't care if it's not Austria)! Thanks for sharing your travels with us--I feel so refreshed now, but I guess I'd better go unpack, so I'll be ready for our next excurson!

    1. Glad you're singing along. And even though it wasn't Austria, Olympic National Park was beautiful! Start Packing!

  11. Love the pics!!
    Always enjoy kicking back with I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. You can read the nomination here:

    1. Thanks so much! I'm honored! I'll do my homework when I get back from vacation.

  12. Thanks for this awesome post, Peggy. I'm reading it while on vacation - at the beach! I love and can relate to the quote from your new book regarding the ocean. I'm also enjoying the contrast - at the beach and viewing the mountains. Although I'm not a mountain person, your pictures make me want to travel there!

    1. Peggi ~ It sounds like a wonderful vacation--the ocean with a view of the mountains. I hope you are having a wonderful time. ~ Peggy

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  14. Nice Photos!
    The hills are alive....!

    A friend from Brasil!

    1. Welcome Raphael. You are my first friend ever from Brasil!

  15. Interesting. I just wrote about grocery shopping in Germany during our family vacation - here 'tis if you're interested. I love vacations. I especially love to see the differences in how people live - but those differences are more evident when you travel abroad. I'm starting to sound like Thurston and Lovey Howell. "I only travel abroad, dahling." Anyway. Enjoyed your post - love the photos of NW U.S. - I haven't been to those states. Hope to visit some day!