Is there anything more depressing than the trip home from the airport when you’ve just arrived back from a vacation? Besides the likelihood that I’m jet-lagged—and the fact that my homecomings always seem to coincide with midnight and rainstorms—for me, this leg of a trip marks the beginning of what friends have termed my “post-trip depression” period: two weeks of grouchiness characterized by statements like, “I think I want to move to [insert most recent destination here].”
I grew up in Florida so it’s only natural that I was born with an innate love of bone-chilling, heart-pounding, hair-raising amusement-park thrills. But like most junkies, I eventually tired of the same old thing and went in search of new kicks. This is how I became obsessed with America’s weirdest theme parks. Check out my top five picks below.
5) The Holy Land Experience - This theme park is a Vegas-style miniature version of certain sights in Israel. It boasts Judeo-Christian “thrills” such as the world’s largest indoor model of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea Scrolls cave, and a faux-Jerusalem street market. But there are no rides, making this park lower on my list.
4) Dollywood – America’s favorite buxom blonde has her own amusement park and it’s a knee-slappin’, foot stompin’ good time. Only at Dollywood could you enjoy a sawmill-themed roller coaster, watch an “artisan” make soap, and then top off the day with some delicious meat on a stick. Dollywood is jolly good, y’all.
Richard Louv coined the phrase Nature Deficit Disorder in his book LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS and ever since I read about it, I’ve been thinking about how the majority of us are nature deprived; and as a result, in some way, suffering. How many times are you outside walking about but barely taking in the world around you? Have we forgotten how to truly see? Louv claims that in really seeing, and more importantly in experiencing and interacting with, nature we are more able to deal with the troubles that life hurls our way. He links ADD and ADHD among other symptoms that can be healed through more interaction with nature.
I got to thinking about how our vacations are our time (especially as adults) to stop and sniff the roses. It’s how we recharge. But how many of us return from vacations exhausted? So my question is, are we getting that time? And Louv would contend that this issue is critical when we look at how families vacation because we must teach our children to embrace nature. For if we don’t, they will never develop an appreciation for and a commitment to nature. Without that, our environmental stewards will die off within just a few generations and the outlook for the world will be bleak.
I polled Travelocity’s travelers and asked them about how they spend time on family vacations to see what has changed over the past several generations. Here are the highlights of what I found.
Photo thanks to IgoUgo member Caromeow
Let’s say you get the flu as soon as you step out onto the beach. Or, your romantic hotel room is right next to a family with screaming toddlers. Often, you can find hidden opportunities in these small tragedies. Maybe the flu that keeps you inside also keeps you from getting sunburned like the rest of your family. Or, the screaming toddlers later befriend you in the hotel pool and you spend a giggle-filled afternoon seeing the world through their eyes.
Just over three weeks ago, my friend Brooke and I set out from Denver for a Vail vacation. Brooke and I have known each other since college at U of M, and we spent much of the nighttime Rocky Mountain drive catching up with one another. One minute, we were laughing and reminiscing, and the next minute we hit a spot of black ice, lost control of the car, smashed into the left guardrail, spun across the interstate in circles, got hit by two other cars, and finally landed front impact in a snow bank. We were stunned, terrified, badly banged up and bruised, and very lucky to be alive.
Obviously, this wasn’t supposed to happen.
With almost two-thirds of all Americans living in a household with a pet, it’s no surprise that our furballs are taking to the roads, skies, and seas in increasing numbers. And since Americans are projected to spend over $40 billion on their four-legged friends in 2007, pet travel is going beyond being just a niche industry.
The appeals of traveling with a pet are many. You don’t have to hire a dog-walker or kennel and worry that they’re getting enough exercise and play time. Bring a dog out on the beach, hiking through the woods, or even on an afternoon kayak excursion, and their spirit of adventure is infectious.
Photo of Hector the Dog courtesy of Eric Eisen.