Friday, 2 July 2010

WHY NOT HAVE A "STAYCATION?"


Many of us have been told by our teachers to write essays on what we did on our summer vacations when we returned to school. For some students, it was an easy essay to write. Others, myself included, didn't have much to tell. In my case, Dad spent much of his pay cheque on booze and Mom was too poor to travel anywhere.

Is it so wrong to stay home and enjoy two whole months of indolence? In my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I related stories of doing unremarkable-but enjoyable things such as listening to all the ground-breaking hits of 1966 on my new transistor radio. In fact, my father bought it for me because I wore down his Volkswagon's battery from listening to his car radio for hours at a time. I can recall the excitement I felt when distant TV stations from America came in on our set without the aid of satellite or cable. Even the thunder storms were exciting spectacles for my sisters, my brother, and me to watch. Being children, we could have fun even without technology.

Though I didn't mention much about what I did during the summers of my adulthood in my upcoming How I Was Razed memoir, I did go on what some call a "staycation" on many of my holidays from work. During my 1983 vacation, for example, I decided to visit as many local attractions in Edmonton as I could afford. One of those was the Muttart conservatory, four glass pyramid-shaped greenhouses containing plants from around the world. There was one pyramid for tropical species, one for desert plants, a third for temperate flora, and a fourth which contained various flowers. I brought my new 35mm camera and took plenty of photos while there.

Staycations are even more fun when a friend comes from another country. Mike, who lives in Oregon, visited me in July of 1994. One of the places we went to was the Space and Science Centre, as it was known then, Edmonton's planetarium. Through my connections with the venue's music composer, Donovan Reimer, Mike and I were privileged to see equipment and facilities that were off limits to the public.

West Edmonton Mall was also an excellent place that Mike and I visited. My friend especially wanted to see the dolphins and ride the submarines. Though we enjoyed the other attractions, our jaws dropped when we learned from the ticket sales lady how much it would cost to use the water park. The water slides and artificial waves enticed us but we didn't want to spend all day there.

Mike noticed a local indoor swimming pool as we passed a shopping mall near my home and we visited it the next day. I think we had just as much fun there as we would have had in the expensive water park.

Good times can even be had for no cost for both children and adults. Whether it was exploring the local creek as a child or the river valley as an adult, I have spent many hours exploring as well as appreciating nature without spending a penny.

It is a wonderful experience to visit distant lands such as Mexico, Russia, and Trinidad, which I wrote about in my upcoming How I Was Razed memoir, but there are many fascinating local attractions just waiting to be seen and enjoyed. In these times of economic hardship, it only makes sense to get the most value for the least amount of money. Since municipalities work so hard to attract out-of-town visitors, you and your family will also benefit from visiting local attractions.

Some people use books as a way to fill the long lazy days of summer. My When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoirs are filled with interesting and poignant vignettes, many of which have been posted on this blog. I have also posted them on Wordpress. Blurbs describing my books are on the InScribe Writers Group page.