Time off work turns into pointless praycation

I just got back from vacation. Or rather, I would have just got back, had I actually gone somewhere. As it were, I spontaneously decided to use vacation days because I would otherwise end up forfeiting them in the near future. It was also the only time no one else on my work team was vacationing. Not the best motivator for vacation.
I was off six days total. Since they were during my kids’ summer vacation, I referred to them as “vacation.” With how things played out, I think “praycation” might be a more accurate description. I was in constant communication with God, as though he were the travel agent personally responsible for my bad tripping. Sound familiar?
My prayers weren’t really prayers, more like the raving demands of someone who has just lost his last quarter in a vending machine that’s refusing to dispense the desired item. Mostly my monologue to The Almighty consisted of variations on “Why me?” and “Why this?” Let me elaborate.
One exciting day of my praycation was devoted to children’s dentist appointments, roughly 40 miles from where we live. Normally, we get excited about our six-month cleanings. They involve travel to a larger city, shopping for non-necessities and lunch at a good restaurant. But because I scheduled the appointments last minute, the only available slots were at 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. We actually got bored stalling for time in-between appointments.
Another riveting day had me working ahead on interviewing and photographing people for feature stories penned for another publication. So I guess that, and the fact that I kept receiving phone calls and emails from my full-time place of employment, made it a working praycation.
Two other days were devoted to other appointments. Ironically, we were unable to make one of the appointments due to a major highway accident. The 40-minute trip for which we had allotted one hour of travel time became more like 40 years of circling a desert mountain. When we finally reached our destination, we had to reschedule. Fortunately, we managed to have an especially good lunch.
One day was spent at home, tackling undone household projects and the vacuuming, laundry, lawn mowing and scratch-cooking there’s rarely time for anymore. I also got to hit the gym during the daytime, when it’s far less crowded and doesn’t stink as much. Being able to putter made it the best day for me.
The day that was supposed to be the best was our Cedar Point trip, although I knew the amusement park would have difficulty competing with my youthful memories of it. And not just because my parents had financed those trips.
I was 10 when I first encountered Cedar Point, ventured to aboard a school bus. My mother was a faculty advisor for her high school’s Class of 1974 and took us and my father along to help chaperone the senior trip. Highlight of the trip for my Dad was playing Euchre with the senior boys on the way there.
I Cedar-Pointed annually for several subsequent years on community bus trips. Revisiting last week, I discovered all that had changed was the park had become an even slicker tourist trap. From $15 parking, to the $10 “free refill” beverage cups you then had to lug around with you the rest of the day, to the “opportunity” to purchase souvenir photos memorializing you screaming your fool head off on death-defying roller coasters, the experience was constantly separating patrons from their cash. What’s next? Toilet paper sold by the square?
The weather trumped our trip. Periodic cloudbursts regularly disabled rides. We wasted precious time aimlessly wandering in search of operational ones, safety be damned! The only thing more frustrating than waiting forever in a long line is waiting forever in a long line to a ride that closes just as you are about to board it.
While I loved the high and steep roller coasters, the ones designed to whip the crap out of people destroyed my equilibrium. I didn’t puke only because I couldn’t afford to buy one of the barf bags sold near the ride’s exit. Instead, I prayed my next praycation leaves me feeling less preyed upon.


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