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Kent Bernhardt: Getting away

My friends on Facebook have been busy this summer.

They’re at the beach and the mountains, sightseeing across the country. Some are even traveling the globe, posting pictures along the way.

I love viewing family photos of these excursions, but I have to admit I’m not very envious.

I visited my daughter in Utah back in May, took a trip to Denver in June, then spent a few days at the beach in early July. I’ve done the airport hustle, the baggage boogie, and the rental rumba all I care to for a while.

I may take a short trip here and there later in the summer, but for the near future I plan to explore a wonderful new cultural phenomenon called the “staycation.”

You may have heard of it. While all of your friends are busy packing their bags and heading to a crowded airport where they will hurriedly eat overpriced food while waiting for a flight that will probably be cancelled, you’re at home trying out some new crockpot recipes, catching up on a few movies you’ve been meaning to see, or checking out a few area antique shops you never seem to have time to visit otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong, I love jumping in the car and just getting away from it all. But sometimes getting away carries a lot of baggage, not to mention cost. There’s a lot to be said for the day trip that’s only a small drain on the budget and allows you to sleep in your own bed at night.

Or simply going nowhere at all.

I’m old enough to remember when family vacations were fewer, a lot less expensive, and just as fun — maybe even a little more so.

When I was growing up, my family took one, maybe two vacations a year. Both usually involved a long drive to the beach, and the norm in those days was a trip that lasted four days and three nights.

We piled as much family as we could in a large “second row” beach house. Oceanfront homes were a bit pricey, so we saved money wherever we could.

You have to remember that money was a little harder to come by in those days, and God hadn’t invented the credit card yet.

Somewhere in the trunk of the car amid the suitcases were a couple of used grocery bags filled with fresh-out-of-the-garden produce; corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and a great big jar of peanut butter and jelly.

During the trip, our family’s best cooks would weave culinary magic in a sparsely furnished kitchen while the rest of us would pitch in by setting the table and doing the dishes. Now that I think about it, each meal was a virtual feast. Food always tastes better at the beach.

Eating out was reserved for one night and one night only, and it usually involved a short drive to a seafood haven called Calabash. This will make you weep, but a large seafood platter in those days might run you about three dollars. The last seafood platter I had took a fourteen dollar bite out of my wallet.

I don’t remember a TV in any of those beach houses. Even if you had one, it had trouble pulling in a decent signal from even the most powerful TV station.

No cable in those days, kids. It was the era of the rabbit ear. We were always twisting and turning them to make the black-and-white picture a little clearer, often with little success.

I recall going to a movie at the beach only once. Dad scooped the kids up one afternoon and took us to see “Lieutenant Robinson Crusoe” with Dick Van Dyke. If it was a Disney flick, the kids always wanted to go.

Most of the days were filled with simply enjoying the beach, a good card game, or simply relaxing to sound of the ocean from the comfort of a rocking chair on a screened-in porch. It was a Mayberry kind of getaway.

There was a point to all of this, but I’ve forgotten what …

Oh yes — simple pleasures are still the best. Vacations, or even staycations, don’t have to be complicated or expensive to accomplish their purpose. And that purpose is to give each of us some much needed time to rest and renew ourselves a bit.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a nap calling my name at the moment. And I don’t even need to make a reservation.

Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.


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