By: Andrew Osterberg

Every summer I am  besieged with vacation photos posted on Facebook from my friends. There they are, jet skiing on a lake in North Carolina, hiking in Colorado and zip lining through forests in West Virginia. Some chose white water rafting in Montana while others preferred biking through California.

As I sit at my computer and nibble on a chocolate chip cookie, I scroll through these pictures and wonder, HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD??? I don’t want to spend my vacation under a blistering sun in the Grand Canyon—I can close my eyes during an intense hot flash and pretend that I’m already there. Jogging six miles around a serene lake in Tennessee? Not unless I’m being chased by a robber or an enraged circus clown, and it won’t be a peaceful jog at that point because I’ll be running for my life.

And why would I want to spend an entire day peddling on a bike path, dodging pebbles and pinecones, while my ass becomes numb on a hard, little seat designed for gnomes?

During the summers of my childhood, my parents transformed into wandering nomads hungry for adventure. This meant cramming ten pounds of crap into a four pound suitcase and being sandwiched between three other sweaty, belligerent teenagers in the back seat of a rental car. It was all fun and games until somebody farted…and my father sadistically kept the windows rolled up just to teach us that  paybacks were hell for our back seat bickering.

Another thing I dreaded about family vacations was my father’s idea of communing with nature, which involved long hikes through mountainous territory with his childen huffing and puffing behind him ( okay, that was just me begging for oxygen ). Sometimes if I got lucky, these strenuous, test-your- endurance type trails involved horseback riding, which was preferable to me since the horse did all the sweaty labor while I sat back in the saddle and did some serious daydreaming.

Even as a child, my curiosity was centered on the contents of the hotel vending machines rather than the colorful brochures depicting sailing, golfing and nature walks.

It was inevitable that my sloth-like attitude would catch up to me as an adult. While others were tubing down water slides or deep sea fishing, I was enjoying a leisurely brunch with nothing on my schedule but a museum tour and a late afternoon nap.  I could only get away with this routine for so many years when some close friends of ours convinced us to rent a cabin for a week in the woods. No television or internet—just a lake and miles of nature trails. I came prepared—a grocery sack full of paperbacks and magazines along with several caseloads of beer and wine. I snuck a few chocolate bars in there as well, in case a menopausal meltdown occurred and I needed an extra calming factor in my day.  My husband learned a long time ago to keep emergency chocolate on hand at all times because a menopausal woman who is hot, thirsty and hungry is harder to deal with than an ornery grizzly bear in Yellowstone Park.

For the most part it was an enjoyable trip. I survived the long trails, the relentless mosquitoes and the pitch black evenings filled with unidentifiable animal sounds. At least I think they were animals…that or some half-man, half-beast shape shifter from a True Blood episode.

It wasn’t until our last, full day in the park that I realized I was woefully inept at outdoor activities. Our friends decided it was a fine day for canoeing, and there was no plausible excuse for me to escape the adventure that my family embraced. EVERYONE had been canoeing at least once in their life…except me, but I’d be damned if I was going to admit it. After all, how hard could it be? I saw a three hundred pound woman rowing down the river in a kayak the day before, so I figured the least I could do was morph into Pocahontas and give canoeing a whirl.

After a clumsy attempt at dragging the canoe down to the river, my daughters and I hopped into the boat and began paddling. Well, they actually did the paddling—I sat in the middle like the queen bee and wondered if beverages were going to be served on our little river excursion. Never mind that there were signs posted along the riverbank with dire warnings: BEWARE OF ALLIGATORS!  And never mind that the combination of weight between the three of us caused the canoe to dip precariously low in the water. Tourists did this every day, so it had to be safe, right?

Ten minutes into our trip, I realized the scenery hadn’t changed much. Same trees, same dock where people awaiting canoes stood snickering at us. Apparently my daughters forgot everything they learned in Canoeing 101 with Mrs. Dellerson in her elementary school gifted class. Our canoe was spinning counterclockwise on the water like a toy sailboat circling a drain. Water began sweeping into the sides, and all I could think of was the sprinting distance between our canoe and dry land (if I could do the Jesus thing), and whether or not I had updated my will to include my pet chinchillas.

Somehow we made it back to shore, and I swore never to sit my fanny in another canoe as long as I lived. Unlike Pocahontas, I’d never see what was just around the river bend. All I cared to see at that moment was the bottom of a beer can once I emptied it of its contents.

A vacation is not about eating like a sparrow and working out like an Olympic hopeful. It’s about sleeping in late on sheets made of Egyptian cotton, or stretching out on a sunny beach with a pina colada in one hand and a bestselling novel in the other. Vacation time means putting your feet up on a porch rail while you sip coffee and watch the world go by. It’s about ordering Maine lobster without looking at the menu price; letting your hands get sticky from a melting ice cream cone or stained pink from cotton candy at a carnival. It’s about catching fireflies and telling ghost stories around a campfire until everyone is too afraid to crawl back into their tents for the evening.

This summer, the only vacation pictures I’ll be posting for friends will be of me lounging in a fold up chair at an outdoor concert or sipping some fruity concoction in a Tiki hut that faces the ocean…and leaving the exercise to an enraged clown and his merry band of gnomes.



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20 thoughts on “VACATION SLOTH”

  1. I JUST had a conversation about this with my husband! He’s always planning elaborate, VERY ACTIVE vacays, which are great. Fine. the kids love it, buuuuuut mama just wants to lay on the beach with a Corona. I can’t wait for the vacay I get to plan. There will be no activities planned.

  2. Oh, I am so with you on this one. Thank goodness my husband is too. Sleeping and eating are our top priorities. It’s a bit tough with the kids being so young right now, but they’re learning…

    1. I promise it gets even easier to be sloth-like once the kids are older. They can entertain themselves or heck, leave ’em home and enjoy some private sloth time with the Hubs!

  3. Why is it that we don’t think our vacation’s been a success unless we come home MORE tired than when we left? If you’re looking for me, I’ll be one cabana over, tall, frosted drink tipping precariously as I gently doze off to sleep. Sloth on Vacation. That’s me, too!

  4. I’m so with you there. Relaxing, reading, preferably in a place with room and maid service. That’s vacation. At least that’s what I keep telling my husband. The motorhome, as nice as it is, still requires me to cook and clean. Therefore not a vacation, just my job somewhere else! =)

  5. Spending time with family is NOT my idea of a fun vacation. It’s a requirement twice a year at Christmas and Thanksgiving. Now, if my family went away on vacation, that would be awesome. I would just sit in one place and smile for a week, wearing one of those hats filled with wine and a straw fused to my mouth.
    I feel ya sister.

  6. I don’t need the adrenalin rush of zip-lining, sky diving, or bungee jumping, but I DO like to see beautiful scenery and I like to take road trips. I try to keep in good enough shape to be able to hike to the places I want when “in nature”. But at home, I am mostly a couch potato.

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