"Babies don't need a vacation, but I still see them at the beach. It pisses me off! I'll go over to a little baby and say 'What are you doing here? You haven't worked a day in your life!'" - Steven Wright
"Honestly if I get a vacation I'm gonna go and sit on my couch in New York cause that's the one place I haven't been for a very long time." - Matt Damon
If you had all expenses taken care of for a vacation, where would you go? The beach? The mountains? Your couch?
I had the opportunity to consider that question, all but the "all expenses paid" part anyway, yesterday. I own one of the point-based timeshares, you see. Once a year I'm awarded my annual distribution of points, which are added to the previous two years' points that I haven't used yet, and on that date the third year back's points disappear if I haven't used them.
I always try to use them.
It's a fairly large network of facilities, both company-owned and affiliated, so the problem is really one of selection. Well, that, and transportation--by the time we take a vacation this year I wouldn't be surprised for airlines to be charging extra for the air you breathe, and so I like to drive, which limits how far away we can choose. Year before last I used the points to stay in Orlando for a grand week of fun as the family spent entire bucketfuls of money at the amusement parks. We've also used the points for luxurious stays in Destin, FL, and Las Vegas, to name a few. Snark aside, they're really rather nice places, though I'll leave the debate over whether it's worth what I paid for it initially to someone else.
Anyway--where to? Trust me, I often fantasize about sitting on a beautiful white sand beach sipping an adult beverage while writing on my laptop. I promised that I'd actually do that last year on the trip to Bermuda, in fact, and I surely would have finally achieved that fantasy if not for the pesky scooter accident that turned a vacation into hell. Then again, when I really think about it I'm not sure it's such a good idea anyway. The sun makes it hard to see a laptop screen, for one thing, and my pasty-white skin becomes one big burnt freckle if I sit out for too long, for another.
So, discounting the "we have a beach here" argument as I did, I looked through the rather long list of continental possibilities as I poked into each location's story. There's a resort that accepts my points in New Orleans--both Big and Easy, and fun, fun, fun! Anyplace where you need to keep a regular cash wad and a mugger cash wad is totally awesome. But no, that place pisses me off--in New Orleans even the dogs are better musicians than me.
There's another resort right down the road from us here at Williamsburg, near the colonial area as well as Busch Gardens, and if I were much of an amusement park fan (which I'm not) and if I were willing to spend the points to pack up and drive an hour away from home to spend the night less than a hundred miles away from my comfy bed (which I'm still not) I'd consider it strongly.
That said, there are two in nearby Missouri, one in Branson and one right up in the beautiful Ozarks. The one in the Ozarks is on a lake, too, a fact I keenly drew from the fact that it's called the "Lake of the Ozarks" resort. Well, that, and it's got several pictures of a lake. And trees. And trees beside a lake. What's better than trees beside a lake, hmm? The resort in Branson has been tempting me since I heard of it; I've never been to the town but I've heard it's insanely fun. The resort page says it's the "Live Entertainment Capital of the World," and since resort pages are never guilty of hubris, it must be.
It does make me wonder where the Dead Entertainment Capital of the World is, but maybe that's just because I ate spicy soup for lunch.
There's a resort out in the middle of Texas, to take advantage of--um--something. Its page boasts that it offers access to "the hill country" which conjures mental images of--well, of hills. Unfortunately hills, to me, really aren't all that special. And just a little north there's one in Oklahoma on the shore of Grand Lake O' The Cherokees. It claims to have the best bass fishing in the state, and though "bass fishing" isn't something I typically think of when I think of Oklahoma, I'm sure it's not just OK (yeah, you're right, that was bad, but no, I couldn't resist).
There are three affiliate resorts in Tennessee, one in Nashville (ooh, the Grand Ole' Opry!), one right close to Knoxville (and Dollywood!--c'mon, try to say that without injecting Dolly Parton's rising-finish inflection, I dare ya), and one that's--well, it's in a large glade somewhere. It has pretty pictures of trees on its page. Granted, all the resorts have pretty pictures of trees on their pages, but this one has more pretty pictures of trees, which either means that they have more pretty trees or fewer other interesting things to photograph. Or, possibly, both.
That said, I remember one long Labor Day weekend while stationed at Ft. Benning when I and a few friends drove up to the Smokies. That was awesome. Cold, but awesome. One of my all-time favorite pictures that I've taken, I took there, looking out from the top of a mountain over a series of valleys that were covered in white puffy fog. It's apparently how that mountain range got its name, but aside from that mundane point of mundaneness, it's really an incredibly beautiful thing to behold.
I now have a reservation at the resort in the Smoky Mountains. And hey, it's also close to Dollywood (nope, still can't say it in a normal voice).
So--now that I've given you plenty of time to think about it, where's your ideal vacation spot?