Summer vacations should be on everyone’s must-do lists every year. No questions asked, no arguments, and no excuses, you simply need to make this a part of your annual planning and budgeting process. Time will go by and every time you decide to skip a vacation, it will be a missed opportunity that will be hard to make up, especially as you get older.
In a September 2018 article on Activebeat.com titled “8 Reasons Why Vacations Are Necessary For Your Health,” writer Lauren MacDonald lists the following health benefits from going on vacation:
1. Relieve Stress
2. Clear Your Head
3. Build Your Immune System
4. Lower Risk of Heart Disease
5. Increased Happiness
6. Better Quality of Sleep
7. Improved Family Health
8. Rejuvenate Your Body
Which do you like more? Adventure vacations or just chilling out? A little of both? Family fun or a romantic getaway? Sometimes you just have to do nothing. Just find a quiet place with no noise, no digital devices, no anything. Basically, just unplug from the world. All have their place, and all are a necessary part of living a fulfilling and meaningful life.
I just returned from a week on Long Beach Island, N.J., with my wife, Heidi, and youngest son Ryan visiting good friends Donna and Glenn DeStefano. Before that I spent 12 days in Sun Valley, Idaho. I am relaxed and recharged and ready for the new school year. Quality time with family and friends is priceless and the memories made are irreplaceable.
While I was in Sun Valley primarily to teach hockey camp, I got my fill of rest and relaxation and adventure especially while whitewater rafting, or rather, in my case, whitewater swimming. I managed to get tossed twice out of my kayak in the first 15 minutes. When I ended up with the kayak sitting on top of my head as I floated down the Salmon River, I knew it was time to give up the quest and join some of the others in the relative safety of the bigger raft. I ended up with a bruised elbow and shin and a few cuts on my ear, but mostly I had a bruised ego for getting tossed around like a wet noodle. The rest of the whitewater trip was still adventure-filled, but a lot more my speed.
I also enjoyed an amazing day with long-time friends and current Boise residents Lydia and Dave Grimm at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.
It was one of the most spectacular sites I have ever seen and I would recommend the side trip to anyone visiting that part of the country. The landscape of lava flows, cinder cones and caves to explore is awesome. It was a day of hiking, exploration and catching up with great friends.
Another relaxing highlight of the Idaho trip was watching a meteor shower and the International Space Station fly overhead while sitting in the Ketchum warm springs at 11 p.m. and drinking a few cold beers. Central Idaho is one of a select few areas recognized as a dark sky reserve in the United States and the view of the stars was spectacular.
A week later it was off to the Jersey shore. I absolutely love the beach. There is something so therapeutic about it. The sunshine on your face, the gentle breeze blowing across the sand, the rhythmic sound of waves crashing, and the people watching. I love sitting in a beach chair with a good book or listening to a podcast or relaxing music while staring off into the ocean.
Our vacation actually started with a trip to Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J. to watch the final round of The Northern Trust golf tournament, the first part of the PGA’s FedEx Cup Playoffs. Given that my son Ryan and I are avid golf fans, it was a wonderful day seeing the greatest golfers in the world up close and personal. A special highlight was Ryan giving five to Rory McElroy after Rory made a birdie and as he walked off the green. We were at the 18th green to see “Captain America” Patrick Reed sink the winning putt.
While at The Northern Trust, we were standing at the 18th green waiting for the last few groups and I struck up a conversation with three couples standing next to us. Turns out we were all from my hometown of Pittsburgh (Penn Hills, Monroeville, Fox Chapel, and Mt. Lebanon). What were the odds?
A special thanks to great friends Donna and Glenn Destefano for hosting us at Donna’s she-shed by the seashore in Long Beach Island. Talk about relaxing: besides our time at the beach we fished off the boat dock with a cup of coffee in the morning and a Guinness just before dinner. We snuck in a round of real golf, played five mini-golf courses, we played card games, and did the tourist thing hiking up the Barnegat Lighthouse.
This will probably be the last time I get to body surf and throw a football at the Jersey beach with a teenage Battista as Ryan is 19. Brings back so many great memories of times in Sea Isle City, N.J. as our kids were growing up.
When I began writing this column, I had no intention of writing about my and Heidi’s 30th wedding anniversary, which took place on Aug. 12. However, when we returned from the beach, our daughter had organized a surprise anniversary party for us complete with a visit from our son Jonathon from California. It was the perfect ending to a terrific vacation. Seeing friends and others who traveled from some distances to surprise us (including my parents and two of my best friends from my childhood) made it even more special.
The traditional summer vacation season is coming to an end but it’s not too late. If you can swing it, even for a long weekend, get up to a lake, head to the beach, find a cabin in the woods, go visit an old friend, or just find anything to unwind and recharge.
For my family and me, we are rested and ready for new adventures. Penn State football, basketball and hockey are all just around the corner!
So, do yourself a favor and don’t skip out on a chance to get away for a little time during the summer. It will leave you refreshed, recharged and ready for action.