I have been on vacation the last week, which meant I spent the previous three weeks at work preparing to go on that vacation. 🙂 All in all, it was much needed. It represented the first family vacation we've taken since I was still in the Air Force (and I separated in 1999). We've taken a couple of days here or there or I've taken a week off to take care of personal things, but we finally did the week long, get away from everything vacation.
Our vacation was fairly inexpensive. We spent a week at Myrtle Beach, SC, at my mother-in-law's house. I admit this is a great convenience because Myrtle Beach is certainly a vacation location and not having to splurge on hotel and being able to minimize other expenses like food was great. But I think the most important thing was the time away and the time to destress. Given that, just about anywhere with some reasonable accomodations and some things to do (and even small towns nearby always have historical buildings, camping sites, trails, etc.) can be satisfactory as a vacation. It's all about the time.
Time away is something we often forget about. In the heat of working on projects, trying to meet deadlines, etc., it is very easy to lose perspective. Getting away, even for as short a time as a week, allows us to regain that perspective. In addition, as work pressures continue to mount, it's often hard to destress. What that means is we become more and more "worked up" to where even a small thing can cause us to come apart. Getting away, doing something else that we consider fun, and staying away from anything work related helps us to recuperate and, again, put things in perspective. This was a topic my pastor and I were discussing last night after our church's elders meeting. His point was that if you don't take time to get away, you're like a watermelon that's growing in size and eventually something trivial is going to set you off. We all know this to be true, but in the heat of work, we try to shove it to the side saying we'll always make time later before it gets "too bad."
This is why it's so necessary just to get away from anything work related. I had considered working on the MySQL DBA exams for 5.0 during my vacation but ultimately I left the book at home. Studying and stressing over certification exams would have counteracted the whole reason for taking a vacation in the first place. I still need to do them, but they could and did wait until after the vacation was over. I had also considered taking a few things that need to get looked at from work, and indeed I did carry them with me (not the brightest idea), but thinking about the reason for being on vacation, I wisely left them untouched. I have enough time to deal with them this week, so I shouldn't have taken them last week. Lesson learned for the next time.
On a closing note, MagiQuest in Myrtle Beach is a nice family outing. While it's basically an elaborate scavenger hunt at first, it's simple enough for older elementary school children to understand and enjoy but still engaging enough for the adults (especially when you get to the adventures, which require some deduction), whether the adults are chaperoning or participating themselves. Wear some comfortable athletic shoes, though.