I finally get a vacation! What the heck should I do?

Trestle Trail Sunset

Guess what I get this month? A two-week vacation!

That’s right—I get a vacation for the first time in nearly eight years.

Sure, I took a week off for RAGBRAI in 2015, but riding a bike nearly 500 miles across a state in seven days is not something I consider a vacation—especially when riding a hybrid. And though I go on short trips every now and then, I am always doing work when I can, always cleaning out the journal inboxes so work does not pile up. The type of vacation I have not had in forever is the type where I don’t do any work. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

That is the type of vacation I am going to have this month.

Since I have not had a vacation in so long, I don’t even remember how to have a vacation. My life seemingly revolves around work and being productive, so what am I going to do? For two weeks? Besides, hopefully, not worrying about all the work that will be piling up July 16–30 and waiting for me on July 31?

I am mulling three options right now:

• Visit the Denver area to enjoy good brew and Scooby snacks, and maybe ride the bike trails

• Return to Orange County to hang out with Zee German and enjoy some brew, good food, sunsets at the beach, major league baseball, and possibly Scooby snacks (I’m not sure where California is in its legalization process)

• A semi-staycation where I briefly visit South Dakota to say I have been there (it is the only state bordering Iowa that I have yet to visit); hang out in the Des Moines area to enjoy good brew, minor league baseball, and bike trails; maybe go to Decorah and Pikes Peak State Park (one of my favorite places); and generally do nothing but relax

Though visiting Colorado and returning to the West Coast are appealing, I am leaning toward the semi-staycation option.

The Colorado and SoCal options involve a lot more driving. (I don’t want to fly. Though it takes much longer to drive, I will choose the open road, the freedom to do whatever I want, and the ability to tailor my route over security lines, overpriced everything at the airport, and getting nickel-and-dimed to death by the airlines any day.) Having driven all the way to SoCal last year, I am not sure I want to spend six days of my two-week vacation on the road (three days there and another three days back).

Also, the Colorado and SoCal options both involve driving across Nebraska, something many people consider cruel and unusual punishment. It’s a grueling journey, even for someone as laid-back and patient as myself. After stopping in Kearney for lunch on my trip to San Diego last year, I saw “NORTH PLATTE 96” on a distance sign along Interstate 80. “Ninety-six miles?!” I thought. “I’ve driven this far and I’m still only in the middle of the state?!” To make the miles more tolerable, I started counting CRST and Heartland trucks. (There were quite a few.) The Great Plains do not end at the Colorado border, either; the trip from I-80 to Denver along I-76 is basically an extension of Nebraska with a few hills.

My trip to the West Coast last year was on a tight schedule since I needed to be in San Diego on a certain date. This year, I could take it easy. That would not make Nebraska any less boring, but I would not need to repeat an epic, 14-hour drive from Denver to Las Vegas. However, that means more time on the road.

It is not that there is anything I want to see in South Dakota (anything worth seeing is on the western side of the state, which I don’t feel like visiting this summer, though I’ll need to do a little research), but I do want to knock it off the list of states I have yet to visit. The semi-staycation allows me to do that. (I have been sitting at 28 states since 2015.) Plus, I stay close to home. Traveling great distances on the road can be nerve-racking, especially when one is by himself.

Regardless of where I want to go, I need to get a bike rack for my car if I want to take my Raleigh there. A decent Thule or Yakima trunk rack costs $150–200. Yes, I could knock off the front wheel and put the bike in the back seat, using the trunk for luggage (I have done it before), but I don’t want to risk damaging the derailleurs and whatnot. Plus, I don’t feel like removing and installing the front wheel every single time I go somewhere. A bike rack, I think, would be a worthwhile investment since there are so many great trails across Iowa (some of which, ironically, require access by car). Hanging out in the DSM metro would allow me to access many long-distance trails, including the High Trestle Trail and its iconic bridge. Theoretically, I could ride from the western suburbs where my sister lives to downtown Des Moines, watch an afternoon I-Cubs game, and enjoy a pint at the High Life Lounge or Confluence Brewing taproom afterward.

Decisions, decisions, decision. There is one thing I have decided, though: I want to avoid vacation fatigue. I don’t want to need a vacation from my vacation—especially since I only get one every eight years.

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