When it was time to pack for a mini-vacation with my husband, I found myself getting more and more excited.
I was relishing the thought of the two of us getting away together.
It might sound strange to look forward to a vacation because for retirees, every day is a vacation.
But even when there is no compelling schedule in your everyday life and you can basically design your own day, there is always more freedom when you're away on vacation.
Dave and I try to make every phase of our trips fun. In times past, whenever I was on the road traveling, I would stop for lunch at a restaurant. With Dave, I no longer do that.
We pack a lunch, bring along some sodas and look for a nice picnic spot when we are hungry.
It saves the time it would take to sit in a restaurant and it sets a relaxing mood when we find a tranquil place to stop and picnic.
Plus, it differs so much from being home. At home, or near home, we think nothing of stopping for lunch at a restaurant when we are away from home at mealtime. But we never pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a scenic place.
There is so much about being on vacation that differs from being home.
Sure, it might seem similar on the surface. There's the same warm weather, the same pleasant surroundings, maybe even the same kind of palm trees gently swaying in the breeze.
But when I'm home in the Nature's Paradise that surrounds my house, I see too many things that intrude on my peace.
If I'm outside in my garden watching the birds, I'll notice that the garden needs to be weeded. Or, if I'm in my swimming pool, I'll remember I have to have the pool water tested and power scrub the deck.
I think we're all like that in our own surroundings. We're always looking around, seeing things that have to be done.
When I'm away on vacation, if I see peeling paint it registers only as quaint, not as something else I have to get around to doing.
That only makes a trip more relaxing.
We also see differently when we are away. Photographers call it "seeing with new eyes."
When we look at any scene with fresh eyes, we appreciate more of what is before us.
I love my house and don't like to leave it for long. That's why when we do plan a trip, I only like to go for three days.
For the past few years, Dave and I have made a point of picking vacation destinations within three or four hours from home. I find there are so many places within that traveling time that I haven't seen.
This year, for my birthday, we took off for three days at Florida's Crystal Springs and Rainbow River. We had fun kayaking in crystal clear water, enjoying the opportunity to see what goes on in the underwater world.
I watched a mama turtle swim underwater with two babies on her back. Coming at them from the opposite direction was a baby alligator. I expected the turtle family to face danger from the alligator but it just swam on by.
The big alligator at the edge of the water ignored the kayakers and didn't move when we came closer for photos.
The best photos were probably the ones that will remain in my mind – visual memories of majestic oak trees draped with Spanish Moss lining a pristine river that looks like something from the past.
We often comment that we can see beautiful scenery like that but we can't seem to capture its majesty in photos. But it does restore one's soul to revel in nature's beauty.
Don't I do that at home? Of course. I do it everyday. But when I travel and become a tourist, I relax more and spend more time doing nothing except to inhale the beauty around me.
No matter how relaxing everyday life may be, a mini vacation offers even more relaxation and tranquility.
I've always been firmly convinced that when couples go away together, they have an opportunity to tune in more to each other. There is not the distraction of everyday life, everyday chores, and everyday routine. We get away from our computers and TVs and concentrate on each other.
I'm firmly convinced, also, that we're "different people" on vacation. Maybe it's because all that leisure allows our best side to come out. Maybe it's because the newness of a vacation spot spurs us to have more fun and enjoyment. Or, maybe it's just that we appreciate each other more when we take the time to really talk and have fun together.
Whatever the reason, it can add up to "going away with an interesting stranger," even if that person is one who has shared your life for decades.
Try it for yourself. You don't have to spend a lot of money or go away for a long time to reap the rewards of time away from home.
A mini vacation has its own restorative powers.