Last weekend, we were up in North Carolina, specifically west of Asheville, for my in-laws' wedding. We've been up there for Thanksgiving or Christmas for most of the last four years, and it's a beautiful place to visit in the fall. We only had a small taste of fall color this time, but even with the misty rain, it was a beautiful place to be. I particularly like my in-laws' place, as it's always warm and inviting, though for obvious reasons we didn't stay there this time.
It got me to thinking about what I consider my "happy places," where I'm most at ease, relaxed and happy. I do love where I live, but it's not really somewhere I can retreat to since I also work there. I actually love being in my home office, but as is the case with anyone, there are days where you just don't want to engage with work. So for me, that place in the neighborhood of Blue Ridge Parkway is an annual retreat, and place of peace.
In recent years, I've come to really love being on a Disney cruise ship. Seven of our cruises have been the same itinerary, the 3-night loop to the Bahamas (and one for 4 days, with the extra day at sea). This is admittedly not very exotic, but it's enormously convenient since we're an hour from Port Canaveral. One trip was out of Vancouver to Alaska, and it was one of my best vacations ever. Once onboard, I don't really have to think about anything. People will bring you stuff, you're entertained as much as you want to be, they tell you when and where to eat... I feel taken care of in a way that you can't in everyday life. It's fantastic escapism.
I also love Hawaii, and kind of hate myself for not going back more frequently than my honeymoons. That's one in 2000 and one in 2009. The second time was actually suboptimal because of the ridiculous cold front and rain that hung out there, and I had a minor fever/flu thing going for like 36 hours. Still, it's the most beautiful place I've ever been to. Kauai in particular is nothing short of breathtaking, everywhere. It's not really the cost that has made it hard to go back, it's the distance. I want to go back, maybe in another year or two, when Simon is a little older.
Back in the mainland, visiting Cedar Point is a happy place, more so now because I no longer live close to it. I don't care about the rides really, I just like staying there on the property, and watching Simon do his thing. There are also many opportunities to see great friends that I don't see very often.
Believe it or not, even after more than three years of living next door, visiting Walt Disney World is still special. I still don't take it for granted, and as Simon gradually agrees to ride more things, it keeps getting better. I'm still a sucker for seeing Illuminations at Epcot, getting Dolewhip at the Polynesian, and meeting friends from all over the country as they descend on Orange County.
The hard thing is finding the happy places I haven't seen yet. I'm very intent to travel to more places I haven't seen, but in a minor holding pattern because I have a young child.
I'm thankful for having the opportunities I have to be in these great places. I need to spend more time in my happy places.