Life continues to go nuts in the days of the final countdown. I've decided that instead of trying to totally redesign my web site before the release, I'll just add some new features about the series. That will cut down on my stress levels. In the meantime, I have a newspaper photo shoot tomorrow and I get to read an excerpt for a podcast on the newspaper's web site (too bad my fabulous new hair won't show up on the podcast). My very first podcast!
But first, I have my "final" in my music class today. I have to sing the Angry Italian Opera Aria and actually sound angry, which is a real stretch for me. I was practicing a few minutes ago, and I think by the end of the last time I ran through it, I was almost there. I just have to try not to be too self-conscious. And I have to remind myself that I'm not actually getting a grade in this class because I'm taking it non-credit.
With everything I have going on, I'm starting to daydream about vacations. I'm not very good at taking vacations. Almost all of my travel recently has had some work-related element to it, and even the fun trips are event-oriented, so there are schedules to stick to. The last total vacations I took were to England, in 2000 and 2001, and they weren't what I'd call restful because I was going non-stop, trying to cram in as much as possible. The first trip was closer to pure relaxation because it meant I was out of reach from a client that had just been in a crunch period. My cell phone didn't work there and the guest house where I stayed didn't have phones in the rooms. Except for the last day, when I went to London and really overdid it, I was more out in the country, and I tried to do only one major thing a day, so it wasn't too taxing. Still, I pretty much left the guest house after breakfast and came back just in time to fall into bed every day.
The hotel in Colorado Springs was very nice, with a fabulous fluffy bed and a peaceful atmosphere, the kind of hotel room where you wouldn't mind just hanging out. Sadly, I didn't get to spend nearly enough time in it. I also didn't come home quite as tired as I expected. Based on this experience and my previous travel experiences, I've come up with my guidelines for a relaxing, reviving vacation (as opposed to what I'll call touring, which is a very different concept).
1) A reasonably short flight, preferably to a smaller airport rather than to a major hub. No travel on Sunday. Or else a drive under three hours (which pretty much eliminates driving from Dallas). I haven't done major train travel in the US, so I don't know how tiring it would be, but most train trips out of Dallas involve overnight travel. The perfect travel schedule would involve arriving around hotel check-in time (so no early morning flights) and leaving around hotel check-out time (so no early morning or late-night flights).
2) Ideally, I wouldn't have to rent a car because I find driving rental cars to be very stressful. Public transportation or a hotel shuttle to the hotel would be good, and then public transportation or having most major attractions in walking distance would be best.
3) A mildly interesting location -- maybe pretty scenery so that looking out the hotel window would be good, and then enough attractions to do maybe one thing a day, like a couple of historic homes to tour, a local museum, and maybe some kind of performing arts event. Plus some nice areas to walk. But not so interesting that I'd feel guilty lounging around the hotel a lot. And not so interesting that the hotel would be ridiculously expensive.
4) A really comfortable hotel -- one with the nice, fluffy beds like so many of the major chains now have. A room I'd want to hang out in. Preferably an indoor pool and hot tub (since I won't be able to do this until the fall). The hotel in Colorado had a panel where you could connect a laptop with a DVD player in it to the room's wide-screen LCD HDTV and watch your own DVDs, which would be cool, though that's not essential as I have a wide-screen LCD HDTV and DVD player at home.
Now I just have to find this magical location, if it exists. We'll see if I manage to do this, since I recall talking a lot last year about how I was going to take a nice fall vacation to do nothing but read, and that never happened. But first, I have a lot of work to do and a very busy summer.