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My Summer Staycation

June 2009

Hi, readers!

With the school year ending and summer beginning, it's a great time of year to take a vacation. When I was a child, my family usually headed to the Jersey shore for a week or two of sand, surf, ice cream cones, and miniature golf. More recently, I've visited Martha's Vineyard, the beaches of Rhode Island, the Maine coastline, and a friend's house on Lake Michigan. Even though I hardly ever swim in the ocean now and I'm extra careful about the sun, I love beach towns and spending time by the water.

However, this summer I decided that instead of getting in my car or onto a plane, I'm going to take a staycation. In case you're not familiar with this term, the Macmillan Dictionary defines staycation as, "a holiday in which you stay at home and visit places near to where you live." I have to admit that I'm not the first one in my family to try this. I got the idea a couple of months ago when my sister planned a staycation for my nephew Henry's spring break, in their hometown of New York City.

A good staycation takes a little planning, much like a good away-from-home vacation. So each day, Henry and his parents made plans to get out and do something fun close to home. One day, they walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, and then hopped on a water taxi for the trip back. Another outing was an all-day visit to the Liberty Science Center. There are hundreds of exhibits, more than you could ever see in one visit, so it's a perfect place for return trips. My favorite of their activities was a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen at Henry's favorite restaurant. He's an excellent cook, so this was a special treat.

Even though I've lived in the Hudson Valley for a long time now, I realized that I haven't taken advantage of many of the local attractions. So I did a little thinking and came up with a list of possibilities for my staycation. I think the first must-do is a visit to Howe Caverns to explore their underground caves. It should be a lot of fun – the caves are over a hundred and fifty feet below ground level. I read that the first tours were conducted in 1843, took over eight hours and were lit by torches. I'm grateful that electricity has since been installed!

There's also a farm animal sanctuary not too far from my house, which is populated by animals that have been abused or abandoned. It's an ever-changing group made up of goats, pigs, cows, horses, sheep, steer and hens. (I'm including a link to the web page so you can see some of the current residents: Woodstock Animal Sanctuary.) This is the perfect destination for an animal lover like me.

Yesterday when my neighbors Randi and Jerry stopped by for a visit, they had a terrific suggestion for an outing for the three of us to The Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown, New York. The Farmers' Museum is actually a replication of a rural village in upstate New York around the mid 1800's. In addition to a general store, barn, blacksmith shop, creamery and other village shops, we can visit a county fair, see people dressed in period costumes and take a ride on the Empire State Carousel. One of the hands-on demonstrations involves milking a cow. Do you think I should try it?!

A slight variation on my staycation is to spend a few days in Manhattan this August. This will be right around my birthday, and my dad has promised to come and see us. I'm hoping to convince everyone to go with me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

If this summer finds you at home, I hope you'll explore what your part of the country has to offer. A good idea is to check out the weekend section of your local paper. You can find lots of activities that cost very little money, or are even free. Perhaps you can look into taking a behind-the-scenes tour of something that interests you, like the restaurant kitchen for Henry. With a little research, you can have your own must-see list of local attractions to keep you busy all summer.

As for me, now that I know how to use my digital camera, I promise to take pictures everywhere I go to share with you at summer's end.

Wishing you a wonderful summer,