There’s no place like home

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By DON VOWELL

The trauma of retirement has kept me from appearing in this space for a short time.  I’m over it.  Retirement is pretty good.

Most times I offer up poorly reasoned and outlandish opinion about current events on these pages.  Having just finished two full weeks of retirement I will instead offer some insights from this vast body of experience.

If you are pondering retirement, stop pondering and do it. The first Monday of my retirement we got on a plane and flew to the Dominican Republic.  The lesson here:  travel is good, airplanes are bad.

It is out of our budget and our comfort zone to stay in a luxury resort at Punta Cana, but our daughter has been teaching there for two years.  We combined the retirement celebration with a chance to see her world.  It was just coincidence that the nearest lodging to her home was a resort of stunning architectural and horticultural design.  Oh yeah, and the food was good.

There was a jarring contrast between being waited on hand and foot at a five-star resort and the day trips we spent seeing island life outside the resort areas as shown to us by our daughter and her Dominican friend.  Dominican poverty is more starkly brutal than American poverty.  Despite that, every Dominican we met was friendly and generous.

We used to fly more when Mrs. Vowell worked for a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines.  After we walked away from a wheels-up, motor’s dead forced landing on the frozen Naknek River our confidence was rattled a little.  Besides, it was easier to plan frivolous trips when airfare for employees was free.

On this summer’s flights we believed we were being punished.  I have actually lost a little weight since those Alaska flights 30 years ago.  The airline seats have lost even more.  It is not impossible to contrive a comfortable chair.  The seat in my car is comfortable enough for an all day drive.  No amount of shifting or adjusting brought any relief on any airplane on which we were flown.

If you put together your own vacation on Expedia the least expensive option will be the cruelest airline itinerary.  You may be asked to fly north, south, east, and west before being delivered to your destination.  Those inexplicable travel segments will be separated by very long layovers.  We sat overnight in the San Francisco airport with only a Subway sandwich shop available to us, and that only if we were willing to go out of the secured ticketed passenger area.

We are home now and can at least take some comfort in getting better treatment than our daughter, whose connecting flight was canceled and made her 30-hour trip six hours longer than ours.  The rest of our summer tours will involve only cars and kayaks.

Since returning we have not done very much.  We hunted and gathered.  We have several pounds of raspberries, the same in blueberries, a box of cherries, and one little box of peaches.  Why would anyone spend summer anywhere else?

(Don Vowell lives in Keizer.)

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