Monday, March 13, 2006

Writing and vacations

Everyone needs a vacation, or as the Europeans say, “a holiday.” Every March for the past four years, my wife, Mary, and I, have spent a week or more, in sunny Florida. The reason for these excursions has been to watch our only son, play some college baseball. No matter how cold, snowy, or utterly depressing our northeastern winters have been, since Mark entered college (back in the fall of 2002) we’ve counted down the days until we would be stepping off the plane in March and feeling the warm breezes wafting through palm trees.

March, 2006 finds us again in Florida, enjoying the opportunity to experience yet another area of the Sunshine State. Wheaton College, a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts, is playing in their third different location over Mark’s four years. The first year, the Lyons were involved in a tournament in Homestead. During the past two Marches, it was the Tampa Invitational Baseball Classic. We spent two successive years in a small cottage, just off beautiful Clearwater Beach. This year, owing to Wheaton’s coach wanting a change and tougher competition, we are in the Port Charlotte area, staying in a beautiful villa with a pool.

Lest you think I’m just some privileged elitist, with money to burn, think again. What Mary has discovered is that renting a home or cottage, in most cases, is much cheaper than staying at a hotel that isn’t a flophouse or den for drug dealers. As a result of her diligence and online skills, we’ve scored some sweet lodging to go along with our enjoyment of experiencing a new area. This year is no exception. In fact, it appears that she’s saved her best for last. Being that this is Mark’s senior year, there’s no guarantee that we’ll come back to Florida any time soon. As a result, I’m going to do my best to squeeze as much enjoyment out of this as I can.

For me, the opportunity to get away from the daily grind of work is a welcome respite. It allows me a chance to get away from my regular routine and breathe some life and energy into my writing. Both my wife and I are readers, so we stuff a number of books to devour, into our already overloaded suitcases. I pity the poor baggage handler having to hoist these into the cargo hold of the plane.

While my wife always does a remarkable job finding lodging, this year was particularly challenging. Due to the devastation of Hurricane Charley, this area has a shortage of places to stay, particularly hotels. Not to be deterred, Mary put on her property sleuth’s hat and went to work. Initially, she was discouraged, as a number of villas and condominiums were too expensive, or already rented. When she heard back from the owner of the villa where we are staying, she was cautiously optimistic. The photos showed a roomy domicile, with a pool and a spa. It was new and she thought the initial contact with the owner was a pleasant one. Knowing that some friends of ours own a place in Cape Coral, Mary made a call and got assurance that the particular rental site she was using was reputable, as they had used it several times prior to purchasing their current place. Their experience has been positive and with their assurance, she decided to proceed. Because of her efforts, we are staying in a large community of similar homes, called Rotunda, just of SR 776, between Port Charlotte and Englewood. While the villa is not on the beach, like our cottage we rented the past two years, we are still only about a 20 minute drive from Englewood Beach, where we went yesterday afternoon. We’ve only just begun our stay, but if the rest of the trip approaches our first day here, I know it’s going to be a great time and a therapeutic one, at that.

Lastly, my nocturnal habits and writer’s insomnia make life with me a challenge at times for Mary. She’s wonderfully supportive and rarely complains. However, another upside to our place is its spacious layout. It allows me to slip out of bed as quietly and is large enough so I can put the coffee on and write, without disturbing my wife’s beauty sleep.

This morning, I’m up at 5 am. I’ve turned on the laptop and I’m just writing for writing’s sake. I haven’t been doing a lot of that of late, so I hope the trip provides a needed tune-up for my craft. Having some unstructured time, good books and the chance to catch your breath from the rapid pace of everyday life, is often a great tonic for anyone who writes. I plan on making the most of my week and doing a bit more writing, some of which I hope to post on this blog and probably over at Words Matter.


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