Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

August 8, 2012

It’s tedious being stuck at home with no ‘Vacation’ and a hungry cat

By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Sometimes it is easy to take the fun out of a vacation by having everything overly planned out in advance. You can schedule each day’s activities with great detail, including how many hours will be spent at a certain attraction or location, when and where you will eat and when to hit the road again.

A carefully planned vacation also includes a specific budget that one must strictly adhere to or face the risk of possible financial ruin on the road. Think Chevy Chase in the original “Vacation,” a timeless movie classic that spawned three additional sequels. And then sometimes even the best planning fails. Wally World was closed for maintenance when the Griswolds finally got there — a fact Clark Griswold failed to take into consideration during his elaborate family vacation planning.

Of course, all of this planning can certainly take the fun out of a vacation. That is why it is sometimes best to just take a vacation on the spur of the moment. No planning. No maps. No advance scheduling of hotel and motel rooms. Just like Uncle Eddie and his dysfunctional kinfolk showing up without notice in the classic “Christmas Vacation” sequel.

These spur-of-the-moment decisions are often the best getaways — although it always helps to still have extra cash on hand when taking such road trips. Uncle Eddie was broke and needed to borrow money from Clark Griswold, who was still waiting for his Christmas bonus to arrive.

I’m one of those people who likes to plan as much in advance as possible. I don’t view it necessarily as a negative character trait, but instead as simply being prepared. One day I hope to have a family of my own to take on a big vacation — just like Clark Griswold did in his four movies. I even have an emergency preparedness kit. It’s good to be prepared, even if it is just planning for a week off from work. After all, you don’t want to take a week off from work without having a plan or general idea of what you are going to do. Right?

Lll

I’m currently in the middle of a non-planned staycation at home. I have no plan, or schedule, and I’m completely lost. The routine is already getting to me.

I had planned on being at work this week. But I’m not. I’m at home and on the mend from a recent procedure. The routine is already getting to me.

I wake up each morning and I’m greeted by the cat outside of the bedroom door. He’s not my cat, but he’s decided to move in with me anyhow. He’s there waiting to eat — morning, afternoon and evening. Then he demands to be petted.

When I’m finally done with the cat, it’s time to start flipping channels on the tube. And this is a tedious job. It’s summer, and there is little of anything of interest to watch on television. I can’t even find a “Vacation” movie being repeated.

So my viewing habits have ranged from ESPN Sports Center to CNN and Fox News. I’ll admit the amount of Tim Tebow coverage on ESPN is baffling, but I appreciate it. Tebow is a role model to so many, and he should be applauded for being so open about his faith. It should be an interesting season for the New York Jets. Will the fans eventually demand for Tebow to get the starting quarterback job over Mark Sanchez? It will be interesting.

 At least football season is nearing, so there are plenty of college and NFL discussions to watch on ESPN. When I get desperate, I watch the Weather Channel. Waiting for the “Local on the 8s” is a great way to make it through a long day.

I even watched a History Channel special about the dreaded Mayan long calendar. Whoever was responsible for that particular documentary is apparently convinced that something bad is going to happen on Dec. 21, 2012. The documentary even suggests a black hole could impact the sun. But I’m not expecting global doom this December. Just a little panic. Like a sudden realization that one hasn’t completed his or her Christmas shopping list with only three days to go.

Since I’m sidelined at the moment and walking slowly, taking a mile lap around the lake or city park is out of the question. I had been averaging well over a mile a day in recent weeks. But my exercise routine has been put on hold — at least temporarily. The best exercise I’m getting now is going from the downstairs to the upstairs and vice versa. So I’m left to channel surf, read, surf online, play games on the Playstation and feed the cat.

It’s a tedious routine, but at least it’s a routine. But I have no plan. No schedule. No place to be at a certain time.

I’m hoping that my unplanned staycation will end sooner rather than later. But for now I’m stuck at home with 100 plus channels on cable, and not a single thing worth watching.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him at @BDTowens.