The advantage of a good work ethic is that youíve earned your dream vacation, even if you canít afford it this year. Some people dream of fine sand beaches in exotic locales. For others itís an adventurous safari in Africa. Mine would be a week in Coeur díAlene a week before Christmas, which is the only reason I put on pants and walk up to the Mobil station to buy lottery tickets. If they ever invent a time machine I would go back to 1980 and watch my 7-year-old son sled down Cherry Hill.
The most famous vacation I ever had would be the trip I won on ďThe Dating GameĒ in 1978 to Bogota, Colombia. I was billed as Biff Nerd, a standup comedy character of mine. I watch it on YouTube whenever I forget having a full head of hair. I didnít speak a word of Spanish but soon learned, ďŅDůnde estŠ el baŮo?Ē I was asking everyone in Bogota where the bathroom was even when I didnít need one because I desperately wanted to talk with people. If you canít communicate with others, youíre stranded in the deepest labyrinth of loneliness. Sort of like being married to someone who hates football.
The Sunshine Coast of British Columbia is an amazing vacation destination. You have to catch a ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver. Everyone in Langdale knows youíre a tourist the second you set foot off the ferry because youíre the only one staring at the eagles flying overhead. The air smells like a freshly cut Christmas tree and the scenery is so stunning itís a driving hazard because you canít keep your eyes on the road. Hockey is a religion up there so if youíre not a fan, brush up now on the sport.
My favorite vacation would be the six weeks I spent in England with a British lady I met on Facebook. Every day, while Ann Marie was at work, I took long walks, strolling by the Old Manor Pub but never entered, thinking as an outsider I wouldnít be welcome. I was wrong.
After the first couple of pints, the older patrons and I swapped stories. They described hearing Hitlerís V-1 flying bombs, nicknamed ďdoodlebugsĒ because the shutters at the front governing air flow opened and closed 50 times a second, making a bug-like sound. They were only dangerous once you couldnít hear the buzzing because they had run out of fuel and were indiscriminately falling with a ton of explosives. Who said you canít learn anything in a pub? I tried telling them a few Hollywood stories but itís hard to compete with doodlebugs. Whenever I returned they would shout, ďAmerican!Ē
Vacation means different things to different people. For my sister, Judy in Sheboygan, a vacation is time well spent in her garden. For my friend, Pracilla in New Zealand, itís venturing out to explore another anthropological site in her beloved country. Pracilla is Indiana Jones in fashionable hats.
Donít let any commercial tell you where you should vacation. When you close your eyes, what place makes you smile? Thatís where you should go. Life is short. Vacations even shorter.
This is my last column so I hope you donít mind my telling you a very funny Beatles story I heard on the Ronnie Wood Show with guest Paul McCartney. John Lennon was almost blind without glasses but would never wear them, especially in front of girls. He and Paul wrote late into the night and then John would walk home, about a mile away.
One night, just before Christmas, Lennon walked home but returned the next day and asked Paul what time they quit the night before. Paul told him about 11:30. Lennon exclaimed, ďUp at the corner they were still playing cards outside at midnight!Ē Paul is surprised so he walked up that night to check it out. It was a nativity scene. What Lennon mistook as two people playing cards were actually statues of Joseph and Mary bent over the manger.
As youíre reading this last column of mine, Iím vacationing in Big Bear, Calif. Itís a bit like Coeur díAlene without the gun ranges. I love gun ranges. For the past couple of years Iíve escaped Los Angeles, if only briefly, by writing this column because it allowed me to remember what it was like to be living in your Slice of Heaven. I canít imagine anyone who has visited Coeur díAlene and doesnít leave dreaming of a life there.
Iíve read ďLetters to the EditorĒ every day and would often submit my comments. Some of you may have disagreed with me on an issue but itís always been crystal clear that all of you cherish our First Amendment. The Coeur díAlene Press gives us this amazing opportunity to express ourselves, no matter what our political or religious stance might be. In the past three years Iíve learned that you people in North Idaho are not only highly intelligent, but brave enough to take a stand for what you believe in. God Bless Coeur díAlene!