Not deferential enough: Staycationing

Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2012 in Opinion

Not deferential enough: Staycationing

by Gina Hamilton

We thought long and hard about it before we decided not to take our annual vacation this year to the Acadia region. It wasn't so much lack of bread, although there was that too, as much as it was the sheer exhaustion that hit me when I thought of having our baby dog, Gracie, on leash for the whole three days or so. Plus, Gracie is not completely ready for primetime, by which I mean that she's not entirely housebroken yet.

Three times she's been on the verge of being housebroken completely; three times she has come down with some mysterious stomach malady that costs about $150 each time and causes some regression when it comes to toilette.

Most likely, we will have to replace the rugs and really scrub all the floors before it finally takes. But in any event, I was not willing to subject somebody else's cottage to that this year. 

"We could do some tent camping," I suggested to Chris. We do, after all, have a tent, sleeping bags, a camp stove, a lantern, an ice chest, camp cookware and dinnerware, and everything else we need to spend a long weekend in a campground.

"Too many ticks," he said. 

I didn't point out to Chris that we had ticks every time he took the girls to the woods, or for that matter, that they pick up ticks in the water meadow across the railroad tracks every day. Indeed, I am feeling a little long in the tooth to do much tent camping anymore, either. It was fun when our son and heir was small and we had a single dog who came when we called and wasn't subject to mal de l'estomac at the drop of a hat.

So we determined to have a staycation in vacationland, and vaguely mapped out what our days would look like. We would go to the beach one day, play mini golf, go sailing, and go kayaking.

The first day, we packed up our towels, our beach chairs, our umbrella, a gallon jug of water, and dog toys, and headed down to Hunnewell Beach, which is better known as "Fort Popham" beach. It was the hottest day of the year, and so the beach was crowded, but we were still able to find a place to establish ourselves and spent the next couple of hours playing with the dogs in the surf. We took a break to have lunch with the dogs at Spinney's, then went back and played some more before we finally took off.

I love the beach, but getting down to the water and back is a real pain in the neck, when encumbered with two hyper-excited dogs and a load of stuff. There is something at the Christmas Tree Shop called a Beach Buggy that I might invest in; it's not terribly expensive and it has places to hang your beach chairs and so forth, so you don't have to go to the car three times for things you couldn't carry or you forgot. But even so, it was a nice day, and the dogs were, as they say, dog tired when we got home.

The next day we planned to go mini-golfing early at Dolphin Mini-Golf in Boothbay, but when we got there, it didn't open until noon, so we went on into Boothbay Harbor and went sailing for an hour and a half. We were concerned that Gracie might not handle being on the water very well, but she in fact turned out to be as much of a sailor as Rudie, which is saying something.

We played a round of mini-golf while the girls waited in the shade of the giant trees that flank the course, and got them some ice cream at the adjacent ice cream stand. Again, they sacked out in the car, and we drove home in relative quiet.

Finally, we decided to see if we could take both of them kayaking. Now, Rudie won't sit in the kayak, and I rather doubted Gracie would, either, but Rudie paddles around the kayak when we put in at Todd's Landing and waits patiently on the shore if we get a little too far away. Gracie, however, wasn't ready for this sort of outing. It became somewhat painful to have to keep her on the leash while Rudie could play unencumbered, so after about an hour, we went home.

I filled the girls' pool for them (yes, our dogs have a pool) and we sat outside watching them while they had a blast.

It occurred to me, not for the first time, that our dogs don't care where they are or what they're doing, as long as they're with us. For dogs, that's the greatest holiday there is. And if we're wise, we can say the same thing.

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