Since moving to the Midwest 5 years ago, I’ve taken some time off from work, unfortunately most of it involuntary. The last time I took some time off, back in May, it was spent just cleaning house, something I’ve been putting off for some time.

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My current job has a different approach to vacation time than most places I’ve worked, a system that I actually like. Based on seniority, we meet with the manager and HR and pick out our vacation weeks for the year. We know what we have, the company knows what they need to cover, and there is a sense of fairness about the whole thing.

I haven’t gone anywhere in 5 years. When I was unemployed I obviously couldn’t go anywhere, unless you count a volunteer teaching job at an Army base 130 miles away as a vacation. The other day I was talking to my mom and mentioned that I had a week off coming up in September. I’m not really in a position to buy a plane ticket right now, and driving 1,834 miles each way, solo, during a week off didn’t terribly viable. Sure, it would go faster in the Mazda than it did in the Budget rental truck, but still, that’s a bit much. She mentioned the time off to my dad, and he remembered that he had a stash of frequent flyer miles on American just sitting around, essentially unusable to them since AA really doesn’t fly to the places they want to go (and if they do it’s with so many restrictions as to make getting a free ticket or two an exercise in frustration). Anyway, a few minutes online and I’ve got myself a trip to SoCal!

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Unlike other vacations, I’ve got a roof over my head, home-cooked meals every day, and a classic Benz at my disposal, all at the same price as my airfare - nada. I get to fly straight into SNA, so I don’t have to go to Los Angeles (I lived in LA for 21 years - I’ve seen enough of it). Now I’m just thinking of all the things to do besides visiting with friends and family. There are a few favorite restaurants I want to hit - nothing too terribly fancy, just places that bring good memories:

walking the equestrian trails

maybe a little boating in Newport Harbor

I do wish the city’s one car dealer (Mazda/Buick) was still in business because I’d love to have a license plate frame from them for my Mazda:

And since it may be a few years before I get back there again, I’ll probably look like some sort of crazy tourist, snapping pictures everywhere I go. It would be nice to move back, but I just question whether or not I can afford to do so. The Midwest is just so incredibly affordable compared to what I’m used to; I guess I’d have to find a really great job in order to make the move back.

(my apologies if I get Kinja’d and you get 287 copies of every image. The last time I deleted the duplicates I wound up with zero images, so obviously I don’t know WTF is going on...)