Monday, July 09, 2007

For someone who claims to love travel as much as I do, someone who subscribes to both Conde Nast Traveler and National Geographic Traveler, someone who planned and ultimately scrapped trips to both Croatia and North Korea this year (oh, did I not mention that I was seriously considering vacationing in North Korea? And that I am mildly to moderately deranged?), I don't actually do a lot of traveling.

The problem, if you care to think of it that way, is a certain cabin in upstate Michigan. It's where I spend Christmas and a chunk of the summer, and my time there plus the odd three-day weekend completely eats up my precious vacation days. It's so hard to initiate the effort of finding a destination, travel companions, a hotel that is both affordable and not crawling with roaches and scam artists eager to pray on American tourists, scouting fun destinations once there and generally pulling the whole damn thing off when going to the cabin is comparatively easy. It's six hours door to door. Five minutes after I walk in I'm sacked out on the couch with a margarita in hand, staring at the lake and relaxing with such gusto that I risk drowning in the sofa cushions.

I mean, look:

If you knew you would wake up to sunrises like that every single day while staying there for free, well, wouldn't you also be a bit reluctant to branch out?

If I'm completely honest with myself, it's not just the scenery and the cost that keep me going up north. Nor is it just the family, although that is a pretty big part of it, since it's pretty much what we call "home" these days. It's not just the whitefish pate at Art's Tavern or the surprisingly excellent shopping, or even Wes, the adorable bartender on our tall mast bay cruise who was a real-life Pacey Witter.

Sorry. Need minute to recover. Thinking about Pacey Witter-esque sailor and his stories of battling pirates in the South Pacific...

Ahem. Anyways.

No, it's not just these things, wonderful as they are. It's the fact that I can kick back and do absolutely nothing. That I can revert to being a bratty teenager who eats pizza for breakfast and is all "Moo-ooooom!" when the parents remove my Arcade Fire CD to play some John Gorka. I nestle in the couch with a drink and read bad fiction when my family is annoying. My sister and I, who normally get along pretty well as adults, start picking at one another as I get bossy and she gets spacey. Being up there, I revert to my adolescent self in ways good and bad.

Every time I go up north a part of me wants to stay. It thinks "I could get a job at the local newspaper and live on 20 grand a year and go to the beach or ski every weekend!" I manage to squish that part pretty quickly because I tried it for one summer in college and was out of my mind within two weeks. Going to country bars with three-dollar pitchers of Bud was fun for about three days, and then I started to get annoyed when bartenders kept putting Sprite in my vodka gimlets. Everyone is white. And you may not believe this, but the woods are quiet. I mean, really QUIET. The kind of quiet where if you're alone too long you start thinking about In Cold Blood and even the dopey aliens from Signs, who, let's face it, would seem fairly menacing if you were all alone in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. And I wouldn't even have Mel Gibson around to protect/distract me by making anti-Semitic comments!

I'm not sure entirely where I lost my train of thought just now. Point is, I couldn't live there. Not yet. It's getting more feasible-- Meijer's carries wasabi peas now, and when I drove to the beach to take photos of the sunset, the local rock station played Blonde Redhead. This is a major leap for a station that until a year ago required one song an hour to be Christian power pop. But still, I'm not quite ready to sign up for year-round up north living. I revert to acting like a teenager because northern Michigan doesn't allow for the extended adolescence everyone in DC relishes, some people well past its expiration date. Here, it's almost effortless for someone to be a powerbroker by day (or at least labor under the delusion that they are one) and a kid as soon as they leave the office. Adults play kickball and drink too much, blow money on expensive dinners and toys they don't need and stay unpartnered well after their peers back home have shacked up and started the next generation of Midwesterners.

There, there are clear delineations of adult and not-adult. And painful as it is to admit, I wouldn't do well in a place that required me to actually be a grownup.

Vacations, however, I don't see stopping any time soon.

*Sigh.* I miss it already.


I-66 said...

Wait wait wait.

Seriously considering? As someone who is (half) South Korean, and comprises roughly 25% of the entire Blasian population of the DC metro area, I think that you were seriously considering going to North Korea makes you a little more than moderately deranged, and probably closer to... whatever a lot deranged would be.

But that's okay. It's endearing.

Lindsay said...

dude, North Korea next year...I'm pretty confident they will let us Yanks in for the 2008 tours. Incidentally, while at Chernobyl I ran into a Brit who went to NK a few months ago...said it was one of the most interesting places he had ever,'s on.

Kristin said...

Great pics. Makes me want to go... well, anywhere.

capitulatenow said...

Hello! I found your blog a couple of weeks ago, so hi, how are you, I like yr blg, and two things:

1. Were you planning on visiting the Hyundai resort at Kumgansan? If so, don't worry -- I went there last summer, and it's kind of eh. Except for the "I went to North Korea!" part.

2. Your parents listen to John Gorka TOO? This is stunning. When you were little, did you and your sister call him "John Dorka?" Because we totally did.