“Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays…”
I can hear Perry Como crooning those familiar words now, evoking images of that Norman Rockwell family gathered round the holiday table, turkey steaming, silver gleaming, family smiling … The idea of home for many of us evokes thoughts of comfort, welcome, love and belonging. Or it should, in an ideal world. But the reality of going home, especially during the holiday season, may be very different.
Expectations often don’t match the inevitable reality: while you may be yearning for ‘peace on earth, good will toward men,’ the fact is, those relatives you don’t get along with the rest of the year are unlikely to make a miraculous change for a day or two. Maybe your children have fledged the nest and won’t be home this year. If they’ve married, they may be spending the holidays at someone else’s home. Perhaps this is the first holiday you’re facing after the death of a loved one. The thought of going through the motions in the midst of grief holds little appeal.
Whatever the circumstance, there are occasions when you may not feel like singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with Bing Crosby. Spending part of the season far from stressful settings may be just the gift to give yourself … Or, you may wish to pack up the family just this once and go some place more restful, without all the hassle and hoopla — at least not any that you have to host and clean up after!
If you’re feeling impulsive, last-minute deals at the holiday season are often available to fill cancellations or leftover space — it’s worth a few Google inquiries, if you’re in the mood to mosey. So, whether it’s this year or another, here are five holiday travel ideas to restore body, soul or both.
When you think of endangered species in this country, struggling to survive in their native habitats, you probably picture them on national park or U.S. Forest Service lands. But according to NatureServe, a nonprofit conservation organization that tracks wildlife, U.S. Defense Department properties have the highest density of threatened and endangered species of any federal land management agency. The Pentagon states that on average, military lands boast 15 threatened and endangered species per acre — nearly seven times more per acre than on U.S. Forest Service tracts.
Our nation’s military lands, however, are first and foremost dedicated to preparing for armed readiness, meaning that military exercises, such as target practice, are routine. Is this the kind of environment in which we want threatened species to play out their last-ditch efforts for survival?
My son was visiting me during the holidays recently. I accompanied him to a local cell phone store, where he purchased a Droid. On the five-mile drive home, he entertained me by turning on its GPS feature; and we listened and laughed as the automated voice instructed us to turn left here and right there, over a route that we knew like the back of our hands. It did get me wondering, though, if it’s possible — in this information technology age — to get lost anymore.
“In the great silence of my favorite month, October (the red of maples, the bronze of oaks, a clear-yellow leaf here and there on birches), I celebrated the standstill of time.”
– Czeslaw Milosz
Ahhh, October. I think of this month, the height of autumn, as an interlude where nature gifts us with a last, dazzling blast of color before winter’s monochrome prevails.
It’s also a perfect time to enjoy the bounty of nature’s gifts close to home — so you can enjoy an incredible, eco-friendly fall-break trip that saves gas, money and carbon emissions.
In some regions, like northern New England or the Rocky Mountain high country, autumn’s palette peaks by late September. But elsewhere there is still plenty of foliage on brilliant display even into November. The key is to go lower in altitude and latitude as the season progresses. While New England is renowned, other regions also offer an immersion in fall’s finery.
Here are seven scenic byways around the country that promise an exuberant burst of color into the latter half of October or beyond. Pack a picnic basket, camera and your hiking boots, for full enjoyment of these lesser-known leaf routes.