Leaving no stone un-turned.
Sometimes, the joy of a vacation is letting go of work pressures, ignoring the lawn that needs mowing, and taking a timeout from your normal life. That certainly has its place, as you can de-stress, recharge, and return to your normal life with more enthusiasm. Sometimes, however, you can’t take that vacation. Maybe it’s the cost of a weekend away (“$300 per night for a double bed with no wifi? Aargh!”). Or maybe it’s a commitment that takes up part of the weekend (“who thought a Friday night game for a preteen was a good idea?!?!”). The bottom line is that sometimes you’re stuck locally but still with some free time and spending money available.
We recently challenged ourselves to fill an entire day without leaving the boundaries of our town. OK, granted, we have a place on Cape Cod, so this wasn’t a terribly intimidating challenge. But we constricted it further to just our quieter part of town, to see what we’d make of it, and had a self-imposed rule of focusing on the fun: no chores allowed while at home.
For me, the day started off at dawn, finding a scenic spot to watch the sun come up. It had this mindfulness aspect to it in which I was really plugged in to the sights, sounds, and smells around me. Again, I fully acknowledge that it’s not hard to be present watching the sun coming up over the ocean, so I’m not going to win any awards for perseverance on that one. But plenty of towns have mountains, bigger expanses of woods, farms, or even office parks perched on a hill that serve as lookout points to watch the sky transform from darkness to color before brightening enough as you then continue on with your day.
After returning to the house, the general game plan was put together over a second cup of coffee on the back deck. We threw some food in a cooler, tossed the beach chairs in the back of the truck, and headed off to the beach. Yeah, I know; not the most agonizing of decisions on a sunny, hot day. But so many towns have conservation areas, state forests, or some sort of green space if you want to have a picnic, go for a bike ride, or enjoy the outdoors in some way.
We spent a few hours on the beach reading, walking and searching for beach glass, watching boats motoring out of the nearby harbor, and relaxing. Then we packed up, returned home, and showered up. We’d considered a few options on the next part of the day, from browsing local small businesses to sampling craft beer from a brewer in town to looking into some of the town’s history. We settled on grabbing a drink and appetizer at some casually upscale local restaurants.
Both were friendly and engaging as they explained about making homemade bitters and the subtle perfection of directionally frozen ice. We also learned about some interesting classes they planned to offer during the next off-season.
The second pit stop was at Encore Bistro and Bar. This restaurant and pub is situated next to the Cape Playhouse and Cape Cod Museum of Art. A performance had just ended so the place was packed and energetic. While the attentive bartenders hustled to deal with the crowd, we were reminded that the playhouse is an option we don’t take much advantage of, and we've found an entertaining-looking play we plan to see next month.
Our final stop was right around the corner, at Harvest Gallery Wine Bar. Aside of their top-notch cocktails and ever-rotating wine selection, it’s a fun chance to sample several wines instead of having to commit to a single glass. They feature a wide array of musicians across genres. This might leave you singing along, as you blend in with others and pretend you’re pitch perfect. Or, you can get out on the dance floor to burn off the calories from the cheese plate or meals that are always spot-on. Artwork adorns the walls and is all for sale or a potential conversation-starter. Its friendly atmosphere staff promote conversations among strangers, such as learning about the experiences of another couple who relocated from Tennessee (tip from all of us surrounding them: never, ever relocate from the South to New England during the dead of winter). While we always enjoy this place, the pit-stop on this day reinforced to us that it stays fresh and interesting.
When the night was over, it was only a mile back to our house. We finished with more ideas for future weekends than we started with. Some of the more interesting moments weren’t the parts that were planned; they were the conversations that occurred spontaneously with the people around us, as a result of enjoying the moment instead of wishing we were doing something more exciting.
When thinking about our small town in Central Mass where we spend the majority of our time instead of a beach community in the summer, it still offers opportunities: small batch coffee in an historic building with occasional wine tastings we've never been to; a nearby farm with an array of fruit for picking; conservation trails we've never explored; and a farm stand that recently underwent a renovation and serves up local ice cream along with products from a number of local small businesses.
re-look at what was in front of us. Ultimately, it highlighted that we’re really only limited by our imagination.
So, now the challenge is yours: what can you (re)discover in your own surroundings?