Back home again, in good old Vincennes,
And I think that I can see.
George Rogers Clark and Farouk pizza,
Through the sycamores for me.
Sorry if I sang a little out-of-tune there.
No matter where I go on vacation, there’s definitely no place like Vincennes to come home to, dear readers. You see, there are five other cities in three states I once called home, yet none ever felt as good as Vincennes after being away for several fun-filled days.
I’m talking about places as large as Cleveland and Tampa, Florida. Small towns such as Lawrenceville and Bridgeport in Illinois and a Lilliputian-esque spot-in-the-road called Weeki Wachee, Florida.
Do not misunderstand me.
I have endearing thoughts and memories for all the communities I once called home and I needed each and every one at certain points in my life. These places have special spots in the old soul, especially my boyhood hometown of Lawrenceville.
However, I never had the opportunity to return to any of those places from a vacation. I never went on a vacation when I lived in all those towns.
My first vacation did not take place until the day after high school graduation and I was residing in Vincennes at the time as well.
Vacations did not become an annual part of life for yours truly until I married and started a family. Once I discovered the joy of traveling, even during those years when frequent cries of “are we there yet” arose out of the back depths of the old Dodge Caravan from the three darling Carroll children, I did not live a year without summer time off.
A family vacation could last one week or a couple of days and I was a happy camper. Uh, well, we never went camping, per se, since the dear wife and daughter decried the thought let alone sight of creepy crawlers in the great outdoors. But you get the idea.
Now it seems I am trying to make up for missed vacation time.
I don’t know if I am doing it purposely or subconsciously, but I think I have a new challenge on the horizon. I want to make the next vacation better than the last and so on and so on.
Since becoming empty nesters, the wife and I plan summer vacations with aplomb, such as journeys out west, and take frequent weekend getaways to decompress after work weeks. Last year we took a cruise to the Bahamas and Cayman Islands for our 20th wedding anniversary and did not get lost once.
I’m only joking about that last part. The cruise was for our 35th anniversary but it took another 15 years of tossing loose change into a clear glass unicorn to keep a promise to my beloved.
So how do you top a cruise?
How about taking two vacations in one summer? Better yet, how about taking two vacations but in different countries?
That’s exactly what the missus and I did this summer.
Destinations in Canada, Michigan, Northern Indiana and Colorado made this a memorable summer vacation season for the Carrolls. I was having such a good time that even two days in Ann Arbor, Michigan, did not spoil it for this fan of The Ohio State University Buckeyes.
Vacations may be relaxing, but not every one is filled only with fun and games. Vacations are not without risks.
You probably have heard of the “freshman 15” wherein many newbies gain 15 pounds during their first year of college. Students discover campus food isn’t so bad after all and there is plenty of it usually in a banquet style.
Or some of these college scholars find out they set the menu where desert literally outweighs any entrée. Chocolate pudding with marshmallow sauce for breakfast? I don’t mind if I do.
Well, I am trying to recover from the “summer vacation 16” following an overindulgence of international foods plus Smarties, the Canadian cousins to M&Ms.
Let’s just say my waistline is, uh, how shall I write this, better rounded and more expanded than the Goodyear Blimp. I suppose you may call me Dougie the Dirigible because all that Mexican, Cajun, American, French, Italian, Polish, Canadian and baseball ballpark food had to wind up somewhere.
Risks or not, there’s just something about coming home to Vincennes after three weeks of summer vacation. The sights, sounds, smells, touches and tastes — must I mention Farouk pizza again — of Vincennes are so welcoming, at least to this guy.
As I was singing …
My new-mown lawn sends all its fragrance
Through the neighborhood I roam.
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash
How I long for my Carroll Castle home.
Doug Carroll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.