#95 Spend a Weekend Listening to Silence. In this particular section, there are several different places listed where one can take a vacation in complete silence. Apparently this is an excellent way to find oneself. "Some folks take silent retreats as a religious exercise or because they're contemplating a major life change. Others do it simply to strip themselves of nonessentials, to find that oasis within themselves." writes Grout. And that's all well and good. I am all for that business. But here is the thing. Once I go on the silent vacation and engage in all that introspection, I think I am going to see that I really didn't need to fork over $575 for 7 days of communal meals and shutting up. I am pretty sure I can do silence a lot more cheaply on my own. You want a silent weekend? Call your girlfriend fat on Friday afternoon then turn off your phone. Because I guarantee that no one will be talking to you then. And as such you won't have anyone to talk to. And you will get to contemplate a possible major life change as you do such fun activities as sleep on the couch, order forgive me flowers, and watch as she watches Lifetime and cries. It will be just as physically fun as waking up in a Catholic monastery at 3:15 am for prayers, and just as mentally fun as spending daily counselling sessions with a counsellor who is allowed to talk all day long while you cannot.
# 26 Help Out on the Blackfeet Reservation. This particular vacation talks about a company called Global Volunteers that sets people up on vacations where they can spend their time bettering the worlds of people who aren't as well off, and one of the major places where they do their work is on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. Well, after looking at how much it costs, I am thinking about contacting Global Volunteers to see if they want to better my world, because anyone who can afford to pay $795 to help out on the Blackfeet Reservation or $2750 to teach English to kids in China (plus they have to pay their own way to wherever they are doing their work. Fortunately, airfare to Montana is almost as much as airfare to China so everyone ends up paying the same amount roughly) has to be better off then I am. Because that is way out of my budget. WAY out of my budget. And last time I checked, there was another company that offered the same opportunities. It was called the Peace Corps and you don't have to pay a dime. You know who else does that? The National Guard. And there you get paid AND you get to play with a gun. So suck it Global Volunteers. I am on to your little scam.
#55 Give it the Old College Try. Okay, I don't personally know Pam Grout, but I think she may be very confused. Because in my experience, going to college and vacation are not synonyms. In fact, they are pretty much completely different in every way. Well, maybe except for the living in crappy accommodations, eating crappy food, spending a lot of money, drinking, and trying to get laid. Okay, so maybe they aren't THAT different. But going to class definitely is nothing like vacation. I did it for four years and they actually give you work to do AT HOME. Seriously, if you were standing on vacation, and you started digging a hole through the center of the Earth you would come out at homework, because being on vacation and paying to do work once you go home from work are as far apart as two things could ever possibly be. Anyway, according to Pam-o these summer university for adults programs allow one to "stay in the dorms, eat at the cafeterias, and use the gyms, swimming pools, and other facilities...and take advantage of all those bright minds you failed to fully appreciate when you were 18." Okay, I paid for that once and had a blast, but I don't think that now I want to pay Cornell University $1535 to do it again. No thanks. And to all you suckers who do, joke is on you. Because there aren't going to be any co-eds there during the summer. All you will have to do is go to class and learn. Wow does that suck. Seriously, this book should be renamed The 99 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life and one Really Stupid Vacation You Can Take because #55 is not a vacation at all. End of discussion.
Now, despite the above examples, and a couple of more that I didn't feel like digging up, this is actually a really enlightening and interesting book. Ms. Grout did an inspired job of finding unique and enriching trips with reputable companies and nonprofits. And the options range from the "I could afford that if I picked up a couple of extra shifts at the BK this month" type to the "Maybe I could afford that if I skimmed eleventy billion dollars off the top of Enron last year" range. But they are all cool and all interesting even if some are slightly misguided. And honestly, if you can't find at least one vacation that interests you out of the four categories (Arts & Crafts Getaways, Volunteer Vacations, Brain Retreats, and Wellness Escapes) you should probably take that multi-colored pencil that you got as a prize from your Lucky Charms cereal last week and sharpen it and jab it in your eye, because you deserve to spend the first half of your vacation in a hospital emergency room, and the second half picking out eye patches and playing pirate. So go get the book and read it, but you can skip the ones I talked about above. Because I am calling shenanigans on them. I am going to get my broom right now.