About Out

Jun 10, 2010 by


Pronunciation: \ vā-ˈkā-shən, və- \
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English vacacioun, from Anglo-French vacacion, from Latin vacation-, vacatio freedom, exemption, from vacare
Date: 14th century

1. a respite or a time of respite from something : intermission

It seemed like a good idea at the time – help a friend take her friend’s car over a few states in a road trip and have a little fun between some stretches behind the wheel. Once the car was delivered, we’d head back to New Orleans on a plane. But the conversation kept turning towards the oil disaster, compounded by the fact that my driving pal Edie was retracing most of the evacuation route she, her daughter, and their two dogs took to get out of New Orleans nearly five years ago.

Two days straight on the road – but I did at least get her slightly off it for a short time to check out one of my favorite public art works for the first time. Of course, in light of all the things we’d been discussing off and on when I wasn’t playing all my CDs (thank God I brought so many; thank God the player in the car was a 6 CD changer), this quirky ’70’s-era monument to Route 66’s remains and to the American automobile in general can certainly take on a new meaning:

Of course, those have been my interpretations of Cadillac Ranch. Visitors are more than welcome to spray-paint their own versions onto the cars, and they absolutely do.

2 a : a scheduled period during which activity (as of a court or school) is suspended b : a period of exemption from work granted to an employee

Two days straight of being behind the wheel and gradually increasing the altitude at which you reside when you aren’t driving to New Mexico made for a few things happening when we actually got the car to where it needed to go: lots of snoozing, and the initiative of our wonderful hosts, who gave us a nice mini-tour of a few places in their area.  They wanted more time to show us around – we were originally slated to be there until Tuesday – but, as the youngest of the group, and being not even close to retirement age, I had to work on Tuesday.

Yeah, I was a bummer, but the bigger bummer was trying to hike up the beautiful mountain I was brought to on Saturday.  We were already 9000 feet up at the ski lodge, and trying to go just a couple hundred feet more left me feeling as though someone had decided to shrink my lungs on me when I wasn’t looking.  I salute the mountain bikers who repeatedly went up the ski lift and biked their way down the slopes; I couldn’t get enough air to simply put one foot in front of the other.  My greatest sympathies were reserved for my pal, Edie, however, who felt the effects of the dryness of the heat all in her nose.  The only things that worked were the high-powered antihistamines that made her drowsy, so they were only good for the nighttime.  There was no way she wanted to be half-asleep for Santa Fe.  And she was right about that.

3 : a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation <had a restful vacation at the beach>

It’s a lovely place, Santa Fe, and also the first place where I began to encounter the folks from whom, when they heard where I was from,  a renewed “I’m sorry” came concerning the predicament the Gulf Coast is currently in.

I should have worn my Saints jersey or something to remind these folks we had more to be a tad cheery about, but I simply thanked them and moved on.  I didn’t have much choice in that matter, as we flitted from art gallery to art gallery all over the central area of the city, after we’d had a fantastic brunch and before we stopped in to have an iced coffee and browse hurriedly at a bookshop next door before trying to enter two galleries that turned out to be closed on Sundays.  Despite the rushing, it was a beautiful time, filled out at the tail end by a viewing of the latest Treme episode at our hosts’ home, in which I couldn’t believe how much I  recalled of the way things were – and are – in post 8/29 /05 New Orleans.

4 : an act or an instance of vacating

We ended our trip with a visit to what was once a giant prehistoric volcano, the effects of which were probably felt in faraway Lubbock, Texas, if there had been any humans around to have seen the effluvia a-comin’.  Edie and I had to go through Los Alamos and its National Laboratory’s checkpoints to get there, and she marveled at how much the security had been beefed up since her evacuation stay in the area a while back.  There are allegedly 70-plus scientists at the Lab working on the oil disaster and the real deal concerning the amount of oil in the Gulf and where it could go. I hope they get more good people on it.

Our return began with the TSA lady checking our IDs and giving us another “I’m sorry” on seeing where we were from.  It ended with Edie getting off the plane in Kenner and exclaiming with great delight, “I can breathe! And my nose isn’t bleeding anymore!”

It’s good to be back.


*all definitions, parts 1-4, are from the Merriam-Webster Online

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