What I did during my summer staycation

I've just returned from two weeks away from my job -- but that doesn't mean I spent that time jetting to exotic locations. My family and I had already decided against that kind of an adventure due to the economic downturn you may have read about. After all, I work in a profession so unstable that I hold my breath every time I flip on my office light switch. Instead, we planned to drive back east to visit my son, who's attending college in Washington D.C. (and taking summer classes). But that jaunt got the kibosh when my daughter, Ellie, tore her ACL during a basketball game, necessitating surgery that would have made untold hours in a car even more torturous than it would have been under ordinary circumstances. So we stuck around in Colorado -- and the results were mostly pleasant. Emphasis on "mostly."

For week one, we headed over to the Western Slope in order to attend the thirtieth reunion of my wife's and my graduating class at Grand Junction High School. My beloved thoroughly enjoyed the festivities, while I suffered from awkwardness and intense discomfort -- appropriate, since that's how I spent most of my years in high school the first time around. From there, we headed up to my wife's family cabin on the Grand Mesa, one of the true natural wonders our state has to offer. This bucolic experience was enhanced, not marred, by repeated appearances from a mid-size bear whose light brown face and dangerous-looking paws earned him the nickname Sandy Claws. He seemed entirely benign to us -- but, of course, we didn't try to give him a hug.

Our second week was supposed to be spent taking day trips around the state. Unfortunately, this scheme was canceled when our 2002 Chevy Venture van was given its last rites by our longtime mechanic, forcing us to stick close to home. So I spent most of my remaining vacation days reading (finished five books over the two-week span, and started a sixth), went to five movies (the best one, by far, was the charming/hilarious [500] Days of Summer), painting (here's hoping our spiffy garage doors will convince the covenant folks in our subdivision not to send us a letter demanding that we slather the rest of the house, too), alphabetizing more than 5,000 CDs (don't ask), and dealing with an exploding toilet. Turns out a piece in the toilet's tank broke, literally blowing the lid off the top -- and had I not been present to turn off the water, the entire basement would likely have been flooded, costing us untold thousands of dollars to set right.

Guess that staycation paid off after all.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts