Loose Ends: Staying home not really a true vacation

Vacation. The word itself conjures up leaving, vacating the premises and moving on.
Now that our vacation season has ended, looking back at the flat summer tourist season for most western communities is more than appropriate. One imaginative travel vendor in the Northwestern part of the country attempted to draw more visitors from their home turf than those out-of-towners. They used the word “Staycation” to describe a concerted effort by a penny-pinching public to stay home and yet go on a mental vacation for a few hours if nothing more.
The idea was clever and the local natural resource bank included the Columbia River, which provided the perfect venue to convince local folks that they indeed were seeing familiar sights with new eyes. The whole riverboat promotion banked on the idea that local folks could take “day vacations” in their own territory. The day cruiser up the Columbia promised to not only offer the comforts of home while staying home, they played up the new sights that old inhabitants might have not taken the time to see. One ad promised, “There’s a world of wonder right outside your door. Discover more of the place you call home with a trip on the Portland Spirit or the Columbia Gorge Stern Wheeler.”
Our own ribbon of mountain refreshment, the White River, must hold some possibilities of its own. How about “Take a guided tube turn through town starting at the Green Cabins and stopping at the spot famed explorer John Wesley Powell stood on next to the pristine White?”
Another tourist site based on the explorations of the even more famous explorers, Lewis and Clark, implored the local armchair traveler, “Paddle in a kayak or canoe with a park ranger on a guided tour of the Lewis and Clark River.” Now I know that all of our park ranger types could come up with an appealing song and dance that would cater to this new crowd. The White River Valley is ripe with possibilities.
Forget offering an authentic “Old West” melodrama. Let’s get some good, old one-man shows going, like a Teddy Roosevelt lookalike taking us all on a real “lion hunt” out at the historic Keystone ranch, or a re-enactor gussied up as outlaw Matt Warner sharing his favorite White River hideouts. Who knows? Staycations and stay-at-homers may be a true sign of these depressing economic times.