I work a lot and I haven't had a real vacation in longer than I want to admit. While it's true I've been a traveling fool for the last couple of years, none of that travel's been leisure travel. Yes, I've been to some amazing places but going to press conferences and product seminars when you have jet lag doesn't count as R&R in my book. Even so, it's a good problem to have.
So to bide my time until my next vacation, I've picked up the habit of what I call taking mini vacations. They can take less than an hour and they're a short walk down the street.
I live four blocks away from the waterfront park system we have in St. Pete. 101 years ago, the City of St. Petersburg decided it wanted to preserve its downtown waterfront for the enjoyment of all and so they established a grand program to buy up waterfront property and turn everything they bought into a park.
It took a number of years, but eventually the park system would span for the many miles of downtown waterfront and 101 years later, St. Petersburg has an asset every other waterfront city in the world would kill for. Along those many miles of park you can find everything from beaches to tennis courts, dog runs to botanical gardens, marinas to the largest city pool I've ever seen. That park system typifies St. Pete's commitment to the quality of life of its residents and it's one of the things that holds me here.
Few things can soothe and recharge me the way looking at water and watching wildlife can and the parks provide both of those things in spades. An early morning walk (or in my younger days, a jog) can recharge me and get me ready to go back and keep plugging away at what ever I'm doing.
That I can walk a couple of blocks east and see pelicans and wild dolphins and herons and ibises and egrets and smell jasmine and dodge falling coconuts convinces me further that I'm the most fortunate man alive. When I was a kid in rural Pennsylvania I dreamed about seeing the things I see every day.
If I get down there early enough to watch the sun rising, I have most of the parks to myself. There is no other more amazing thing than to sit on the sea wall at the bottom of my street, to warm myself in the rays of a rising sun and to have wild dolphins chasing mullet a few short feet below me.
So my mini vacations in the park tide me over for now. As much as I enjoy my time spent down there. I really need a vacation.
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