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WOSTER: Brewing up the perfect vacation

Terry Woster

We talked about dream vacations the other day during a break at work, and I realized -- not for the first time -- that I'm different from the rest of the staff.

When asked casually where I'd go if I could travel anywhere in the world, I usually say I'd like to tour all of the Civil War battlefields. I would, too, to see the lands I've read about for years and years in the histories of that terrible war. I've been north of Pierre to Gettysburg "Where the Battle Wasn't,'' but that's as close as I've come to really seeing one of those places.

Now, Nancy isn't that keen on visiting those battlefields, so we probably never will. We do a lot of those kinds of things together, strange as it seems. I recall back in 1995 when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, a friend was trying to tell me to go to a certain clinic for treatment. I said I'd talk it over with Nancy, and he said, "What's she have to do with it?'' That surprised me. I figured whether I lived or died over cancer might impact her some, and besides, she understood some of the medical words we were reading.

Nancy sometimes says she wouldn't mind seeing Hawaii. Me, I'd put that place well down the list, somewhere below the New Jersey Turnpike. That isn't knocking Hawaii. It's a great-looking place. I've seen a lot of it from a helicopter piloted by Steve McGarrett or a speeding car driven by Daniel "Danno'' Williams. They're the main characters on "Hawaii Five-O,'' the popular television series that came back after decades. I enjoyed the Jack Lord version better, but he never flew a helicopter. All he did was catch bad guys and have Danno book them.

So, yes, I like Hawaii a lot. I just wouldn't care to visit there. We probably never will.

What I really would like for a vacation, I told my co-workers, is a big pot of coffee that never turned bitter, an endless supply of books and a quiet house where I'd drink coffee all day and read books (the kind with hard covers and pages made of some kind of paper, not the kind that show up on a miniscreen on some handheld electronic device) from sunrise until the "purple colored curtains mark the end of day'' (I borrowed that from the Platters). I might get bored eventually, but I'm willing to take my chances.

Sometimes, for a refreshing change of pace, I'd take a thermos of coffee and a couple of books out onto the west porch where we have an ancient swing that creaks and murmurs comfortably as it moves back and forth. I know I could spend a lot of time there, as long as folks walking or biking past didn't interrupt my reading or dreaming by trying to talk with me.

I'm kind of an introvert, you see, and it's an effort to make small talk. If I really, really know the people, I can talk about anything. I just don't know how to say stuff like, "So, Will, you doing anything exciting for the weekend?'' I can talk high school track, but not a lot of people want to talk about the fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the 440-yard dash in the 1961 state meet. So, I try to avoid eye contact. Books are great for that. And if you have a reputation for being hard-of-hearing, it's even better.

If I really wanted an adventure, I'd walk the few blocks up the hill to Rawlins Library. There I'd sit in one of those easy chairs on the south side of the room, and let the sun warm me as I alternately read, gazed at the Capitol building or dozed and drooled on my shirt. I know. It probably doesn't sound exciting to you, but maybe you aren't reaching the September of your years, either. Excitement can be overrated.

I just read over the column to make a few editing changes and it occurred to me: Maybe my idea of taking free time is the reason I'm still working full-time.