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The Prescribed Vacation

Posted by Chuck Reece on

On Tuesday, I had an appointment with a doctor who’s been treating me for about a year. We talked about what we needed to talk about, and when I stood up to leave his office, he asked me a question.

“Have you taken a vacation since I’ve been seeing you?”

“No,” I replied.

“You should,” he said. 

That’s why Stacy and I will soon leave town to spend a few days on Fripp Island in South Carolina. 

Doctor’s orders.

I don’t know why we’ve waited so long to take a vacation. I expect part of the reason was the Pandemic Fear — that reticence to spend even an hour in a place that wasn’t our own home. But gradually over the past few months, we’ve been breaking out. We’ve gone out to dinner with friends at restaurants. We’ve seen some live music. Last week, we actually saw a movie in a theater. 

And now, we’re going on vacation.

There is evidence that vacation is good for you.

Last year, Forbes contributor Carolina Castrillon talked to Adam Galinsky, professor and chair of the management division at Columbia Business School. Dr. Galinsky’s has done extensive research into the links between between travel and creativity. 

“Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms,” Dr. Galinsky told Forbes.

Good news, but delivered in words that are entirely too wonky to inspire folks to take a vacation. 

I prefer the words of one of my favorite writers, the late Maya Angelou, in her book “I Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.”

“Every person needs to take one day away,” Angelou writes. “A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

Wow. Some time to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. 

The truth is, in the days since we booked our vacation at a little place on Fripp Island that’s just a quick walk to the beach, my mood has already lifted. Just the prospect of having some time to withdraw from cares makes me happy.

The prospect has also made me think about vacations I took with Mom and Dad when I was a child. Even though the cares of adult life and work did not then burden me, I remember how wonderful vacations made me feel. I also remember how our trips lightened the moods of my parents, even though we never traveled very far from home.

Daddy grew up in the mountains of North Georgia, and he loved the mountains so much that when it came time for a summer vacation, he figured the best thing to do was to head farther up into them. That’s why almost every childhood vacation I can remember was in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Maggie Valley was his favorite destination for us. Maggie Valley, if you’re not aware of the place, sits in Haywood County, about 35 miles west of Asheville. I remember it being a tiny town, and evidently it still is. The U.S. Census Bureau says 1,763 people live there.

Dad would book us into one of the small roadside motels, and we would spend a week mostly driving, wandering the Blue Ridge Parkway and taking in the spectacular mountain views or roaming through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I think those two activities alone would have satisfied my parents completely.

But of course, they had a kid to entertain, too. Which meant trips to places like the Oconoluftee Indian Village in Cherokee, where I could talk to members of the tribe and come home with souvenirs like a feathered headdress or a plastic tomahawk.

My favorite destination of all was Ghost Town in the Sky. It’s out of business now, but it was a replica of a Wild West town that sat on top of Buck Mountain. You had to ride an inclined railway to get up there. And every so often, gun-toting Hollywood stuntmen would appear from the buildings and stage gunfights in the street. They were shooting blanks, of course, but they did fall from the roofs of buildings into the street occasionally. Then they would all get up, dust themselves off, wave to the crows and talk to little kids like me. 

I didn’t think about it back then, but on those Ghost Town days, Mom, Dad and I were consciously separating the past from the future, as Ms. Angelou advises. And we always came home the better for the experience.

I don’t need to be in the middle of fake gunfights anymore. All I need is what Angelou a day “in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.”

Fripp Island, we’ll see you soon. And we won’t be in search of solutions.


P.S. If any of y’all have been to Fripp Island and have some tips, we’d love the information. Just leave a comment at the bottom of the story. We’d appreciate it. 


  • Enjoy your vacation! I do enjoy reading your stories! Love thinking of vacations as a time of withdrawing from worries that won’t withdraw from us.

    Joan Kidd on

  • My family vacations were always the beach. Enjoy!

    Lysanne Matthews on

  • Fripp is a really fun place, and I think most visitors rent golf carts on the island?! Pack sunscreen!
    I grew up going to Ghost Town in Maggie Vally, too. Then my best friend’s dad bought a chalet there and I spent some of my teen years visiting. Lots of fun memories there.
    Have fun on your vacay!

    Dee Thompson on

  • Chuck, I couldn’t agree more; the good professor’s description was a bit wonky! …always enjoy your stories, too! Please enjoy your vacation.

    Berkeley Boone on

  • Have a great time. We should compare memories of Ghosttown in the Sky AND Frontierland one of these days.

    Karen Adams on

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