Something strange happened recently.  I wanted to go somewhere—just get away for a few days before the stress of the new school year settled on my shoulders like sandbags at a CrossFit® class.  I monitored the petsitting website obsessively, but nothing came up that tickled my fancy.  Actually, that’s not quite accurate. There were plenty of great sits, but they were all in places I wanted to see with the husband, or else they were in the desert Southwest, and since I have trips planned to both Phoenix and Sedona in the next seven months, I worried that I’d be setting myself up for desert fatigue.  Ditto for California.  I’ve barely scratched the surface of that eminently visitable state, but since I’ve been to both Palm Springs and Sonoma County in the last six months, I knew a break from the Golden State was in order.

A sittable bunny and her human.

Eventually, it dawned on me to think outside the petsitting box.  How about a “party of one” trip to Boise? There’d be good mountain hiking, I told myself.  Wait!  What about Santa Barbara?  Hiking and the beach! Having long wanted to visit Santa Barbara, I was willing to overlook the fact that it’s in California (see paragraph one).

Photo by Binyamin Mellish on

And this is where “something strange” enters the picture.  What was strange was that the more I thought about hopping on a flight to get out of town, the more I just couldn’t be bothered.  Yes, rapidly rising COVID numbers did factor into my decision making, but it was more than that.  Since I knew I only wanted to go for a few days, it seemed like too much fuss to mess about with plane tickets, travel insurance, car rentals, and so on.  I simply couldn’t muster up the energy.  My attitude kind of shocked me—I mean, I call myself the Travel Architect after all. And yet, this wasn’t the first time I balked at the idea of a short trip to a faraway place.

Siena, Italy: one example of a faraway place

Back before the pandemic struck, I was talking with a colleague at school and the conversation turned toward travel.  Turns out, she had taken the previous Friday and Monday off of work and flown to Puerto Rico for a vacation.  “Really?” I asked, nonplussed.  “Did you leave on Thursday night?”  Nope.  She left Minnesota on Friday morning, flew to New York for a layover, and then on to Puerto Rico.  Now I don’t know the exact details, but that had to put her in Puerto Rico mid-afternoon on Friday, leaving Saturday and Sunday as her only full days on the island.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on

Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, the fuss and bother of prepping for a trip like this—planning for a substitute teacher, arranging a petsitter for the bunny, boning up on my Spanish, as well as all the regular must-dos before travel—is seriously out of proportion to the number of days allotted for uninterrupted bliss.

Our neighbors, too, perplex me with their willingness to fly across the continent for quick getaways—Mexico, Arizona, Colorado are but a few of the destinations they have zipped off to for long weekends. Hell, as I write this they’re getting ready to jet off to California wine country for another long weekend of wine-tasting (I know this because I’m on cat-feeding duty while they’re gone).

Recently, our beloved couples-only destination in Jamaica tried to lure us into the short-n-sweet game.  They emailed us an offer on a quick, five-night getaway.  Five nights?  That’s just semantic chicanery.  What they really meant was four days, because we all know the travel days on either end don’t really count.

Our first three trips to Jamaica were 6 full days, 7 full days, and 8 full days, respectively. I wonder how long the fourth trip will be…

As you probably guessed, we didn’t take the bait.  The first time we flew down there, the journey was so god-awful, protracted, and maddening that, once we finally arrived, it took a full 24 hours in situ to uncoil our bound-up musculature and stop sniping at each other.  Were that situation to repeat itself . . . oh, who am I kidding?  Even if the travel down there were seamless, four days just isn’t enough time to justify all the hassle, not to mention that it would leave me totally dissatisfied and frustrated that just as I was starting to truly relax it would be time to pack up and go home.

Not that there haven’t been exceptions:

  • The husband’s long weekend in England in which he surprised his entire family by showing up unannounced at his grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration (the school calendar precluded a longer stay)
  • Our four-day anniversary trip to San Antonio, (again, school calendar . . .)
  • My three days in Seattle for my first petsit (I was so obsessed with trying out our new membership that I would have flown to Burkina Faso for a single overnight petsitting gig if that’s what it had taken.)

But for the most part, if an airplane is involved, the trip needs to be 5-6 days minimum, especially if a layover (*groan*) is involved. (For international travel, particularly over massive expanses of open ocean, I need a good 10-20 days.)  So in the end, I scrapped my search for flights, threw a few things in my suitcase, and drove several hours north to what we Minnesotans call “The North Shore,” by which we mean the stretch of Lake Superior between Duluth and the Canadian border, where, without much effort, one can imagine one is in Maine.

A lobsterless Maine.

Is it Maine or Minnesota? Check the menu.

Admittedly, my travel time was equivalent to a plane ride to one of the coasts, but my TSA-free trip had advantages: I didn’t have to arrive at my driveway two hours early, stress about overhead bin availability, or worry about an inattentive baggage handler sending my luggage to Acapulco. And the security check was a breeze—just a brief (and not altogether unpleasant) frisking by the husband before I boarded the vehicle.

While on my short-n-sweet excursion, I did some hiking in that carpet of pine trees known as the Superior National Forest as well as at Cascade River State Park. (My sea kayaking excursion was scuppered by a Small Craft Advisory.)

Left: I don’t know that woman on the left, but she’s in my spot. Right: Ahhh, that’s better.

The hikes were no 14ers, but in Minnesota, you gotta take what you can get.

As for my accommodation, I was none too pleased with the discrepancy between the view promised to me on the website and the view I ended up with, but the management and I worked it out.  Additionally, I did some reconnaissance with the resort map and now I have an enviable list of which units have good views and which don’t—intel that could net me thousands. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

Trees? Thank you, but I have trees where I live. I want me some rocky shoreline and watery expanse!

Still, from my patio I could see the lake . . . 

That there’s the biggest freshwater lake in the world, kids.

. . . and I was just a few steps from this . . .

With these kayak-excursion-ruining waves, I could almost imagine I was back at Bodega Bay.

. . . which enabled me to catch some spectacular sunrises.

And I hot tubbed and swam (not in the lake—Superior is f-f-f-freeeezing) and binge-watched The Path and read and did crosswords and just generally relaxed, free from the dish-washing, laundry-folding, litterbox-changing, grocery-shopping drudgery of everyday life.

I even went to a wine tasting which, in COVID times, is reduced to a DIY wine flight and which I probably would not have had the confidence to do by myself were it not for all the wine tasting experience I got in California earlier this summer.  (I’m now a solid intermediate/advanced Class 2 Neophyte, if I do say so myself.)

Some new-to-me flavor notes: dill and forest floor. I wish I’d licked the forest floor on my hikes, just for comparison’s sake.

At the winery, I got talking with the group sitting near me and, wouldn’t you know it, one of the women lives in Boulder, Colorado, and is friends with the manager of our favorite clothing store—Melanzana—in Leadville! This is not the first “small world” encounter I’ve had while traveling, either.

Read more: It’s a Small World After All

Though I’d love to live just a few hours’ drive from towering mountains, cactus-studded deserts, and sweeping red rock mesas, alas, I do not.  I get to see those things when I have time for long-n-strong, but if I only have time for short-n-sweet, Minnesota’s Maine-impersonating coastline will do quite nicely.

Unless, of course, I get a hankering for lobster.

Which kind of travel do you prefer—long-n-strong or short-n-sweet?

How far—and via what transport—are you willing to go when you only have a few days for traveling?

36 thoughts

  1. I think I’m more of a long n strong traveler as well. I actually had planned a too ambitious trip for Labor Day weekend that we ended up changing at the last minute to something closer, and I’m really glad we did. I think the cons of doing so much in such a short time would’ve outweighed the pros if the trip.

    Lovely photos of Lake Superior. That’s the one Great Lake I haven’t visited. It reminds me of Lake Huron.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think there’s a time and place for both– it’s also due to your geographical location, transport convenience, and allowed time off. When I lived in Europe, I was only a few hour’s train ride away from another country, which meant I could take an extended 3 or 4-day weekend to Switzerland or Germany from France…however, that wouldn’t work in the US, as the states can be so big (especially on the West Coast) to really have the time to do anything. That said, long n’ strong is preferable in the US, whether to go across the country, or even out of the country– those two weeks paid time off really help!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s also based on what kind of job you have. When I was still a teacher, I definitely took advantage of the long holidays and traveled long n’ strong. Nowadays, I don’t get that leisure, so it’s short n’ sweet for me!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a good solution for a short get-away! Great photos. I too go for the multi-week, or one week at least, international travel or in-country if I have to fly. Although, like Rebecca, when I lived abroad I did a lot of long weekend international travel. The countries were not so far away and too alluring not to taste.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like both but for the shorter trips I much prefer places closer to home or at least an hour flight away. For international travel I wouldn’t consider anything less than a week, especially during covid with tests still required at least to get back into the US, if not also on arrival, depending on the country and vaccination status. It’s just such a hassle I feel like anything less than a week wouldn’t be worth it.
    You’re fortunate to have such a beautiful place relatively close-by for a shorter vacation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful pictures! I get so homesick for hiking in the mountains. Tennessee has lovely rolling hills, but it’s not the same as the mountains. What a perfect spot for recharging without the hassle of flying. I love long vacations, but quick trips are usually my go-to for convenience and spontaneity.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I saw a couple of nice petsits in Tennessee, near the rolling hills you mention, but as I said in the post, I kinda want to see that area with the husband and he couldn’t go, so TN will have to wait! You’re in a good area of the country for some nice quick trips, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A lobsterless Maine sounds pretty pointless. You might as well just go to Ohio. It’s a lot closer, plus you can fill up on Cincinnati chili.

    I love short and sweet excursions (says the guy who recently spent all of 41 hours in Colorado).

    BTW, Semantic Chicanery would make a great band name.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I always tell the husband that if I’m every laid up in the hospital and all I can do is watch TV, he needs to go buy me that entire series. We watched an episode the other morning while riding the bikes in the basement. I’d never seen it before. I need to see all of them!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Living in Ireland comes with its own perks and one of them is an opportunity to go on as many short as sweet trips around Europe as we wish with some of them requiring less than an hour on a plane. Despite this, I prefer long-n-strong. Short travel, I see as a vacation. It’s something short. You’re bound to specific times and locations at times, and usually, you’ll be running very quickly from place to place. With long travel, you get to learn new languages, you get to absorb and see the cultures, get to meet people, from the inside, the local people. You have more free time to relax. You have more free time to do what’s on your mind with no specific rush.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have to say I’m definitely good at the short and sweet style, stemming from the days when I didn’t have much time to do anything and therefore made the absolute most of it when I could. But I’m also good at the long and strong (see: 19 month trip backpacking around the world). I mean there’s a limit – I wouldn’t do a long weekend in New York City from here, but people actually do! But having the flexibility so close to Europe to be able to do weekend trips (hell I’ve even done DAY trips!) has its benefits.

    However – totally with you at the moment with Covid. As much as my feet are absolutely itching to get off Plague Island, there are too many uncertainties and unnecessary expenses to be worth me getting excited. I’ve managed to save a week off and am using it to go abroad, but it’s not worth going abroad for a weekend at the moment with the cost of PCR tests. Can’t wait for things to be back to normal on that front.

    P.S. those SUNSETS! Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I actually prefer immersing myself in a new place and culture, so month-long trips are the best (whenever possible. i did this ten years ago). I’ve also had three-day, long-distance trips (like to China or plane-taxi-boat grinds to nearby islands) for work, and they could be fun, provided I accept the fact that the travelling itself can be longer than the actual trip, lol.

    Still, if money and time weren’t an issue, it’s going to be month-long trips for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The longest I’ve done is three weeks. For years, whenever we went to Europe, it was for two weeks, which eventually crept to 2.5, and is now usually three. I’ve always said that when we go to Japan, it should be for a month, but I’m not sure if I can stand to be away from the pets that long! We do have one golden rule regarding timing, though: no trips to Asia unless it’s during summer vacation, when we have several work-free weeks to recover from the jet lag (based on recent experience).


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