How awesome of the Fourth of July to fall on a Thursday, giving us a four-day weekend and a chance to try out something new: a stay-cation. Normally by July we’re swelteringly in need of a break from 100% humidity. But after a week in Santa Fe last month I’ve actually developed a renewed appreciation for humidity (a broken down air-conditioner at the moment notwithstanding) So instead of hitting I-95 ourselves for a getaway, we invited some friends down from Washington DC. I can’t remember a nicer four days staying in one place, so I thought I’d share my top 5 tips for anyone else hanging close to home this summer.
1) Invite out-of-towners to join you. It’s so easy to take your hometown for granted and the best cure is to see it through fresh eyes. It might take some convincing – most non-Southerners would rather slit their wrists than face the sizzling heat and oozing humidity we’re famous for. But tell them to check the weather stats. Right now I’d argue we’re having the best weather in the country. Eating at Duke’s BBQ in Walterboro never tastes as good as when two friends sitting across from you are groaning in ecstasy. I’d forgotten how quirky and hospitable antiquing in the Lowcountry can be, or how sumptuous and eccentric the squares of Savannah appear to outsiders.
2) Invent a signature cocktail for the stay-cation. Think about it. When you go stay at a hotel in some resort destination you probably don’t sit around the pool drinking the same old cheap beer. You try new cocktails and find yourself reminiscing for years about the perfect habanero margarita you had in Tulum. For our stay-cation, I adapted the signature martini of a famous New York restaurant: The Indochine. It required some preparation: infusing a bottle of vodka with the core of a pineapple and a plug of peeled ginger and not touching it for two weeks. But when I filled the silver-bullet martini shaker with 3 oz. of the steeped vodka, 1 oz. of Cointreau, 1 oz. of fresh squeezed lime and a gulp of pineapple juice it was the beginning of a new story for me and my DC friend Marlene.
3) Go camp. As in, remember all the best parts of summer camp when you were a kid and recreate them. Here in the Lowcountry we have winding tidal creeks to explore by kayak and loggerhead turtle beaches to comb for hours. But even if your stay-cation is in a big city I bet you’ll have a blast tooling around it by fat-tire bicycle.
4) Stay up way past your normal bedtime and sleep in like a slovenly teenager. It’s all about breaking the routine and indulgence. Now I’m usually nodding off by 11pm so this was tough for me. The solution was another Beaufort treat: the drive-in movies. Nothing says you’re on vacation like lawn chairs under the stars while you congratulate yourself for not paying full price to watch Lone Ranger.
5) Finally – unplug. It will never feel like a vacation if you’re checking emails and tweeting your every thought and observation before you’ve even experienced it. Here’s a game to get you started. Have an Indochine martini or two and then throw out a theoretical question. Actually banter back and forth with conversation instead of looking it up on your phone or I-pad. I bet you’ll remember those answers and conspiracy theories long after Wikipedia becomes cliché as the word “stay-cation.”