When summer sways lazily on every green branch something stirs within us and we want to break free and wander. The vacation was invented as a response to this urge: We leave routines behind and experiment with pure freedom for a week or two. Right? Well, according to 17th-century killjoy philosopher Thomas Hobbes, that’s all an illusion. Everything you’ll do this summer, even buying that ugly Hawaiian shirt you’ll never wear again, is actually just a long chain of effects descending from material causes, mechanical as clockwork.
It’s something to ponder as you sip a beverage in the shade. Just think, the entire force of the Big Bang was required not only to set the stars in motion and form our blue, breathing world but also to ensure that a patch of sunlight peers through the branches and glitters, just so, upon the ice in your glass.
So perhaps it was no accident that just as we were preparing to roll out a plan for a fun statewide scavenger hunt with great prizes to feature in this, our June vacation issue, we learned that the state’s Division of Travel and Tourism had come up with a different statewide scavenger hunt with their own set of great prizes.
Our people met with their people to discuss the quandary. Their idea was so cool that rather than confuse matters we chose (Or did the universe choose for us? Hmm.) to postpone our contest and embrace the state’s promotion in a big way (see the "Ready...Set...Stay!" story).
Our original idea was good too, so we’re saving it for later (probably foliage season), but in the meantime, we’re excited to get out and, once again, seek adventure and discovery in the big backyard of the Granite State. Just because we’ve been doing this for decades doesn’t mean we’ve scratched the surface, and even where we have, the surface keeps changing, so there’s always something new to see.
As you explore your state this summer, we certainly encourage you to take part in the official Dream Vacation Scavenger Hunt. Everything you need is in this issue or downloadable from NHDreamVacation.com. Of course, you shouldn’t really need incentives to get out into the culture and nature of the state when it’s summertime. Remember, the whole universe is pressuring you to relax, so why resist? And although the state’s contest is great, you can probably make your own fun if you want to be a maverick.
Back in the second half of the 20th century, my family seldom went on elaborate vacations but we had lots of adventures. We’d get in the car, head into the country, and then play a game called “Go Left, Go Right, Go Straight Ahead.” At each intersection, my mom and dad and each of the four kids in the back would take turns choosing which way to go. It was a bit like a mapless GPS with multiple personality disorder, but gas was cheap so we’d spend a day, stopping when we felt like it, eating and staying wherever we wound up.
I wonder whether Thomas Hobbes ever played games like that with his family?
Anyway, I’m thinking of reviving the tradition for my family this summer. After all, who needs a GPS when, no matter where you go, you’re carrying a sign that reads, “I love it here!”?
This article appears in the October 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine