Here's the Scoop: July 23, 2014

Fun sure beats relaxing
Vacations, as they say, are overrated.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I think the appropriate description would be more like: Vacations are hard. Even if they’re supposed to be relaxing.
I took a few days “off” last week to visit my wife’s family a couple of states south. I’m pretty good at packing for such trips. Once my small duffle bag is full, I’m equipped. Very simple. As anyone who has ever left home for more than a day knows, packing isn’t really that easy.
The best way to pack efficiently is to make lists of everything that should be brought on the journey. Even then, toothbrushes, hats — the list — something always gets left behind. This, of course, is good news for the retailers at your destination who carry such items.
Although the amount of clothing taken on a trip may be limited, there are lots of other items to consider. Maps, GPS, emergency medications, housesitting arrangements, beach chairs — all add to the “check” items. Assuming the list hasn’t already been lost. See above.
I don’t know about you, but every time I depart for a trip of any duration, I’m rolling out of the driveway thinking, “It will be interesting to see what we’ve forgotten.”

Baseball duties
One segment of this trip that was put under my charge was obtaining tickets to a baseball game between the Brewers and the Nationals. Disclaimer: this game was a second option as my beloved Orioles were out of town during the dates of our trip.
Because empty seats a few boxes behind the home team dugout don’t play well on TV, I was able to get some pretty decent seats for “far less than face value.” Actually, the rate seemed so good, I was nervous for weeks that I had somehow been scammed — and would be forced to wear a giant caricature costume and take part in the “presidential race” that’s a tradition at Nationals’ games. Nope. All was well. No foul balls, though.
A baseball game has a strict starting time, so that fit well with the vacation schedule. Even if getting there early for batting practice didn’t. That was OK, because several days into the trip, we were already exhausted.

Keeping up the pace
I must say, we packed a lot of fun into a few days. Although I enjoy visits to metropolitan areas, I don’t think that lifestyle is one that I’d like to experience on a daily basis. I’m not really a “people person.” By definition, cities have lots of people. So, ya know…
Still, I find cities interesting for short durations. “Nice” cities have a certain magnetism — sort of an immovable force — that lures one’s wallet out of one’s pocket over and over again. When I see figures showing the “economic impact” of tourism, those numbers take on a new reality when you’re helping fund the equation.
I guess that’s why, as we kept to our tight schedule of visiting family and sights, when my wife would inquire, “Do you know what time it is?” the most accurate response soon became, “Spending time.”
Well, at least the purse strings got plenty of relaxation on the trip.
— Brian Sweeney