The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Learning on vacation

Sea foam
PalmettosPerfect vacation tip #8: Learn something, but stay whimsical

If you're following my advice and going to a new spot on each vacation, you probably won't know much about your surroundings.  That's a great opportunity to learn new things, which for me usually means discoveries about the natural world.

Mom found the beautiful and informative Tideland Treasure on our trip, and that book helped us answer questions we'd had earlier in our stay.  For example, I felt like the waves were much lower than they'd been in my childhood beach memories, and Tideland Treasure explained that we'd accidentally arrived at a neap tide, when the force of the moon and earth counteract each other at the quarter moons and cause lower highs and higher lows.  If I want those raging waves of memory, I need to plan our next trip for spring tides at the new or full moon.

Moon jelly

Shell collectingWe gleaned other tidbits randomly from folks we talked to.  Mom  and I had noticed several huge jellyfish washed up on the beach, and our movie-star neighbor mentioned he'd just seen a piece in the New York Times about these moon jellies.  Turning back to the book, Mom discovered that moon jellyfish are edible, and that jellyfish of various sorts are often eaten in Japan.

The trick with learning on vacation is a lot like what I discovered while beach combing.  By looking with your own eyes for a couple of days before hitting the books (or internet), you'll see more and not get bogged down in the search for perfection.  (This admonition is only relevant for Type A people, of course.  Type B people probably stopped reading this lunchtime series long ago because they were straining muscles from all the eye-rolling.)

Learn to start a no-till garden in Weekend Homesteader: April.

This post is part of our Gratuitous Vacation Photos lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I could be way off here, but i would think that the neap tide would explain why the high tide wasn't so high and the low tide wasn't so low. But the waves are caused by wind, and i wouldn't think that the gravitational pull would have a noticable effect on the waves.
Comment by matt Wed Oct 23 12:24:51 2013

I've also been looking for those raging waves I remembered from childhood. Although changes in viewpoint mean I'm probably looking for waves twice as big as those I remember, and considerably more dangerous.

I found them this summer, but this was after a tropical storm had passed over, and it was clearly not safe to swim. Later I heard that someone had gone swimming that day, and washed up dead.

Anyway, one thing Ocracoke has that Pawleys lacks is that there's often a swimmable sandbar just offshore of Ocracoke, where the breakers are quite a bit bigger.

Comment by Wed Oct 23 15:36:11 2013

Something I've enjoyed doing while on holidays, is finding a book written about the area we're visiting. Not just a visitor's guide (like Lonely Planet) or factbook (like wildflowers of the region), but something that tells a story. It could be a biography of someone from the area, a travel diary of a visitor to the area, or even a novel set in the area.

For example, when we went to Borneo I took along a book about a guy who hiked through the jungle from one side of Borneo to the other. I could really picture what he was going through, what he was seeing and hearing, and how he would have felt. It really made the book come alive, and I'll never forget it. It also gave me a lot more insight into what I was seeing all around me during our holiday.

Being immersed in the sights and sounds of the book while reading it is an amazing experience!

Comment by Darren (Green Change) Wed Oct 23 17:44:17 2013

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