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Rusty Saber

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by Joe McAdoo

Home is the vacationer, home from the beaches of Maui. Of greatest concern to my wife about me going on vacation was whether I could go for a prolonged period without needing a doctor or a hospital, something I haven't been able to do of late. I'm happy to report that I did it.

In my absence SBJ Managing Editor Paul Flemming opted for a couple of selections from my book, "McAdoo About Nothing." I can't pass up the opportunity to announce to one and all that this book can still be purchased from bookstores, the SBJ office, my garage, the trunk of my car you name the place, I'll see that you get all the copies you want. I promise.

Is it just me, or is flying becoming a real pain? It seems the more it costs to fly, the more hassles are involved. To begin with, you never know when pilots, flight attendants, mechanics or somebody will go on strike, leaving you and your luggage stranded in an airport waiting room.

Should everything about flying go absolutely right, the best you can expect is to be shuttled from one crowded airport to another. Why is it that when you fly someplace, you arrive so tired you feel like you walked? I'll tell you why. Nothing in big city airports is close to where you need to be.

You feel like you walked to your destination because you walked from a gate in one county to another in a distant county.

Like cattle being herded on to trucks, airline passengers are crammed on to wide-bodied airplanes that are like pressurized, air-conditioned cattle trucks.

Seats are crammed close together. How close are they? Well, you'd better be traveling with your spouse, because you become awfully cozy with the person next to you.

I'm built close to the ground (short legs), yet there's little or no room for my legs. The person in the seat in front of me might as well be in my lap that's really cozy. What do tall people with long legs do? After seven hours in the air I could barely make my short little legs work. If I were a 6-footer, they would have had to call 911 to carry me off the airplane.

It's true. When you fly, you pay a lot of money to be mistreated, but, although you may feel like you walked, flying does beat walking; the walk from Los Angeles to Maui would be worse, and wetter, than cramped seats and no leg room on the airplane.

Maui is our favorite vacation spot along with quite a few Springfieldians. My wife and I met up with three local couples during our stay. I'm jealous of them because they are still there.

I used to take a lot of vacation pictures. I don't do that anymore because I got tired of carrying a camera bag loaded with all the equipment I thought to be essential. A lot of travelers carry those little "point and shoot" cameras. To me, that's like painting by the numbers.

And I've never warmed up to video camcorders. Show me a tourist with a camcorder, and I'll show you someone who will bore to tears every relative or friend forced to watch vacation videos. If the gadget has a built-in microphone, unfortunate viewers will hear such things as "This is our rental car parked in the hotel parking lot." "This is the parking lot." "This is Mary (wife) getting into the rental car." Hey, this is the interesting part; it gets worse.

As I think about the highlights of our vacation, Maui provides so many that I can't list them all. However, I can sum it up by copying from the MasterCard TV commercial. I'm sure you've seen it. The announcer tells the exact cost of a number of things someone buys, and concludes by mentioning something that is priceless.

Well, like in the commercial, there's the price our airline tickets, rental car and condo. But, standing on a Maui lanai (balcony) with the deep blue Pacific Ocean 50 feet away, a sandy beach in between and wild birds gathered around eating pieces of bread out of my hand that's priceless!

I know, I know. Bird feeding may not be a rip-roaring vacation highlight for most folks, but it works for me. Sure, I could feed birds in my backyard, but they probably wouldn't eat out of my hand, and the Pacific Ocean and beach might be hard to come by ...

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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