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The conundrum: I really need a vacation, but I have no time or money for a vacation.  I think many Americans are in the same boat, which is where the idea of the staycation comes from. More and more of us seems to be taking them. Every couple of weeks I find time in my insane work schedule to actually take a day off. I found a random Thursday this July where miraculously I only had to work ONE of my jobs… so I called in sick and went to see The Dark Knight at the Smithsonian IMAX.

This time I actually planned ahead and gave myself a day off. Every time I get city bound for too long, I hear Colorado yelling at me to come home. Obviously that’s not happening, but I find I can dampen the screaming to a subtle whine by spending some time out in nature. So I demanded my friends find a single day this month that they could take off from their equally busy lives and drive down to Shenandoah National Park with me to go tubing. It’s not the Rockies, but Appalachia is certainly beautiful, and there was lots of fun to be had.

Tubing down the Shenandoah is certainly not a whitewater rafting, aggressive adventure. For the most part, it was delightfully relaxing, but there were just enough obstacles along the way to make it fun and interactive. There were a few small rapids to get through, several places where we got stuck on weeds or rocks and had to maneuver ourselves out, and several spots to stop and swing from a vine along the way. There was even some cliff diving to watch. But mostly lots and lots of floating in a tube, laying in the sun, and chatting with friends.

I wish I had pictures, but none of us wanted to risk dropping our iPhones in the river so we opted to go sans technology. Possibly one of the best decisions ever. By the end of the day, we all agreed this was one of the best days we’d had all summer.

Here are my top 5 reasons why:

1.  Since we were all in the Olympic spirit, the rope swings and cliff dives gave us an excuse to have our own little live competitions. Crowds would gather around to watch the action: hooting, cheering, hollering, laughing, scoring the best dives, and one of the louder members of our group provided hilarious drunk commentary. So much better than Ryan Seacrest, by the way.

2. For over 5 hours we floated down a river with no phones, computers, music, or any other technology.

3. Meeting new people on the river… and then making fun of them. We heckled a lot. Made fun of the groups of country bumpkins that rolled by. Made a new friend named Nate who we called Travis til we realized his name was Nate… then we started calling him “fake Travis.” We thought it was hilarious, I’m sure he thought we were morons.

4. Warm water, mountains, glorious blue skies, and a perfect breeze.

5. Alcohol. Lots of it.

I wish this adventure could have continued, that we could have had a whole week, or heck, even just the whole weekend to relax on the river. But I’ve learned never to underestimate the power that just one day can have. This one certainly made an impact on me, and inspired my group of friends who never have enough time for each other. We are trying to dedicate at least one day a month to have some kind of fun adventure. Here’s to staycation!