There's some big off-leash dog parks an hour or so out of town, and we decided to take Ellie to one of them. So around 1-ish, we packed up some books and spare clothes and a blanket, stopped at a deli for some food, and then drove out to a dog park near Libertyville. It would have taken about 45 minutes, but there was a bad accident on the road, and they'd actually closed the highway for a while, so it was more like an hour-fifteen. But still, not too bad.
Once we got to the thirty-acre dog exercise area, we let Ellie off the leash. She pretty immediately started playing with the other dogs and with Kevin, and didn't really stop for the three hours we were there. (She is a super-tired puppy today, and has done nothing but sleep on the couch all morning.) She chased sticks into the huge pond, she raced another beagle around the big open field, she actually managed to keep up with a greyhound by sneakily running circles through the underbrush, which was insanely cute. She had a terrific time.
And while she did all this, I lay on a blanket in some dappled shade, staring at the big blue sky, enjoying the vigorous breeze. I nibbled a variety of picnic foods (guarding them from the doggies as necessary), watched the rest of our blanket get thoroughly muddy as all kinds of dogs (mostly Ellie), ran wet and muddy over it. Off and on, I read some chapters of Gene Wolfe's The Knight. I let Kevin do all the necessary keeping-an-eye-on-Ellie, and just completely relaxed. It was lovely lovely lovely.
I was talking to some friends recently, and they asked me when was the last time I went away on an actual vacation -- no, not a sf convention, or an academic conference, or a writing retreat. And aside from a few days at Xmas each year, I honestly can't remember. The Sri Lanka trip in 2005 sort of counts, but even there I did try to do research and writing -- took tons of notes and photos. But just going somewhere for a couple of weeks and lying on a beach? No internet, no working on volunteer projects, nothing constructive at all? Umm...I'm not sure I've ever done that. If I have, it's been years and years. Somehow, even after baby comes, I think I better try to schedule in some pure relaxation time, or I just may completely lose it one of these days.
Soon, the semester will be over, and in theory, I should have a few weeks between that and baby coming when I can relax. For now, three hours in a dog park will have to hold me.