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  • Writer's pictureCraig Richards

Permanent vacation destination


courtesy photo

It is crazy to prefer frigid fields over sun drenched beaches, right? I suppose it’s unnatural to dream of warm comforters over sandy beach blankets. I imagine it all comes down to perspective, doesn’t it?


Last week, I had the opportunity to cruise abroad. The trip was a seven-day excursion to three ports including Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Grand Turk. The seas were calm, and the weather was stunning. As with any cruise, indulgence was encouraged, even expected.


From rolling buffets to world class restaurants, the choice of dining was as endless as the ocean stretching to the horizon. Destination excursions, endless entertainment options and carefree hours on a lounge chair populated my days and nights.


The locals in each port and ship staff catered to the over 6,000 guests’ desires. From 24/7 ice cream stations on board to even more ridiculous requests for 3 a.m. room service, it was a week of extreme gluttonous activity. Pre-paid soda and alcohol packages found many patrons toting colorful concoctions as early as 8 a.m.; an indulgence I thankfully and voluntarily avoided.


This floating resort holds the title of the largest cruise ship on the ocean. The three-story main stage, two-story theater, plethora of food stations and countless entertainment venues populated the over 19 story vessel. Comics to magic, live musicians to musicals, the Carnival Mardi Gras was all it was billed to be.


While the brief break from reality was relaxing, it was not a sustainable existence. I know, it may sound unfathomable, but I missed Hammonton. After five days, I began thinking of our ongoing house hunt. I thought of renovations to come, transforming a mere house into a home. Dare I say, I missed the new role I’ve taken on, the staff here at the paper and certainly the number of new acquaintances in the community.


I have always enjoyed time away, but realized the depth and sense of belonging of community. When I passed through shops at the various ports, I was simply a foreigner. They greet me warmly and wish me well, but the fact is I will likely never see them again.


When the ship sets sail that shop will close, barely remembering the faces of the countless travelers that browsed their store. The sidewalks roll up when the ship horn sounds. However here, when I frequent our shops, the owners remember my name and are sincerely concerned about how I am doing.


Likewise, I am vested in their life as well. After all, we are neighbors. Anybody can sell me a polished seashell or a key chain with my name on it. But you can’t sell community. I enjoy supporting small businesses anywhere, but I love supporting local businesses even more.


As for spending months on end abroad, I suppose that depends on the company I keep.

While vacations are necessary and productive to restoring the body and soul, it is everyday life that inspires me. After all, why do we live here? I’m here because I love the sense of community, the people I engage with day-to-day and the work I do here.


Vacation or staycation. Well, any place worth living in is a permanent vacation of sorts. So, I guess I am blessed with being on vacation every day in Hammonton. Except I wouldn’t mind a bit more sun and sand.


Craig Richards is the Publisher for The Hammonton Gazette.

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