Traveling in Style : PATHS OF SUMMER

In summer, the sky opens up; it's brighter, and for longer. The road opens up, too. No more barriers of bad weather; no more forced detours through family-obligation holidays. In summer, you can just get up and go. I remember one August when two friends of mine in Rome left on a whim for a vacation on the Neapolitan coast, riding on a motor scooter, wearing nothing but their bathing suits. The woman of the couple packed for both of them, stuffing little more than toothbrushes, suntan lotion and a couple of T-shirts in her purse. Now that's summer travel, I remember thinking. Most of us probably need to pack a bit more than that when we set off for someplace summery today, and to plan ahead a bit more--but there's no reason why we can't travel with a bit of that same just-do-it spirit. If summer is a time for just getting up and going, it's also the ideal season for doing something once we get there--preferably something active, and out of doors. We Southern Californians are particularly good at such pursuits. It might be something genuinely challenging--hiking and canoeing along the course of an Arctic river, for instance, or cycling through the underpopulated hills of northern Scotland. It might be more contemplative, like waiting on a riverbank in Maine for that inscrutable salmon to bite. It might even be framed in pure self-indulgence: Ride an elephant in Thailand in the morning, then shop the afternoon away. The paths of summer can lead anywhere at all.

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