Every camping space, cabin and yurt in Idaho State Parks was reserved for this Fourth of July weekend, for the first time ever. One-hundred-percent booked, said a KUOW report. In Washington state, camping reservations were up 9% in the first half of 2009, proof, said a state spokesperson, of the staycation trend.

Hmmm? As I understand the recessionary term, a "staycation" is when you stay at home, or within a few miles, instead of spending lots of dollars for driving, flying, or using other methods of transportation to get out of town. It's still a "vacation" if you're leaving the city, even if you're staying in your own state's park system, even if you're saving cash by camping instead of staying in a hotel.
If you must have a buzzword, perhaps "waycation" would do; out of the way of conventional expensive travel. Not "glamping." Not "staycation." Just good old-fashioned low-cost family travel.

Perhaps there is something else going on here. People may not be camping simply because they're unemployed, or because of gas prices, or any of the dozens of other recession-linked reasons at which radio commentators and parks representatives are grasping. I propose something different.

It's called slow living, or back-to-basics, or "oh yeah that's right; spending money isn't the key to all happiness." Is Bernie Madoff happy? Is Dennis Kozlowski happy? (He misses his dogs, poor guy. Note: not his ex-wife, for whose birthday party he spent a cool million and lots of juror/shareholder goodwill points.)

Camping is an extremely low-cost way to spend time away from the worries of home -- no creditor calls, no birthday parties to attend, no floors in need of mopping, no Bachelorette to obsess over -- and hang out with someone you love and several million gallons of fresh air. A one-time capital expenditure in the way of a tent and a couple of sleeping bags, some garage-sale pots and pans, and you're off for a waycation. Way beyond the everyday.

It's no surprise that camping is more popular than ever; it's fun. It's refreshing. And it's a great vacation for those not working their fingers to the bone in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. In other words: it's what we all should aspire to. Recession or no, get out there and waycate.

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