AP U.S. History and AP Seminar teacher Steve Labenz has seemingly mastered the art of “going with the flow.” Come rain or shine, he will make the most of a free day.
Labenz has had to alter his typical spring break schedule, not only from a COVID-19 standpoint, but also with his usual hobbies, including motorcycling.
“I no longer have a motorcycle,” Labenz said, “and spring break week was usually when I would get it prepped and out on the road. I have a bicycle and will hopefully be on the White Pine Trail at that time.”
Labenz was planning a trip to Belgium or Scotland last summer which, with the global pandemic, didn’t end up happening. Regardless, he is still enthusiastic about a nice break and being able to take advantage of at-home comforts this year instead. In fact, many students and teachers are planning on “staycationing” this year.
Pre-pandemic, Grand Rapids was becoming a destination site for everything from long weekends at ArtPrize, to week-long vacations where tourists would plan to visit the lakeshore and other Grand Rapids staples such as the Frederik Meijer Gardens or the various museums and venues for concerts such as Van Andel Arena. While staying at home may not seem the most exciting, Grand Rapids still is considered one of the best tourism destinations in Michigan.
Along with that, staycationers should be enjoying some nice spring weather the first week in April, as it is predicted to be in the low 60s and sunny most days, thus making outdoor activities highly possible.
Senior Julia Kirkman, for example, plans to use the gorgeous, spring weather to her advantage.
“A lot of my friends are also staying home for [spring] break so we will probably spend a lot of time all hanging out,” Julia said. “It’s supposed to be a little warmer; I have a pool in my backyard so we’re planning on hanging out at the pool and pretending we’re not in Michigan.”
Julia may also spend some time enjoying the West Michigan beaches which, despite the cooler temps, now look almost summer-like.
“[I will] maybe go down to the lake, not to swim or anything but just to be down on the beach,” she said.
Seeing how the day unfolds weatherwise definitely is part of the fun of a staycation. Junior Cole Feyen enjoys all the free-time an at-home break comes with and the excitement of seeing where the day goes.
“[A staycation is] definitely about getting out [and] doing new or exciting things,” Cole said. “[It’s about] doing something outside of being cooped up in the same house all the time. I’m waiting until the break hits to just go with the flow and see what fun things arise.”
The beauty of a staycation is that there is no need for planning; each day can unfold any way you choose. It can be social, independent, active, artistic and leave room for exploration of our own backyards.
Julia is also looking forward to some more leisurely pursuits during her time off.
“Last year, when everything got shut down, I actually picked up painting,” said Julia, “but, I haven’t done it much in the last couple of months with how busy I’ve been with school and dance. I’m actually excited to get some time to paint and do artistic things.”
Though, more than anything else, Julia is looking forward to spending time with her friends.
“[I’m looking forward to] spending [spring break] with my friends,” Julia said, “especially since we’re seniors and normally this would be our senior spring break.”
Staycation is about exploring the beautiful outdoor respite that West Michigan provides, but it is also about luxuriating in the serenity that any break provides. Even in the rain, with the right attitude, there is always a way to enjoy the day, just ask Mr. Labenz.
“[If it rains, I’ll] sleep in,” Labenz said, “maybe practice my instruments, [eat a] grilled cheese for lunch, hang out with my wife and cats, maybe watch a movie— nothing too major.”
All in all, when it comes to a nice break from the everyday schedule, it’s all the little things that make for a real vacation.
“At least [my senior friends and I] get to spend a couple weeks together,” Julia said, “especially since we are all going to different places in August. We will probably spend a lot of time driving around and doing what we can with the limitation of COVID-19 and hanging out at each other’s houses.”