With the economy in the tank, I’m suddenly hearing more and more about the “staycation.“ As in, Honey, let’s stay at home this summer, instead of popping off to the Algarve, or driving to the Oregon coast. Or, in fact, driving our Land Rover to the beach, because that now costs about ninety bucks for the fifteen minutes it’ll take to get there.
Sure, Honey, let’s stay home this summer. Again. We’ll call it a “staycation,” and pretend we planned it like this.
This whole staycation idea is nothing new to those of us who live on the arty and often financially unstable side of the economic divide. In fact, I wrote a chapter about it in my second book. Recession or no recession, we can’t always afford the kind of vacations that involve hotels, even if we could spring for the gas/plane fare/gas/restaurants/gas. Even if we hadn‘t spent any possible vacation money on a frighteningly necessary new roof. Which no one will notice anyway.
But then again, what about all this house-trading I keep hearing about? Can there really be people who live in exotic climes that want nothing more than to swap houses with people who live in the U.S. for a few weeks? It’s possible, considering that our borderline-third-world economy is a veritable consumer’s playground for your average European. Those beefed up Euros send our weakling American dollars crying home to their mommas. And yet, I can’t believe some nice family in the south of France would be that eager to trade their beach-front chateau for a small house with a view of the La Cienega Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in mid-city Los Angeles. I cannot imagine even an adventure-minded Italian family is going to be happy swapping their coastal villa for just any old crack-house in a smoggy urban center.
I mean, it’s your home, it’s comfy. And it certainly would be an interesting taste of urban living for the intrepid tourist looking for a little local color. So it faces a depressing backyard full of weeds. But they’re your weeds, dammit. And yes, you could stay home and pretend to be on vacation, and roast weenies on the little plot of scrubgrass next to the sagging garage. But wouldn’t it be better to convince some itinerant foreigner that you’ve got exactly the kind of urban oasis he’s been looking for? Wouldn’t it be nice to make the guy with the converted fifteenth-century farmhouse think he’s getting the better end of the deal?
But how? I know! Be your own travel writer.
Extol the virtues of your house and neighborhood. You’ll surprise yourself with what a paradise you actually inhabit, once you make yourself see it through the eyes of an enthusiastic travel scribe. You’ll almost want to stay in it yourself, once you really see its hidden beauty and subtle charms. And if you are able to suddenly imagine the heretofore undiscovered allure of your own house, imagine how many hopeful travelers will be eager to pack their bags and leave you the keys to their stone farmhouses in Provence.
For instance, this is how I might describe my own little slice of urban paradise on Whitworth Street in Los Angeles:
Whitworth Haven is nestled in a veritable woodland, home to wildflowers, wild cats, and a wide variety of birds including the strident but loveable mockingbird, known to occasionally awaken visitors in the wee hours of the morning. A bonus, for all those who enjoy starting the day extra early!
The soothing “Virginia Pink” color that adorns the walls of our guest room might call to mind a Cuban bordello, but “eclectic” is just part of the charm of Whitworth Haven. Experience over 1,200 square feet of luxury, each room overflowing with a stunning array of Vintage-like Old Things. Is it shabby, or chic? We’ll let you decide!
At the Whitworth Haven House, situated in the heart of Los Angeles, California, guests can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the lush and rustic “Little Weed Meadow,” a wildlife refuge that contains some of the most unusual and giant weed varieties in North America. At night, enjoy the antics of our local and charming Rattus rattus as they make their way across the telephone wires and into the fruit trees. Some of them grow to a whopping 15 inches long, and you might see their jolly bellies pressing up against your window at night as they climb the bars to enjoy an evening on the roof.
For those guests who want to avoid exposure to the elements, wildlife may be enjoyed indoors this year! A massive indoor cricket's nest has been thoughtfully placed in the rafters of the Whitworth Haven facility, offering strident and uninterrupted chirping night and day, for the listening enjoyment of all of our guests. You'll feel like a kid at summer camp all over again! Say, pass the S'mores! Lively, impromptu cricket races are held daily in the East Hallway, and just about anywhere else these large and majestic creatures feel like hopping. Betting is encouraged.
While relaxing in the meditative atmosphere of the "living room", take a moment to enjoy the welcome addition of our new roof! Covering the entire upper expanse of the Whitworth Haven facility, it was installed, at no small expense I might add, to ensure our guests hours of dry, safe activity inside the home. Stretch out and have a carefree nap under our new roof, as it renders the room virtually impervious to airborne debris, morning dew, and harmful UV rays. It's the oft unnoticed but thoughtful details, which make Whitworth Haven guests return time and time again.
Our almost fully stocked kitchen is artistically “distressed,” from the multitude of giant cracks in the walls to the charming tilt of its floor. Cooking your own meals is sure to be a delightful challenge. A decorative swath of old-growth mold has been placed on the backsplash of the generous double sink, for those travelers with a scientific bent. Hours may be spent watching it grow!
Relax with a cocktail on our delightful patio facility, a sanctuary for busy termites, where you may sip a cold beverage while taking in the sounds of the neighborhood. The lively honking of horns and occasional car chase can be heard from exciting La Cienega Boulevard, a mere block away. Many a thrilling car chase has ended dramatically in front of our very own Whitworth Haven, occasionally ending in a hail of gunfire. Just like in the movies! Put your feet up and enjoy the free entertainment, which can often be followed simultaneously on a local newscast. And no, that’s not a cockroach, it’s a California “water bug!” Watch your step!
So pack your Bermuda shorts, your foul weather gear and some fire retardant, as you never know what a summer in California may bring. Whitworth Haven awaits your visit! Car not included.