How to Have the Perfect Day for $0
This is the story about a day that started out ordinary, like every other, and as it unfolded became a life lesson, an “aha!” moment.
Here’s, how to have a perfect day… for zero dollars.
Earlier this summer, I was at the home of my dear friend, partner in crime, and Boomer Connections photographer Loralee. After we took care of our morning responsibilities, the day stretched before us. How would we fill it? I was looking for something to write about, she was looking for a photo opportunity. We decided to just get in the car and drive. This is how we roll, literally, perhaps you have read about our adventures in previous posts: Do you want to be Thelma or Louise? or Let’s Wander! Magical Christmas Trip.
But first, we decided, let’s not just drive: Let’s pack a picnic lunch. And in the basket, (which Loralee always has at the ready), lets not just pack plastic utensils, but real ones. Not paper napkins, but pretty cloth ones. Oh, and a pretty cotton tablecloth to protect us from the ants and tree dirt if we happen upon a picnic table. Let’s raid the fridge and see what we can find that is picnic-worthy: olives, cheese, crackers…it’s already a party. Pepperoni! That heel of bread from last night’s dinner. Grapes. Lemon muffins I had brought for tea. Let’s actually chuck in a bottle of wine! Wow, are we allowed to have wine before it is even noon? Yes! Yes, we can, because we are grownups. Absolutely do not forget the corkscrew (keep one in the car, and your purse, and in the picnic basket just to be prepared). And we also need real wine glasses, not paper cups..no way! A thermos of ice water. Check.
We were off to find a perfect spot to land.
Loralee lives in State College Pennsylvania, home to the sprawling Penn State University. As we drove out of town into rural Centre County, which as the name implies is in the bulls-eye center of the state, the highway quickly became a back road. We were in farm country, the most beautiful, bucolic rural landscape you will find anywhere in the U.S.
Both former Penn Staters, Loralee and I remembered from the old days a very tiny, remote state park, hidden among farm fields, and we set off to find it. Directionally challenged though we are, our magical phone GPS took us exactly to the spot we were seeking. We jumped out of the care, excited and grateful to find that it had not changed one bit. Sometimes you can go home again.
The park could not have been prettier, or more perfect for us. It was quiet; there were very few people around on this weekday morning. We located a picnic table, next to a meandering stream, exactly as we remembered.
And what happened was the perfect day.
We unfurled our lovely cotton tablecloth, laid the table, spread out the goodies. We think of ourselves as responsible people, and we didn’t see any signs barring alcohol, at least none that were visible. But then we didn’t look too hard. So we popped open that wine. The sun glistened off the stream and filtered down through the trees. We talked and reminisced and drank wine. We took our chairs into the stream, yes right into it, with our feet bare and in the water as the stream swirled gently around us. We kept our wine glasses cool naturally. We were there for a good long time, long enough to walk off lunch by exploring some of the trails around the park. We encountered no one else. We enjoyed nature. Loralee took pictures. And of course, I wrote these words.
The price tag: $0
A few decades ago, in my 20s and 30s, I never would have imagined this as a perfect day, or even thought of it at all. I was busy building a career, being an Air Force wife, raising a family, running on all cylinders, all day. Often stressed, often dissatisfied.
But, as this Baby Boomer ages, I have started to take the advice from all those 70s era posters:
Here is all you really need to have the perfect day: A little imagination (free). A mind and heart that is open to the possibilities all around you (free). Wine. A picnic. The great outdoors (very few $, very few $, free).
.…And the company of a like-minded friend (well, this actually takes some time, effort and luck).
Go find your bliss Boomers!!
PS: I am a raving fan of state parks, our tax dollars at work in the best possible way!! Virginia and Pennsylvania have some of the most beautiful state parks, check them out: