Returning from vacation takes courage. It's hard to face things you know you should have done before locking the door and vacating the premises for ten days.

I hoped in vain that I hadn't over-watered the 20-year old rubber tree plant we got as a wedding present or not given my newly purchased kale seedlings enough water. I couldn't remember what leftovers would be incubating. I hoped that my lush plants hadn't turned into sad twigs and that the Pad Thai hadn't sprouted a green afro and learned to walk while we were gone.

These hopes and wishes only existed as reality near the unicorns in my mind. In that world, I walk in and thieves have broken in to take away all the ugly furniture and the police, feeling sorry for us, went to Dania to get us all new things. And the boarding kennel gives pays us because our pup brought them so much love and joy that they were grateful for the time they got to spend with him.

It's a humbling experience to go from a place that is cleansed every 24-hours by hotel maids to a home ignored for 240 hours, give or take. It defies all sensibilities to open the door of our home sweet home (after living at a home suite home) only to find that it does not sparkle, nor does it shine. In fact, we can't believe we actually ever lived here, it feels that foreign.

Returning can be daunting. After a few more days of rest from my days of rest, I must actually return to work. I can't even imagine the piles of things that need my attention, people that need contacting, bills to pay, problems to solve – all looming just around the corner. It's all for good, don't get me wrong. But, one can certainly get used to this vacation thing.

Maybe I can make returning easier on myself by taking more meaningful time off more often. Ten days in a row – actually going somewhere – that didn't involve cleaning the garage or visiting relatives was more than I've done with my husband in two decades.

I admit, it was hard to spend the money. We've always been "on the edge" – with me in nonprofit work and my hubby in theater. And so, a tropical island was never on the itinerary. Instead, we drove north to the islands of the Pacific Northwest and Canada, which, by Jove, are incredible in their own right, so who really needs a foreign country when you've got a gold mine in your back yard?

The weather was mostly cooperative and our continued journey north became a collection of hikes (with my husband's teasing cry of Nature! Get it off me!) through Aspen groves, rainforests, meadows, temperate forests, and blackberry hedges, a bevy of local foods (how can you not want to cook when you get to do it in someone else's richly appointed kitchen?), and adventures (zip-lining on Grouse Mountain, kayaking the expansive waters of Howe Sound, getting lost in time).

Yeah, I think I could get used to taking time off. But somehow I need to figure out how to score free maid service at home so that the return trip won't take quite as much courage.