I guess dog-sitting for family members does not sound like an ideal vacation, but that’s how I spent mine during the summer of ’18. I enjoyed sweet solitude on a farm in the hills of Oklahoma with just me, two dogs, three donkeys, a herd of cows, and other assorted country critters. Being alone out in the country was the ideal vacation for me whose constant companion is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The vacation covered two separate trips. One was a preview of about a week before the two-full week trip a few weeks later. I had a BLAST on both trips after I got over the initial ANXIETY of being in different surroundings and a change in routine. It took about 24 hours after my arrival for the arrival of calm. A change in routine, no matter how much preparation beforehand, even if the destination is a vacation spot, raises my anxiety level. There’s not much I can do about that other than telling myself it will pass. It always does.
As for the dogs, Blu and Bailey, they were jumping up and down, wiggling their tales; that is when their adult parents came home … or, maybe more so when I drove off. Just kidding.
I was asked more than once by inquiring and concerned folks before I left, “Aren’t you going to get LONELY in the country all by YOURSELF?” If you ask me, that’s one of those common neurotypicals (NT) questions. You see, for me, someone with ASD, being by myself on a vacation is equivalent to someone else’s ideal vacation of being on a cruise ship surrounded by others engaging in social activities. No, I have never been on a cruise, but the thought of being on the ocean with a host of strangers gives me the chills in a frightening sort of way. Perish the thought!
I didn’t think of myself as alone the entire time. I did venture into town and had interaction with store clerks. That was sufficient social interaction.
I had the dogs but they weren’t much company. I don’t want to give the impression I don’t like dogs. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have signed up for dog-sitting duty. I have wonderful childhood memories of having a dog as I was growing up. The pet was my playmate and comforter. I would have a dog of my own but I live with my Mom who likes dogs but not enough to own one. I got along just fine with the dogs, but I knew they missed my brother and sister-in-law.
I had for comfort in my change of environment and routine my electronic gadgets. I consider them my “comfort” necessities: my computer, my smartphone, my voice-activated gadget (Amazon Echo), my two Segway electronic scooters, and my hoverboard.
Scooter riding was one ingredient that added excitement during my dogsitting tour of duty. I had plenty of acres to scoot over. I could scoot to my utter delight without worry about pedestrians or traffic. Scooter riding is part of my daily routine and unless it is pouring down rain, lightning striking, thunder rolling, snow falling, or temps in the teens, I will go for a scooter ride.
Back in my suburban home, I ride my scooters at the parks. Along with the enjoyment I get from riding them, I get UNwanted attention. Sometimes the stops and stares are too much for my nerves. Well, even though I was out in the country, I got more stares than I ever had before while I was riding my Segway scooter on the gravel road to the mailbox. There were so many pairs of eyes that I didn’t bother to count. Maybe my being a stranger in the area was one reason, but I reckon, too, they had never seen a Seggie before. It didn’t bother me though. I just paid the cows no mind.
All in all, it was one of my BEST vacations. The main ingredient was time to myself. It recharged my batteries. Even if I had been dog-sitting at a beach house, mountain cabin, or a house in suburbia, it would still have been the ideal vacation for me and my ASD.
Now it wasn’t totally perfect but then what vacations are? In my case, there were a few things I didn’t care for during my time in the country. Namely flies, grasshoppers, and spurs. They were far more attached to me than I was to them.