Perfect Vacation

Charles will lay out my hiking clothes on the bed. The 24-hour trip from home to the mountain lodge will be made comfortable by flying first class, with limousine service at either end.

I will hike along prepared paths in the conifer forest, with an occasional foray up a dry creek bed or deer path. My daypack has all the emergency, food and water supplies one could need for an eight-hour, solo walk.

My digital camera is light-weight, its carrying case fitting handily on the left shoulder strap of my pack. I expect to see deer, bobcat, fox, several bird species, various rodents, newts, snakes and, perhaps, some invertebrates.

I will puff and sweat righteously on the steeper trails; my hickory walking stick will ease the pressure on my knees during the downhill return.

Afterward, I will bathe leisurely while sipping 20-year-old Scotch whisky, then join Madame in the restaurant for dinner. Perhaps I will have the roast wild boar and accompaniments with a not-too-heavy red wine.

Yes, that will probably do.

Oh yes, a fine Havana cigar with coffee after dinner. Madame will forego this part of the evening, as usual. We will, however, reunite later for a nightcap before retiring together.