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Shannon Casas: Vacation is special, but so is home
Shannon Casas high res

If you read last week’s column, you know I’m on vacation. That means this column was written before I hopped on an airplane, leaving Gainesville far behind.

I love to travel and have been fortunate enough to leave the country on multiple occasions.

My most recent trip out of the country almost stranded my husband and me on a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean, part of a chain called the Azores.

They speak Portuguese, eat smelly cheese and have gorgeous volcanic craters in a cool climate. 

After a week of hiking, eating and drinking, we found ourselves hoping against hope that we could just make our flight out. 

We’d locked our passports in our AirBnB, and our host was an hour away. Just minutes before takeoff, she delivered our tickets off the island. 

I’ve never been more happy to be on an airplane. 

Coming home after a vacation is always sweet, though.

And since 2009, Gainesville has been that home. There’s a lot I love about this place. While my parents are still in Gwinnett County, the rest of my family settled closer to Atlanta. While I wish they weren’t so far away, Hall County is definitely my preference. 

It has a sense of community I didn’t really feel growing up in Gwinnett. The city of Gainesville provides some of the urban amenities like local restaurants and shops. And you don’t have to travel far at all to find wide open spaces with views of the mountains or lake. 

Here are just a few other things I love about home:

Here are just a few other things I love about home:

  • Crossing over Lake Lanier every day on my way to and from work, with its waters sometimes choppy and other times so serene.

  • Tall trees, green grass and red dirt. OK, maybe not the red dirt.

  • Watching friends run in to each other on the Gainesville square, which usually involves a hug and a “how are y’all?”

  • The quirky chicken lighting at Jingle Mingle.

  • Access to authentic Mexican tacos, with plenty of cilantro and lime.

  • Access to authentic Southern biscuits with sausage gravy or sausage and egg.

  • Just enough snow to shut things (except the newsroom) down about once a year, blanketing everything in white and slowing life to a crawl (again, except in the newsroom).

  • Walking from The Times office to grab a sandwich or coffee or even go to a nearby appointment.

  • Free parking whenever we dine out.

  • Availability of fruits, vegetables and meats grown locally.

  • Dogwood blooms in the spring and yellow ginkgo trees in the fall.

When I return from vacation, I may miss the warmth of an exotic locale or the vibrancy of a big city. But nothing beats home.


Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times. Her column publishes Sundays.

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