Sick of Christmas yet?
For months, stores have been shoving holiday decorations at us. And it's only going to get worse. The holiday is still more than a week away -- enough time to listen to "Little Drummer Boy" thousands of times.
There must be a way out, you hope. And there is: a vacation to a place where the halls remain undecked.
We have found some destinations where a traveler won't -- or probably won't -- have to deal with all the vulgarities of the season. We're sticking with domestic ideas, though you can always find remote getaways. You likely won't hear that barking-dogs version of "Jingle Bells" in rural China, for example.
Here's a short list of spots:
"Moab is my favorite place to visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas," said Shane Burrows, who runs the must-visit website Climb-Utah.com. "Rooms are dirt cheap, and the days are cool and make hiking to ruins, rock art and arches a pleasure."
And even better, for our purposes here, "Moab has no big stores or Walmart."
Burrows said rangers try to funnel 90 percent of the tourists into 10 percent of the parks. "It
This time of year, there are plenty of folks in town "who aren't into that whole holiday Christmas thing -- single folks or people not visiting their kids," he said.
There will be holiday shoppers on the Strip, he warned. But you can duck them and stick with what makes Vegas Vegas.
"The casino floors look very similar to the summer. The blackjack tables look the same. And the showrooms are the same for the holidays as any time of the year," he said. "It's much more a Vegas experience than a holiday experience."
His final piece of advice: "Vegas is a great place to escape reality. The holidays are a reality."
Head to Japantown, to Hotel Tomo, a pop culture- and anime-themed hotel. The hotel's Players Suite was designed for gamers -- with an 8-by-5-foot LCD screen, huge beanbag chairs and wall-to-wall screens where you can play Xbox. You also get your own private club where you can lock yourself away, watch music videos and dance till your feet explode.
Dawn Shalhoup, a spokeswoman for Japantown (www.sfjapantown.org), has a few other suggestions. Among the highlights are New People, a shopping area focusing on Japanese pop culture; traditional tea ceremonies a visitor can schedule at Hokka Nichi Bei Kai; and mochi from Benkyodo, one of only three traditional mochi makers left in the U.S. "Or you can go to the Paper Tree, where there's an ongoing display of origami -- masterpieces, I guess," she said. "I don't know how else to describe them."
Shalhoup said a survey a couple of years ago found that the No. 1 reason people visit Japantown is food. If you're curious about what's there, Edible Excursions (www.edibleexcursions.net) offers a three-hour tasting tour. "It's a pretty magical place that's not obvious," Shalhoup added.
According to owner Martin Schwalbaum, there are no maps that show the 700-acre private wilderness, in New York's Adirondack Mountains, about 17 miles from Lake Placid.
"We're off the grid and off the maps."
Once you find Fourpeaks -- and if you appreciate solitude, it's worth the search -- you'll discover seven cabins that Schwalbaum built (www.4peaks.com/fcamp.htm). Generally about a quarter-mile apart, they're rustic and homey, with complete kitchens, fireplaces, handmade and antique furnishings and privies (portable flush toilets are available as an option). Water for washing comes from pumps; you bring in your own drinking water. Propane gives visitors heat and light and is used for cooking. Television? Electricity? Ha. And ha again. Or ho-ho, if you will.
There is access to the area because it was populated in the 1800s and early 1900s, and the residents built roads. When electricity started coming into upstate New York in the 1920s, they moved to cities to enjoy its benefits.
"The land, the last physical changes were from the Wisconsin glacier, about 15,000 years ago," Schwalbaum said. "The glacier left about 9,000 years ago, and the land is untouched since then."
There are four mountains with 2,000-foot peaks -- climb, walk or snowshoe them, or wander 20 miles of hiking and skiing trails.
If that seems too strenuous, sit around the cabin and read, play fetch with your dog (pet-friendly vacations are encouraged) or just observe nature.
Now there is peace on earth.