Fantasy Vacations

Jeff VanderMeer asks:

What places would you want to visit? Not as a reader, but if you could physically go to locations in books you’ve read?

1. Rivendell from The Lord Of The Rings – especially the art nouveau version from the Peter Jackson movies.
2. Verna, from Jack Finney’s 1955 old short story “Of Missing Persons”, sounds nice:

I don’t know how you knew this, but you realized, staring at that forest-covered valley, that this was very much the way America once looked when it was new. And you knew this was only a part of a whole land of unspoiled, unharmed forests, where every stream ran pure; you were seeing what people, the last of them dead over a century ago, had once looked at in Kentucky and Wisconsin and the old Northwest. And you knew that if you could breath in that air you’d feel it flow into your lungs sweeter than it’s been anywhere on earth for a hundred and fifty years.

Under that picture was another, of six or eight people on a beach — the shore of a lake, maybe, or the river in the picture above. Two children were squatting on their haunches, dabbling in the water’s edge, and in the foreground a half circle of adults were sitting, kneeling, or squatting in comfortable balance on the yellow sand. They were talking, several were smoking, and most of them held half-filled coffee cups; the sun was bright, you knew the air was balmy and that it was morning, just after breakfast. They were smiling, one woman talking, the others listening. One man had half risen from his squatting position to skip a stone out onto the surface of the water.

You knew this: that they were spending twenty minutes or so down on that beach after breakfast before going to work, and you knew they were friends and that they did this every day. You knew — I tell you, you knew — that they liked their work, all of them, whatever it was; that there was no forced hurry or pressure about it. And that — well, that’s all, I guess; you just knew that every day after breakfast these families spent a leisurely half hour sitting and talking, there in the morning sun, down on that wonderful beach.

I’d never seen anything like their faces before. They were ordinary enough in looks, the people in that picture — pleasant, more or less familiar types. Some were young, in their twenties; others were in their thirties; one man and woman seemed around fifty. But the faces of the youngest couple were completely unlined, and it occurred to me then that they had been born there, and that it was a place where no one worried or was ever afraid. The others, the older ones, there were lines in their foreheads, grooves around their mouths, but you felt that the lines were no longer deepening, that they were healed and untroubled scars. And in the faces of the oldest couple was a look of — I’d say it was a look of permanent relief. Not one of those faces bore a trace of malice; these people were happy. But even more than that, you knew they’d been happy, day after day after day for a long, long time, and that they always would be, and they knew it.

Well, it sounds like the life of every character in all those old 50’s advertisements. And that doesn’t sound too bad, for a vacation. But, of course, you can’t take a vacation to Verna- all tickets are strictly one-way.

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