Riverboat | Kennewick, WA | 2017

Small trips — maybe across town or to a nearby city — can often deliver rewards larger than, say, a week in Waikiki. In fact, if you keep expectations low, a small adventure can yield big surprises. Last year, we canceled a trip to Hawaii (high costs, big crowds) and instead packed up our low expectations and drove south three hours to Kennewick, WA. First surprise: Our hotel was on an island in the Columbia River. Not totally like Hawaii, but still surrounded by water. Second surprise: Skies were clear with temperatures at around 70 degrees. Not tropical, but incredibly pleasant. Third surprise: The hotel restaurant (and others nearby) offered seafood items at half of Hawaiian prices. No poi (a paste of taro root used in many recipes) but lots of tasty fresh tuna and mahi mahi. When we tired of Hawaiian comparisons, we watched New Orleans-style paddle-wheelers cruise the river. Did we have a dream trip to paradise? Nope. But our wanderlust was sated by warmth, sunshine and good food. We were transported from our daily routines to somewhere new, different and surprising. Someplace satisfying. Plus, the entire trip to Kennewick cost less than one plane ticket to Hawaii.