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The 'I'm on vacation' column - Curt Yeomans

It's my birthday and I'll take off if I want to!

I have been on vacation all of this week, so this is a pre-written column.

Today is my 30th birthday. I haven't had a vacation since last October, and there has been an ongoing story taking place on my beat since then. It's been the accreditation issue, so it is sort of a big deal, as well as a grueling ordeal.

Plus, the elections are coming up, so the more rest I can get, the better off I'll be.

So yes, I took a week off to get away from Clayton County and Henry County. Well, really Clayton County, because I am almost never in Henry County.

No, I won't tell you where I am this week. It's a secret, but since one or two of you might be interested, I'll make up a place that I'm visiting -- say, ohhhhh, Tonga, a chain of 169 islands in the South Pacific with a population of 119,009 people, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Fun things to do in Tonga include whale watching, sailing, snorkeling and hiking.

The capital of Tonga is Nuku'alofa, and the national currency is the Pa'anga. The median age of the island nation's people is 21.8 years old. Women in Tonga tend to live roughly five years longer than their male counterparts. Women have, on average, two and a half children.

The county's main crops are squash; coconuts; copra; bananas; vanilla beans; cocoa; coffee; ginger; black pepper and fish.

Some of it's current environmental issues include deforestation, damage to coral reefs from collectors and over hunting of sea turtles.

It is not meant as a slight that I prefer to go to "Tonga," rather than stay here and report on stuff. Driving an hour to and from Jonesboro is ... OK. The thing is, it's been a long time since I've had a vacation, and a reporter has needs -- for rest I mean -- that have to occasionally be taken care of.

So yes, I'm going to live a life a little more relaxed while I'm in "Tonga." I'm going to get up late, and I'm not going to rush to go places.

When I'm in "Tonga," I'm going to enjoy myself and I'm not going to think of this place for nine days. Of course, when I return from "Tonga" on June 30, it will be back to the daily grind of covering meetings, trying to get people on the phone for interviews and dreading, err, preparing for the July 15 primary elections.

At least, I'll be rested up for it.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com -- but not this week.