On Thursday evening, after an exhausting journey, we arrived home from our annual family vacation to Bear Lake. Pulling into the driveway, I opened the door of my truck and fell out.

Pleasantly reposed on the burning concrete, I reveled in the first few minutes of genuine relaxation I had experienced in a week. I was home, alive and still somewhat financially solvent.

The word “vacation” implies fun and relaxation. Any linguist will tell you that it’s descended from the original bovine word “vacuous,” which means to stare cowlike, or be in a state absent any sign of intelligence.

That’s precisely my idea of a vacation — to go somewhere and relax to the point just short of a coma. It isn’t to go somewhere and work twice as hard as I do at home — and PAY a boatload of money for the privilege.

Vacation wasn’t like that when I was a child. My parents would load us into the car and drive several hundred miles to someplace fun — Disneyland, the beach, etc. Except the parts where the Old Man would threaten to roll my head up in a window, the excitement didn’t let up.

Once there, all our cares disappeared. The days raced by as we recreated until we lost our minds. When it came time to go home, we grumbled about leaving until we got in the car and promptly passed out. We arrived home sunburned but refreshed.

Except, of course, for our parents, who, for some reason, were grouchy for several days after we got back. I could never figure that part out. Hadn’t we just been to Pacific Ocean Park? What better way to spend a week than running around on a beach?

Somewhere between then and now, “vacation” has taken on a whole new meaning. And it got a lot more expensive. When I was a kid, vacations were free. This year’s cost us about the same as it would to rent the White House.

It sneaked up on me. Vacations started becoming work about the time I got married. That’s when some effort on my part was required — packing, loading, driving and the inevitable turning around to get something we forgot.

Then we had kids, which turned vacation into something like driving a prison bus wherein all the passengers were loud and violent.

Years ago, my wife and I rented a large van, packed it full of kids and drove it from Salt Lake City to Toronto and back — without losing our minds or any of the children.

I’m close to elderly now, and I’m not designed to lug heavy coolers and lawn chairs. Nor am I inclined to participate in a committee to decide where and what we’ll do each day.

All I want is a comfortable chair, some good tunes and to alternately shoot flies off the toes of my sandals with a Bug-A-Salt gun and doze.

Still prone on the driveway, I had to ask myself if it had been worth spending all that money to stay in a luxurious cabin, rent Jet Skis and keep a close eye on my grandkids as they threw mud at one another and tore up the lake like lunatics until they needed more sunscreen or minor first aid.

Conclusion: Yeah. It’s the stuff memories are made of. And it won’t be much longer before those will be vacation enough.