Every year I swear I'm not going to read newspapers when I go on vacation.

"This year, I'm going to totally let go," I tell my wife.

"Yah, right," she says.

"I've packed novels and non-fiction and even some poetry," I say.

"Right, Shakespeare," she says. "I'll bet you can't make it to the Virginia border without buying a newspaper."

"Can so!" I say.

"Can not!" she says.

(We're a very mature couple. Notice neither of us said, "Nyah, nyah.")

I guess after 17 years of living with a newspaper addict, she knows better. I just can't be without my daily fix. Once, when vacationing in California, I walked into the offices of the Long Beach Press-Telegram just to smell the ink and paper in the air. "It smells like home," I told the lobby receptionist. "Be it ever so humble," she said.

I even read newspapers in paradise. Just a few steps from our bed and breakfast suite in Hawaii a few years ago was a newsbox for the Maui News. I read it every day, front to back, including the police log, obits and accident reports.

If I make it to the other paradise, I'll probably spend eternity searching for a copy of Afterlife Today.

This summer we plan to spend a week on Cape Hatteras, a salty, sandy stretch of newspaper heaven on earth. On any given day one is tempted by an excellent regional paper, the Virginian Pilot, along with several good imports from Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte. And at inflated "beach" prices, one can also purchase the daily Washington Post (75 cents) and -- ta da! -- the Sunday Sun (for a mere $2).

One on the nicest moments of my vacation last year was the Sunday afternoon I spent stretched out on a lounge chair with the Sunday papers, my Walkman tuned to a faint but steady broadcast of an Orioles game on WBAL radio. (The Orioles provide a convenient excuse to buy more newspapers on vacation. After living here eight years, I find they're in my blood; my Red Cross donor card should read O's positive. In fact, I love everything about the Orioles except their owner, Scrooge McDuck.)

If you're reading this on vacation this week, send us a postcard. Or, better still, send us an out-of-town newspaper!

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