I am sure we all do it. You visit a different community and you soak it in. In my case, I do that both personally (would I like to live here?), and professionally, (would I want to work here, or would I want to have this project proposed in Dover?) This happened twice last week.
In the beginning of the week, I went camping in Maine. Driving around the community where the campground was located, which really was two or three municipalities, I soaked in some of the surroundings. The downtown had a fun feel to it. It was built and had a strong urban presence. It was diverse, with residential, commercial and a mixture of uses. There was the autocentric commercial strip as well. While enjoyed the experience of soaking in, nothing jumped out to me as worthy of note. There was no "Awe I wish we had that in Dover" moment.
Late in the week, I went to Rhode Island for the day. A long day actually, left Dover at 9 am and returned home at 2:45 am. In the intervening time we were in Providence twice, Cranston, Newport and Narragansett. Providence was where I had the most "what would Dover be like if we added this, or that" thoughts. Most notably was the Waterfire park downtown. I am not sure what form of art it is, but it is awesome.
For those who have not witnessed it, waterfire is a display of fire that is designed to rest atop a river. The river has walkways and plazas along the banks and there are pyres in the river with baskets floating on top. Wood is burned in the baskets and the fires crackle and burn for hours as you stroll along the banks enjoying food, performances and the like. This goes from 8:30 (dusk) to midnight.
So, my wife and I and friends enjoyed the display and I thought about the attraction and how something similar might occur in Dover. The trouble I have is defining the line between considering how something could be implemented in Dover and straying into the next level of thought, which is general work thoughts. In other words I need to fight the urge to move from creative to operational mode. It is hard to do.
I suspect a lot of us struggle with this, how to not take your work with you on vacation. For planners, my experience is that we are always observing or soaking in a planned environment around us, which is an allure to the profession to me.
As the summer season hits the midway, enjoy it and remember that work will always be there when you return.