During his vacation Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) will:

Talk about arms at the Aspen Institute.

Confer about arms in the Soviet Union.

And look at arms in Utah.

A few observant fish may see him rafting down the Colorado for two days in there somewhere, but it's all for the republic's good.

Don't call it a vacation. Don't call it a break. The August congressional recess may begin today, but the people's business continues.

"I don't recognize it as a vacation," said Warner. "Of the five weeks, three of them are devoted to work directly related to my Senate duties. My life is the Senate and I enjoy it."

And about that rafting trip, Senator? "That's in connection with the tourism attraction over there," said Warner. Cochair of the Senate tourism caucus, he'll hold a hearing on tourism while in Utah, and the rafting is a sort of white-water fact-finding mission. "Tourism happens to be the third-largest industry in Virginia."

But even if all those senators and representatives are going to be working very, very hard, they are also very, very eager not to be doing that work in Washington.

"The beginning of the week before a recess, you know you're going to be pumped by questions: 'Can we get out tomorrow? What about Thursday?' " said Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kan.), who early in the week suggested the Senate might want to stick around until the budget was resolved.

"I said, 'We're going to be out five weeks, fellas. Let's not worry about leaving,' " Dole remembered. "I think people panic all the time around here, particularly about recesses. That's meddling. That's not legislation. Interfere with a recess and it's meddling."

Dole himself will be working in Kansas, getting a physical in Washington and then traveling to China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

A few lawmakers, however, will admit they are human.

"I can't wait to go home," said Rep. Marty Russo (D-Ill.). "I have no room on my index cards to put the things I have to do on. We're going to have to get bigger cards. I have to carry all my telephone messages in my pockets so I can make a call when I have a moment. It's been a lot of pressure, a lot of hot, heavy pressures."

"I am going on a real vacation," said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). "I'm going to Nantucket for three weeks with my family. Former senator Edmund Muskie called and asked me to go to China with him over the August break. Another group asked me to go to Copenhagen for 10 days. But it's the only three weeks I get alone with the family.

"I spend much of the time painting, nailing and scraping. We have a house that was built around 1830 and it always needs repairs. The salt air usually wins, but I try to keep in the race."

Rep. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) will be on Cape Cod for two weeks before returning home to work.

"Some of us were describing the vote to get out of here as a pro-family vote," she said.

But, she is quick to add, "I'm not going out of the country. I'm only a phone call away. When I go away, I do a tremendous amount of reading -- and not novels. You just have to have an understanding family."

"We have a 10-month-old daughter -- Jessica -- the joy of my life," said Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) early in the week, "and next week was going to be the greatest challenge of my life: to take care of her by myself. My wife is working, and we let the woman who takes care of her off so she could go home to Jamaica. If we are in session, I expect to be toting her around here.

"What did someone say? 'The threat of execution concentrates the mind wonderfully.' Well, the threat of no recess concentrates the mind wonderfully."

Sen. William Cohen (R-Maine) will be driving cross-country with his son, then joining Dole on his Asia jaunt. "I really had great reluctance about even leaving Maine in August," he said. "Have you ever been in Maine in August?

"Since there's going to be a lot of work on trade issues during the trip, I thought it would be important, but it's a lot of work, a lot of travel. Not a lot of fun. If you go to Bermuda or the Bahamas, it's pretty hard to make a case that you're doing work, but when you consider these trips -- the time factor and the travel involved and meetings and groups . . ."

Some temper the tales of never-slaking effort with diplomatically crafted encomiums to the joys of simply being outside the District.

"When you're in Oregon, it's so beautiful," said Etta Fielek, press secretary to Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.). "It's such a different perspective, even when you're working hard it's a vacation. One of Packwood's favorite lines is 'The worst day in Oregon during an Oregon summer is better than the best day of a Washington summer.' "

And if any lawmaker does manage to escape the phones, memos and junkets and starts to worry about looking frivolous, there's always Barbara Boxer's Vacation Theory.

"If everyone is a total workaholic with no breaks," she said, "you're not really reflective of society."