Where’s a better summer?

That's just how we roll. 1966 Pontiac Catalina station wagon ad.

That’s just how we roll. 1966 Pontiac Catalina station wagon ad.

The first day of summer always makes me think about summer vacation. Growing up in a household (nominally) headed by a high-school teacher, once school let out “gonna all God’s children recreate.” Motorboats and canoes, bicycles and scooters, badminton sets and croquet sets, all stuffed in or on or dragged behind the big-ass station wagon and day-tripped up to the mountains, or down to the river, or beyond into Canada. Pretty sweet, if a little chaotic–two adults, three kids, plus dog and an overambitious mountain of gear.

But vacation trips–that was different. The same caravan would exit the North Country for places hotter and wetter. Southern Indiana in July can be like Death Valley, except muggy. And this before air conditioning became standard equipment. It had its moments, though–drinking lemonade after dinner and watching a wall of thunderstorms approach across the prairie from a hundred miles away. Half an hour of meteorological armageddon, followed by blessed coolness.

One year, 1969, we did the National Park circuit, in July–Grand Canyon, Navajo Nation, Bryce Canyon, Zion, up to the Tetons and Yellowstone. Great trip, but it’s a wonder we all didn’t die of heatstroke, or commit kin-slaughter from sharing a tent trailer for three weeks.

It’s all different after you start working for a living. A week here, two there, and that’s it. There’s all too little “endless” in summer these days. And for someone who lives in a place with a great–if all too brief–summer, where would one want to go that was nicer? Travel is a hassle, and cuts into your fun time. A case can be made for the ocean and the beach, but almost everywhere is hotter, more crowded and ruinously expensive.

So this year I’m staying put, or standing pat I guess you could say–the North Country holds a winning hand. How about you? You have a better summer destination this year? One that’s on the same continent? Let’s hear about it in a comment below.


6 Comments on “Where’s a better summer?”

  1. John Doty says:

    I am reading the All In Blog crom hot, steamy and rainy Dhaka Bangladesh. We have been here a week and are off to Istanbul Turkey for one more week. That is our start of summer vacation. I like to leave just after school gets out because the lakes are still a bit chilly for swimming, the garden is still in its infancy and summer really hasn’t begun. Once we return, it will be Vermont, Lake George and the Adirondacks the rest if the summer. There is no reason to go elsewhere for a summer vacation. Save the trips for the stick season and after sugaring is over.

  2. Julie Miller says:

    You’ve got the right idea, Dale. We have perfection in our backyards. Except for baseball trips, we’ll be here, too.

  3. seszoo says:

    Enough day or overnight trips right around here under one tank of gas .

  4. Pete Klein says:

    When I was a kid, summer vacations were mostly reserved for kids and their mothers. If the dad was part of it, it was mostly joining the family on the weekend.
    My father seldom took a vacation because he was in construction and when you are in construction, you get your free time (unemployed) in the winter.
    My grandfather never took a vacation and worked six days a week into his late 70’s.
    I guess I’m following in the path of my grandfather. I view vacations as a waste of money.

  5. Byron Whitney says:

    When I was a kid our major cross country trips were a result of moving cross country. Summers our parents got a vacation from us and my three siblings and I spent part of each summer with our grandparents. One set lived in a very small town in northern Penobscot County, Maine where there was one small grocery store and my grandfather’s garage and International Harvester dealership. I visited many a small Maine farm with my grandfather where he went to fix some farm machinery. We spent endless hours outside playing cowboys and everyone walked around in a cloud like Pigpen in Peanuts only the cloud was black flies, not dust. There was always cool water from the hand pump in the backyard and the refrigerator was stocked with an endless supply of coke. Breakfasts were often rolled oats with fresh heavy cream from a local farm. There were also regular trips to the drive in movies and since my grandparents were quite unsophisticated I was introduced to Brigitte Bardot at a rather young age. The other grandparents lived in Boston, but had a summer place on Cape Cod. Depending on the tides we spent part of every day in Wellfleet Bay, part on the back shore, and had swimming lessons in a freshwater pond. In Wellfleet we were astronauts and the apple trees in the backyard were our space ships. My grandmother was an ardent Red Sox fan and took me to my first game at Fenway. My grandfather was book review editor for the Globe and had an extensive library which provided hours of reading on rainy days.

  6. WoodCook says:

    Staying similarly close to home – the one foray is to the Grass Roots Festival in Trumansburg for 4 days of music – blessedly unplugged. Not the musicians — ME! No computer or phone machine chasing me down – how sweet is that! ‘Til I get back and have to play catch-up, anyway!

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