What I did on my summer vacation.

August 19, 2012 § 10 Comments

Summer vacation, the great, get out of jail free card of childhood, came with one caveat.

Upon returning to school the kid would be required to file a report titled, “What I Did on my Summer Vacation.”

The assignment was a master stroke. It simultaneously deflated the soufflé of summer and ascertained whether the kid had become illiterate over the long months of barefoot freedom.

This kid is just back from a 2 1/2 week road trip with no obligation to turn in a report.

I thought I would do it anyway. Minus the pressure of organizing it into “the five paragraph essay,” spelling everything correctly, and being absolutely grammatical, it is not a bad assignment.

Getting from Tallahassee to my sister’s place in Stockbridge, Mass, my husband Ray and I began with the question, what is the longest way to get there short of stopping to spit in the Pacific? We drove the blue highways and the curvy roads that roller-coaster over mountain ridges. We camped out.

I noticed that the travelers picking up gas and cheap-as-it-gets Dollar Menu Meals were predominantly old. The long sits in cars didn’t seem to agree with them. As they grimly creaked to restrooms they seemed to be thinking, why the hell are we traveling? Maybe they consoled themselves with this thought: at least we don’t have to turn in that damned report.

We were clearly members of the same tribe, but we seemed to be having more fun–and we have the photos to prove it. Here are a few of the sights from our summer vacation.

At a county campground in Roanoke Virginia, one site over, some college-age campers had rigged a slack wire (the easier-to-walk version of the tight rope) between two trees and they were walking it, and boy did I want to walk it too.

In the same campground Ray called out a black widow spider by touching a tuning fork to the web (yes, Ray travels with a tuning fork). I imagine she looked at him with one thought in mind. Too big!

In this summer of daily storms up and down the East Coast, we observed spectacular thunderheads. Not content with the usual lame-o animal impersonations, these clouds were the method actors of weather phenomena. I remember one of the many skies that hung over the road doing its own interpretation of  “the ferociously angry duck.” Cloud animals with attitude kept us company all along the way.

Then there was the mannequin riding a dinosaur in Glasgow, Virginia. This is the point at which I would have asked the teacher if I could draw a picture and she would have said no, but since I don’t even have to file this report I’m including the picture.

Ray’s photo renders description unnecessary, and as you probably remember from filing the report, after being on summer vacation a good description seems like a lot of work.

We arrived at my sister’s in the Berkshires a day behind my brother.

This is part of the view out her kitchen window. She has numerous bird feeders (she calls her setup bird TV) but Ray preferred this more natural shot.

Anyway, about those feeders? They can either be taken in at night, or the bear will be happy to do the job.

What you see when you visit an attraction depends on who you go with. Near my sister’s house is the studio where Daniel Chester French executed the statue of Lincoln that sits in the Lincoln Memorial.

My daughter and I walked there almost every day with my grandson, Matthew. He called the place “Abe Linkitt’s House.”

We never actually made it to the house or studio (you won’t either, this is a view of the nearby road).

We stopped instead at the storm drain on the driveway leading to the house and dropped pebbles and sticks through the grate.  We called it “Abe Linkitt’s storm drain,” one of the lesser-known attractions of the Berkshires.

This was a family vacation, and family included–well–everyone, and the house was not quite big enough for everyone.

Josie and Mathew slept in the tent that had been our home on the road. Aside from some fear about the aforementioned bear, it was a great place to sleep. Or goof around.

When families get together, strange things happen. Sitting around the living room one afternoon we all decided to grow mustaches.

About now the teacher would be glancing at the clock. It would be time to move on to fractions or the Spanish Armada or possibly the worst subject of all time, PE.

And so she would tell us to write a strong closing sentence and pass our papers forward.

I’m reading through my assignment fast, trying to come up with a strong closing sentence. And here it is:

So, this is what I did on my summer vacation; I grew a moustache. (How about that cool use of a semicolon, teach).

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§ 10 Responses to What I did on my summer vacation.

  • Richard D. says:

    It’s a very fine mustache–and essay. Richard D.


  • Craig reeder says:

    You look great in a moustache but now that fall is coming, it’s probably a good time for a shave


  • Sheila says:

    When it’s time for Mathew to write his 3rd grade essay, I can picture many red marks as a disbelieving teacher writes in BIG, BOLD words, “This must be true; not a figment of your overactive imagination!”.

    But I hope not.

    I hope he has a sparkling teacher who invites his whimsical grandparents in to share their experiences with the class so that the children will be charmed and see writing as an adventure and not a chore.

    What a blessed family you all are to have found each other….and us to have found you.


  • awww.
    this brings on the smiles adrian!


  • KM Huber says:

    I loved this post, Adrian. Beyond being a fine essay, I got to go on vacation, and if I paid attention, I learned some history and science but mostly, I learned how to grow a mustache. Who knows how many times that will come in handy, probably more than the semicolon but punctuation will help me in my fall lessons whenever I remember my summer vacation.



  • Sue Cronkite says:

    This was wonderful!


  • Hello Adrian,
    My name is Deborah and I’ve come across your blog accidentally – I was looking at stuff about Stockbridge MA which I visited in 2006 – I live in Stockbridge Hampshire, UK and write a blog here – all fairly new and without your lovely lyricism. Being English I tend to find my tongue (too often perhaps) lodged quite firmly in my cheek. Anyhow I wanted to say hello and send my regards to Stockbridge MA next time you visit your sister. I’ve never been to Tallahassee but I’m going to follow your lovely blog now and discover it virtually. I hope you won’t mind if I make a link to your blog on my blog.
    Best wishes


    • Thanks so much for linking to my blog! And oh my gosh, I see that you tweet. To me the prospect of having to be that snappy and concise is daunting. It is much easier to be lyrical with an unlimited character count.


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