Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Vacation Memories.

I hope you're enjoying your summer.   I try never to gloat about great ice cream weather, since this is New England, and the weather can change faster than you can say clam chowda.   Having disclaimed that, it's some great ice cream weather we've been having, seems like since March.   I know there's more to do on a sunny 90 degree day in July than eat ice cream, and I hope your summer has been full of all the fun things that go along with it, whether it be frolicking in your favorite secret swimming hole, golfing a quick nine before the sun gets too hot, or sparking up the bbq with friends.

This is about the time of the summer I start getting a little road weary and begin to fantasize about all the fun travel adventures I'll be having in January.   I won't go so far as to say I wish away the rest of the summer for a return to a little more balanced life; I long ago figured out that with ice cream'ing as in farming, you make hay until the sun stops shining.   I really can't complain.   My crew is awesome, and I've been able to sneak away from time to time to do all the fun things normal people do in the summertime.

I recently got a chance to spend an afternoon paddling around one of the lakes in the DAR in Goshen.  If you haven't been there, you really should.  It's peaceful, beautiful, and just a great place for a hike, a camp-out, or a swim.

It reminded me of a little lake I used to go to as a kid.   My parents would rent a log cabin on a small lake in New Hampshire.   I think it was called Horace Lake.   There couldn't have been more than a dozen of these authentic old log cabins.  Open to the roof inside.   Wreaked of smoke from the giant stone fireplace in the center of the living room.  Porch off the back that overlooked the lake.   Each cabin had its own dock with a row boat, by far the best part as far as my two brothers and I were concerned.   I couldn't have been more than 8 or 9 years old, but I remember ever detail of that woodsy slice of paradise like it was yesterday.

Each cabin was about hundred yards from another and none more than a five or ten minute walk to the sandy beach at the end of a narrow dirt road.   We were probably less than a few miles from the closest small New Hampshire town, but it felt like the end of the Earth.  In a good way.

Mom would pack all the food and band-aids we'd need for a whole week, so we never had to leave our Shangri-La until check-out the following Saturday.

We swam at our petite private beach all day, maintaining our strength with all the culinary delights a barbecue could offer.   'All' being being hot dogs and hamburgers of course.   Right around dusk Dad would take his three sons out on the rowboat to catch catfish.    It was one perfect day after another.

We'd always go with a few of my parents' friends and their kids, so there were more than enough players to field a couple of capture the flag teams or find a sparring partner for a spirited Parcheesi board games with if it rained.

Every couple of days the owner and chief caretaker, Mr. Russell, would come around to pick up the trash from every cabin.   He would always let us ride on the tailgate of his pickup truck as he made his way along the dirt road.   It was the coolest thing ever.    I'm sure it made our parents a little anxious, but our grins were enough to let us get away with it.

There was a giant wall of fish tanks and terrariums that rose out of the sand just at the entry to the beach.   The rusty sand beach was full of maroon Adirondack chairs, a dock with a diving board stood enticingly just beyond the American flag that waved confidently just above a big screen used to show movies and nature slide shows at night.

This was no Club Med.

It was better.  Way better.

I don't know how much my folks paid per week for it.   I think we only went there three summers or so before the owners got divorced and were forced to sell the land to developers.  Those cabins exist now only in our memories and a few photographs that look like Instagrams.    But I remember with great fondness the fun that was had during those weeks on the lake.  Of course, we all eventually grow up, and life gets much more complicated.   Who's got the time or the money for a vacation.

I hope you still do.

Your kids will remember.   This is one grown-up confirming that is true.   Without a doubt.  Nearly every detail.


Book it.

There's still time left.   Borrow a neighbor's camping gear.   Book a hotel at the Cape.   Rent a house.   Worst case, rent one for next summer.  Do it now.

Of course, I want you to stay around so you can come eat ice cream, but this is important.     And you'll only be gone for a week, so we'll just see you when you get back.

As always, thanks for listening.

And thanks for letting me relive a few sweet childhood vacation memories.   I enjoyed that.