Splash Into Summer, Part I – Summers of the Past

I know summer doesn’t technically start until June 21. But Memorial Day Weekend is the traditional start of summer. And since this weekend was warm enough here in San Diego to wear a sleeveless shirt today, I’m declaring summer now in full swing. In fact, I’ve already hung my “Welcome to the Lazy Flip Flop Days of Summer” door hanger. As I embark on the beginning of this summer season, I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about summers past (Part I) and look ahead to what’s in store this year (Part II).

As a kid, the real beginning of summer was always the last day of school. Although if I remember correctly, it seemed that day was overcast and gloomy (maybe that reflected the moods of our parents). But that gloominess didn’t reflect the gleeful mood of me and my sisters. For it was summer, probably the second-best time of year for kids after Christmas.

The best part about summer was staying up late and sleeping in! We also spent countless hours splashing in the backyard pool; made frequent trips to the movie theater to see summer blockbusters; and used the days to catch up on television. Camping and outdoor activities weren’t something my sisters and I were excited about. The closest we came was sleeping in a tent in the backyard. And even then, I think I came inside to my bed at some point.

Generally my family would embark on one family vacation trip. One year we spent a week in Washington, D.C. and New York City. We made a few trips to Connecticut to visit family. And we did a “college tour” a few times to check out schools.

But mainly our summer trips were driving up California to Lake Tahoe in the family station wagon with the luggage piled on top of the car. We always argued about who would get stuck sitting in the rear of the wagon. The trip would be a two-day adventure since my dad did not like driving all day. We’d stop in Bishop or Lone Pine overnight and enjoyed a lovely dinner and breakfast at Denny’s. Most of the first day, my sisters and I would enjoy our own music through our walk-mans (I’m dating myself) as my dad listened to Mighty 690 sports and another AM news station. Then later in the day, he’d tell us to remove our walk-mans and we’d listen to the family music collection, consisting of the likes of Harry Chapin and Peter, Paul and Mary. Even though we’d complain about it, we actually liked the music that began to signify family summer trips. And now those songs hold special meaning for my sisters and me.

We’d roll into Tahoe the following afternoon. There’s something mystical about getting close to Tahoe with all those big pine trees surrounding you. The air literally changes. It becomes crisp and you can start smelling the pine and water. We stayed at a condo on the lake in North Tahoe where we played in the pool, swam in the lake, and walked into town to shop.

We also spent a lot of time with my grandfather at his Tahoe home. He always took us out to partake in many outdoor activities – miniature golfing, river rafting, horseback riding, and riding the cable car to the top of the Squaw Valley Resort. One year when we were much younger, he even took us fishing (we didn’t catch anything).

The Tahoe summer vacation highlight, however, was gazing at the Fourth of July fireworks over the Lake. Grandpa would take us out on his boat and we’d stare at the fireworks bursting overhead. Those were beautiful and magical evenings that I remember fondly.

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