I’m delving into my vast history of travel experience to give you the best summer vacation places, ever. I have walked the trails of Glacier National Park, run my hands over the ancient bronze of the statue of Buddha in Kamakura, Japan, trying to understand how it was built. I have toured medieval Austrian castles and looked for Nessie from the shores of Loch Ness. I have toured the Kremlin and shot pictures of St. Basil’s and Red Square. I have stood at the top of Corcovado Mountain, beneath the statue of Christ, and traversed the city to ride the tram to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I have wet my feet on beaches of both coasts of the United States and got sunburned on the shores of the Mediterranean. So, if anyone could tell you the best summer vacation places, that somebody should be me. Even so, none of those are the best summer vacation places.
My family still owns the old Victorian home where my great-grandparents raised their family. I like to sit in a camp chair underneath the huge willow tree while listening to the mountain creek that runs through the middle of the back yard. Usually, when I do that, I am reading; not from the glowing screen of the rigid device where I store hundreds of books that I can access at any time. No. Reading in that place is reserved for hard cloth or leather covers and soft pages that rustle when the winds blow through them. That is the only kind of reading fit for the best summer vacation places.
My memories run freely and I share the history of a family with the next generation in one of the best summer vacation places, ever.
I like to take my sons hiking in the mountains only an hour away from my home. I can still find the aspen tree with my grandfather’s black initials carved into the white bark. MDS Sep 27 1976. That was the last summer he hiked that trail and I was probably with him, though I don’t specifically remember his pocketknife handiwork. I can find a tree with my little brother’s name on it too. He died in 1997. My sons and I talk about when I hunted these places with my father’s family. My memories run freely and I share the history of a family with the next generation in one of the best summer vacation places, ever.
My kids love to see pictures of farms, ranches, and tiny, old clapboard homes while we stand in parking lots or streets of subdivisions. “The old farm house would have been right over there. The barn would have been several hundred yards further back.”
I have to admit that when it comes to fishing, I’d rather cast a fly on a river, but I can still take my dad, who’s in a wheel chair now, and drown a worm in the same reservoir that they just started to fill when my grandma was a little girl. Whether she knew it or not, that was one of the best summer vacation places in the world.
To my ancestors, that was a place where they lived and worked and died. To me, it is one of the best summer vacation places in the world.
Pointing to a garage, behind the overgrown trees of a home that was smaller when I lived there as a child, I show my sons where Grandpa and Grandma let me put some metal working equipment as their mother and I started the family business more than 25 years ago. It’s not one of the best summer vacation places, but it’s on the way there!
When I have a bad day, I like to spend an hour on a hillside, overlooking valleys that would have been much less busy when my ancestors might have sat in a very similar—if not the same—place, looking out over creation and knowing that they could try again, tomorrow. To my ancestors, that was a place where they made their homes and raised their families. It’s where they lived and worked and died. To me, it is one of the best summer vacation places in the world.
Oh, my kids love to be taken to beaches and amusement parks for family vacations. They love the rush that comes with the speed of being drug behind a boat, or zipping around on recreational vehicles. Come to think of it, I did too. But my own favorite pastimes and places come easier now and they are closer to home. Give me a bonfire in a back yard with little ones asking me to cook the perfect marshmallow for them because they always catch theirs on fire. Give me some antibacterial salve and a few Band-Aids to put on cuts and scrapes while I explain the demonic burn of the Merthiolate used on my own childhood wounds. (Oh, and thanks for the mercury poisoning, medieval medicine!) Yeah, give me kids playing with baseball mitts on the grass, and bicycles going up and down a driveway. Give me a cheap telescope in a back yard. Give me a summer close to my heart. Give me a summer close to home with my family. Give me those and you’ll give me the best summer vacation places in the world.
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