Summertime Memories

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When I was a young girl growing up in Southern California, we rarely spent the summer at home. Since my dad was a schoolteacher, he had all summer off. So, he and Mom loaded up our VW Bus (remember those?) with five kids and the makings of many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and headed “back home,” as he called it, to Minnesota where he and my mom were born and raised.

My summer memories, at least from those days, consist of singing along to John Denver’s “Country Roads” as we traversed the Rocky Mountains and fighting my siblings for the seat closest to the air conditioning vents. An “efficient” driver, Dad liked to take the shortest amount of time possible to make the trek. Translation: few stops, early mornings, late nights, and the occasional sleeping in the van at a rest stop — or on the side of the road. Yes, those were the days….

(That’s me and three of my siblings feeling a little saddle sore. Sorry I don’t have a shining, happy people picture. My sister – the one with the Dorothy Hamill ‘do –chose it.)

Now, while the “trip” was close to Chinese water torture (God bless my mom!), once we arrived in Minnesota, things were much more fun —

  • Baking with my Gramma in her basement kitchen. She was a blue ribbon baker and made great pies!
  • Playing cards with Gramma and my cousins and listening to my cousins bravely accuse her of cheating!
  • Fighting mosquitos with a vengeance. Yeah, that’s not really a fun part. Memorable though since I’m allergic to the little buggers.
  • Raiding my Aunt Peg’s basement kitchen. She always had a pan of “bars” waiting for my teenage cousins and their boyfriends. The freezer was always full of Otter Pops, too. The trick was to drink the melted “juice” without coughing.
  • Riding bikes with my cousins around and around and around the block
  • Shopping with my ultra-hip cousin
  • Sitting on my aunt’s porch listening to the grown-ups talk and laugh.
  • Sleeping in a cool basement at the end of a hot, sticky day

Despite the discomfort of the journey, the vacation was pretty care-free, as all childhood vacations should be. I may sound jaded, but really, it gives us lots of laughs now to recount those days. I think my siblings and I all have great memories, though we now choose to make hotel and air reservations when we travel.

What’s your favorite summertime memory? Share it in the comments section so that we can all be inspired toward great memory making with our kids this summer.

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  1. I don’t have a lot of favorite summertime memories b/c we didn’t travel often when I was a kid. I mostly remember being cooped up in the air conditioned house, bored to tears because there was “nothing to do” and too hot outside. I didn’t have sibs to play with.

    But the memories I want to create for my kids are different. So we go berry picking at a pick-your-own farm down the road at least once a week during summer into fall. Some other fun stuff: popsicles, sprinkler, summer reading program at the library, snoballs, parks.

    I’ve also created our Super Surprise Friday when I surprise the kids with an activity/place/event they know nothing of beforehand. This is only the second week, so I’m not sure now that will go over for the whole summer. But the first Friday was a hit.

    Curious to read further on your blog to see if you define what an Otter pop is…

  2. FishMama says:

    Hey Courtney. Your surprise Friday sounds great. (Wish I had the energy….)

    As for Otter Pops, sorry I didn’t explain; I assumed they were a national pasttime. I added a link to the post, so you can read all about ’em. (They’re just like Flav’R Ice, in fact, that company bought them out.

  3. My memories of summer fun definitely included Disneyland. Living in Phx made that trip doable. And not very expensive. We’d drive with windows down (our air didn’t work) and stay at some cheapie motel called the Spaceship 6 or something cheesy like that. Who cares, right? We were just piling in there at night to take showers and crash unitl the next morning of fun at the park. Nowadays, we live nowwhere near a Disney park, but my husband and I like to research anything that could be fun around us. Maybe a day trip to a fabulous zoo or aquarium. There’s a theme park 3 hrs. south of us that has many inexpensive places we could crash for a night. Something to give us incentive to save and be frugal for. Even though we are trying to be careful with our money, sometimes you and the family just need a break and some downtime together. If we can’t swing such extravagance this summer (with gas prices being what they are–yikes!), we will be sure to go play at some of our great local parks in the shade of the day and pack picnic lunches, and near-stale bread to feed the ducks. Anything to be together and out of the house, away from the tyranny of the urgent.

  4. Zimms Zoo says:

    We always took at least one family vacation every year. Now parent’s love to do it with my kids. Which is totally awesome, because that really helps the kid to adult ratio, when it comes to riding rides and such.

    My favorite memories are colorado springs and new mexico. But now it is Branson and Silver Dollar City because it is an incredibly family friendly environment. Do you know at Christmas time you can ride the train at the park and they stop at this little cabin where this old man tells the story of Jesus birth and then the greatest gift of all.
    Tell me any other theme park where you could see and hear that!?!!

    Anyway this year we are staying home and doing things close.

  5. Oh, I just loved reading about your summers! It sounds like so much fun!

    I always spent my summer vacations with my grandparents. Lots of room to run and play, but no other kids. 🙁 I want my kids to really have a chance to get to know their cousins, so I had two of them at the house all week last week. (Plus three extras on Friday!)

  6. Disney World and endless pool swimming with my Dad. My folks were divorced at the time (although they later remarried each other) and lived on opposite coasts. My mom shipped me off to Dad’s on a plane and the fun started right away. He lived in Florida (where we now live) and it seems like we spent the entire summer at Disney World and/or swimming in his complex’s pool. And when we weren’t doing that, he was taking me on shopping trips and spending a fortune on everything I smiled at. I’m sure it was only a couple of weeks but it’s all I can remember. He also bought me my “own” car – a t-top that he only used to drive us around in when I came for a visit. He now lives about 15 minutes from me and loves to spoil my kids now. 🙂 My in-laws are in Montana and have been bringing out my oldest child for the summers to have all kinds of Western-style fun. The other kids will be coming too, when they’re old enough!

    • I love to hear stories of parents remarrying each other. Awesome! Sounds like you had some great summers in the interim, too.

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