Monday, July 26, 2010

The Road Back....

"I still remember going to the lake with my family during the summer, it was a really great time." I hear my wife say as I sit in the back of the red Jeep Wangler, circa 1990. We are rambling through the twisting two lane road through Haddam Connecticut, taking a scenic drive. We pass roadside fish shacks and opened gates leading to boat launches. We pass over a light blue steel swing bridge towards Goodspeed Airport and cruise through the river town it services. The red Wrangler labors up the hill and maneuvers a u-turn in front of a little cheese factory as my wife and our friend Jerry point at little shops and reminisce about growing up in small towns and summering in quaint New England vacation spots. These memories make up the classic weekend getaway, vacations that families have been taking for generations.  Not being able to conjure up my own version of the getaway, I close my eyes while soaking in the hot sun and feel the racing wind reshape my face as a result of the speeding topless Wangler.

Growing up in a financially challenged family, vacation homes and weekend trips were not an option for us. Not having a car limited us to whatever mass transit extended out to. That’s not to say my brother and sisters did not have fun, we just had our fun close to home. My city experiences are of the concrete style; stick ball games, school playgrounds and the occasional ices from the truck. For a few years my parents gathered up enough funds to send us to a local pool, where my memories include; sitting in the back of the bus as it bounces from the many pot holes, learning how to swim at age eleven, and running across the Van Wyck Expressway to have pizza. 

My wife and I like to travel and have taken our son on great trips across the US, Europe and Central America,. They remain all very memorable trips, my son fondly remembering some, others have slowly faded.  For the past few years, we too have been financially strapped, not having the extra funds to go on a grand vacation, recalling the struggles of my childhood. We are very fortunate to have friends and family to visit, and while hotels and sightseeing are part of the traveling experience, its hard to beat sitting around a table with loved ones, telling funny stories, watching the kids play on a tree swing, and stoking the perfect fire for s’mores. 

Summertime is filled with scrapbook memories, the classics, destined to be re-lived and to teach the next generation how to live. I want to make sure my son can experience getaway summers filled with those iconic images like lake front swims, friendship bracelets, and recalling the fresh flavors of the roadside ice cream shacks, while rumbling past in that topless Jeep Wangler.
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