Tag Archives: summer

Summer Road Trips (redux)

[Lynda’s note: Since I’m heading out on a road trip for a few days away, I thought I’d have my “S” post bring back what is far and away the most popular post here on Second Memory — Summer Road Trips. I was fortunate enough to have this post selected as a “Freshly Pressed” post after it originally appeared on July 21, 2011. So, as I am hitting the road, here’s a little of what’s coming along with me……. Enjoy! Have a great weekend! ~ Lynda]

“On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing. But in those brevities just before dawn and a little after dusk—times neither day nor night—the old roads return to the sky some of its color. Then, in truth, they carry a mysterious cast of blue, and it’s that time when the pull of the blue highway is strongest, when the open road is beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.”—William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways: A Journey Into America (1982)

Summer vacation in our household always meant one thing — ROAD TRIP! Once the crops were in the field and growing strong, our family loaded up the station wagon and set out on adventures far and wide. Like other things in our household, these trips were a combination of exceptional planning and whimsical free-wheeling. Each year, the vacation had a specific theme or destination in mind, carefully chosen to balance fun and education, new experiences and landscapes with manageable adventure. But if we saw someplace fun to stop or a roadside attraction worth a look, we took the time to stop and enjoy the moments the road trip provided for us.

Take, for example, the summer we decided to tackle Civil War battlefields. Not content to sample just one or two, summertime that year was an in-depth historical journey across the eastern and gulf coast map of the major Civil War events.

Civil War Battlefields

Gettysburg, Bull Run and Fort Sumter rolled into Andersonville as we headed to our southernmost destination of New Orleans. It was there that I rode in my first taxi, forever remembered because I left a treasured shirt, hand-painted by my mother, in the back of it, only to find it returned to the hotel later by a very kind taxi driver. New Orleans also marked the first time I ever tried to eat a lobster served whole instead of just by the tail. The kindness of strangers came through again as a very patient waiter took extraordinary amounts of time to teach me how to break apart the thing, as well as the parts to avoid!

On our way back north to home, we stopped for one night at a hotel in Vicksburg. As we were loading up the car the next morning, I went exploring in the parking lot and stopped when I saw a familiar license plate. In our small town, cars changed quicker than license plates, so I grew up learning to remember plates not vehicles. My parents were unconvinced that life could be so random as to have two families from the same small town happen to stay in the same place hundreds of miles from home. I stuck to my guns, insisting that my parents ask at the desk, and I was right! We had a quick breakfast together and caught up on local news we had missed while on the road, then headed out onto separate ways, the start of their vacation and the winding down of our trip.

Some of our other memorable excursions included a long journey to the southwest, complete with my brothers scaring my mother at the rim of the Grand Canyon, a dust storm in New Mexico, and visiting Carlsbad Caverns. One year we headed northeast to New England, another west to California, and yet others to the vast open spaces of the Dakotas or across Canada.

With four kids across a thirteen-year age span, my mother was a genius at making sure our vacations went as smooth as possible. Each child started the vacation with a large paper grocery sack full of wrapped packages, one for each day on the road. At some point each day, at a time of our own choosing, we could open a new present, something she had picked especially for each of us, to entertain us. Silly and small, these daily surprises kept us entertained and engaged, whether it was an egg full of Silly Putty, a new coloring book, or a book to lose ourselves in as we covered the long miles each day.

In order to prevent arguments over money, food, and souvenirs, each child also got their own daily allowance of money to spend. Mom’s rule was pretty easy – each child had a set amount to spend, we could spend it however we wanted, but when it was gone, that was it, we were done. If I wanted that “I-have-to-have-it-or-I-will-die-right-now” item, it was mine as long as I was willing to sacrifice that amount of my budget. I still remember one of my brothers carefully guarding his daily expenditures to indulge in a very large steak for dinner one night on a trip through Texas. And if my sister wanted a hamburger for breakfast and eggs for dinner, so be it. It was her money to spend.

I learned a lot across the miles on those summer road trips — patience, cooperation, budgeting, the sheer pleasure of the open road– hanging over the back of the front seat, map in hand, navigating the blue highways over and around the miles, and finding adventure where we could.

Thinking back on those great summer road trips makes me want to head out on a summer road trip adventure.

Any suggestions?

[Note: This post is #19 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please see the button on the right of the page for more information.
There was no “S” post for last year’s challenge — more on that on Monday!]

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Adventures at the Fair

If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you’ll be going, ‘you know, we’re alright. We are dang near royalty.’
~ Jeff Foxworthy

People-watching at county and state fairs is one of the best reasons to go. What a chance to relax and watch the world go by on the midway!

But this year, I had another reason to head to our local county fair – to enter some of my baking. Last year, two of my colleagues entered the county fair for their county and had great success. One even took best in show for her jam, and it was quite delicious! So there was a campaign to get more colleagues to participate this year. I figured it might be fun, so I decided to enter in the domestic arts/baking division.

The mini-exhibitor pass allowed up to five different items to be entered, so initially I decided to go for it an enter five. However, a distinct lack of canned pumpkin (who knew you couldn’t find it in July??) in the stores thwarted my efforts at making my grandmother’s pumpkin bread. In the end, I entered four categories: yeast bread (my honey-wheat loaf), zucchini bread, favorite bar cookies (my cranberry caramel crisps), and bundt cake (my lemon poppy seed). Although I didn’t take home any blue ribbons, I placed second with my yeast bread and my bar cookies. For a first attempt, I’m happy with that! And I’ve got a whole year to work on more recipes for next time.

I hope you have a chance to go to your local or state fair. If nothing else, go for the people-watching. Here are some pictures of our adventures at various fairs we’ve gone to the past few years. A great way to spend a day!

My second-place Cranberry Crisps
My honey wheat bread
My colleague, Leigh, took first place for her knitted adult sweater! Great job, Leigh!!
Food on the Midway, Greene County fair
One of my favorite parts of the fair – the Deeres!
The Canfield/Mahoning County fair near Youngstown is one of the largest county fairs in the nation!
Tasting the food at the fair is another great reason to visit! My brother-in-law Bob enjoys some corn at the Canfield Fair.
So is the chance to be a little silly! My husband gets his vegetables for the day…..
The butter sculpture at the Ohio State Fair is a “must” on the list of things to see at that fair.
The historical marker at the Ohio State Fairgrounds give a bit of history to fairgoers.
Checking out the various animals and livestock usually results in some interesting moments…….

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Monday Moments: Photographs & Memories

Photographs and memories
Christmas cards you sent to me
All that I have are these
To remember you
~ Jim Croce
“Photographs and Memories”

What an amazing surprise to find my blog post on “Summer Road Trips” featured on the front page at “Freshly Pressed” on WordPress all weekend! Definitely a great way to start a Monday! Thanks so much for all the visits and thoughtful comments. I loved reading all of your road trip memories and ideas! Also, a warm welcome to all my new subscribers to Second Memory. I really appreciate you signing on for the ride, and I hope you enjoy the time you spend here.

We finally got a small break in the warm summer weather after more than a week spent in 90-degree temperatures and steamy humidity. Our local meteorologist kept calling it “air you can wear,” and she was right! But as I looked at the calendar noting the weather, I was also reminded that this is the last week of July — summer is quickly passing. I even saw the first “Back-to-School” sale in a store over the weekend. That means my summer project list needs a few more things crossed off before the rest of summer disappears as quickly as the first half has gone by.

One of those tasks I always promise myself to take care of is my stash of photographs, old and new. Thanks to my very computer-savvy husband, our digital images are categorized, stored, and backed up. Not so much our regular photographs.

So this week, we’re tackling family photographs – here on the blog and at home. Feel free to dig out your pile or box or crate and share the fun with us — the crazy strange ones as well as the poignant ones of things and people no longer around us.

Jim Croce’s “Photographs and Memories” says it best, even almost forty years later.

After all, moments to remember are what keeping photographs is all about, isn’t it?

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Summer Fun

Keeping cool at the Cleveland Zoo


Heat, ma’am! it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones. ~ Sydney Smith, Lady Holland’s Memoir

You can’t turn on the news or read a blog the past few days without people talking about the heat wave currently locking us into our air-conditioned chambers. Summers are supposed to be a bit hot, but this week has been downright beastly!

So today I wanted to cool off by sharing some pictures of a few of my favorite summertime activities – those wonderful, fun things that make summer such a time to remember.

What’s your favorite summer fun?

The boys of summer at the grill

Visiting state fairs...

...and county fairs, too!

Potlucks and picnics

The local bocce courts

Visiting historical sites and museums with friends and family...

....geocaching and scavenger hunts

Visiting local parks

trying new recipes

summertime treats

Our cat, Sullivan, enjoying a summer afternoon

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Summer Reads

There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs. ~Henry Ward Beecher

There’s something magical about reading over the summer. Those long, hot days, sunshine aplenty, offer endless opportunities to read the hours away. As a child, I loved summertime reading because it was free from tests and quizzes, from discussions and reports. I didn’t have to *do* anything with what I read but enjoy it, picking and choosing what I wanted to read next, how fast or slow I finished it. That, to me, was the absolute joy of reading over the summer months. For someone who devoured books, those months offered the absolute freedom to read how and what and when I wanted. It was hard to find a greater joy.

During grade school and early middle school, books on my summer reading lists included the entire Little House on the Prairie series and every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on. I loved being taken to exotic places (or at least locations more exotic than the Midwestern fields I was reading in…..) in between the covers of books like Island of the Blue Dolphins, Pippi Longstocking, or Misty of Chincoteague. Those years brought my first encounter with The Little Prince, fueling a lifelong interest in the book and its author. And I remember feeling very grown-up when I finally made it through Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. By high school summers, I was well into my romance novel habit, oftentimes finishing a book a day during the summer. The librarians in our small town library used to tease me about rereading them if new ones were slow to arrive on the shelves.

As an adult, my summer reading selections are even more eclectic, though my mainstay reads are my ever-present romance novels. But other genres make their way onto the reading pile as well. Michael Connelly books are regular favorites from the mystery side of the bookstore aisle. One of the benefits of living across the street from one of the largest bookstores left in town is a never-ending supply of new options, oftentimes fueled by the chance to hear and meet new authors as they pass through on book tours. Our shelves of autographed books — and often ones that we probably would not have picked up without having met the author — now fill more of my bookshelves than I ever would have guessed.

As for this summer? My reading is a bit slower than in previous years as other things are occupying that precious free time I normally devote to inhaling books. But the one sure summer read this year happens to take me back to a special location that I love, one that I haven’t had the opportunity to re-visit in a number of years. All because a new book in the series is just two weeks away, and picks up the story of a character from one of the earlier books. So, I’m back to evenings spent buried in the pages of old favorites, and anxiously awaiting new arrivals.

I guess that sounds like my typical summer reading after all……

What are you reading this summer?

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