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Year: 2013 (page 2 of 5)

looking for summer in september

This space, this blog, a place where I used to find a good deal of pleasure scribbling a few words here and there has been languishing lately. I’m not quite sure why. Little time. Lack of motivation. Lethargy. Loss of readership. Mild depression. Perhaps a combination of many things.

School has started again and September is upon me. This past summer has come and gone so quickly. I spent most of it searching for a kind of summer-state-of-mind that never came. Again, I’m not sure why exactly. And yet I’m still groping for it—for some relief, a chance to disconnect… and then reconnect, renewed. But no.

Summer has come and passed. The innocent can never last. Wake me up when September ends.
        – Billie Joe Armstrong

My frustrated search wasn’t for lack of trying. We did a great deal this summer, none of which I documented in this mixed-bag blog. For the sake of posterity, here are the highlights.

We vacationed early this summer on the Marquette beaches of Lake Superior in a 70-year-old beach house. We saw my favorite, albeit aging, hard rock band Rush in Grand Rapids. (This was Aidan’s first big-venue concert. I was very happy to share this experience with him, especially since I grew up on Rush and they’ve meant so much to me through the years.) I ran my second marathon; this one on beautiful Grand Island. My time was abysmal and I nearly blew out my knee. We road-tripped east, bound for the Ocean, visited Niagara Falls, walked Boston’s Freedom Trail, hit Rhode Island and saw the endangered Piping Plover at Napatree Point, romped in the big waves at Newport’s Easton Beach, slurped some “chowda.” We took in our share of local attractions, took Aidan to Six Flags for the first time, road a few big coasters. We made a splash at Raging Waves and generally played around home—all your summer stuff… And yet, summer never came for me. It’s a mental thing. My head must have been elsewhere.

I don’t know, maybe it’s got something to do with this being the first summer without mom and dad. Sheesh… I don’t know. We’ve all been a bit out of sorts it seems. Here are the obligatory summer pics, anyway.

A friend of mine recently told me that there is still hope for me to find summer this year—even if it comes sometime in September. Here’s hoping…

675,000 gallons per second

Wanderlust has overcome me again, and so we’ve headed east. It’s been too long since I’ve seen the Atlantic; we are ocean bound. With as little a plan as possible, we are easing our way along the southern edge of the Great Lakes—Michigan, Erie, Ontario. No such trip could be complete without a stop at Niagara Falls. Chris and I first saw the [singlepic=1207,300,300] Evening comes over the Falls Falls during our Canadian road trip in college. I remember it was our first major stop of the journey, as well, eager to get someplace beyond our familiar worlds.

Slow as we are (the near-noon departure doesn’t help) with our desire to drive secondary roads as much as possible (not much of a road trip on the interstate), we arrived in Buffalo, NY after 11pm, so we packed it in and set our sites on the Falls for the morning. We didn’t want to stay in the immediate Niagara Falls areas, as too much kitschy tourism can be pretty expensive, not to mention irritating, so we opted for the 30-minute drive or so from our hotel to the Falls—not too bad.

In the morning (okay early afternoon), we drove north to the Falls. After the battle for affordable parking, we took our time strolling around; the high temps and crushing humidity ensured we didn’t move too quickly. I’ve got to say, while the beauty of the falls is stunning, it was tough for me to see through the tourism and truly pushy people. Seriously, I’ve been to a few tourist destination in my time but haven’t been pushed around (literally) as much as I was at Niagara Falls. There were a lot of people in a big hurry, jockeying for the best views, to get to the front of this line or that, or just to shoulder their way past you. I grew tired of the experience rather quickly.

Chris and I had been to the Falls years before on the Canadian side. I remember tourism being pretty thick then, too, but I don’t remember it being quite so tacky. Perhaps we Americans like our garish gimcrack a tad more than our neighbors to the North, but even so, all those years ago Chris and I spent only a few hours seeing the Falls before moving on. (We couldn’t even afford the local campsites.) It all makes me a bit sad, because they are indeed beautiful. Why the beautiful Niagara Falls had to become the “Niagara Falls Theme Park,” I will never truly understand. It seems beauty alone isn’t enough without snow globes, overpriced tee-shirts, and souvenir DVDs. (Ahh, now I’ve turned all negative. I didn’t mean to.)

Honestly, I really was looking forward to experiencing the natural beauty of this landscape with Aidan for the first time. There is something pretty cool about sharing something you’ve experienced years before again this time with your child. Funny, though, as we walked around the park, Aidan mentioned that he’d thought it would be more remote—somehow more “natural” in its setting. It seems he and I aren’t so different in some regards.

Still, determined to make the best of it and embrace all the tourism (maybe not all) the park had to offer, we queued up for the hour and a half wait to board the famed and historical Maid of the Mist (dating back to 1846). This would be a new experience for us all. Despite the unbearably long wait (again in the heat and humidity), the 20-minute-or-so tour nearly under the falls really was worth it. It was a blast. Both Aidan and Chris screamed with joy and we all got soaking wet. Of course, Aidan never even put on his souvenir raincoat, being too cool to stay dry. Honestly, they did very little to keep anyone dry and it was so much fun feeling the force of the Falls so close and the mist covering us in all her glory.

In the end, we had a nice day at Niagara Falls, but we all agreed that one day was surely enough and set our sites on the next stop of our easterly, impromptu road trip.

father’s day in the park

This post is belated, but I wanted to share what a fun time I had this past Father’s Day with Chris and Aidan. Wanting a relaxed kind [singlepic=1197,280,280]of day, we packed a cooler of sandwiches and snacks, grabbed a blanket and the Frisbee, and headed to the trees to enjoyed some time in Messenger Woods—one of our favorite local retreats.

Chris had made crunchy vegetable sandwiches, and we brought some fresh fruit, chips, and mixed nuts. We spread a blanket beneath a canopy of Crabapple trees, chatted, and munched. Aidan darted off to climb a tree for a while, and then, we broke out the Frisbee. Of course, I showed off my stellar kung-fu Frisbee skills—making masterful mid-air catches, spinning and flipping (okay maybe not flipping), hooking it on my foot, and sending the flying disk into the bushes more times than I’m sure Aidan cares to count. Aidan responded in kind with some skills of his own. Chris laughed and snapped pictures all the while before joining in herself.

As the sun fell lower in the sky and the mosquitos discovered us there, we packed it in, but swung by the local frozen yogurt shop for a tasty treat before heading home. It was simple and wonderful. These moments mean so much to me.

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