It was August of ’63, and my family drove to northern Maine to visit family, as usual. We always spent ten days to two weeks in Maine, driving up in summer-weather and returning to fall and school. The summer of ‘63, my father planned a day-hike to climb Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park—link to another post about Katahdin. My sisters and a few cousins went. But not me.
That summer, I had two surgeries to repair my clubfoot. A day or so before we left for vacation, doctors cut my leg-cast down to a half-cast with a “heel” on the bottom. Though I’d soon be climbing trees and riding bikes with the walking cast, I had yet to adjust to it and was still using crutches.
The day of the climb, we dropped the hikers at Roaring Brook Camp Grounds in the early morning, drove to the other side of the mountain, and waited for them to reappear. The day dragged on as I thought about where they would be. Chimney Pond Camp Ground by mid-morning, up the Dudley Trail and Knife Edge to Baxter Peak by early-to-mid-afternoon. Then the long trek down the Hunt Trail to Katahdin Stream Camp Ground.
By late afternoon, I got itchy and started walking up the trail to meet them. I walked and walked and walked, determined to participate in any way I could. By the time we met up on the trail, I was elated —and exhausted. My father carried me on his shoulders, and I suppose my sisters or cousins carried my crutches.
Later, my father told me he was exhausted, too. But he said the sight of my determination melted his heart. As daylight began to fade, we snapped a few pictures, me with my older sister and cousins. And my father.
I would come to know his heart-felt feeling with my own children even when I was not at my best. Whale-watching off Gloucester—I got seasick—riding the rollercoasters at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg—same problem, and many other excursions that would wear even the most energetic parent down. But sharing my children’s joy… well, there’s nothing like it.
These days, Keith and I don’t really have summer vacations, unless we plan a trip, which we’re more likely to do off-season to take advantage of lower prices and less crowding. We also don’t really have weekends. One day is pretty much the same as the other when you’re a writer—except for church on Sunday.
Though I miss the concept of a summer vacation—fall, winter, spring vacations, too—I like the freedom of being able to plan my day, week, month, or year to take advantage of opportunities. For instance, today was a great day to spray-wash windows—actually rather fun. You can see why I needed a ladder to reach the top keyhole windows.
But I do miss the joy of children. I can’t wait for Christmas when everyone is here at Vanaprastha, including our granddaughter. Maybe we’ll climb a mountain together, and I’ll carry her on my shoulders.
What is your favorite summer vacation memory?
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Thanks Carole for sharing a special summer memory. I will always remember a family trip to California in ’73. I was going to be a senior in high school, and we headed to California for a family reunion along with visiting Disneyland. The real memory was how two adults and six children (ages 6-17) drove out in a Ford Maverick . . . a car designed for six, no air conditioning (few cars had AC back then), and a trunk with just enough room for our luggage.
What a trip that must have been! Maybe not your favorite memory, but it makes a good story. Thanks! -C.D.
Parents would do anything for their children, wouldn’t they? Your dad must have been a kind and caring father and you were one determined little girl! What wonderful memories.
Yes, indeed, and correct on both counts, if I do say so myself. Thank you so much for your comment. -C.D.
What a beautiful share, thank you. I get overwhelmed with emotions hearing of “the heart that goes the extra mile“, especially when it is a parent for a child.
I’ve been back country backpacking for more than three decades and for me to those don’t come as easily as they used to anymore. Some of my favorite summer memories is a long two day hike to an alpine lake and having a couple days sitting under a shade tree with a fishing pole watching the afternoon breeze whip up on the lake and then taking an afternoon nap in a hammock listening to the treetops whisper to each other with the ebb and flow of the wind.
I think it’s time that I plan another trip! Thank you again for sharing ❤️
Ah yes, I think another trip—what a wonderful memory! Thank YOU for sharing. -C.D.
Driving to Florida with my sisters when i was about 12 years old. The road teip was more exciting than the destination.
Thank you for sharing your memory. Anticipation is often the more exciting experience.