Isn’t it hard to believe sometimes that we’re already deep in the midst of the Summer season? Whether you consider the unofficial start of summer as Memorial Day, or the actual start on June 20-21st, Summer is in full-swing. When I was younger and in school, I lived for summer. All year, I would anticipate its arrival, eager to spend the days milling around the house, catching up on movies and TV shows, spending endless amount of time outside, taking walks with friends, shopping at the mall, attending concerts, and of course, traveling somewhere new on family vacation.
Growing up, I was fortunate enough to be able to often choose or help decide on a locale for the family vacation. Since childhood, I’ve loved traveling and being able to visit somewhere new and unfamiliar. Traveling is often where I gain some of my best inspiration and serves as a catalyst for hopes of the future. Though I don’t presently travel nearly as much as I would like to these days, it’s always a joy to me to be able to reflect back on some of my most memorable vacations and summers:
- Disney World – It’s not hard to understand why Disney World is often at the top of my list when I think back on favorite vacations. I’ll never forget the first time my family and I visited Disney World. I was young, a newly-minted 4-year-old having turned 4 at the beginning of May. It was July of 1992 and not only was it my first visit to Disney World, but it was also my very first plane ride. Having battled through numerous ear infections as a baby and young child, I had tubes in my ears at the time and as a result, ended up at the urgent care clinic once we landed, for yet another ear infection. However, I didn’t let the infection derail our vacation. Upon arriving at the hotel, we quickly unloaded our belongings and finally made our way to the Magic Kingdom. From first glance at Cinderella Castle, I was in complete awe. I recall standing directly in front of the castle transfixed and unable to move. There it was, right before me. Though, given the young child I was, at the time, I couldn’t understand or make sense as to why I wasn’t able to go inside. So for a brief time, I stood there sobbing to my mom, asking why I wasn’t allowed to go inside and though I can’t recall exactly what she said to me, before I knew it, I was happily running along with my sister, Hope, enjoying the rides and park. The next day, it was the character breakfast at the Grand Floridian Hotel. How incredible it was to enjoy a meal with my favorite characters. From the Mickey Mouse Belgian Waffles to posing for photos with Pluto and friends, it’s one experience I’ll never forget. As I grew older, I visited Disney World with my family several other times, including twice with Hope, for Spring Break. The most recent visit, though not so recent anymore, given it was in May 2009, I rode my first upside-down roller coaster – the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Though I was fearful, it’s one moment in my life where I faced my fears headfirst and never regretted it.
- The Bahamas – In the summer after 7th grade, my family and I visited the Bahamas. First, we flew into Florida, then transferred onto the smallest plane I’ve ever seen or flew on, onto the island of the Bahamas. We were greeted by a small airport, humidity and an environment I’d never encountered before. From the soda that tasted strangely different, opposite sides of the road we drove on, and the first dilapidated hotel we were supposed to stay in, I wasn’t at all sure at first if I actually wanted to be there. Though, my impressions quickly shifted as we changed our hotel reservations upon seeing one of the newest hotels on the island – Our Lucaya (the name is now changed, but upon it first opening, it was called this). It was a sprawling and beautiful resort, complete with several restaurants, a dance club and various pools and spas. My family and I were in complete awe at the sight of it. As we made ourselves comfortable, Hope and I were eager to visit both the pool and dance club. Though we were very young at the time, we made our way to the dance club and ended up learning the dance – “The Casper Slide,” prior to it even arriving in the United States! Despite enduring one of the worst sunburns I’ve ever received, our Bahamian vacation was one of the best; from bargaining at the straw markets, to dancing at the night clubs, and lounging by the pool, it was the true epitome of a relaxing escape.
- Arizona/Las Vegas/New Mexico – What an incredible adventure this trip was! Looking back, perhaps this was one of the last times I truly felt carefree and energetic in my life. When we made this trip, I was roughly 16 at the time. I felt comfortable and secure in my life, eager to explore and discover a new climate and area of the United States. Having sang the song “Route 66” numerous times that year in my choir class, I was excited to finally see it up close on this very trip. When the trip first started, we arrived in Phoenix, Arizona at the height of one of the hottest weeks of the year. The town was desolate given it was the middle of the afternoon and the peak of the heat. We quickly learned to take shelter during this time and emerge only when the heat had decreased. Though it was more of a dry heat versus the humid heat we were used to, it was still barely bearable. The environment, however was beautiful. Vibrant sunshine, turquoise, handmade jewelry adorned many of the stores and the store windows, and a desert-like atmosphere. It was unlike anything I’d ever personally encountered and it was breathtaking. One evening, we quickly learned it was monsoon season and ended up spending a large amount of time in the hotel restaurant, chatting and joking around with the restaurant employees. Days later, we hopped into the rental car and made our way to Las Vegas. Much of the trip to Vegas was a whirlwind since at the time, my sister and I were only teenagers and couldn’t do much and we quickly made our way to New Mexico, for the last leg of our trip. It was there when we finally encountered the infamous Route 66. Seeing the sign for the road was surreal in itself, but the best part was being able to encounter a new climate and destination. Our brief time there included some of the best Mexican cuisine I’ve ever enjoyed and a pleasant feeling of the summer warmth in the evening, free of humidity.
Though this is only a sampling of the summer trips/vacations I’ve enjoyed, they are often the ones that stick out most to me. There is a whole world out there I’d love to someday see, but until then, it’s always fun to reflect on pleasant pastimes, especially in the midst of Summer. Wherever you happen to be this Summer season, I hope you’re enjoying yourself and taking in each moment.