As we excitedly welcome July, and all that the warmest weeks of the year have to offer, we can’t help but think of the past. What is your most vivid, or cherished, childhood vacation memory?
We asked some of our favorite bloggers to revisit vacations past and tell us about their most memorable beachside breaks, rugged retreats, or cross-country road trips. Happy Memories!
Webster’s Dictionary defines a vacation as “A period of suspension from work, or usual activity.”
As a kid, my family didn’t do a lot of vacationing. We did however, make a point to visit my grandparents every summer and during most of my breaks from school.
Grandma Maryanne and Grandpa Ed lived in West Point, Nebraska- a small town an hour away from Omaha. To get to their house, you'd have to drive up an alley and then curve around to their garage. The first thing you'd see was grandma’s beautiful garden, full of lush reds, blues and yellows. Grandma and Grandpa would come out onto the porch to welcome us, perhaps to a light summer lunch or a game of 500 Rummy. Inside were rooms full of sunlight and glass door knobs that always fascinated me. My sister and I would toast the summer mornings with orange juice in plastic cups.
Grandma Helen and Grandpa Joe lived in the country on a farm. It was pure magic to me - the barn, the fields, the woods. The farm had a sweet smelling mist that glowed in the morning and slowly faded as the day went on. The barn, full of hay, was our playground. We could fly and jump into mounds of straw or play hide-and-go-seek. It was a paradise.
These summer visits to two different worlds were more real, fun and wonderful than any European tour. They involved family, happy summers and just being a kid.
-Kate B., blogger -- Sassy in the South
My life has been crazy blessed from childhood to this moment. I grew up in a loving family, idyllic home, peaceful neighborhood, in the summer-state: California. The golden months meant no time competition from school, sports, or music lessons. Time to just be. Just play. Just eat. Just count stars. Just imagination. Just enjoy life together.
Summertime meant camping trips: canvas walls, hiking, smoky campfires, uncountable shades of green, hammock swinging, songs and stories. And road travel to friends and family far away. And beach jaunts - shell seeking, coconut sunscreen, sand toes, sun-softened Oreos, and exhaustive wave-jumping followed by a towel-covered nap. And botanical gardens, museums, friend's swimming pools, parks, libraries, picnics, shopping... Our parents worked very hard, regardless of our ingratitude, to provide many and varied experiences.
Still, with all these memories, I have to make a confession: I enjoyed being home the most. My family was (and is) my friends. Elaborate pretend games. Walking to our grandparent's. Impromptu games in our front yard with the neighbors. Staying out until we could no longer see who was "it". Cut-offs, ponytails and flip-flops. Mom working on a project. Dad creating art. Trampoline sleep-outs. Garden tomatoes. Warm cookies. Ripe lemons. Losing myself in a book, while gently rocking on the porch swing.
Summer is a big collage of layers and textures and shades - glowing moments. I may be older, but in that nostalgic part of my mind: a little girl is laying on a blanket of grass with absolutely nothing better to do than search for cloud patterns.
-Nicole S., blogger -- Moments & Milestones
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As an awkward kid growing up, summer vacation became a sacred time for me. Although I was a good student who loved learning, I didn't exactly jive with most kids my age. My preference for the company of Anne Shirley and the conversation of the lunch line ladies killed any chance I had of making it big in the tough world of the school playground.
So every year when school let out and my family headed south of the border to my Aunt Lily's house in Hermosillo, Sonora, I thanked the heavens for summer vacation.
My memories are still alive with the bright sights, sounds and smells of those hot summer days and nights spent enjoying simple childhood pleasures. Under the cover of night and with my cousins and friends, I played hide-and-go-seek in the street, using bushes and cars as camouflage. We also feasted on snow cones topped with homemade syrupy concoctions of fresh pineapple, vanilla beans, and watermelon. We sat in each other's porches, singing along to the hottest bands in Spanish rock like Hombres G and Timbiriche.
Those summers in Mexico gifted me freedom, the kind that only summer can give you - unstructutred, unsupervised, and unforgettable (I had my first kiss there). But I was also gifted the freedom to reinvent myself. I could leave my insecurities back home knowing that no one in Hermosillo knew me as a book geek or a fashion flunky. I was just another kid trying to fill every hour before school started with that wondrous, fleeting magic of summer.
-Olivia V., blogger - Girl with Red Lipstick
As a child I was fortunate to travel often with my family. We didn’t have a whole lot of money, but vacations were important to my parents, so they would scrimp and save and make sure we could spend a week somewhere other than home as often as possible.
Late one spring we loaded up the minivan and headed off to California- our usual destination- once again for an adventure. This trip was different though. Rather than just the usual week in Laguna Beach, we were hitting multiple destinations!
We started in Laguna and spent a few glorious days doing nothing but play on the beach and eat. At night we could hear the waves crashing, lulling us to sleep. After, we spent a day in Disneyland. Disneyland! Every child’s dream (and every parent’s nightmare- bless their souls)! After a full day of dizzying rides, sticky foods, and plenty of whining I’m sure, we spent a night in a hotel that I thought was super cool because of the indoor ponds with the giant Koi fish. The next day we drove up the coast, stopping in places to look over the cliffs at the ocean and feed tame chipmunks pretzels right out of our hands. We rented these great little 4-seater bikes that had striped covers and rode up and down a paved trail alongside the coast, dotted with hundreds of purple flowers. During this we stopped at an ice cream shop and all got ice cream cones (cookies ‘n cream on a sugar cone for me, of course). Eventually we ended up at our destination: San Francisco. I had relatives living there at the time, and we spent a couple of days touring the city and visiting with them. I remember seeing the seals at the Fisherman’s Wharf, riding a trolley, and going down Lombard Street with my dad whooping and hollering the whole time because he was so excited to be driving down it.
It was sad to leave and go home after so many days of fun and new experiences. I remember feeling the bond of family togetherness strengthen as we had enjoyed life and relaxed together. I am forever grateful to my parents for the sacrifices they made so my sisters and I could experience the world and to help our family grow. I hope I can do the same for my own children someday.
-Rachel W., blogger -- Mama Drama
My father grew up in Haiti. Not the sad, depleted Haiti it is now – a Haiti that still clung to life by mere wisps of hope.
As a small child, I often spent summers there with my family. We stayed at my grandparents' house, which had a pool and a lush garden of hibiscus, bougainvillea, guava and mango trees. And the roses – my grandfather's beautiful roses. Because I was so young, my memories are certainly influenced by the old VHS tapes my parents keep at their house of those summers, the images hazy from the clunky video recorder's inability to register the dazzling brightness of the Haitian sun; the sound of the roosters crowing, the children squealing, and the sing-song Creole fading in and out with each scene.
In retrospect, it was all very odd and colonialist in so many ways – being people of privilege in a country of poverty, my grandparents had many native Haitians who worked for them, and I remember, in particular, two individuals: Marly, my summer “nanny,” and Onora, the “butler,” for lack of a better word. He was sort of my grandfather's right-hand man, a jack of all trades. He had a wide, brilliantly white smile, and a laugh so distinct I still hear it in my dreams sometimes. Marly was but thirteen, following me around the garden as I toddled after iguanas.
Those summers are a piece of myself, of who I am, and I hope my own children will have summers they can claim to be as memorable.
-Rima Jean, blogger -- Mommy Brained