Summer is here!! Memorial Day is over, and that means the public pools are open, vacations are underway, and national parks across the nation now have extended hours.
What plans do you have for the summer of 2007? Disneyland, Yosemite, Pensacola? My plans are different this year, which will be without a real vacation; this year's will consist of packing and moving to Albuquerque, N.M.
I have set some short-term goals to enjoy this summer...
1) Spend time with my family, especially my dad.
2) Hike the Land Between the Lakes' North-South Trail, which is only 65 miles of woods, hills, meadows and creeks, along the second largest man-made lake in the States.
3) Go swimming as often as I can.
The romanticism of swimming still appeals to me as an adult. I still get giddy when I get to splash unsuspecting adults, hold my breath for two minutes, and compete in underwater shouting contests with my nephews and nieces. I even enjoy the day-after retinal burn which reminds me of yesterday's fun.
Growing up, we only took one vacation -- when I was barely four years old -- so, every summer consisted of staying around the house, staying in trouble around the house, riding bicycles around the house, and occasionally driving one hour north to my well-to-do aunt's house to go swimming in her pool.
Swimming was the highlight of my childhood. Going to my aunt's topped the list, then came Dogwood Lake, a man-made recreation area with RV campgrounds, go-cart tracks, an aqua-blue water slide, and a five-acre lake, complete with fake sand and stock fish. Next, came the "stripper pits," which were filled-in coal mining pits that could be hundreds of feet deep. These places dotted the Western Kentucky landscape and could be found every other mile, like the lakes in Minnesota, only much smaller. Last came Lake Malone, my least favorite place in the area.
Even as a teenager, swimming never lost its luster. We would skip school and drive the two hours to Kentucky Lake to swim and party or go to random stipper pits to jump off the 60-foot rock walls and leap from the tire swings.
Years later, as a young Marine, we lived near the beaches in North Carolina. After playing "2-man in the sand" volleyball my friends and would go cool down in the waves off Atlantic Beach. Later, I began SCUBA diving the coastal wrecks and sunken Civil War sites common along the Outer Banks. Now as an adult I still enjoy spending a whole day watching my hands turn into pale prune-like appendages in my sister's or uncle's backyard pools or in nearby Kentucky Lake.
My greatest childhood memories are submerged like a submarine, resurfacing each time this 30s-something man plunges into another summer of swimming.
Whatever you do for fun this summer, just ensure that it makes you feel like a kid again.