Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

As I noted earlier, I usually treat the summertime as a three-month vacation. Yeah, sure, I go to work and do my work, but mostly, my frame of summer reference has been molded by years of schooling. The summer (except for my three H.S. summers where I went to summer school because there was nothing else better to do), has mostly been for traveling and finding fun things to do in the sun. 2007 was no exception. Except that I didn't do much traveling, but I did have fun!

I didn't do anything spectacular this summer. I would define "spectacular" as some great trip abroad, like my friend Julia's three-week trek to Africa. I did not go to Africa this year. Maybe next year. Who knows?

I usually go to beaches in the summer or friends' summer houses, but after falling out with one friend with a summer house, another friend getting divorced and there no longer being a summer house to go to, and other friends going to their own summer houses with their families, I only went to the beach twice this year. It happened to be a friend's family's year-round "summer" house. It's in Rockaway Beach and is where he grew up. So that makes their summer house a year-round beach paradise! I spent July 4th there and a nice August day as well. I usually stay over July 4th, but this year I had to go back to the Bronx homestead in order to get up the next day and do the one thing I did the most this summer... New York river kayaking!

Now, it might be great to head off to Martha's Vineyard (a real treat) or spend three weeks on safari (a great treat!), but to be able to spend May - October (if the weather holds) on the East River, the Hudson River, Hudson Bay and what not, wow, now there's a summer to remember!

Elderta in a Kayak on the East River in Front of Domino Sugar
Summer 2007
Photo by Elderta

I started kayaking in NYC in late 2006, and Summer 2007 has been my first full season of participating in group kayaking. I haven't gone solo yet, and truth to tell, I'm a little afraid of heading out on my own at this point. There is so much to learn and several times over the summer I did things that only an amateur would do (like getting stuck in an eddy and not turning into it to get out of it). Only time and learning from more experienced kayakers can bring safety and confidence to go out on your own. One of these days, I will!

I did get to travel a little as well. A family reunion on my dad's side of the family took me to Charlotte and Shelby, North Carolina. I had a great time with my aunts, uncles and cousins. It was sad that Dad wasn't there, but my Uncle Charles and I had a great conversation, and we all went to visit their mother and sister's gravesite in Boiling Springs, NC.

Hopper Family Gravesite, Boiling Springs, NC
Photo by Elderta

The gravesite is a little sad. The church that it is attached to seems not to have enough money to maintain the site. There are about 50 graves of various families buried there, and it's dry and parched and pretty desolate. My grandmother Vertie died in 1937 and Aunt Jaunita died in the early 40s at the age of five. A few other relatives are also buried there, too. My aunts and uncles hadn't been to the site in like forever, so they didn't know how bad off it was and vowed to help its upkeep. My mother mentioned to me that Dad wanted to visit his mother before he died, but really, it's probably best he didn't see the graveyard in that condition.

On a happier note, my cousins are I are like the Four Amigos, and we had a heck of time together. I hadn't been to North Carolina in ages, and I'm really happy I went.

My other trip this summer took place over Labor Day weekend. I would love to say that it was a great time, and in many ways, it was... in actuality, everything that could go wrong, went wrong! I was amazed at how things went from bad to worse in a short five days. On the other hand, I had a great time with my mother and friends. I had been thinking about moving to this city, but so many things went wrong that I don't think the great city of Chicago is in my future.

Where's the O? by Elderta

Here's a list of what went wrong in Chicago:
  • I had to go to Chicago for the Society of American Archivists conference and planned on going to either Milwaukee or Detroit to visit my mother for a week after the conference;
  • That didn't happen;
  • The conference hotel where I stayed (the lovely Fairmont Hotel on N. Columbus) had to charge my debit card twice... I didn't have enough money upon arrival to have one debit, so the next day they did a second debit without taking off the first debit;
  • My mother had to leave Milwaukee for Detroit on Friday and took the train to Chicago; she had a four-hour layover at Union Station, so I picked her up and brought to the hotel, thereby missing the ONE conference session I needed to go to;
  • I took her back to Union Station and thought I would die from being crushed by Chicagoans rushing to their trains home (and I thought NYC was bad!);
  • Meanwhile, the hotel took over a $1000 of my cash to hold, leaving me almost broke and not being able to rent the car I had planned to rent for the remainder of my trip;
  • I was so distraught that the hotel offered to fly me to Detroit; I was so distraught that I told them just to fly me back to New York and home;
  • The day I was suppose to leave, I went to a Chase ATM, put my Chase debit card into the ATM... and the ATM promptly ate the card on the Sunday before Labor Day;
  • The flight home was great on JetBlue; JetBlue lost my luggage and I didn't get it back until the day after I arrived in New York;
  • My kitty kitty got sick and I might have to take her to the vet tomorrow.., if the hotel actually puts my money back into my account, that is....

The World is Round by Elderta
Chicago Millennium Park

Other than that... Chicago was great! I visited Navy Pier and rode the Ferris Wheel, got drunk at a bar and threw up in a garbage can from the heat, went to see Second City ETC with some Internet friends (one of whom is the musical director for the show), saw a high school friend, and got to see my mom for a few hours. So, all in all, despite everything that went wrong, it was a great trip nonetheless. Chicago is a fantastic town and though I don't think karmically I could live there, it's always a great place to visit.

I would even daresay that Chicago is more beautiful than New York.... but don't tell anyone I said that.

And that's what I did on my summer vacation which lasted the entire summer. Please note that I haven't mentioned politics in this entire post. While I didn't ignore the wider world burning around me, I did put it on the back burner for a few months. Now, it's time to settle back into reality... and another "school year."

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