The fastest week of the year is usually my summer vacation. This year was no different. We normally pack up the car and head down south to Brown County and explore Nashville, Bloomington, and various trails while enjoying the view from some nondescript cabin in the woods(I use the term cabin loosely, as they’re usually quite lavish with all the creature comforts.) This year, however, we did not head to the hills of southern Indiana for a summer getaway. We just stayed home this summer. There’s both relief and regret when we don’t leave town for a few days. Relief in that the schedule is pretty wide open; no dead lines to meet or places to be. And having a week wide open leaves time for some spontaneity. But regret in that getting 3 to 4 hours away from home actually feels like getting away. It’s a total reboot from life, even if for just 4 days.
So this year my summer vacation was last week, and the big trip on vacation was a trip to the Cincinnati Zoo. Up at 4am, making sandwiches to put in the cooler, and on the road by 5am we made the four-hour trek to the Buckeye State. We hit the zoo by 10am(after a few stops here and there.) My wife and kids had been to the zoo a few times before, where as this was my first time. It’s a lovely zoo. Located in the middle of town, but you’d never know it while there. Overrun by trees and foliage, it feels as if you’re lost in some zoo out in the middle of nowhere. Only occasionally does the urban landscape make itself known, through breaks in the trees where city streets bleed through.
The big attraction at the zoo for the last year or so is Baby Fiona. She’s the zoo’s semi-new baby hippo. We were hoping to see her swimming in her home but she must’ve been shy that day. We did get to see her mama taking a dip in the water, which was pretty cool. We also made our acquaintance with some bonobos that got up close and personal with us. Mostly though, the animals seemed pretty subdued that day. Just laying around, relaxing. It was rather warm that day.
Wednesday of vacation week we headed to the cinema and saw Ant Man and The Wasp. Really enjoyed that one. I was a fan of the first one. Great mix of action, heart, and comedy. The sequel doubled up on the comedy and action. I think Paul Rudd is pretty brilliant. And really, Evangeline Lily? Yeah, I’m in. After the movie we made our way to a little ice cream stand called The Chief. My wife and daughters raved about this place for the last couple years, so on Father’s Day we headed over to try it out. It was not disappointing. It’s a small walk from the cinema so we got a couple scoops in a waffle cone before heading back home.
On Saturday, my son and I drove an hour and a half to Kokomo Toys & Collectibles. I’d stopped there a few months ago with my best friend on our way back from a trip to Indianapolis. I knew the boy needed to see this place, so I’m glad I was able to take him down. He had some spending money and picked himself up some older action figures. He was pleased with his finds. I went next door to American Hi-Fi, a record shop in Kokomo. Cool little shop with one hell of a selection for being in the middle of nowhere. I found the only Boards of Canada album I didn’t own on vinyl, A Beautiful Place Out In The Country.
That was it. In the blink of an eye vacation was gone. It was nice being home and hanging out with my family. Those moments are fewer and far between. My youngest is 13 and the oldest is 18 and heading to college in three weeks. My middle child is 15 and always on the go. If i don’t think about it I don’t get down, but if I’m not thinking about it the days seem to travel by at lightning speed.
I remember our first trip together to Brown County. It was 7 years ago this November. We spent Thanksgiving in the Brown County wilds with my parents. We were all together in the cold fall of Nashville, Indiana and it was an amazing experience(though I think that house was haunted…that’s for another time.) I look back at pictures from that trip and the kids seemed so small, but the memories are still so fresh in my head. Like it was just last year.
I can’t help but get a little maudlin when I think about the quickness of it all. I have no complaints with my life, other than I wish it would slow down a bit. I’m in no hurry to get to the golden years and senility. I miss my kids being young and inquisitive about the small things. I miss the excitement of a blanket fort and a trip to the video store. With each passing summer vacation we get further and further away from those little moments. They fade like old polaroids from my own youth. Those fading memories trapped in chemicals and light that don pages of photo albums in my mom and dad’s spare bedroom. Summer vacations and Thanksgivings of my own youth, seemingly nondescript backyard shots taken of badminton games and treehouse adventures.
35 years on, and those little moments were bigger than I thought.