As I write this, it’s already Monday, June 6, and… holy crap! We’ve already let a week of summer get past us! Summertime is the best time of the year, isn’t it? It’s the time when the sun is at it’s peak, the temperatures are at their warmest, and both can give a person a sense of happiness, joy, good feeling, and… the need to get the heck out of Dodge and travel somewhere on vacation.
Well, at least that’s the idea of summertime that my mind conjured up when coming across F.C.’s third writing challenge for this month, inquiring about our plans for this summer if we have any. I have to admit, that’s a hard question for me to answer, or at least to admit an answer to. I would love to get out of Madison for a while, and I have done so in past summers, albeit a short “mini-vacation” for only a day or two. But I’m not one to travel super long distances, especially in that little bitty car I call my primary mode of transportation. (Reminder to self: Post that pic of said car on here once you wash it.)
I think not having a great desire to travel too long of a distance is the primary reason I haven’t done a massive, get-out-of-town-for-an-entire-week vacation in quite a long, long time. But that’s not to say I won’t rule out a long, going-far-to-travel trip again, perhaps doing it again as soon as this summer. In all likelihood, however, I’ll stay close to home, being content in having a “stay-cation” at home, seeing more sights around Madison, and try to enter another 5K run or two (I gotta find a way to keep this running kick going). Of course, I’ll spend most of my summertime being cooped up in the office doing the 9-to-5 grind. Yeah, that’s not a very good way to spend the summertime, but I gotta earn the money to go on that supposed vacation. If anything, I can spend most of this summer dressing up at home. It’s (mostly) cheaper, safer, and doesn’t involve any traveling.
So, yeah, it’s safe to say that if I were to sum up my summer plans in one phrase, it would be “To Be Determined.” But while the “will” of this post’s title is an open-ended question for me, it represents certain plans for one member of my family. She’s the reason for the “our” in the title, and before I tell you about her upcoming adventure, I must ask you to listen to this famous theme song while you read the next section. No seriously, click on the link and listen to the music; it fits the rest of this post’s vibe perfectly.
[HMMM, hum, HUMM, de-DUHHH, duh-duhhh…]
Okay, now that I’ve got that harmonica and accordion combination stuck in your head for the remainder of the day, here’s the deal: My oldest niece — for the sake of reference and anonymity, I’ll refer to her as Em — will be entering her senior year of high school next September. Before she does, Em is going on a little bit of an adventure: She’ll be doing the Joel Fleischman thing and, one week from this post’s date, will head to Alaska to spend the summer until late August. And she’s not going to a big burg such as Anchorage or Fairbanks either.
Where exactly in Alaska is Em going, you ask? Well, two uncles on her birth father’s side (they’re a married couple, for the record) own a coffee house in a town on the Kenai Peninsula about 3-1/2 hours in driving time from Anchorage. This town is so small that it’s technically not incorporated as a town or city; it’s one of those spots on the map where if you look both directions on the highway, you see all of it. Some in our family weren’t even sure about this little burg’s name or even its pronunciation, and we had a hard time on Sunday, when we gave Em a little bit of a sendoff party, trying to look it up on Google Maps. My stepfather was pointing to nearly every single town on the Kenai Peninsula that ended in a “K” and said triumphantly, “Here it is!” Em’s mother, my little sister, tried the Google voice search (“Ok, Google…”), but the results only produced a list of nail salons in Alaska. (For the record, we did find it, and here it is.)
As noted above, Em starts her long journey to The Last Frontier next Monday. She’s got a 5-hour drive to the Minneapolis airport, followed by a 7-hour (or so her mom believes) non-stop flight to Anchorage, followed by that 3-hour drive to the town in question. Em’s a bit nervous about her adventure, and I can certainly sympathize with her. I can recall having that worry before I left home to go far away for the first time after I graduated from high school. At least she can take solace in the fact that her paternal grandparents will be there to send her off and take her home in August. Plus, she’ll have a traveling companion in her cousin. And, her uncles will provide food lodging and keep both of them busy through work at their coffee shop (where they can collect all the tips).
During our party, we gave Em a couple of gifts for her to take along to Alaska. Dad lent her his fancy Canon camera to take lots of pictures of the Alaskan scenery (the midnight sun, perhaps?). Mom and Sis gave her a journal where she can jot down her adventures and memories. I, not realizing everyone else was giving presents (and I’m not usually a skinflint), gave her $20 to use as spending money over in Alaska. We all hope Em will put those to good use, that she will have an amazing summer in our 49th State, and that she stays happy and safe while she’s over there. And if she sees a moose nonchalantly walking down the main street of town (or at least a flying cow), I think that would be the perfect trip-topper for her.