Book Club: Jennifer’s Pick05/10/2013
Surprise Summer Adventures
Getting Active by Jennifer Cooper
“Where’s my big shovel?”
“In the back of the car.”
“Did you pack us snacks for the road?”
“Yes. There are grapes, Goldfish crackers, and juice boxes. But you can’t start eating until we hit Virginia.”
“Did you remember the sunscreen? What about the boogie boards?”
“Sunscreen is in the bag with the beach towels. Boogie boards are in the back of the car.”
“Okay Cooper kids, you ready?! Let’s hit the beach!”
Our family loves the beach. My husband tells tales about summertime boyhood adventures visiting his grandparents who had a vacation trailer at the beach. When he wasn’t body surfing, they’d take their boat out into the bay and go crabbing. He’s a beach boy through and through.
Me? I went to the beach once when I was a kid. I hail from a long line of mountain folks. Seriously, my family can be traced back to Ethan Allen, or so family legend goes. My mom and dad grew up in the mountains of Pennsylvania and New York. They enjoy cool weather and walks in the woods. So growing up, our family vacations involved camping and trips to Skyline Drive.
And truth be told, I enjoyed them. But I dreamed of the beach. All my friends went to the beach. Each fall they came to school with little keyfobs that, when held up to the light, revealed posed figures on the sand with foamy waves lapping behind them. I begged my parents for a beach vacation. They didn’t seem interested.
The summer I turned 11, my dad came into our bedroom bright and early and did a thing that drove us nuts. He pretended to blow a bugle. It was always the same tune: Reveille. “Do-do-doodle-do! Do-do-doodle-do!” We put the pillows over our ears. “Get up! Get up!” There was no ignoring him. We had been through this drill before. As a kid, I thought it was something left over from his Navy days. As an adult, I realize it was just fun for him.
We were given instructions to pack up and load into the van. We were going on a special surprise adventure. And no, we couldn’t ask about the destination. We would know when we got there.
My brothers, sister and I piled into the van. Mom brought a cooler full of sandwiches and Dad started the engine and we embarked— destination unknown. These were the days before portable DVD players, so we kids had nothing to do but stare out the window. As we drove, the landscape became less and less familiar.
“Mom, where are we going?”
“Now Jenny, it’s a surprise! I can’t tell you.”
My mind raced. It wasn’t completely unusual for them to wake us up in the morning and take us on a day trip. But we’d never gone in this direction before. Then I noticed the billboards—big pictures of hotels, seagulls, and, was it? Could it be? The ocean?
It was! We were going to the ocean!
Three hours after we loaded ourselves into the car, we found ourselves staring at the Atlantic. Shoes went flying as we raced across the sand, the soles of our feet burning. We didn’t care a bit.
My mom and dad came behind us carrying a blanket and the cooler. They spread out the blanket and we all climbed on. My parents had secretly packed some beach toys for us. Score! We spent the afternoon playing and picnicking right there on the sand.
As the sun began to set, we packed up and headed home. We couldn’t afford to spend the night and the rooms had booked up months in advance anyhow. But that was okay. Because that summer, my parents gave me a trip I’ll never forget. Not only did it bring us closer together, it's one that set me on a path to sharing adventures with my own children one day.
Get to Know Jennifer
Find out what keeps this mommy-on-the-go moving. Jennifer discusses...
Getting Up to Speed05/09/2013
Book Club: Jennifer’s Pick05/09/2013
Play Time Friendships05/09/2013
Parenting in the Age of the Internet03/13/2013
5 Halloween Games for Families12/20/2012
Expressing Our Family's Creativity10/11/2012
Surprise Summer Adventures09/13/2012
A Playground Tradition08/16/2012
Summer Neighborhood Socials07/12/2012
Book Club: Jennifer's Pick06/14/2012
Stay-at-Home Summer Camp06/14/2012