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By Kimara - Posted on 05 August 2008

            It is hard to believe it is already August, and I must admit it's my least favorite month of the year. Two of my children have birthdays in August, so the month’s not a total bust, but generally speaking, I spend August waiting for September.


            There are several things about August that always get me down. First, everything looks so tired. The dog days of summer have browned the grass, limped the leaves, spent the flowers, and, in general, August looks like a mother of 3 at 7:00 p.m. You know the look I’m talking about…wilted bangs, food stained t-shirt, slightly craved look around the eyes as she contemplates another energy sapping bedtime. All she really yearns for is a bit of relaxation, but she still needs to get through the rest of the evening. August needs a good night’s sleep!


            Next, August has the feel of a late Sunday afternoon. No matter how good your Sunday is going, you know the weekend is almost over, and Monday morning, with all its responsibilities, looms just around the corner. Not sure how anyone can truly enjoy the rest of the day armed with that knowledge.


            Finally, no matter how independent your children are, no matter how many cool things you’ve done over the summer, August is fraught with “There’s nothing to do.” August is like the third hour into an all-you-can-eat junk food fest. Too much of a good thing is never good.


Fortunately, when my children were young I happened upon a sure fire way to survive August…ROAD TRIPS!!!


            I stumbled upon road trips, or GETTING MISPLACED as we so fondly came to call them, as an act of desperation. One too many, “What should we do now?” compelled me to shout, “Get in the car!” When asked, “Where are we going?” I honestly answered, “I haven’t a clue.” Armed only with a full tank of gas, a state map and the unmanly ability to ask a gas station attendant, “Where are we?” we headed out to destinations unknown.


            I can’t specifically remember where we went that first trip, but I know as we became frequent day trippers we all felt like our mission was to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before. (What, you’ve never heard of hyperbole?) Okay, so we fell short of discovering new civilizations, but we did discover out-of-the way gems that purposeful driving would never have uncovered. As a rule we drove towards the country. Pastoral lanes lead to little towns that we had never heard of. Roadside vegetable stands, dilapidated antique stores, and hand painted signs advertising Aunt Sally’s homemade ice cream beckoned us. The kids helped decide which way to turn, and we were never in too big a hurry to check out some shop or attraction someone found intriguing. Although we often proposed returning to an interesting place, we seldom did. The world is a big place, and there was always the lure of the great unknown that drove us on our next trip.


            Rivaling the thrill of discovering new places was the adventure of finding our way home. Sometimes we employed the “backtracking” method, trying to retrace our steps, or more accurately, tire rotations, exactly. Comments like, “We turned at that tree with the tire swing,” or “Look for that little store that had “Night Crawlers” painted on the side.” At other times we used the Force of the Jedi to guide us back. “It feels like we should be going that way.” Surprisingly, we seldom needed to consult the map, and who am I kidding, I’ve never consulted the map. To me all maps are written in Latin, which would be fine if I was an ancient Roman, but seeing as I’m not, I carry maps more as a security blanket, and because it seems like the kind of thing a grown-up would do. Besides, the thought of refolding a map seems more daunting than being misplaced for several hours! When necessary, a quick pop into a little store or gas station got us headed in the right direction.


            Needless to say, we always returned home, unscathed, and a little worldly wiser. My children developed not only a sense of adventure, but also a sense of direction. Our trips were never planned in advanced and our destinations were always unknown. These were truly lofty experiences focused on “the journey, not the destination”. Getting misplaced not only provided entertainment on those long August days, they also created one of our family’s fondest memories.


Just a little aside here…when my daughter read this, she smiled, and said, “It’s good, a little idyllic, but certainly brings back memories of getting misplaced”. I smiled, too, and said, “Its poetic license to embellish a bit”. She agreed. Then, I began to think about it…I really hadn’t exaggerated. This WAS how I remembered our road trips. When I asked her to explain she said, “Oh, I loved the trips. But we didn’t go to antique stores or get homemade ice cream. What I remember was how much fun it was to try and stay on dirt roads and then find our way back home.” I did remind her about the shops, and yes, the homemade ice cream, she remembered, “sorta”. Point to note…not everyone will remember the same things. When looking back at things we did with our children, everyone will have their own take. The most important thing to remember is that we all had a great time and came away with memories to cherish!


What secrets do you have for surviving the dog days of summer?   

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Nothing compares to the memories that we can share when we have our trip and travel with our family. - Nova Science Publishers

I think my mom summed up my comments at the bottom of her post. It is funny how I vaguely remember the quaint little stops but the whole 'game' of figuring out how to get back home is what really sticks with me. I also remember that in highschool I was willing to drive more places than a lot of my friends and had a much better nack of not getting lost. Fun summer memories... but at this point I think my kiddos are still several years away from a good 'Getting Misplaced Adventure.'

I absolutely adore summer. Great memories when I was a kid. Mom took a break from tailoring and only worked at the diner so we had a lot of free time together. We would always take our trips in August so it was something to look forward to. I can remember a couple of our best vacations were when we didn't have any distination in mind. We'd stay in cheap motels. The more decrepit they were, the more fun we had! Mom and I still get away in August. She is one of most adventerous people I've ever met and still makes traveling fun. My secret for surviving the dog days of summer is to have something fabulous planned that you are looking forward to doing.

It's very nice to be back home after 2 weeks away. We were at a cottage with tons of DHs family members, and I think I only slept about 3 hours every night! It was better than I thought it was going to be, tho, and although the kids were out of their element they did okay. I'd do it again but NEVER for two weeks, more like a nice, long weekend. But I'm back and I spent yesterday getting us settled in and laundry done so it is very nice this morning to sit back and read my Tuesday blog!

Sounds like getting misplaced was tons of fun. I would love to do it but think I'll wait until my kids are old enough to help me find my way home! When I was a kid I started fretting in August. I felt the winding down of summer and you started all the back to school stuff. I liked school but I positively worried about class placement. Always the middle of August they put up the class postings at the school. Everyone crowded around the first day to see who's class they were in and who was in their class. If I didn't have one of my best friends in my class I spent the last few weeks of summer vacation in a funk. If I did have a good friend in class I was in bliss!

My summer survival was and still is reading. As summer wore on, and seemed to get hotter, I'd find cool places to hang out and read. A must read every summer was Anne of Green Gables. When I was young I read the entire series every summer. I must admit now I still read the first book, Anne of Green Gables, every summer. A bit of a treat for me. Read it on vacation! Have a good week all, and stay cool!