With the end of September in Boston feeling much more like summer than a good part of summer did, the Parent Imperfect is thinking about what did and didn’t happen this summer. His focus on the hassle that was summer school at the nation’s oldest public school can lead him to forget some of what did happen during the warm season.
Quebec Trip–Thinking that they had only a single week during the entire summer that they could take a vacation together (not true, as it turned out), the merry family took off to Quebec the week after the Fourth of July. They spent four days camping in Parc National La Mauricie and then four days in Quebec City. They stayed very much in the car camping southern part of the park, but enjoyed themselves a lot, nonetheless. The highlights were gorgeous views, zip lines galore and the PI managing to sink a kayak and nearly strangle himself with his poorly-fitting life jacket. His loving family calmly watched this scene from a bad summer comedy, thinking that Dad had decided to beat the heat by flopping out of the kayak. Vince, the family’s strongest swimmer by far, eventually came to the rescue. And the bugs…They weren’t too bad until the very last day, when the flying ants emerged from tiny holes in the ground to join the biting flies, black fllies and the mosquitoes. The happy campers got packed up and away from the flying ants just before a serious cloudburst blew in. Timing is everything in life.
Quebec City was even better. Knowing that they would be ready for creature comforts, the PI booked a reasonably comfy hotel in the Old City of Quebec. The place was nothing special, but these people had just been in a smelly tent. The first-time visitors happened to arrive on the first day of the city’s wonderful international music festival, with performance spaces set up all over the city. Sometimes good luck trumps planning. They walked endlessly, took in lots of music, ate too much and caught a free performance of Cirque de Soleil that left all four jaws completely slack for two hours. The PI took several walks on his own and made more than a few memorable discoveries. One was an abandoned Catholic Church that had been turned into a branch of the city’s public library system. Another was a bar located across the street from another, very large Catholic Church. The bar won a little business from the PI with its wonderful name, The Sacrilege. Fallen Catholics can not miss the place!
They may never go back to Quebec, but it won’t be because they didn’t enjoy their first trip there.
Riverside Theater Works–Ms. Connie spent three weeks of the summer inside this dark and somewhat musty theater in Hyde Park. This time, the Broadway Boot Camp took about 30 youngsters, and didn’t allow them to leave the stage unks until they could put on a surprisingly satisfying performance of “Seussical.” Well, satisfying to the fawning parents, anyway. Ms. Connie loved it even more than previous years, her role of Horton in the second act presenting her with her biggest acting challenge to date. They seem to have a complete turnover of staff every year, but perhaps that’s what community theater is about. Whatever else it is, it is just right for Connie.
YMCA Camp Fuller–Last year, Vince attended this camp located on a gorgeous point of land in Naragansett Bay. He was to have shown his sister the ropes this year, but other commitments meant that Connie went on her own. The parents fretted over sending her, once again, to a camp full of kids that she didn’t know from Eve, but she had a great time. She very much enjoyed activities like swimming, sailing, mountain biking (the only girl on that one) and marine biology (???), but she really liked that the place seems to realize that kids need the freedom to just hang in their cabin and skip an activity if they want. On top of it all, her counselor was from Spain so Connie could show off speaking Spanish. She made friends, cried when it was time to leave and is already making plans for next year’s return trip.
Lightning Soccer Camp–The summer was not all declensions for Mr. Vince. Less than a day after successfully completing summer school, he was off to a week of camp to prepare him for the fall soccer season. For once, the PI had arranged for this to happen with a friend, so Vince had a very good time, despite the fact that they spent all of one day and part of another playing outside in a cold, driving rain. Both Vince and his friend felt that it was a well-run, co-ed camp that they would recommend to anyone.
Jamaica State Park–And, yes, while Vince was at soccer camp and Connie still at Fuller, Liz and the PI slipped out of town on their own for the second time in the 14.5 years of Vince’s life. In fact, they dropped Vince and his friend with the soccer wardens, and never looked back. They spent a single night in a remodeled art deco hotel-movie theater in downtown Brattleboro and then headed 30 miles northwest to Jamaica State Park. The park is located along the West River next to the tiny village of Jamaica, Vermont. The flood waters of Hurricane Irene heavily damaged the part just a few weeks later, but it seems to be up and running, once again. Since campers can walk 1/2 mile to a coffee house in town, no one would mistake this for roughing it, but compared to Roslindale, this is the Great Outdoors. If it had rained on Liz and the PI one more day, they would probably have very different memories of the place, but the sun came out and they got onto the wonderful path that runs along the bed of an abandoned narrow-gauge railroad that used to run alongside the river from Brattleboro to Londonderry. This is a place that they might even try again, this time with the Last Children in the Woods.