What I learned on my summer vacation

The Alaska summer goes by in a blur. We went from snow and cold clinging on in late May to what passes as a heat wave in this region within the space of a week. We crammed activity into every waking moment — and with 20 hours of daylight, there’s a lot of waking moments — because we never know how long the pleasant weather is going to last.

With that in mind, and as an homage to of all those students who have had to write that classic essay on their first day back to school, I figured I’d share a few things I learned this summer.

First, if you’re planning to rebuild a deck, having the ground still frozen — in June — when you need to dig a hole for a new footing can really throw your schedule off.

Teaching the kids to pogo during a punk rock concert is a great family bonding moment.

I tried paint ball for the first time this summer. I can see why people enjoy it, But I felt really uncomfortable shooting things at people. I spent the ensuing weekend apologizing profusely to my wife for the couple of times I pegged her. The rest of my family, however, are apparently all gung-ho savages who had no qualms whatsoever. I still have the faint remains of a few welts to prove it.

While on vacation, the topic of movies came up for discussion, and someone commented that they didn’t like the American version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” because they didn’t think casting Daniel Craig as a journalist was realistic. I beg to differ. In fact, when they cast for the story of my life, I think Craig would be perfect as the editor of a small town paper in Alaska, don’t you?

Once your son finds out he can mow other people’s lawns for money, doing yours for free suddenly isn’t such a priority.

That same son learned a valuable lesson about betting on the golf course: If you have a strong gag reflex, betting a habanero cheese-Oreo combination on whether you can carry a hazard isn’t the smartest thing to do. Michael Jordan’s favorite golf course bet was always “whatever makes you uncomfortable.” The habanero cheese Oreo bet definitely fit that bill.

In fairness, I lost a similar bet and had to try what I’m pretty sure was East Coast farmed salmon (my apologies to all of Alaska’s commercial fishermen). I can report that farmed salmon doesn’t taste bad, it just doesn’t have any taste at all. Canned tuna has more flavor. I was so glad to get back home and throw a sockeye fillet on the grill.

Lastly, I learned that as much actual summer as we had this year, it still wasn’t enough to get to everything on my list.

I have the same feeling every year as autumn sets in (I brushed some yellow leaves off my windshield this morning) and I think about all the things we didn’t get to. The camper spent too much time in the driveway, there’s not nearly enough mud on the mountain bike, and the deck has yet to be rebuilt — among all the other chores and projects left undone.

I’m hoping for a little more pleasant weather this fall so I can cross a few of those things off the list, but it makes wonder, when it comes to figuring out how to fit it all in, when will I ever learn?

 

Reach Peninsula Clarion editor Will Morrow at will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.com.

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