Summer Stretching Out to the Horizon

Summer is here.

For me, summer arrives when Nico gets out of school. There is something about the imposed structure of his school year that just keeps my feet on the ground.  Knowing every day he has to be up at 615 am just puts a dent in our plans.

Plus, the winter and spring just sucked the life out of me. Teaching 2 classes in winter plus a new prep in spring kept me and my plans grounded.

But now? Summer is here.

Remember the sequel to Anne of Green Gables, when Anne befriends Catherine Brooke, the headmaster of the school she teaches at when she leaves Avonlea?  Towards the end, they are in the Cuthbert orchard picking fruit…

BROOKE: Oh, Anne. Summer has flown by so quickly. A school teacher really is a slave of time. I don’t know how I’m ever going to go back.

ANNE: Don’t be silly. There’s always another bend in the road.

BROOKE: Bend in the road. There’s no bend in my road; I can see it stretching straight out in front of me to the skyline.

Anne is all about bends in the road, but me?  I like a long road stretching to the horizon.  Curves and bends require attention and effort and action, straight roads stretching to the horizon are nice.  🙂

I’m working on putting the class I taught face to face this past spring online for the summer. You have no idea what a relief it is to be teaching online again. Seriously. I feel like Sean Spicer doing sociology lectures- like it’s just a matter of time before the whole thing has gone off a cliff. And I have said something terrible, inappropriate, or flat out wrong.  Or better yet, like Tommy Boy trying to make his first sale.

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Yeah.  It’s that bad.

It’s not that I don’t know what I am talking about- its just that I don’t interact well with an audience.

I have a new research project I’m trying to get off the ground. It’s interesting- a throw back to one of my first graduate courses, using formal demographic techniques. Also, I have a couple of manuscripts in preparation. I’d really like this summer to be productive on the research front.

I’m hoping to get a little travel in, too. I’m set to present at a conference in Montreal in August. I think we’re going to be able to make it into a short family vacation. I am planning to tack on a few days at the end for a section hike of the Long Trail in Vermont. Essentially, I’m using it as a scouting trip- to determine what my thru hike in 2019 will be like. I’m hoping to get Nico out on some trails this season. His sports seasons are winding down- he has a handful of baseball games left, which is a relief. It’s the stress of watching your kid play sport, but it’s also the stress of managing the schedule, constantly wondering if you’re missing a practice or a game or what?

Also, my 20th senior class reunion is next year.  NEXT YEAR.  What is even happening?  How can that be 20 years ago?  I can’t even.  Back in the winter, we did a reunion soccer game (which hadn’t been done in a minute).  In order to keep it going, we have one scheduled for November.  The main guy who is organizing it has decided to make a 19.5 year reunion event weekend.  There will be our soccer game, plus a softball game.  One of the things I need to put some time into is helping with the organization for that.  It’s weird, but I spend a lot of time organizing shit, for someone who definitely did not major in it or have any time of early inclination for it as a child.

What about you?  What kind of big summer plans are on your horizon?

 

Shakedown Kayaks with Dad

I don’t remember when my dad and I started talking about doing a kayak expedition.  We’re both kinda  fans of kayaking and during a holiday visit, we chatted about the trips we wanted to do.  He told me about a series of paddle races that are longer (200-300 miles) and mentioned that he wanted to do the WaterTribe Everglades Challenge.

We talked about it very briefly in 2015 and called each other’s bluffs last year.  We aren’t getting any younger.  I also helped matters along by telling Dad that the paddle expedition is on the Forty by 40 list.  It is officially, put up or shut up time.

boxer_1487994622-048446_assetMy Dad is a lot like me in that once we have decided to do something, we sorta obsess over it.  Dad being Dad and not having a double kayak meant that was the first order of business.  The double being bought, we planned a couple of shakedown paddles for when I was in Florida for the Alumni game.

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I have been away from home about as long as I was there, which is a weird thing to say.  Since I left, an actual manatee park was opened nearish my old stomping grounds.  The morning after the game, we headed out, hoping to see some manatees.  The really cool thing about Florida is that in the winter, the manatees stay close to “warm” water.  In many cases, this is in the rivers near springs and power plants.

The spring we moved to Chicago, Dave and I took Nico to Crystal River with my mom, where we rented a boat and swam with manatees.  They are such chill animals.  Really, “sea cow” is the only way to describe them.  Nico accidentally stood on one, which you’re really not supposed to do.  But he was little and the manatee didn’t seem to mind.   Still, you shouldn’t do stuff like that.  boxer_1487994644-840043_asset The weather was absolutely spot on. It could not have been nicer.  Mild, with lots of sun.  Being in the midwest these last four years means my skin color has reverted to factory settings.  I learned my first beach trip back that the Florida sun don’t play, so I wore the long sleeves.  It wasn’t too bad at all.

We saw lots of manatees.  There were a lot of people on the water that day.  The cool thing about the park is that it is close to motor boats and the people living on the river were pretty much all at work.  It was quiet and peaceful, sunny, and breezy.   We paddled for a couple of hours before heading back to the hotel for dinner.

Dad did a good job picking out the kayak.  We can move it pretty well.  We both decided though that we really don’t want to do the Watertribe Challenge without a sail rig though.  So, that is our next step.

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The next day, we headed out on the river that ran through my old stomping grounds.  The day was overcast and a bit windy, waves crashed over the deck more.  Both my dad and I prefer the sit on top kayaks, but for different reasons.  He likes them because they aren’t as hot as the sit in models, which is fair.  He mostly paddles in South Florida.  He knows a thing or two about how warm it can get there.  I like the sit on top ones because I have doubts about my ability to right a boat that has been tipped over.  Regardless, when we actually do the challenge (next year or the year after), we are going to need to figure out waterproof gear.  Of course, it might not be that big of a deal- we might just do the course, but have my mom drive as a support vehicle.  So we could camp where we camp and just throw that stuff in the back of the truck, and keep water, snacks, and lunch on us.

It’s not a bad plan.