Summer 2020 will be very different. And it is so hard to predict. Will cases of Coronavirus stay low or will we have new outbreaks? Will states continue to “open up” or will there be renewed restrictions. We are cancelling our two week August rental in Cape Cod. We can get a deposit returned if we cancel by June. Currently short term rentals are prohibited although that may change in the next few weeks. Our grand kids were just notified that their Pocono summer camp is cancelled. A summer unlike summers past.
For more than 40 years I taught in schools. My school year usually ended in May. If I was still working, I would soon be on my summer schedule. Most summers were a mix of some work and extended vacation/travel. For several years in the early 70s while teaching elementary school, I worked in construction. My uncle helped me get a job with Roy Butterworth. I moved from sheetrock to minor carpentry in house construction under the guidance of Bristol’s Gene Cordisco. It was a good experience. One year I operated a “summer camp” out of our Yardley house. The students had special needs and were part of my class. Mornings were devoted to academics; afternoons were canoeing in the canal and field trips. I dreamed of opening my own school.
Then we moved to New Hope and rented with the Pagliones. The first summer, John and I drove around in one of our VW bugs looking for farm work. In the Pineville post office we met Doris Daniels who suggested we contact her husband Paul. The next day we were on the farm shoveling mud into cow stalls, driving a tractor, bailing hay, and a variety of other farm chores. Paul had a dairy farm and adjacent his brother Ed had egg laying chickens. For several years we worked for both. We were “green.” Paul told us he didn’t think we’d be back after the first day.
After 4 years in New Hope, Pagliones moved to Ann Arbor, graduate school. We moved to Bristol until we found a house to buy in Yardley. The summer of 75, we lived with friends, the Bonnema’s had moved their pottery studio to Bethel, Maine. We lived with them and helped a bit around the studio and at craft fairs but also spent a lot of time hiking in the White Mountains. A great summer.
I got a full time job at Holy Ghost Prep in 1974. For a few years, I didn’t get paid but hung out a lot at school doing work in the library. Later as Assistant Headmaster I worked year round with a generous vacation time. In addition to scheduling, book ordering and other administrative tasks, I started a summer program. This lasted about 10 years. In about 1987, I took a sabbatical and spent the next two summers working on my dissertation. I did a little construction work on the side.
By 1990 with my doctorate in hand, I began teaching evenings and summers at LaSalle and Holy Family. Some summers I’d sometimes have 3 courses. I was still a full time librarian at HGP and would teach one or two evening college courses. That continued until Rob Buscaglia asked me to join Auyandica, a service project to Nicaragua for high school students that he had started. For ten years I stopped teaching college in the summer. Instead I went to Nicaragua and took other summer vacations. When the Nicaragua project stopped in early 2000, I resumed summer teaching until a few years before I retired in 2014.
Vacation and travel have always been an important of this teacher’s summer. In the 1970s we usually spent time at my Aunt and Uncle’s ocean front house in Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Island. The year before Jenny was born we spent a lot of time there into September and early October. I commuted to work. I have already mentioned the summer in Maine and several years we took camping trips to New England. One year we rented a house in Searsport, Maine. For several years in the 1980s we our get-away was anywhere from four days to two weeks sailing with Jerry and Susan Taylor on the Chesapeake Bay. We rented a sailboat out of Rockport, Maryland. Jerry was the accomplished sailor.
During to 1970-80s we took several trips to Europe. The first was in 1976. We went to England and Scotland. Another year Ireland; and then Denmark and other Scandinavia countries. On these trips we combined some nights of camping with some in Bed and Breakfasts. All these trips lasted about 5 weeks. One year I went to Germany with Barbara Cavanaugh who hosted German trips for her Holy Ghost students. I went to Munich before the group arrived and Diane came near the end of the trip. Barbara and the kids went home; we traveled through Austria, Italy, France, Switzerland and I stayed for a few extra days in Amsterdam.
In the 1990s we discovered Nantucket. An ad in a local Bucks County paper led us to a fantastic isolated cottage on Polpis Road outside of town. For the next ten years, Nantucket was our two week summer destination. It fit perfectly my idea of vacation travel. A mix of the known and unknown; a mix of quiet isolation and serendipitous exploration. The familiar; the new. We had hiking, bicycling, historic sites, museums, beaches, on the sound and ocean, restaurants and classic shops, bird watching, house tours, concerts and plays. Always plenty of time for cooking and reading. Unfortunately we got a call from the owner in early 2000. He was selling. We looked but could never find a similar property for the price.
During three of the Nantucket years I went to Germany for three weeks on an HGP exchange program. The students lived with German families. Sandy, the German teacher organizer and I lived in the school rectory. Most of our time was free except for a side trip when we took the kids to Munich or Berlin. One year Diane met me in Germany and we spent several weeks in Italy. It was my first trip to Roccavivara my grandfather’s hometown. I retuned one Christmas with my father and in May 2015 spent two weeks there with my cousin Joey.
After Nantucket we rented in Cape May, Long Beach Island, and Cape Cod. Then for two years we did Bed and Breakfasts for 2 or 3 nights from spring through the fall. We stayed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. Maybe 5 or more trips a year. During the time there was a company selling B and B gift cards with a 20 or 30% discount. I’d stock up. Unfortunately their offers eventually stopped.
We finally decided on Orleans on Cape Cod as our regular vacation destination. In the past six or seven years we’ve rented two different houses. The first was on Pilgrim Lake and the second on Ayres Pond. We rented with my daughter and family which gave us a nice time with our grand kids. The Cape was similar to Nantucket. We like to return to familiar, favorite places but also like to explore and find something new. There are the beaches on the bay and ocean and the kettle ponds, the National Seashore is exceptionally nice. We usually participate in several guided activities, including a boat explore. We use various hiking trails, kayak or canoe. Restaurants, cooking seafood, galleries and shops in Wellfleet and Provincetown. We enjoy historic and craft explores along Route 6A. There are always games and reading at the house.
But this year I feel pretty certain we will not go to our Orleans rental on the Cape. What will we do? It will depend on how the virus declines or increases as we get into June and July. Maybe we will feel safe to travel— multiple nights get-aways or a lucky rental. Of course we might end up staying home, doing local walks, some day trips, gardening, cooking and take out food, in house movies, sitting and reading on the deck. Whatever it is I will try for a mix, some familiar favorites, traditions if you will, but also find new explores, whether they be planned or serendipitous. The best summers have alway had that mix.