EXCLUSIVE: Ten Favorite Summer Things

Not much needs to be said to introduce this particular top ten. Summer is a season that evokes plenty of happy memories and fun activities. Here are some of ours. Hope you’re enjoying the heat! 

1. Snorkeling

Snorkeling

In my junior year of college, I took a creative nonfiction course. I figured it would be fun to write about my own experiences in a way that made them sound like someone else’s. I was right and wrong. Right in that it was fun to revisit old memories, wrong in the sense that it was a headache to make each one drip with sensory imagery to the point where they started to sound corny. But there was one that I didn’t mind as much, and that was the one in which I wrote about my experience snorkeling with wild dolphins off the Big Island of Hawaii entitled “Open My Eyes.” A quick snippet reads: I became addicted to the sound of my breath blowing in and out of a snorkel. We floated lazily over stunning coral and watched multi-colored fish dart in and out. Colors always seem brighter underwater; the yellows and pinks and turquoises of the fish looked so much more vibrant than they would if they were viewed on land. […] My face hit the water and I was home. That was the way I always felt when attached to a mask and snorkel […]” The rest, if you’re interested, can be read here. But yeah, it’s safe to say snorkeling is one of the great loves of my life. In a couple weeks, I hope to try SNUBA and also possibly take a diving class while vacationing in the Caribbean. (And yes, that’s me to the right, being a waterbug in Hawaii.)—DT

2. Drive-in Movies

Becky's Drive-In

I love movies in general, from big cheesy ’80s action movies to documentaries like the recent excellent (and harrowing) The Act of Killing. Although it isn’t the most immersive way to see a movie (no surround sound) the drive-in theater is one of my favorite ways to watch. I have so many great childhood memories from local drive-ins like The Laurel in Hazleton and Becky’s in Walnutport. My fiancé and I still try to catch a movie under the stars whenever we can.—JK

3. Fires

Beach-BonfireIt’s ironic that something that so screams winter—sitting by the fireplace with a mug of cocoa and a good book anyone?—makes me think of summer instead. Some of my favorite times have been spent sitting around a fire pit with good friends and a couple bottles of wine. Even better are those that take place on the beach, at least I would imagine so, as I’ve never actually done this. Summer nights sitting around a bonfire are straight-up heaven.—DT

4. Eurana Park

Eurana Park

This Weatherly Park, located up in Carbon County, played a huge role in my formative years. When I was a little kid, my mom would take my friends and I to go play on the playground with rides that would in no way pass any kind of safety test today. Have you ever seen a Witch’s Hat? It’s basically a heavy steel circle suspended at roughly the height of a kid’s face by chains. I have a scar on my shoulder from being thrown off of it and I know many a Weatherly kid who has a lost a baby tooth to this nefarious contraption. Years later, I worked summer days for the parks department maintaining the grounds and cruising around in a borough truck before I had a driver’s license feeling like some kind of badass. I’d spend my nights hanging out in the parking lot with the rest of local teenagers. I still get that whimsical nostalgic feeling whenever I take a walk around the old pool/lake that we used to chase snakes out of every morning.—JK

5. Knoebels

Knoebels Grove

As noted in last week’s Thursday Top Ten, I don’t really like amusement parks; Knoebels is the one exception. Located a few hours away in Elysburg, PA, there is no admission (so I don’t feel guilty about my ride aversion) and plenty of great foodI recommend the French fries. The Phoenix wooden coaster is my favorite ride anywhere. Another favorite, Flying Turns, was under construction for the better part of a decade, but was totally worth the wait. They also offer a huge swimming pool and a really nice campground.—JK

6. Beachcombing

Beachcombing

I used to have quite the impressive shell collection. Sadly, they’ve scattered over the years—broken, forgotten, and thrown away—and I have but a handful left decorating the quiet corners of my bedroom and bathroom. Still, wandering up and down the waterline looking for treasures is one of my favorite things to do on vacation. I especially love finding sea glass. I’m fascinated by how easily the pounding waves and salt water can turn something sharp and harmful into something so smooth and beautiful. Last summer, we visited Botany Bay Beach in Edisto Island, SC. It was a wildlife sanctuary that looked like a deserted island; a beachcomber’s paradise. You couldn’t take what you found, but you could find a spot for it on the beach or the fallen trees—even the spikes of the palm trees (above)—to display so that others after you could check out what you found. And that’s what people have been doing for years. There were huge shells everywhere, along with a plethora of sand dollars, discarded horseshoe crab shells, chunks of sea sponge, even oddly shaped rocks. It was pretty flippin’, well, pretty.—DT

7. Tennis

tennis-balls-and-rackets

I’m not good at it, but it’s a good workout my lady and I can do together. The biggest problem is when someone notices my racket and wants to actually go compete; that’s when I try to change the subject as fast as possible. One of our favorite tennis spots is The Grove in Lehighton.—JK

8. Baseball

Baseball

If I were playing a word association game and someone said “summer” my immediate response would be “baseball.” I haven’t played on an official league since elementary school, so I mean more watching than participating, but it’s by far my favorite sport. When I think of summer, I often think of sitting on our balcony, reading a book, and listening to the Red Sox playing at Fenway on a streaming radio feed from Boston. I’m also fortunate to live only a couple of hours away from Citizen’s Bank Park, one of my favorite places to spend a summer evening.—JK

9. Pina Coladas

Pina Coladas

It’s the biggest cliché ever, but an icy cold piña colada just says summer to me. Whenever we’re on a cruise, I order one with dinner practically every night. Something about that delicious combination of pineapple and coconut (and those little umbrellas!) just makes me want to sit under a palm tree and smack a steel drum.—DT

10. Steel Drums

imgresSpeaking of which … if you visit a Caribbean island, nine times out of 10 the music you’re going to hear is some sort of reggae/calypso. They practically worship Bob Marley in the islands; his face is everywhere—on blankets, towels, T-shirts, shot glasses, guitar picks—heck, I’ve even seen “One Love” onesies! I’ve grown so accustomed to hearing the tunes every summer that just hearing the familiar pings of those drums puts me in a fantastic mood. (They played “Under the Sea” on steel drums on the Disney cruise I was on back in 2000 and I nearly cried, I loved it so much.) I’ve been listening to my Bob Marley station on Pandora for a week already in preparation for my upcoming Caribbean vacation. St. Lucia, here I come!—DT

Honorable Mention

Not a memory or activity, but one whiff and my whole body is overwhelmed with the sense of SUMMER. I’m talking about … Coppertone suncreen. It’s heaven in a bottle. I close my eyes and inhale and suddenly I’m sitting on the beach in a Disney princess bathing suit, enjoying a salt-encrusted PB&J with my little pink toes in the Jersey sand and the shore wind whipping my hair around my face. When I’m in a bad mood, I’ll dab that stuff on like perfume for just a moment of summer childhood nostalgia. I just love it.—DTCoppertone-Logo

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