This is the summer that time forgot.  Tomorrow is August 1, and we haven’t done a darned thing.

I for one have been working my tuckus (‘peppu’ in Finnish) off all summer. Furthermore, my wife has been absorbed with preparing to move and job hunting. My oldest son has been doing the latter, also. 

By the time school rolls around for my kids, summer will have been a blur. It’s all rather disappointing.

Thus, I have mulling over my favorite summer vacations of all time.  Nothing pops up immediately in the brain matter, so I have to shake it up and brainstorm.

I do know that one eventful one was in the summer of 2006. We had visited Finland from our home in Saudi Arabia.

Some friends of my wife offered us a chance to housesit that summer in the Helsinki area, so we took them up on it. We moved into their place in Espoo right after our arrival in the middle of June.

What I remember is that they had some good books.  I also did a little jogging in the area as well.

Later, we switched with them and moved to their summer house on the water. It was quite nice. The kids would go out in  the morning and swim off the granite beach.

The most memorable part of that summer though is that we never left Finland.  I got offered a job the day before we were to hop a plane back to Riyadh, and we stayed.

Earlier in the decade my kids and I went on a mission trip across the Finnish border to Russian Karelia. That was memorable because it was a vacation with a purpose.

We spent two weeks in a summer camp for Russian kids.  We did skits with orphans, played games with the children near our housing (a moldy barracks) and had a lot of fun.

I learned to count to at least six in Russian because I played Kimble (Trouble) with some of the kids.  We also had some pretty competitive volleyball matches with adults.

One memorable location in that camp was our lavatory facilities. It was a block building with “squatty potties”. We nicknamed it “the Evil Place”. It earned it.

I still recall being awakened by loud speakers in the morning, rousing the children to their day. As the camp was a former “Young Pioneers” facility under Stalin, I could only imagine that the kids of an earlier era were greeted with “The Internationale” every morning. For an American growing up during the Cold War, the whole experience was surreal.

Most of my life, I have had vacations of this nature. Usually I have been off on some international student tour (as a worker, not a participant), or some other holiday with a cause attached.

The only holiday I can remember in which we laid down some bucks and actually did the “vacation thing” was when we went to Tybee Island, off of Savannah, Georgia. We had a small house a few blocks from the beach.

Tybee Island was small and quiet, which was OK for us. Our kids weren’t teenagers yet, so they weren’t into the boardwalk scene.

It had a lighthouse and a place with decent coffee, a huge requirement for me.  Still, I don’t think it was much of a vacation for my wife because she had to cook.

I am not sure I will be taking vacations without a purpose. For one, we can’t afford pleasure trips. Secondly, they tend to be boring.

I get a week off in about two weeks. More than likely I will just catch up on some sleep. Now there’s a vacation with a purpose.


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