Summer is done. At least the school vacation part, that is. The girls went back to school this morning. They were excited to see their friends, find their school supplies on their desks, and get back into their routines, I think. There certainly wasn’t any grumpiness this morning. I bet that changes early next week. Sixth, fourth, and second grades this year. Good times.
So how was the summer of 2016? I think it was decent. We kicked it off with a bang, heading to Boston and Cape Cod as soon as the break began. There was swim team for six weeks, which the girls always enjoy. Two new cousins to play with. Lots of weekends at the lake. A few trips to local water parks and the zoo. Family visits from folks in Boston and Denver.
We closed out the summer with one more first. We spent last Saturday with friends who have a lake house down near Bloomington. We swam, ate dinner in town, and made a walk around the IU campus. After that, we headed to the local drive-in theater for our first family outdoor movie.
This place was awesome! Everything about it felt like we were back in 1975 again. The aging screen had visible seams where it had been repaired over the years, and one side of it was curling away from the parking area. I guarantee the building that held the concession stand and bathrooms has not been updated in any meaningful way since the Carter administration. There were hand-painted signs on the meandering drive to the viewing area reminding folks to keep their headlights off, no fireworks were allowed, etc. In fact, other than using iPad’s to take payment at the front gate and the lack of the old-school audio boxes you hung on your car window, it felt exactly like going to the drive in in Hays, KS when I was 4 or 5.
The other cool thing was this was a country drive in. Unlike those big urban ones that were generally built into hills that created a natural amphitheater, this one was carved out of a small, wooded area 15 minutes outside town. There were little rises built into the lot for cars to park on. The screen itself was tucked into the trees, aiming away from the road. Remember when we were kids and you could pass a drive in and see a few moments of the film? That wasn’t possible at this place.
The only downsides were the late start time and the movie itself. It was a double feature of Suicide Squad and Jason Bourne. With a 9:35 start time, we knew the kids wouldn’t last until the second show, so weren’t worried about them seeing that. I had read that Suicide Squad, despite being a DC Comics story, wasn’t the most appropriate movie for kids. There was lots of violence, but no blood at all. Plenty of adult language and sexual innuendo. Our girls all checked out within the first 30 minutes and were back in the car doing other things. Our friends have two boys – 12 and 10 – and the 10-year-old was the only kid of the five kids who paid attention the entire time.
We would have picked something else for our girls’ first drive in movie experience, but there aren’t a lot of options these days. They enjoyed playing in the lot for an hour before the film began, and the overall experience. After they had stopped watching, I pointed to the sky behind us and how the Milky Way was visible, something we definitely can’t see at home. They all thought that was pretty cool.
The only disappointment of the summer is we were a little lazier than normal. Last year we got out of the house and did something new almost every week, even if it was just finding a park we had never been to before. The girls learned to enjoy taking nature hikes at parks that had trails. We only did that a couple times, and there were a few ones I had hoped to hit that we missed.
As active as the school year is, though, I don’t really mind giving the girls 10 weeks where not every day has something on the calendar. Once you subtract trips, visitors, camps, etc., there really weren’t that many days when we had nothing to do or anyplace to be. Another week would have been nice, but I’m not super sad that the summer has ended.