If you’re like me, you often sit at home in the winter months, looking at a relatively empty calendar, knowing that in the summer there’ll be so many activities available to you it will difficult to take advantage of all of them.
For us, June was an unusually busy month. We had lots of fun but, because of that giant storm that stretched from the Midwest to the East Coast, we also had a few anxious moments.
The first weekend of June we helped our daughter Andrea and grandchildren move from Wilton to Walcott. It was warm, but all went well.
The second weekend found us in the St. Louis area to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of my cousin Don and his wife, Jenny. While there, we also spent time with one of our sons, Brendan, and two grandchildren who live there.
Just days after our return, my wife headed to Minneapolis, where she spent a week with sons Clint and Dane, their wives, Lisa and Casey, and our two granddaughters.
Clint left home to meet me in Milwaukee the Friday and Saturday of Father’s Day weekend for some father-son together time and Indycar racing at the fabled Milwaukee Mile, the nation’s oldest continuously operating speedway.
The marketing company, One Simple Plan, that Clint owns in Minneapolis did some public relations work, ably handled by OSP employee John Feld, for race promoter Michael Andretti.
So Clint and I had garage passes and access to all areas of the track, including Andretti’s hospitality tent, a pleasant place to enjoy some shade and cold drinks on that hot summer weekend.
June ended with my wife, Sherry, and me on a delightful Tri-State Travel bus tour that was designed especially for grandparents and grandchildren.
Our grandson Harrison, 11, accompanied us on the June 25 to July 1 trip, which he called “the vacation of a lifetime.”
We were among 33 on board, counting driver Randy Collins and tour guide Jack Wilcox. Walcott native and NSP subscriber Wesley Tank, and his wife Sandra, of Davenport, and their granddaughter Caroline Tank, of St. Louis, were among the passengers.
On our tour, we visited Gettysburg National Military Park, a variety of attractions in Baltimore, the Jamestown Settlement, Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello, Kentucky Horse Park and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.
We dealt with 102 degrees for our outdoor activities, but the bus and hotel rooms were cool, and the 16 grandkids on the trip went swimming most nights at the hotel pools.
But one portion of the trip did cause some anxious moments.
We were on the tour bus about 7 p.m. Friday, June 29, driving through some mountain passes, when that killer storm hit.
We had eaten dinner at the Beckley (W.V.) Travel Plaza on the West Virginia Turnpike. As we returned to our bus, the heat remained oppressive but I noticed the sky was starting to cloud up.
Minutes later, as we headed to our scheduled hotel in Cross Lanes, W.V., an unincorporated city in the suburbs of Charleston, the sky suddenly turned black and winds of up to 80 mph hours bent trees over and sent debris flying across the road we were on.
Our bus driver, Randy, shouted, “Hang on.”
Moments later, with the wind still howling, the skies opened up and there was driving rain, lightning and thunder.
The worst of the storm had ended by the time we reached the hotel in Cross Lanes, but the community and hotel had no power.
After some phone calls, Jack, our tour guide, luckily located a hotel with power and the 15 rooms we needed, in Charleston. So we happily backtracked to it.
The sun and heat were back as we departed for Louisville the next morning.
For us, this had been a trip — and a month — to remember.
Copyright 2012 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This ran as a column in The North Scott Press. I am posting it here a second time because of some formatting problems earlier.