Navigating faith, love, and life in the Netherlands

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Dream American Summer Vacation

What are some of the trademarks of a typical summer from my growing up years?

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Given that I live in the Netherlands, and my husband's work limits the amount of time we can take off, I am dreaming about what summer is REALLY like.

None of this rainy, cool weather, that warrants jeans in the end of June or early July, but that hot, muggy summertime! (okay, maybe the humidity isn't really necessary...)

Without further ado, here are some highlights:

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A Trip to Assateague Island (National or State) Seashore



Assateague isn't as crowded as Ocean City (Maryland), and doesn't have really have a party atmosphere.

We'd go here for the day with our dad, loaded up with snacks, water, the boogie board, and life jackets (for a couple summers).

That's really us (photo by my grandfather).
Favorite pastimes included reading, sleeping, eating, swimming (of course), and digging deep holes near the water line until we found water about a meter below.

Those two heads out there are my dad and brother.

Boating on the Chester River


View of downtown Chestertown during the Chestertown Tea Party
When we were growing up, my grandfather had a boat that we would use to go crabbing and sometimes fishing.  It was always docked at his sister's house, so on summer days, we'd go with our grandparents and get some yummy crabs. 

Another favorite spot was where we could jump out of the boat (or, rather, climb down the ladder next to the motor) and swim at the sandbar.  My brother would dig for clams and bring them home for my grandmother's sister-in-law.

After this kind of day, we would usually end up falling asleep in the boat on the way back!

Randolf and I enjoying the scenery of Kent Narrows
Rock Hall also offered a fireworks show on July 3, so we were often down there with friends and family.  One year, my cousins/friends from youth group and I were on my cousin's parents' boat to hang out and watch the fireworks.  Pretty cool.

Eating Steamed Blue Crabs with Family


As mentioned above, we spent a lot of time going crabbing.  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to eat so many during these summers, especially since I now see how expensive crabs are.  Interestingly enough, my grandfather is allergic to crabs so he couldn't eat them!


My grandfather would bring them home and steam them up at his shed with some concoction of Old Bay seasoning, vinegar, and who knows what else.  But it was delicious.  

My brother and the next crab to eat
They'd invite us and any extended family who happened to be around to come over for a sort of picnic in their yard.  Main dish: crabs.  Side dishes: any other food Mom-Mom had made for Pop-Pop.  Drinks: Sodas and sweet tea.  

The tradition has continued even without the boat or my great-aunt (and her dock), as we'll sometimes have crabs together. 

Photo taken by the waitress at this place in Rock Hall

The sensation of burning lips (or paper cuts you didn't know you had) thanks to the seasoning, the long process of picking out the meat, the mess on the table afterwards, the fact that you are eating what could pinch you - nothing quite like it!

Introducing R to steamed crabs last summer

Maryland's Eastern Shore


There's no place like it in the world.  

I've found bits and pieces, little glimpses here in the Netherlands, though.  

Boats everywhere, water everywhere.

Fake crab in a can.

Old Bay seasoning tucked in our spice collection.

The occasional hot day.

Weather warm enough to wear shorts and skirts.

Dreaming about growing vegetables in our back garden.


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The Move to America
Top tips for a summer in Maryland -
1. Try real steamed blue crabs.  You'll need a local to walk you through the process.
2. Go for a boat ride and/or swim in the river.
3. Check out national/state parks for camping or swimming instead of more congested areas.



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