When I was eight years old, my family decided to visit my aunt, uncle, and cousins who lived in upper New York State. It’s about a thousand miles from our home in South Carolina to the Syracuse area. Nevertheless, my parents courageously packed four of five children into a light green Chevrolet and started the journey. Since I was so young, I don’t remember much about the drive itself, but I do have faint memories of passing through Baltimore, Maryland, and eating my first chocolate/vanilla swirl ice cream cone somewhere along the way. (It was enormous!)
When we arrived, we found some of the customs to be different from ours, including a huge clam bake amid hills of sand. (The only thing that sticks in my mind concerning the clams is lots of butter.) With extended family and friends, we warmed our hands around a bonfire and toasted marshmallows, and sometime during our trip I introduced one or more people to the now-famed s’mores.
Staying in the house my relatives built with their own hands on the shore of Lake Skaneateles, I loved watching my cousin ski all the way to the beach, stepping out of his skis in shallow water. I laughed when he later fell out of the motorboat (probably while showing off), and I regretted it when my mother thought I was too young to ski on the two-hundred-foot-deep lake.
I nearly froze one night while sleeping on the floor, even though it was August, and I had my first experience with an outhouse. (They hadn’t quite finished their home.) It was all so fascinating, even a bee sting which caused my hand to swell didn’t keep me from having a good time.
On our way back to South Carolina we visited the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building in D.C., where I was corrected by a guard for climbing the giant “steps” which flanked the real ones. We also stopped by the Natural Bridge on our way home, finding much more than we expected, which helped our long trek to the North and back to be an interesting experience.