Friends of mine are vacationing in my hometown, Erie, Pennsylvania. In preparation for their trip, they asked for my opinion on destinations to visit. I was quick to enthusiastically rattle off stops such as the seven miles of beaches at Presque Isle, Waldameer Amusement Park and Water World, The Erie Zoo, among other destinations that I took for granted while growing up because they were always there for me.
I have a tendency to take for granted the things that are in my own backyard. The typical scenery and familiar faces who serve as extras in my life story become all too mundane. Every now and again, I need to purposefully step back and appreciate what is right in front of me. A few years ago, I incorporated this philosophy into my plans for summer vacation. Instead of leaving the area, my family had a Staycation.
By visiting local destinations, we got to know the Frederick and Washington County areas more intimately. We enjoyed the background of our lives with a renewed vigor and an appreciation for the every day. We also saved some money!
A perfect place for a true step back and different perspective on life in the Frederick area can take place at the 1,600-foot High Knob stone overlooks at Gambrill State Park. The view of the Frederick and Middletown Valleys and the northern reaches of the Shenandoah Mountains allows the natural beauty of the area to overcome the senses. The park also offers 16 miles of hiking trails for both novice and advanced explorers.
Celebrate Frederick’s events are another gem for the re-discovering in the Frederick community. The 2013 summer concert series runs on Sunday evenings, starting at 7:00pm, from June 9 through August 25. The festivities showcase jazz, swing, tropical, big-band funk, and a mix of other live music. Beginning on June 20 and concluding on August 15, Summerfest Family Theatre brings entertainment to children on Wednesdays at 10:30am. Dance, music, clowns, and even Shakespeare will be presented this summer. The concert and theatre series takes place at the Concert Bandshell at Baker Park. The events are free, an extra perk in appreciating your surroundings.
A long standing summer tradition in my family is midnight movies. As a kid, I enjoyed double features at the drive-in. From late seventies James Bond flicks; to Ghostbusters in the eighties; to taking our oldest son, Tyler, to Jurassic Park shortly before the drive-in in Erie closed down, being the first to see a movie creates an excitement for me that I have passed down to my children. This year’s pick will be Man of Steel.
Frederick County Public Libraries invests in a variety of summer programs for children and teens. The Dig Into Reading Kid’s Program features story time, movies, hands-on gardening, and other activities for children from birth to fifth grade. The Summer Reading Club for Teens from sixth to twelfth grade hosts dances, writing workshops, and skate boarding demonstrations by Pitcrew. Events are scheduled at various locations throughout the county. I like to conclude visits to the C. Burr Artz Public Library with a stroll down Carroll Creek and stops at Ben & Jerry’s.
A reflective pilgrimage to The National Shrine Grotto of Lourdes, a dip in Hunting Creek Lake at Cunningham Falls State Park, or a lecture at the Weinberg Center for the Arts can refresh the soul, body, and mind. And they are here for local residents to enjoy.
For a literal appreciation of your own backyard, set up camp right outside your door. A family needs to take just a few steps to enjoy a night under the stars. A tent can be set up in mere minutes, mountain pies and marshmallows can roast over a fire pit, and the bathrooms and other necessities are close-by. Most importantly, your family can establish traditions as they learn to appreciate what is in their own backyard.