A Summer of Water & Leisure

In Gentle Journeys by Susan2 Comments


I started working at 16 and worked every summer for 50 years.  During all those working years I dreamed of having a summer of leisure. You know, be one of those people who rents a beach house for two months.

Then I retired and my summers were free to spend in any way I wanted.  For that matter, so were my springs, autumns, and winters.  And what did I do?

I recreated my workaday structured life while time trickled away.  I thought I just wasn’t the lounging around type.  The truth is I just never allowed myself to while away the time -- relaxing.

That is until the summer of 2021.  I didn't plan for it, but, suddenly I was having the summer of my youthful dreams. I think the pandemic slow-down during 2020 had something to do with it.

Hiking along streams
Poking around waterfronts
Heading to ocean beaches

The amount of time we spent recreating on or beside water was the biggest surprise. I’m a walk on the beach kind of person, not a swim in the water type.  Yet, every destination in our summer involved some form of water recreation on or in lakes, rivers, bays, an ocean  -- even a bog.

We swam, we kayaked, we boated, we walked at the water’s edge or in the surf, and we lounged by the water.  And I even have a tan despite conscientious use of sunblock, sun shirts, and broad brimmed hats.

Ocean City Maryland was our destination for two weeks thanks to Jamie’s niece.  We surf walked as far as our legs could carry us on the pristine, lifeguarded beaches of Maryland and Delaware.
We had to visit the boardwalk at Ocean City, Maryland just for the experience, though we softened the impact by visiting at sunrise...

Some of our destinations have their own post. We were on Anvil Lake in northern Wisconsin  for the greater part of the summer.  It’s where I finally tried stand up paddle boarding for the first time.  We drove part of the Great River Road along the Mississippi and saw some stunning scenery beyond the cornfields.

The 17.6 mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel from Virginia Beach to Cape Charles inspired a new love affair with the Chesapeake.  We chose the smallest place possible to visit on this magnificent bay when we took a ferry ride from the Maryland mainland across the Bay to Smith Island.

Leisurely conversations on the dock at Anvil Lake
In pictures, here are some other stunning waterways that deposited memories of sand, salt, and H2O in my heart.
Chattanooga Tennessee has a knock-your-socks-off waterfront that sports a 16 mile riverwalk along the Tennessee River and a 2,400 foot pedestrian bridge across the river.
Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware is a gem of a place with all the beauty of the ocean, the Delaware Bay, and some WWII history.
Assateague National Seashore is a barrier island belonging equally to wild ponies and the states of Maryland and Virginia.
The wild horses who roam Assateague National Seashore offer daily demonstrations on how to live easy.
Every type of motorized and non-motorized recreational boat plies the Milwaukee River at downtown Milwaukee.  We took a leisurely day with Jamie's nephew Peter to explore the river from the boardwalk,  and on a narrated boat tour that also took us into Lake Michigan.

The True Importance of Summer 2021

As special as the water was, as special as the leisure was, my fondest memories of  summer 2021 come from sharing it with family and friends. They graciously opened their hearts and homes as we explored so many new-to-us destinations in the U.S.

We noticed how our loved ones created beautiful lives for themselves by embracing many outdoor recreational options  in their region. We felt so fortunate to share their joy. And now I want to own some of those toys too!  Well, maybe not a pontoon boat but a kayak for sure.  So much for minimalism cause I'm going to need a  trailer too. Come to think of it, a car as well.


  1. Your summer sounds lovely. We left the USA in 2018 and have been living in France for the past 3 years. We even bought a small lock up and leave house, but we just sold that and gave away most of our posessions and are now travelling in Spain until at least April. Just me, my husband and our lovely rescue dog, Nora from New Orleans. We have a little Dacia car and my husband is a musician so it’s a tight fit, but it feels wonderful. We have just arrived at the beaches of Sagunto area for one month and will be going to visit Valencia a few times on the train with Nora. The weather is perfect and we walk everywhere and there’s no tourists! I lived in the USA for 29 years and my husband for 18. I am starting to read your blog as we feel we are on the same path. My huband is Vegan and I am vegetarian, we live with focus and minimalism which allows us to follow our dreams. Luckily we are both dual citizens of USA and Europe so it makes it easier for us to be here. Do you think you will stay in the US for a while now? My Nora has never left my side since the day I rescued her so I feel your pain about your dog. Your words are very inspirational and I admire you both on your journey.

    1. Hello Patricia,
      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. It is always a joy when we learn that someone has found something useful here on GentleCycle. It motivates us to keep writing.

      We are already back in Valencia for a short time and plan to head up to Catalonia in the next day or two. I’m sorry our paths will not cross while we are in VLC.

      Susan and I would love to meet you both (and your little dog Nora too). It sounds as though we’d have a lot to talk about. Let’s hope we can find a moment or two sometime.

      Meanwhile enjoy Sagunto. We will wave as we pass by on the train.

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