Wednesday, July 19, 2000

What they did on their Summer Vacations

        Sometimes the best part of a vacation is telling your friends about it.

        As a tribute to the vacation season
— and a creative approach to labor pool expansion
The Enquirer turned the tables on readers, inviting wannabe journalists to take center stage in Tempo for a week. More than 200 readers responded.

        Today, we share some of your reports on your summer vacations. Slide shows were disallowed. These are the stories:

Women climb rock cliff
        It's just like cleaning out the gutters. That's what I kept telling myself. Just move forward one inch at a time and don't look down.

        I was on vacation
— hiking in Maine with my friend, Donna Lucas. We had studied our trail map. It was just a short trail
— less than half a mile. We could do it before lunch. No sweat. The volunteer at the visitor's center said it was quite challenging. She had done it herself, and she was in her 70s.

        The trail was a sheer rock cliff, rising 400 feet in the air. Challenging. Just like cleaning the gutters.

        Surprisingly, there was a trail of sorts, with plenty of rocks, roots, and branches to grab hold of. But there was also nothing but air and a big drop behind us. I remembered the old saying, “God protects little children and fools.” Keep moving. Don't look down.

        At 300 feet in the air, I wondered about my sweaty palms. I wondered if that 70-plus-years volunteer had climbed this trail since 1950. I wondered if the Carew Tower had gutters and if this is what it would feel like to clean them.

        We ate our lunch at the top and came down the back side of the mountain - the easy way. No sweat.
— Liz Fortney, 43, Florence

Dodging hippos, crocs in Zimbabwe
        My summer vacation included a canoeing safari on the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe.

        Being in a canoe allowed us to get very close to impala, bushbuck, elephants, birds. And lots of hippos. A heard of buffalo crossed the river eight feet in front of us.

        On the surface, it would seem that a canoe safari would not be dangerous, since lions and cheetahs live on land. The most common animals in the river are hippos, which are herbivores. But this is Africa, so there must be some danger involved. Hippos are very territorial and if you get too close, they'll flip your canoe. Which eaves you vulnerable to crocodiles, which will eat you.

        Luckily, we all returned safe and sound, with amazing memories.
— Amy Willis, 27, Amberley Village

Giddyup mom trots to jobs
        This summer, like every summer for the past eight years, I am the groominator. While others travel to exotic destinations, I seek challenges at my daughter Paige's horse shows.

        Cleverly disguised as a mild-mannered middle-aged wife and mother, I leap full muck tubs with a single bound. Watch me cram a tack box, saddle equipment and two bales of hay into the back of my car.

        Being economical is just another dare. No fancy golf carts for me. Give me a kid's bike and I'm off, armed with organized grooming supplies. Martha Stewart has nothing on me, although I'm sure that her horse's water buckets would coordinate with the feed tub.
— Jody Howells, 45, Loveland.

Virtual travel feels quite real
        Many vacations begin at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport. Despite my college-student budget, I made a trip to this port of call to check it out.

        Wearing my backpack, I proceeded to the flashing screens and found the correct terminal for Key West. The plane would be leaving in a few hours. I picked up a snack at the food court and found the boarding gate. Facing the window, I watched planes fly in and out. I opened up my bag and pulled out a book about Florida. The pictures sent my mind wandering down sandy beaches. My mind swam in the turquoise waves. I could feel the sun warming my face.

        Soon the flight was called to board. First call. Second call. Final call. I didn't move. The door closed on the flight to Key West. I didn't have a ticket. But I'd already been to Key West and back that day... and my feet had never left the ground.
— Rebecca Hohe, 18, Anderson Township

Burn victims helped at Camp I-Thonka-Chi
        Three busloads of campers wound through the hills of Meridian, Texas, wide-eyed and brimming with anticipation. They were leaving the stares and the ridicule of those who do not understand them to spend a week at Parkland Hospital's Camp I-Thonka-Chi, for children who have sustained serious burn injuries

        At the camp, activities are geared toward children with medical conditions. The pool is beach-style and accessible to the disabled, the ropes course has an area for wheelchairs, and there is a medical building site. Every child is included in the experience.

        I was fortunate to begin my second summer as a counselor and to each day see a different camper overcome an obstacle. One boy struggled to swim with his pressure garment tight around his chest, another girl cut vegetables using hands without fingers and one boy jumped off the diving board for the first time. This was their time to shine and be in an environment of acceptance.

        Toward the end of this trip, a camper was telling me his favorite camp memories. Out of the blue he gave me a hug and said, “I'm going to miss camp.”

        I smiled and said, “Me, too.”
— Carrie L. Schmid, 24, Elmwood Place

Student volunteer photographs orphans
        Playing “Duck-Duck-Goose” with 30 smiling children. Waking up at 5:30 every morning to the sound of children's Spanish songs echoing in the church nearby. Watching a boy read a birthday card I'd given him like it was the best present he'd ever received.

        This is how I remember the first month of my summer as a student volunteer at Mission Honduras, a Franciscan boys' and girls' orphanage and boarding school in the small town of Flores. I was part of another culture that is so different from my own, yet so beautiful and valuable.

        My job, taking photographs of the children for their padrinos, or sponsors in the United States, gave me the opportunity to meet all of them. What I miss the most about Honduras is what I least expected to find there. I had hoped to offer the children the hope, love, and friendship they need ... and I found them giving it to me.
— Robyn Gorman, 20, Fairfield

Newport man headed west for ritual
        Labor Day Weekend in Cincinnati means Riverfest Fireworks. My attitude for the past 10 years has been: “I want to be anywhere but Cincinnati Riverfest Fireworks. Been there; done that.”

        This Labor Day will be no exception. I have already purchased my $165 ticket to the Burning Man Festival in Black Canyon, Nev., 120 miles north of Reno.

        No food, water or shelter. Only what I pack in my van. I have seen cable television shows about the Burning Man festival and read about the event on the Internet. I really know very little. I hope to have a great summer adventure.
— R.J. Seifert, 47, Newport

Our Golden Pond is called Wawa
        Wawa? Whereis that?

        That was the typical response when we told friends and co-workers we were about to depart for our annual summer vacation.

        Wawa is where for over 35 years, four generations of Kleinfelters enjoyed Golden Pond-like summer respite. Our property on Lake Kabenung is where we fished and ate, laughed, cried, and even feared for our lives. Wawa is in Ontario, Canada, north of Sault Ste. Marie.

        Walleye pike were plentiful in the early years, and the availability of fresh blueberries (amid mosquitoes and bears) kept stomachs growling for Dad's pancakes. Late-night Limburger fests, card games, and candle-lit conversation around the 8-foot kitchen table created long-lasting memories.

        Going to Wawa had recently become too much of a chore for our aging and dwindling family. So it was decided to sell the property. Although we're sad to see this tradition end, we younger folks thank our ancestors for creating a place we'll never forget. Diane Kleinfelter, 51, Anderson Township

College pals take road trip
        Four friends and I, who met at Hanover College in 1969, have faithfully gotten together every year for a weekend getaway. With the prospect of turning 50, we decided to do something really big
— like a road trip from the '70s, but the 2000 version. We had no VW bus this time, but a rented mini-van, and a real destination, Spokane, Wash., to visit one of our group who had moved to that far-flung place.

        Traveling across the country, we told lengthy stories, sampled Thai food and creme brulee instead of McDonald's, saw the Badlands, a defunct silver mine, breathtaking and grand vistas.

        We easily settled back into the camaraderie we had found in college. Traveling without pressure or timetables, we savored every moment
— knowing that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

        And, just as when we first parted from each other after college, there were tears. But we returned to our real world with memories that will keep us smiling all summer. Linda See, 49, Middletown

Cycling couple heads for Seattle
        We wanted to explore the West this summer but were pretty upset with the price of gasoline, so the two of us are traveling on bicycles.

        Our 3,600-mile journey starts at our home in Price Hill and goes west to St. Louis for a Reds-Cardinals game. Then we'll follow the Katy Trail, a rails-to-trail bike path along the Missouri River for 200 miles. We cross the nose-bleedin', 11,541 foot-high Hoosier Pass and continue on to the geysers of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and the North Cascade Mountains to Seattle.

        Having all our possessions for three months in a few bags, with the wind and sun in our faces all day is surprisingly liberating, and it makes the arrival at each day's destination much sweeter than gliding around effortlessly in a climate-controlled car.

        Anyone can e-mail us at
— Kristin Koester, 25, and David Hughes, 40, Price Hill

Couple competes in Eco event
        This couple is a team in more than just one way.

        Elizabeth Lee Sargent, 28, a Wyoming High School graduate, and her husband, Alex Sargent, 32, are members of the Eco Challenge, which takes place in Borneo in August. The Eco Challenge consists of three-man, one-woman teams from all over the world who compete in a race. The race includes mountain biking, rock climbing and repelling, canoeing, sailing, scuba diving and navigating through the jungle and mountain regions of Borneo.

        This challenge fits the couple's career paths. Elizabeth is a physical therapist and Alex is a mountaineering instructor for the U.S. Armed Services. Last summer, they climbed Mount McKinley together. Elizabeth and Alex live in Cambridge, Vt., and are training there with Team Vermont. Elizabeth is the daughter of Buck and Diane Lee, who live in Wyoming.
— Diane Lee, 58, Wyoming

Getting wet the hard way

        On our summer vacation over the weekend of June 16 to 18, we coached 20 Roger Bacon High School students at the U.S. Underwater Hockey National Championships at Texas A&M in College Station.

        Not only are the Bacon kids looking forward to next year's national championships, but they are also looking forward to the biennial Underwater Hockey World Championships in 2002.
— Paul J. Wittekind, 33, varsity coach, North College Hill, and sister Beth Wittekind, reserve coach, Finneytown

Making vacation last long enough
        I did something really special on my summer vacation. Yes, sir. I retired. After working for the same company for 32 years and moving around on eight different occasions, my wife and I came back to Cincinnati.

        Over the years, we have not been able to be home for all of the special family occasions. Recently we were here for the birth of our new grandson. A retired grandpa and a little baby boy. What more could you ask for?
— Philip Barter, 53, Milford

Hanging out with First Lady

        Our family recently attended the New York State Broadcasters Association Annual Conference at Sagamore Resort on Lake George at Bolton Landing, N.Y. We had the opportunity to meet several of the speakers who attended the conference including Tim Russert (NBC's Meet the Press), Archbishop Edward M. Egan, who was installed just two days earlier at a special Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who spoke at the conference.
— Louise H. Stakelin, 46, East Walnut Hills

Hot-footing it across the Sahara
        My family and I are going to walk half way across the Sahara Desert. We are going to fly there on a helicopter and be picked up by a helicopter.

        I've never been to Africa. I heard that it was kind of exciting being around all those animals and knowing that any minute your life can come to an end by some deadly animal that was hungry and couldn't wait to eat. But I only heard that. I would sure like to experience it.
— Kris De'Vant, 13, Mount Auburn

Visiting Rock City; seeing five states
        I went to Rock City in Lookout Mountain, Ga. This place is amazing. The entire “city” is made of rock, with special areas such as Fat Man's Squeeze, Mushroom Rock, and Needle's Eye Pass.

        The height of the experience is at Lover's Leap, where you can actually see seven states (sort of
— it's hard to tell where each state is): Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia.
— Michael Eshom, 18, Northside

Falling in love with English country
        This June, I was fortunate enough to have my lifelong dream of traveling to England come true. With only a week's time, I visited as many places throughout the country as possible. I fell in love with the magical English countryside that I saw so much of.

        The sprawling palace and fortress that comprise the Tower of London is a fantastic medieval structure located in modern London. After having been forced to endure the Canterbury Tales, I absolutely had to see the famous cathedral, which is the origin of Chaucer's tribute.

        Stonehenge is one of the most incredible things that I have ever experienced, and the atmosphere that surrounds it is simply electrifying.
— Krissy Baumgartner, 21, Amelia


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Briton found not guilty of ducking child support
Ex-councilman denies fraud in Fairfield voting
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KIESEWETTER: Miller brings fan's view to football booth
Aid seekers need close eye
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CROWLEY: Closer to home
County bows to law on mobile homes
Death of inmate in cell investigated
Fans head to derby day
Fixes for Garrison St. in works
Flier wrong on forming police force, trustee says
Florence plans to annex Turfway
Grease, oil fueling buses
Mariemont boathouse is being restored
New school district has staff in place
Robber hits bank near Covington police station
Rural roots revisited
Schools hiring five administrators
Study looks at Wal-Mart concerns
Talawanda voters again will face levy
Unattended kids, stiffer penalties?
Victim stabbed more than 40 times
- What they did on their Summer Vacations
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