Monday, July 25, 2011

Gosh It's Hot

Written by Adam

If you watched Looney Tunes on Saturday mornings, you may remember this episode with the Abominable Snowman. Mr. Abominabable would not like New England this week as temperatures hit record highs.

We scoff when an inch of snow shuts down southern cities, so I know some people in Arizona might think one hundred plus degrees Fahrenheit is no big deal. The nice thing about the cold is that you can always get warm, but it is not so easy to cool off. Then again you never have to shovel sunshine.

The real issue in our region is that it's not a "dry" heat. The high humidity makes everything unbearably sticky and uncomfortable, and your natural cooling is ineffective. It can be difficult to find things to do when it is nasty hot, especially with kids. Children are more susceptible to high temperatures than adults, and the heat can injure them without warning.  

As another very hot and humid day was on tap for Sunday, we needed to come up with some safe ideas in case it was too warm to hike. 

Let's go skating!

One excellent suggestion was to go ice skating. We are an ice hockey family (Connecticut had a NHL team once), and there are a few ice rinks in our area. Skating is always cool, very fun and reasonably affordable in the summer. Depending on the rink times, you can while away the high heat of the day in icy comfort.

If ice rinks are scarce, consider roller rinks or bowling instead. 

Visit the Library...

Our local libraries close on Sunday, but the Colleges and Universities (we have one right around the corner) hold decent weekend hours for summer students, locals and alumni. 

I always enjoy browsing the stacks, newspapers, and magazines for interesting tidbits. There is reference material and the chance to gain some real knowledge in relative comfort.  If feeling especially motivated, I might venture into the language section and learn Portuguese.

... or a Museum.

If you have kids in tow, make it a fun museum. Honestly, kids do not want to read the placards of obscure artists who died a hundred years ago. They have short attention spans and want to see wild creatures, interactive exhibits, and hair-raising shows

In Connecticut we have plenty of such places, like the Connecticut Science Center, Mystic Aquarium, and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. One of our favorites is the Yale Peabody Museum

The museum is famous for its dinosaur collection (kids love dinosaurs). It also has vast natural history (kids love mammoths and bugs) and anthropology (kids love ancient weapons and skulls) collections. Even the Gothic building is cool.

What I really like is that the admission is reasonable - only $5 for youngsters!  Admission prices for a family going anywhere can be steep, so this is refreshing.

One way to save on admission is to check your library for free passes. I believe this is a fairly universal library perk, and it can make a big difference in how much you spend. Museums also offer discounts for students, groups, and certain employers.

Also consider buying a membership to save a bit of dough. Many times it is just a bit more than your family admission for the day. We did this at Sturbridge Village for many years and felt it was a great value. 
What about hiking?

Hot and humid plus hiking equals hot and humid hikers. 

Bring lots of water and food, and rest often. When we venture out on hot days, we stick to the woods where it is a few degrees cooler. The ultimate goal is avoiding the sun, and shade always delivers the goods. No surprise that we also try to incorporate trails with streams for wading and cooling off.

Keep in mind bacteria levels can be higher in the summer, so swimming with open cuts and kids gulping water while swimming should be avoided. 

Mid-summer means horseflies and deerflies are swarming, and they seem impervious to even generous repellent doses. They have no qualms about biting through fabric either. I use a head net over a wide brimmed hat, and plenty of kung-fu slapping to keep them at bay, but it is rarely enough. 

I have been literally chased out of the woods by these tenacious predators. After making it safely to the vehicle, one actually went to the passenger window and menacingly peered in. I let him know what I thought about that in no uncertain terms. If the insects are really bad, make a hasty retreat and head to the ice rink. No one will think less of you.

And the glorious Canoe?

I do love my... I mean our, canoe. Here's the catch: there is no shade on the lake. Add in the reflection off the water below and you end up looking like you came out of a rotisserie oven. 

Also, I do not recommend trying to swim from a canoe. The raft is better for this, but there is that whole tepid pool of funky water with sand, mud and potato chips thing. Did I mention the unrelenting sun? 

Just stay home.

We don't always go out if it doesn't flow for us. Extreme heat is a good reason to just stay home. Crank the fan or air conditioner, shut off the lights, and lazily do any or all of the following:
  • Nap
  • Eat lots of ice cream
  • Eat lots of fresh fruit dipped in lemon yogurt
  • Read, a lot
  • Create something, anything
  • Listen to music, or create your own
  • Learn Portuguese

Is the heat wave hitting where you are? 
What are you doing to weather it out on your unplugged day?


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