Looking ahead to vacation, I decided to look back as well, to my vacation column from July 2013:

My essay is titled, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation.” On my summer vacation, my family took me to a cottage in Union Pier, Michigan. On our way to the cottage, I wouldn’t stop asking, “When are we going to get there?” even though I was driving. I couldn’t wait to play with my toys, especially my 5-iron. I also wanted some sand toys but they wouldn’t buy them for me. My grandson promised to share his shovel and bucket with me.

When we got to our small cottage, it was crowded. We had 10-15 big people staying there. My wife and I were forced to share a skinny bed. No wonder I had nightmares that I was falling. My dreams scared me so much I got up early to make coffee. When I was banging around in the kitchen, I woke up the people sleeping in the living room and they got mad at me. 

So I rode my bike all by myself to the beach. When I got there, people were staring at me. I think it was because I wore my shirt, baseball cap and socks when I went swimming. I wasn’t taking any chances with getting sunburn. It was so hot out, I wanted Lake Michigan to be cold. But the water was warm, especially where the little kids were swimming. 

I got scared being at the beach by myself. I was worried the big people wouldn’t get there in time with the cooler of beer. They finally came and brought me a bucket for building sand castles. I was making these really cool towers but my grandson kept knocking them down. When I started fighting him for the shovel, they gave me a time-out.

After I was done swimming, I went to the golf course. I used my sand club so much, it was just like playing at the beach. Afterward, I drove back to the cottage to cool off. They had used the last beer to boil bratwurst, so I went to the local store to buy more. There were real-life pirates behind the counter charging scary prices. 

At night, I wanted to play Monopoly but the big people only liked playing games for real money. One night, I finally got my way and picked Battleship. I was having fun until I picked up a card that made me go directly to Boardwalk and stay in an expensive hotel. I got so mad the big people made me go to bed without a bottle. 

The next morning, they made me eat a bratwurst omelet. I yelled that I wanted Lucky Charms and they warned me, “One more tantrum and we’re taking you to the Amtrak station.” I didn’t want to leave the cottage, the beach and especially the cooler. So I ate all their yucky food. They put onions on everything but my pancakes. 

The last day, I was really sad. I liked looking at the trees around our cottage, instead of telephone wires. I had a swing set and a sandbox to play in during the day. At night, they even let me play with fire. When it was time to leave, I refused to get into the car.

Then they told me we were going to a magical place where the air always smells like candy: a town where there was no bedtime and I could play until 2 a.m. They promised to take me to a playground on Madison Street. It not only had beer, it had a choo choo that brought out my food!

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.