The Summer of Frank: Around the world in 60 Days

Editor’s Note: This site has really shifted over the past few years, for a lot of reasons. The kids can read now so that becomes problematic with regard to my sense of humor. There is also the issue of their own privacy now too. Got to respect their space as it were. Being a kid is hard enough, no need to add fuel to the fire of the standard ball busting done by kids on other kids.

The bigger reason is really more my laziness than any other thing. I wrote that I was going back to work, Back to Work: Stay at Home No More, almost seven years ago now. Time has absolutely accelerated. And I’ve not kept up. So now this has turned into more of a diary/scrap book type thing for when I start to go nuts and put sponges in the oven thinking they’re loaves of Italian bread. I’ll need some way to remember.

And man, this summer has had some memories. Most of them not mine. The title of this post is apt. It has truly been the Summer of Frank. The kid has basically been away the entire summer. He’s not been home two weeks in a row since June.

The following is both part narrative and part old fashion boring home movie style. Proceed at your own risk.

Around the World in 60 Days

A while back I became aware of an upcoming trip with Frank’s school in June. Tracy was quick to mention that she had told me several times about the trip and though it was run by teachers it was not technically sponsored by Frank’s school. She and Frank would be leaving for a 3-country tour of Europe in June.

Alrighty then.

First things first. Tracy was sick so I had to go to the briefing for all the parents. Frank came with me. It was at the school, but no the school was not involved. The briefing was kind of standard stuff, until we got to the security of your possessions part of the evening. It was then the group was informed of the three stops, London, Paris, and Rome; it would be in Rome where the thieves would strip your bones bare. Cut you open if they thought you swallowed a quarter. Rob you of your very essence if not your passport.

I mean, I should get the Nobel Peace Prize for keeping my mouth shut. For the love of… it’s a freaking school! Have they never heard of Oliver Twist and Fagen, who turns orphaned London boys into pick pockets and Broadway caliber singers? It sure as shit ain’t Ernesto Twist and Luigi, I can tell you that. And she said it again later in the presentation in case you were not cluing into how all us greezy EYE-talians we’re murderous, thieving, hordes. Wake the hell up lady. I know it’s East Tennesse and all but there are some of us Wops in the wood pile if you know what I’m saying. And in this case the wood pile was the front row in the briefing room.

Whew I’ve been holding that in since June. Anyway.

First stop Jolly Old, crime free England. London to be exact. The Beatles shirt was his idea. I dropped him and Tracy off at the school where they shuttled with the rest of the group to Nashville for a British Airways direct flight.

They hit the ground running apparently and didn’t make it to the hotel until later that next night. They landed right in the middle of the Queen’s Jubilee. Got to see the big parade and a few of the princes. So that was fun. I guess.

Frank ate fish and chips, so there’s that.

The big find though was part of Tracy’s family history. Her great-great grandfather owned a pub in London, and it was still there. She took Frank and they got to meet the current owner. It was there she found out her great grandfather was actually born upstairs, over the pub. Pretty cool.

Next stop Gay Paree, the city of crime free lights. No plane ride for this. My man took the train under the Channel. The Chunnel I think they call it now.

They also hit the ground running here. I think Tracy said they managed the Notre Dame Cathedral, or what’s left of it, and the Louvre in one day.

That’s some running. I believe they cruised through the 14th century on their way to see the Mona Lisa.

They got to go up in the Eiffel Tower at midnight which was pretty cool. Tracy was the last to step out of the tower that night. Quite the accomplishment apparently.

Needless to say, Frank was diggin his Euro-tour with his mom. As evidenced by the pic to the left.

On to the crime ridden bastion of thieves and swindlers. That’s right kids, Rome here we come.

Somehow, they made it to the hotel and then to the restaurant without incident. Huh, hard to figure. Anyway, the kid was the star of the show as they got to make their own food.

He already knows how to make pasta, so he did a little demo here for the group.

You know I have to laugh. That’s my kid, in an actual Italian restaurant in Rome, making pasta and bread under the watchful eye of the chef. Unbelievable.

Rome was the last stop so it was back to London and then another British Airways ride to Nashville. I collected them up at the school and heard all the stories. What a memory to have at such a young age. It was only the beginning.

Seabase and the Boy Scout camp at St Thomas was up next, a mere 10 days after he returned from Europe. And yeah, that St. Thomas, the one they keep in the Virgin Islands.

Not a lot of pics from this trip. But he seemed to enjoy it. Nine Scouts, three scout leaders, and three dads on two 40ft sail boats, sailing around St Thomas. One captain per boat and the boys were the crew. An amazing experience to be sure.

Frank reported he was only sick for half of the first day then was fine for the rest of the week.

Here he is with his boys on the beach, one of the few times they went ashore. Jesus that boat must have stunk of teenager.

No rest for the weary, we no sooner got him back from St. Thomas we had to get him ready for Camp Daniel Boone in North Carolina and the “normal” Boy Scout Summer Camp seven days later.

Yeah, he may have been tired of having his picture made at this point. But hell, these pics are all we saw of him this summer.

Footlocker packed, scout shirt ironed, off he went for a week to Camp Daniel Boone.

Frank won’t likely join the military so this scouting is giving him as similar an experience as he can get to that. Hearing him say he was going to pass on the City Swim Meet so he could stay the full week with his patrol group was interesting. He would have done really well with that swim meet I think. He’d been shaving time all season.

He was the only member of his patrol to go to Sea Base and he’d not seem any of them all summer. He wanted his time at camp to hang with his boys.

They elected him Patrol Leader right before the summer started for a reason apparently. Gotta respect his decision to pass on the City Meet. Hate it, but the kid is growing up. But then again who knows, I didn’t see him this summer.

What we thought was the end of his travels turned out to only be the second to last trip.

Deciding to go with his sister and mother to Anne Marie’s specialist appointment in Raliegh NC, Frank was off again. This time to the Outer Banks and the beach for a few days before his sister’s appointment later in the week.

His shoes still had the dirt of god knows what countries on them. But he packed and off he went again.

They hit the beach for a few days and then the aquarium and various eateries in the area. In other words, the kid was on his fourth freaking vacation in two months.

Not bad for a 13yr old. My first plane ride was to Air Force Basic Training. I was 20.

The summer of Frank was a good one to be sure. He made it home in time to make the Swim Team Banquet.

While he missed a few meets and some practices to go globe-trotting, he did contribute, swam some of his best times, and volunteered to be a junior coach.

Let me tell you something, seeing a random five yr. old get a medal for swimming and then run over to your table to fist bump your 13yr old to thank Frank for being his junior coach is an experience I never would have ever dreamed I’d get to witness.

Almost tops seeing him make his own pasta in Rome.

Almost.

Frank’s swim team ate the competition alive this summer and won their league going undefeated. Frank got his own medal, league championship tee, and was recognized as a junior coach.

The alarm of reality rings tomorrow morning though. The 8th grade won’t care one bit about Frank’s summer exploits.

But man, what a summer.

The Summer of Frank indeed.