Riding Out a Heat Wave
Cabin fever can set in during a summer heat wave. Here are some activities that will get you out of the house without overdoing it in the heat.
Perhaps it was the ever-increasing tally of lost swim goggles (you know it’s bad when the pool-supply store owner cheerfully says, “You again?”), or perhaps it was the endless camp carpool lines with the suddenly-power-mad teen counselors officiously waving me on.
Perhaps it was the third set of socks I was labeling for sleepaway camp, or perhaps it was just the unbearable, oppressive heat. I’m guessing it was the heat.
At any rate, last week, I found myself feeling suddenly sick of summer.
Unfortunately for my seasonally-induced angst, there is no getting away from summer at the moment, and the weather is not cooperating to make things any easier. When Henry James opined that the “two most beautiful words in the English language are summer afternoon” he was assuredly NOT living in Chevy Chase in the middle of a heat wave, nor was he setting out for the millionth trek up Old Georgetown Road to pick up a small, sweaty day camper.
I know I’m a little cranky because of the weather, but...seriously. Whatever, Henry. May I take a moment to address you directly? I think if you had a time machine and could have visited us last week, you would have retracted your original suggestion and nominated “central air-conditioning” instead.
And yet, wonderful as air-conditioning is for this sort of weather, staying indoors can lead to a new problem—summer cabin fever. And although I hope the worst of the hot weather is past us, there's a long way to go this summer before the days get really cool.
My idea of family fun in this weather is to lie on the couch, perhaps even reading a little Henry James (or not), while my children fan me and fetch me drinks. Needless to say, no one else shares this vision.
No one really wants to go to the pool, either—they're tired of it, and it's somehow just too hot. (This is a relief since we're out of swim goggles, anyway.)
So, here are some activities you or your babysitter can do with your kids when you need to get out of the house but would prefer not to become local heat-stroke statistics:
1). Ice skating: Cabin John ice skating rink is about a 20-minute drive from Chevy Chase, and those 20 minutes will transport you to a deliciously cold space that will be a welcome reprieve for your sun-soaked senses. Better still, the kids (and you) can get some exercise and burn off some energy without melting into shapeless globs.
2). Einstein planetarium. You can, of course, go see a movie, or even ramp up with an IMAX film. But with this kind of weather, I want entertainment featuring cold places. And not much is colder than space. Check here for details.
3). National Geographic: Race to the Ends of the Earth. Speaking of cold, this exhibit details the competition 100 years ago between Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and British Royal Navy Captain Robert Falcon Scott to be the first man to reach the South Pole. I can see the appeal, actually. Check out the exhibit, which features lots of photographs of icy-cold landscapes (as well as hands-on activities), and is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily.
4). Adventure Theater/Imagination Stage. OK, well, unfortunately for my purposes, neither local children's theater is putting on a show that features wintry weather, but fortunately, you can't go wrong in either place—your kids will not only get a respite from the heat, they'll spend a special afternoon watching an enchanting production. "Charlotte's Web" is playing at Adventure Theater until Sept. 5, while the "Wind in the Willows" is playing at the Imagination Stage until Aug. 14.
5). Bowling. It's cool, it's dark, and it's, well, somewhat active. OK, maybe not really, but it's a fun diversion and Bowlmor is just around the corner on Westbard Avenue in Bethesda.