Last summer was a scorcher in Abilene. A record number of 100+ degree days, wildfires burning throughout west Texas, and no rain made the summer months rough in 2011. But weather forecasters are saying that the summer of 2012 should be considerably more tolerable. We are expecting close to normal rainfall, fewer days in triple digit temperatures, and more air that isn’t too hot to breathe in.

After taking a summer off, here are five activities – some fun, some not so fun – that we can return to this summer:

#1. SWIMMING

Water levels are still low at area lakes, but several of them are filling back up. Be careful, though, if you’re planning filling up a backyard pool. Watering restrictions are still in effect from last year, so check to see which day you’re allowed to fill pools based on the city’s schedule.

#2. Campfires

It’s hard to have fun on a camping trip when you can’t have a campfire. Burn bans made s’more-making pretty much impossible. Scary “monsters-in-the-woods” stories were less scary without the flickering glow of the campfire. And don’t forget the fact that food tastes better when cooked over a campfire. Expect the quality of your camping experience to improve considerably with the return of the campfire.

#3. Mowing The Lawn

How can you mow your lawn when there’s no lawn to mow? No rain meant dead, brown grass in yards all across west Texas. I didn’t mow a single time last summer, and already have mowed three times this year before Memorial Day. Doesn’t Abilene just look nicer with green lawns?

#4. Going to the Park

Taking the kids out for a day at the park was a miserable experience a year ago. Most of the quality outdoor time with my kids in the summer of 2011 was spent in the dark, to avoid the 110 degree temperatures. Sure, there will still be 100+ temperatures, but there will be cooler, more tolerable days sprinkled in every once in a while, too. Plan to take the kids to Red Bud Park, go miniature golfing, bike riding, or an occasional picnic this summer.

#5. Outdoor Exercise

Fresh air and exercise at the same time can be a great combination, but in summer 2011, we could hardly walk to our cars without breaking a sweat most days. Exercising outdoors wasn’t even a consideration. This year should allow for more brisk after dinner walks, jogs in the park, biking and the like. Remember, we’re still in west Texas, so precautions need to be taken. Be sure to have lots of water, sunscreen, and don’t overdo exercise in hot summer weather.

What kind of summer activities are you looking forward to this year?