|Wheeler Peak, Summer 2011|
This question is an outgrowth of the widely held view that the only thing that professors do is teach and the only time that they teach is when they are in the classroom.
During the summer, it is true that my work schedule is lighter and more flexible. I typically take one longer family vacation (1-2 weeks) and enjoy a few shorter trips. Beyond that I work pretty much full time, with salary support coming from my research grants.
Thus, my work in the summer is research intensive. I have four graduate students and two undergraduate students working with me this summer. Supervising and mentoring these students takes perhaps half of my time. This includes everything from giving them a pat in the back when they are doing good work to extensive editing of their manuscripts. With regards to the latter, anyone in the Steenburgh group quickly learns that "there is no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting." Clearly, these are also teaching activities, even if they are not done in the classroom.
What I do with the rest of my time varies. I'm currently lead authoring a paper, so that's one item that is filling my time this summer. I also usually attend at least one week-long science meeting during the summer. There's also research administration, budget planning, and the like. You know, the kind of bureaucratic crap you dream your whole life of doing.
On the balance, it's a pretty good gig and one that I'm grateful to have, even if people think I'm on a 3 month vacation.