I’ve been trying all week to figure out how to put my Adirondack vacation into a blog post. I figured I better just go and do it before it completely fades from memory.
My cousin has a “camp” in the Adirondacks that I’ve been going to most summers for all of my life. An Adirondack “camp” is a summer cottage, not a campground where large groups of people go. Though the way my cousin runs things, it might as well be the latter. We never had fewer than eight for dinner, for example, and several times we had to have two tables. We had people sleeping in three buildings, pre-programmed activities, and a cooking schedule. There is also daily laundry service, courtesy of my cousin, who does at least two loads of laundry per day.
My preferred way of starting an Adirondack camp day is a quick breakfast, a walk of a couple miles, and a swim in the lake. Unfortunately, I only managed this once the whole week. It was a rainy, cool week, and I was the cook for two breakfasts. At the very end of the week I at least managed a second walk, but the weather was forbidding and I didn’t feel inspired to jump in the lake. Happily, it cleared up that afternoon and I did go swimming then!
The two breakfasts I cooked were popovers, a tradition at camp. My great-aunt cooked these as her specialty when I was a kid and she and her husband were both still alive, and popovers are part of what makes camp special. I am happy to make them, and everybody else is happy to let me!
Swimming in the lake is another tradition, one my mother studiously ignores. The lake is the Great Sacandaga Lake, a man-made reservoir for the Hudson River. Usually in August the water is low due to nightly discharges into the Hudson, but this year the water was very high. While usually a rocky stretch of sand separates the grassy bank from the water, this August there was no sand to be seen. Just a narrow band of rocks.
The water was “refreshing” which is to say rather cold. I don’t know the exact temperature, but I did manage to go in the Sacandaga twice, and Jenny Lake (where we visited friends) once. The best time is first thing in the morning, but my afternoon swim with my little second-cousin-once-removed (a lively 5-year-old) was delightful. She showed me how she could dog-paddle and “swim underwater” and hold her breath, and we chased each other around (I swam slowly, she kicked to propel herself in a pink inflatable ring). Fun!
One morning most of the week’s residents were off doing various things that my husband and I and one of my cousins were disinclined to participate in. That left the three of us with the 5-year-old and the dog (the dog was another invited guest who didn’t belong to anyone who spent the week at camp). One of our activities was making a horse mask.
The main pre-programmed activity was a tour of local tannery sites from the late 19th century, when for about 20 years the Adirondacks were a center of the industry. The sites consisted of stone foundations, bits of broken window glass, rusted barrel hoops, and at one site actual old piles of scrap leather. While the sites themselves were very similar, the nice bit was the fact that we got to tromp around in the damp woods, where I took photos of mushrooms and trees and flowers and a stream. I also got a couple of photos of my relatives. We had “adventures” along the way, running into road re-construction on the way there and getting directionally confused when finding our way home by a different route.
Because of the weather, there was a lot of sitting around the cabin during the week. I read a book, worked on crosswords, did sudokus (I’ve become addicted), played a game of scrabble, played cribbage, and watched some TV. One major change in the camp has been the introduction of modern telecommunications. My generation of cousins has introduced HD TV and 500-channel digital cable to camp, and there is internet access! While I tried to stay offline, I did have to answer some e-mails about the online graduate course I am taking this fall and carpool arrangements for the day after our return home, and I showed my parents my facebook page.
All in all, it was a lovely time, thank you cousins! I came home mostly relaxed and ready to get things done, and while I haven’t managed to accomplish everything I’ve wanted to since I got home, I have managed to do significantly more than lie about on the sofa! I might post on some of that later.