Life with Liz: Vacation adventures
This year’s vacation almost didn’t happen. We’ve been working on some serious home renovations, and we could have used an entire week to continue digging in and getting things done. The car that should have been replaced two years ago, but didn’t want to give up the ghost, has been acting a little bit cranky lately, and we didn’t know if she’d survive the trip, especially not while towing the boat.
Meanwhile, all the home repairs had prevented the Wonderful Husband from spending a lot of time working on the boat, and after last year’s engine fiascos, we weren’t really in the mood to get towed across the lake again. Combined with a crazy summer schedule of baseball games, swim meets, band concerts and everything else the kids are doing these days, it just seemed like maybe we should stay home.
As we were having our 87th fight about not going on vacation, we both finally broke and realized that if we didn’t take a few days off and relax, we were going to severely decrease our productivity for the rest of the summer. A few days to recharge our batteries was a necessity.
This year’s trip to Cranberry Lake, aka the middle of nowhere, Adirondacks, New York, was a greatly pared down version of last year’s extravaganza. We knew exactly what we were getting into this year, and as a result, packed only what we needed. We’ve been making a major effort lately to focus on only eating meals and cutting out snacks. I accepted the fact that E needed to bring 15 bathing suits and no other clothing, G needed only two pairs of underwear, and A needed to dedicate most of his packing space to books and resolved to let them live with their fashion choices: clean, dirty or literary.
We once again hired the inimitable Captain Bill to ferry our belongings across the lake, and lo and behold, in a déjà vu moment from last year, our own boat decided not to work and ended up getting towed across the lake again. I may have been overheard muttering something along the lines of “told you that boat should have stayed home.”
Of course, moments after we docked, the WH determined that the motor had been slightly raised for safe travel purposes and only had to be lowered to get the darn thing to work. Within minutes, he and G were off on their first fishing adventure of the trip, while A scurried off to the “boys” cabin to hole up with a book, and E did a quick-change worthy of Superman and a phone booth into her swimsuit and was cartwheeling off the dock into the crystal-clear lake water.
There was nothing left for me to do but stow our gear, grab a cold drink, and plop myself on the dock to catch up with my good friend T. Later that evening, we got settled in, enjoyed our first meal together, and then the boys left on yet another fishing adventure. They came back several hours later looking all the worse for wear as in their rush to get back out on the lake, they neglected to douse themselves in bug spray. The mosquitoes ate better than we did that night.
Day 1 ended with us drifting off to sleep listening to the loons.
Day 2 started with a 10-year-old alarm clock named G that went off at 4 a.m. and wanted to know if it was time to go fishing yet. The WH is a better parent than I am, and he obliged. The rest of us woke up somewhat later, and had a luxurious morning relaxing in the sun, puttering around the island.
Early that afternoon, I smelled smoke. We’ve allowed the boys to assume campfire duties, and they take their responsibility quite seriously, so I just assumed that they were getting the fire stoked up for some s’more cooking. Except I could see all the boys across the lake in their fishing boats, definitely not stoking up the fire. Turns out that there was a forest fire on the small island across from ours. The WH and our friend M were quick to race out to the scene and helped put out the fire before it got out of control. We had a few careless cigarette smokers to thank for our afternoon excitement.
After the initial boat tow on our first day, and the forest fire on the second day, I was a little leery of what Day 3 would bring. Sure enough, another exciting day was on tap.
When the fishing excursion returned much earlier in the day than they had planned, I knew something was up. The WH had hooked a big one, all right: himself.
While trying to untangle one of the lines from some underwater obstacle, he managed to put a pretty large hook right through his index finger. Luckily, our friends are both physician assistants, and they travel well-prepared for emergencies. A minor surgical procedure was performed on the kitchen table, and things were as good as new.
At that point, I declared that we’d had our three strikes, our third time charm, whatever, and there would be no more excitement in camp for the remainder of our stay.
For once the universe listened to me, and the rest of the week held nothing more than fishing tales, endless games of Monopoly, pudgie pies over the campfire and lots of relaxing. Our time on Cranberry Lake came to an end without further unexpected adventure and we returned well-fed, well-rested and recharged.
Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.