Monday, Monday

Monday “rush” hour in Moultonborough, New Hampshire means six cars on Moultonborough Neck Road toward Route 25 – instead of two cars. It’s just about seven miles from the vacation house to the main road and the views are such that you have to remember you are driving and need to watch the hills and the double yellow line. I always love the lupin growing wild on the side of the road. They look like long, purple paint brushes growing in clumps – wild and free. The sides of roads often look like a Monet painting with bursts of yellow, purple and pink wildflowers.

Once I got out to the main road this morning, I went into gym-rat mode. Because I have really accepted that I need to be a gym rat and work out three times a week for about 90-minutes, I knew I could NOT go without visiting a gym – even during vacation. When we came up to NH a few weeks ago to visit Adam at camp, I paid a fee to visit the gym that is closest to our vacation house – about 15 minutes by car. I swiped myself in and immediately went into my routine. about 90 minutes later, refreshed and ready to go for the day, I went “in to town” – such as Centre Harbor is. One traffic light – one grocery store – the liquor store, a couple of cafes, a good restaurant (Coe House) an a beautiful waterfront. I included a photo yesterday of the three boys on the dock – that’s Centre Harbor. I went into Winnepesaukee Bayguls (cute) and snapped up a delicious Green Mountain coffee and a half-dozen bagels made fresh at the shop. Next door, a cafe and bakery was the source of a corn muffin for Doug.

Doug had already been out on the boat when I got back from my morning jaunt. He scouted out the vacation houses where his brother and his cousin will be staying next week and filled the boat with $130 worth of gas. OUCH! We decided to take a trip to Wolfeboro – by boat. That’s a MUCH better way to get to Wolfeboro than by car. It would have taken at least 50 minutes. Speeding through the nearly flat water, we got to the dock in less than 30 minutes.

Doug had packed a delicious lunch that we ate after we tied up at the dock. The weather was quite warm, but the skies started threatening. We stopped in a couple of shops. I bought a birthday card for a friend and walked across the street to the Wolfeboro post office. I think I saw Norman Rockwell there. This place was probably nearly as it was 75 years ago. The postal worker even hand-stamped the birthday card envelope with a Wolfeboro stamp. Quite cute.

We decided to head back and then the skies decide to open up. We were leaving the dock and ducked down below the windshield just peeking enough over the dash to see where we were going. Then, we beat the showers. We were past the rain clouds and back in the sunshine. Amazing how the clouds break up over the lake and dissipate. We cruised around an area of the lake we had never seen before. The homes were actually more like compounds. Huge houses with three-boat garages on the lake. Impeccable landscaping and gorgeous, sandy beaches were part of the homes by the lake. The prices had to be $5 million and up. Dream on.

Doug and I swam in the lake after returning from our little trip. Before we knew it, it was time to start helping with dinner. My parents, Steve & Sue spent the day on a trip to Mount Washington. They got back around 4:30. Dinner by my brother was terrific – pulled pork, delicious local corn-on-the-cob,

After water skiing near the house

salad, baked beans and macaroni salad.

The best was yet to come. Doug had a need for speed – on water skis. That meant we headed out in the boat again. We were able to ski about 500 yards off the house as the sun was starting to set. I was the boat driver – which is very stressful. I don’t want to screw up. Thankfully, I didn’t. Doug enjoyed skiing; I did a good job driving the boat. And nobody got hurt!

The Changing Lake

Lake Winnepesaukee has more than 283 miles of shore; the water way is 15 miles wide and 25 miles long. The ever-changing weather in the skies above are reflected in every ripple of the lake.

This Sunday started with showers, with grey skies, mist and fog obscuring the mountains in the distance. But the day changed almost hour-by-hour. The clouds shifted from angry, dark grey to puffy streaks against a baby blue background.  The view from the lake by boat or even just standing on the dock of the house is something to behold. Our short trip to hang out in Braun Bay was a highlight . We paddled in the water for a while and watched a loon swim for food and were treated with the call of the loon – which is always infectious.

After Sunday dinner, Doug and I decided to take a quick evening ride by boat to Centre Harbor. We glided through the nearly flat water, passing beautiful homes and a few other boats. The Mount Washington was on an evening cruise. After docking at Centre Harbor, we walked to Red Hill Ice Cream; got two small cones and walked back to the dock as the sun was beginning to set quickly. I snapped a photo of three boys fishing off the dock. Their playful innocence on an August evening was delightful to see; made more special in the waterfront setting with beautiful summer flowers.

The sun had set as we approached our vacation house. We glided in smoothly to the dock – and were greeted by my brother..and a special visitor – Shelby the dog. It seems Shelby had wandered from two houses down Lunt Lane. Shelby almost seemed sad to go back to his home – but his owner was pleased we walked him back home.

What will the lake bring tomorrow?

Return to the Lake

The thing about vacation is the journey getting there. Why does it seem that it takes forever to get to your destination? Looking back on the past 48 hours, I’m so happy to be back at Lake Winnepesaukee, but now I’d like the clock to just slow down.

The Moultonborough house here in New Hampshire is just the same as I remember. It’s nothing fancy, but offers spectacular views of our little piece of the lake and plenty of places for six adults to have whatever personal moments they’d like. Doug successfully launched the boat at Long Island for the short ride to the dock at the house. We were so incredibly happy to be getting her Saturday, that we forgot to eat lunch. Steve & Sue (brother & sister-in-law), my parents and us towing the boat were in our separate vehicles. We met at the BJ’s in Tilton, shopped there and at the Shaw’s supermarket next door, then made our way to the rental office in Centre Harbor. Doug, mom & dad headed to launch the boat while Steve, Sue and I went to the state store in Centre Harbor and picked up a few extra things at the Heath’s grocery to kill time before we could get the house key.

The next hours were about unpacking, checking out the house, getting dinner ready and most important, saying “hello” to the lake once more. After a spaghetti dinner with grilled sausage and salad. We toasted day one in the house, then Doug took us for a boat ride around Long Island. We admired the waterfront homes, watched the sky change as the sun started dipping to the west and even saw our first pair of loon of the week. Dusk led to a night of rain showers, but the peaceful night with the drumming of rain on the rocks and landscape led to a wonderful Sunday morning pancake breakfast (thanks, Doug!) and fruit. Why does everything taste better on vacation???

We’re having a lazy Sunday and may go visit Adam at Camp Robin Hood. May the clock tick ever-so-slowly.

A City to Enjoy Over and Over Again

The City by the Bay never disappoints. San Francisco has a plethora of sites and sounds to enjoy, not to mention outstanding restaurants and neighborhoods.

Union Square across from the Westin St. Francis

We spent January 20-23, 2011  back in the city we’ve visited at least four times before including out honeymoon 20 years ago. For this trip we stayed at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square. Usually, we choose bed and breakfasts, enjoying the unique accommodations and the morning meal. My husband, who travels on business often, used his Starwood points to book three nights for $60 per night. You can’t go wrong with that. This Westin property was perfect for a long weekend. We purchased two Muni passes for $20 each and traveled all over town throughout the weekend saving a fortune on a rental car and hotel parking which runs about $50 per night.

The weather was outstanding. I should have brought a few short-sleeved shirts and even shorts. Never having been to SF in January, I knew the temperatures could fluctuate between 50 and 60 but each day, temperatures were at least 65.

Hyde-Powell Cable line heading to Hyde Pier on left

Our first day included a Hyde-Powell cable car ride to Hyde Pier which is a federal site. Several tall ships and schooners are docked there. We strolled the dock in warm sunshine and admired all of the history. There were only a handful of people at the pier mid-afternoon on a Thursday. It was wonderful to see people actually swimming in the bay.

For dinner, we took a trolley on Market Street to the Ferry Building which is now home to gourmet shops, restaurants and ferry docks to Sausalito and Tiburon. We enjoyed the happy hour

Yummy clam chowder

prices on oysters, outstanding clam chowder and beer at Hog Island Oyster Company.

We hopped another trolley (Route 45) and headed to Union Street where we got off at Hyde for some tapas at a Spanish restaurant, Zarzuela. We ordered three small plates and some sangria. Directly opposite Zarzuela is an ice cream shop, Swenson’s. We enjoyed a cone while standing outside across the street from a laundromat with one of the coolest names I’ve ever seen, “The Missing Sock.” (San Francisco seems to have dozens of laundromats – many with unique names.) With the weather so

 

A sign showing you can't forget you are in earthquake country.

marvelous, we decided to take a ferry to Sausalito Friday morning. We skipped the pricier options for traveling to the island (ferries along Fisherman’s Wharf) and took the $8.25 one-way ferry to Sausalito. We walked and walked; admiring the marina, the shops and enjoyed the warm, pleasant weather. While most of the attractions

A perfect day for a ferry ride to Sausalito - just $8.25 one way.

are on the north side, we walked south and mingled with the residents. We enjoyed lunch at Sausalito Taco Shop on Bridgeway. Since it’s five o’clock somewhere, I had a margarita with lunch; my husband enjoyed a Mexican brew.

After walking to the north end of Bridgeway and checking out the many shops along with enjoying the street musicians, we took the ferry back at 3:30 p.m.

Houseboats, sailboats, even a floating home that looks like the Taj Mahal - all in Sausalito.

Dinner Friday took us to North Beach via bus from the hotel. We ate at Sindoni’s where we had eaten in 2007. The family-run restaurant is outstanding with homemade sauce and pasta, wonderful fish and veal selections and great local customers.

We were also in North Beach since we had tickets to see Beach Blanket Babylon. The comedy-musical satire show has been running for more than 30 years. It’s a difficult show to describe. The outlandish costumes and headdresses worn by the performers accentuate the amazing music and comedy that satirizes today’s politics, pop culture, religion and more. The show has a San Francisco flavor so it’s unlike anything you might see elsewhere.

Lombard entrance to the massive Presidio - a military site turned commercial, park & residential in 1994.

Saturday after I headed to the hotel gym for a morning workout, we decided to explore the vast area known as the Presidio. We again took the 45 bus to the end which let us off at the Presidio’s Lombard gate. we walked for several miles through lush grounds and streets lined with homes and buildings renovated after the military turned over the base for civilian use in 1994. Had we been better prepared, we would have sought out bicycles to rent since everything we wanted to see was so far away. We should have hopped the free shuttle bus that circles the Presidio, but it only runs once an hour on weekends.

We decided to take the 45 back along Union Street. We explored the shops for a few blocks. My husband had a real longing for sushi, so we hopped the 22 trolley to Japantown. You can get your fill of sushi at the restaurant that created the sushi

Sushi via conveyor boat in Japantown

boat that floats on a conveyor as you sit at the counter. Not being a tremendous sushi fan, I did truly enjoy the pieces I ate in this unique setting. After resting at the hotel, it was time for another meal. Saturday night can be hellish in San Francisco if you don’t have a reservation – and we did not.

But we headed to Fillmore to a Peruvian restaurant – Fresca. The 30-seat restaurant was not too crowded at 6 p.m. We were offered a table or seats at the bar. Since Fresca does not serve hard liquor – only beer and wine, you can watch the chefs cook in the open kitchen. What a treat. Many locals eat at Fresca often as we found out. A nice couple chatted with us as we waited for our delectable dishes. I enjoyed the sea bass and risotto – my husband had a chicken stew. The best was last as we shared a dessert – the beignets. The fried dough was rolled in cinnamon-sugar and placed on a pool of a caramel-apple syrup and sprinkled with powdered sugar. New Orleans has nothing on this Peruvian version of lusciousness.

View of the Palace of the Fine Arts form the Presidio.

While I had originally planned to spend out time in San Francisco exploring some museums we have not visited yet, the weather was so outstanding, we couldn’t resist spending as much time as possible outdoors. We sat for about an hour in Union Square; we walked everywhere we didn’t take the bus to and enjoyed two breakfasts at Roxanne’s at Powell and Bush where we had eaten a few years back.

I certainly did leave my heart in San Francisco, returning to the east coast and another snow storm. As the former California governor says, “I’ll be back.”

Unofficially – officially, summer’s ending

The calendar shows the truth with a couple of weeks left in summer. Our attitudes and moods are reality, though. Summer 2010 is behind us. For this writer, it’s been a non-stop list of events and happenings that make me long for next summer. On the other hand, I’d like to slow down the clock just a little and savor the moments.

Riding the waves of Labor Day weekend - Brigantine

From Saturdays and Sundays on the beach in Brigantine to the most beautiful family and friend vacation ever in New Hampshire, I’ve enjoyed the weeks from mid-June until Labor Day. Each person I’ve spent time with from friends and family to colleagues and random strangers, has helped make this a summer to remember.

Watching our son and all students head back to classes is nostalgic. Watching the parents at the store with the print-out of school supplies from the teachers makes me long for those elementary

Donna & Doug fly a hull - Brigantine

and middle school days that are behind our family now. Adam is looking ahead to his junior year and all the vital decisions that face him affecting his future. Life is as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, so I continue to enjoy the moments of rest, relaxation recreation and yes, baseball joy and despair as we face the prospect of October baseball with the Phillies.

For this moment, I reflect on an outstanding summer with memories to fill a picture book. For those of you who spent time with us this summer, thanks for those memories! (Photos courtesy Sean Kardon)

All Good Things

The cool wind shifts in Moultonborough

The wind in New Hampshire has taken a noticeable turn. While the breeze is still refreshing and clear, the 10 to 20-mph gusts are creating white caps on our little piece of Lake Winnipesaukee. The sky is crystal clear and the greenery vibrant and whooshing in these winds. The sun is warming things up a bit, but there is a slight chill letting us know that it is time for a change.

While the boys and men hike Mount Major about an hour from our vacation house, we are enjoying a bit of quiet while starting to pack our things for the long ride home tomorrow. It is always bittersweet ending a vacation. The memories are countless: discovering the simple

Simple pleasures 1

pleasures of swimming and floating on a calm lake with two families tossing balls; heading to Smitty’s Golf to hit a few buckets of balls and discovering – we’re not bad at this;

Simple pleasures 2

enjoying a local classic car show and gobbling pizza and salad at Pizza Barn in Ossipee; canoeing and rowboating out to an isolated, tiny island in the lake and building a small fire to toast marshmallows and make s’mores. Earlier in the week, we again enjoyed Rocky Gorge, nature’s swimming sight that Disney could never replicate, along the Kancamagus Highway around Conway, NH.

Simple fun at Rocky Gorge

The simple pleasures also include one of the boys thanking me for the great ideas that filled our second-to-last full day on vacation. We had to improvise given that our boat decided to konk out Wednesday afternoon. The fix could either be simple or more complex, but my husband reminded me we have boated more in these past two weeks than we ever have on vacation here in New Hampshire. We discovered new parts of the lake where we had never been before and I got to drive our boat several times enjoying how it glides across the waters and seems to have been made for this area.

The loon have been so incredibly active during these two weeks. In the past, there have been vacations when we did not see or hear a loon once. Nearly every night and morning, the call of the loon reminded us how

precious nature is. The lack of car and airplane noise and the vivid scenery that is present always in this

Simple pleasures 3

Sunset from "S'more" Island

place let me know that I will return often to find peace and joy.

I have said often that I find myself here in New Hampshire. That has been reinforced once again after a two-week respite. I have managed to get a little work done and enjoy restful, stress-free days and nights. We realize reality will face us with work and school in the days ahead. But during those stressful moments that will inevitably strike, if only for a second, I can close my eyes to find my happy place – a scene in New Hampshire frozen in time in my mind’s eye.

Adventures in Rocks, Friends and other Wild Life

Vacationing with friends is a wonderful thing – if everybody “gets it.” You can make meals together or separately; you can do activities together or separately; you definitely need a rhythm to get the bathroom thing done efficiently.

Week two of our NH adventure is going swimmingly. The four boys are enjoying canoeing together and seem to be sharing their bunk room well – though I will not go in there. (I can only imagine what it’s like in a room with four teen-aged boys.) The grownups are a hoot. The day revolves around what activity to get to next here at the lovely Moultonborough house. The lake called us – so we went boating. Doug followed the Lake Winnipesaukee

Andrew leaps into the lake

map and we got to what used to be called “Girl Scout Island.” There we found a huge rock formation that was OK for leaping 15-20 feet into the lake below. We had docked our boat around

The rocks with training wheels for the less brave souls

the other side of this small island. Other boaters anchored just off the rocks so they could watch the crazy guys hurl themselves off the rock and into the lake. Doug was the only grownup in our group to attempt this feat. Adam and Andrew made the jump several times. I was the official photographer (are you out of your mind???? ME jump??). We motored over to another smaller rock formation in the same cove area. Everyone but me got up the nerve to jump the 6 feet or so into the lake. I was thinking too much (Don’t think – just jump).

Mealtime is a real test of how you are all getting along. We almost never run into each other in the kitchen area and the prepping, cooking and cleanup routines go extremely smoothly. It’s great having teen-aged boys who will empty the dish washer, take care of the pans in the sink and take out the trash – all with little or no whining.

The trip about 15 miles to the remote Sandwich Creamery in Sandwich, NH was the highlight of the day. The dairy is open 24/7 for ice cream, cheese,

Donna and her friends enjoy Sandwich Creamery

eggs and bread. But the shop during non-business hours is a small cabin with a screened door. The ice cream refrigerator has three different sizes of

Exploring a tiny island off our vacation house

ice cream and about 10-12 different flavors. The upright refrigerator has a selection of cheeses and eggs. It’s the honor system for paying. You slip your dollar bills into a mail slot, grab a wooden spoon and enjoy! Outside, the calves come up to the fence and enjoy handfuls of grass from Donna while we all marveled at how she adored these animals.

Even today, which is a bit damp and gray, we’ll have a day filled with heading to town, checking out a movie and trying candle-pin bowling (a very New England thing).

Adventures await.

Turtles and Water Lilies

Our 24 hours together is set on these serene piece of water with a gentle breeze, low humidity and sparkling sunshine. Fueled with some yogurt, fruit and granola and the best-smelling coffee, we paddled in the canoe across the bay to the small creek that leads to amazing displays of nature. Despite the hum of a lawnmower somewhere beyond the campground and neighboring state park, the chorus of birds and the gentle lapping of the canoe along the creek is all we could hear. Turtles sunning on a log, water lilies and lupin growing on the surface of the water and small fish greeted us on this short trip. A few kayakers and one fisherman also greeted the day that included this natural treat. The relaxation continues…

A picnic lunch accompanied us to a spot we have not seen yet, White Lake State Park. It’s just a short ride from our Danforth Bay house. The $4 per person admission was worth seeing the white-haired woman at the gatehouse. Doug said, “She’s probably as old as this park.” It was particularly funny when Doug almost rear-ended the car in front of us and the gatehouse woman said, “I know I’m gonna see an accident here someday.”

White Lake State Park, Ossipee, NH

We got the lay of the land quickly as the day-use area included a large beachfront with plenty of families, family-campers, day camp and overnight campers and their counselors and even the occasional garter snake. After lunch, we walked the two-mile trail around the lake which was formed millions of years ago by a glacier. After our walk, we decided to get into the swim area for a dip. Because it’s a glacial lake, it’s a bit cooler than Lake Ossipee – but it was still refreshing and relaxing.

Following our foray into civilization, we stopped at the neighborhood store for some fresh cod fillets and yet another bottle of wine for a fabulous dinner after a one-hour ride on the boat along Lake Ossipee.  It’s all I can do now to hop in the shower, then stay awake a few more hours to enjoy another amazing White Mountains sunset over the bay and take in the Phillies-Dodgers game on MLB.TV. Thursday, Adam leaves his camper days behind and joins us for 10-days of NH vacation-bliss. His favorite friend, Andrew, arrives Friday – it’s all good!

Water Pumps, Saxons and Tubing

They say you can survive without food, but not without water. We have now survived just about 18 hours without water at our lake house and all is well (or is it water well). The water for the lake house is pumped from a well and the motorized pumping sound is sort of like an air conditioner hum – you know it’s working well – until it’s not. Around midnight Monday, the pump kept cycling through with the “contractions” getting closer and closer until I knew something was wrong. You see, at that hour, no one was using water, so WHY would the water pump be operating? Turns out there was a crack in the housing and water sprayed all over the basement creating a 1/4 inch deep pond. Our attentive house owner was contacted and he arrived around breakfast time to begin cleanup and let us know the plumber was on the way.

The day was not lost. Even without a shower (we showered before the pump had broken), we managed to brush our teeth with bottled water, ate breakfast at a nearby diner, then packed up the boat for Doug’s treat for the Camp Robin Hood Saxons- a jaunt in the boat and tubing. I had decided to treat the Saxons to pizza so the day became a lunch-time, afternoon event.

The Saxons at the Friedman's camp on Lake Ossipee

After picking up $125 worth of pizza, I drove to the home of Jack & Jane Friedman and their son, Myles and wife Virginia. Jack is a cousin of my mother-in-law. Jane’s family has owned the Lake Ossipee property for well over a century. I arrived with the pizza just as the Saxons arrived at the dock. They were hungry and grateful and dug right in. I spent nearly two hours talking with the Friedmans about family history and listened to stories from the past.

The weather was hot, with a light breeze. The Saxons swam and tubed for a while, then collapsed in the beach area outside. I ventured back to our cottage to check out water pump progress. The owner was continuing to wet-vac the basement and dry out belongings that were soaked. Rich, the plumber from Federal Piping in Freedom was just about finished by 3:30 p.m. We had water and a new pump once again.

Doug was exhausted from the Saxon jaunt. I prepared a simple grilled chicken and vegetable dinner with a salad. I watched the Phillies get clobbered by the Dodgers (though they tried to claw their way back), and it was lights out by 11 p.m. Another day at the lake with an adventure in water pumps.

Fishermen in the Mist-Day 2

Doug, Adam and Grandma Arline - before the lake situation.

The peace and magic of a vacation morning is everything you want it to be here on Danforth Bay. Up at 6:30 (after a horrendous dream about a beaver

Morning mist on Danforth Bay

destroying our boat), the mist danced and swirled across Danforth Bay. Two fisherman in their boat glided across a mirror-like waterway as the morning clouds just started to give way to sun that will herald another beautiful August day. The only sounds were the chorus of birds and then – just like a scene out of  “On Golden Pond,” the loon gave her mystical call almost as if to welcome this new day.

There will be boating with the Saxons at camp and a welcome to Doug’s mom later in the day. For now, the blue sky and sunshine breaks across the rolling hills across the bay. The lake awakes.

***

Who knew my son skinny dips? There I am, trying to be the “cool mom,” waving and standing at the front of our boat as we zip past the camp waterfront after dinner and spot my son and his group of guys swimming. As one of the boys jumped up, I quickly realized, swim trunks were optional – or there was some sort of game underway – that surely did not include parents as observers. My husband quickly turned the boat around and we waved

A modest lake house for sale in NH.

“bye-bye.” Oh, did I say my mother-in-law was with us as well? I don’t have a photo of any of this – not ever.

The day also included what I now affectionately call house 285. We are always looking at houses for sale in NH. This one is something that could be a fabulous and comfortable vacation home. We look, we dream – we continue to vacation. Tuesday- a visit to Maine.