Happy Place…Revisited: Lake Winnipesaukee

Happy Place…Revisited: Lake Winnipesaukee

*This post was submitted and published by The Philadelphia Inquirer October 4, 2015. I have added more photos here. Enjoy!

Promise after you read this you won’t tell all of your closest

Westerly view from Tuftonboro, Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

Westerly view from Tuftonboro, Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

friends and relatives about this amazing place, since crowds and traffic are almost non-existent. Lake Winnipesaukee is a bucolic, serene and truly happy place where lifetime worries evaporate in the fresh air (no need for air conditioning). Over the past 18 years, we have visited this New Hampshire wonderland as well as the White Mountains and Lake Ossipee region.

This summer’s two-week vacation combined the best of every experience we’ve had on the lake. Our three bedroom, two-bath lakefront cottage in Tuftonboro’s Melvin Village was the best rental house yet. Its wraparound eight-foot wide 20150801_192843porch became the dining, resting, and reading place. The renovated kitchen allowed six of us (family members) to enjoy dine-in meals in comfort. So what if there was no dishwasher; we had low-maintenance meals and several meals out that kept dishwashing to a minimum.

The 40-foot dock was our living room on this crystal-clear Sunset7_06lake. Our 20-foot Four Winns powerboat we trailered to New Hampshire was docked just steps from the house. Over the years, we’ve visited many parts of this lake that includes 244 islands and is 182 shoreline miles around.

The eastern side of the lake has drawn us over the past few years. The main town, Wolfeboro is a less than 20-minute drive and is quintessential New England with its Main Street mom-and-pop shops and restaurants (no Starbucks), Town Docks where you can boat from your house and dock to get ice cream at Bailey’s Bubble (low-fat Mint Patty yogurt is my favorite); and a terrific gym, Olympic Gym and Fitness where you can work out as much as you want for two weeks for $35 (or $5 per visit).

On the lake, we ventured to Ragged Island twice. You anchor close to shore and children swim in a sandy-bottomed, roped

Ragged Island

Ragged Island

off area or out to rocks that jut above the surface from the lake bottom. The Lakes Region Conservation Trust maintains this tiny gem with a dock and short walking trail with plants and flora marked with signs and wild blueberries that burst with flavor.

My adventurous husband encouraged me to try a hike along part of Rattlesnake Island. Visible from Wolfeboro and many spots along the eastern side of the lake, we boated to this distinctive looking, two-mile long island that rises 900-feet at its highest peak (370-feet above lake level). After docking, we

Rattlesnake Island

Rattlesnake Island

hiked up the rocky trail to enjoy breathtaking views of the lake. Other enjoyable family hikes accessible by land include

Hiking up Rattlesnake Island- What a view!

Hiking up Rattlesnake Island- What a view!

Mount Major and Red Hill. The Abenaki Tower in Tuftonboro offers the shortest, easiest hike with eye-popping 180 degree views of the lake and Ossipee Mountains.

Two weeks is becoming too short for this vacation destination.

Rattlesnake Island hike

Rattlesnake Island hike

From visiting High Meadows Farm and its horseback riding class to abundant farmers markets and enjoying countless day and night-time trips exploring Lake Winnipesaukee, this happy place is tops for a family getaway – but please, don’t tell anyone.

Ya Got To Have Friends

Nearly 24 years ago, Doug and I met. We met through a group that formed out of the kindness and creativity of a man named Carl. That group of singles – then called Voorhees Single Professionals – was created long before the internet, Match.com or any other online dating service. Carl created the group out of a desire to connect single people in their 20’s and 30’s to a social life that was tough to find beyond the bar scene at the time. An earlier article in the Philadelphia Inquirer mentioned the beginning of the group in the fall of 1989.

Day10_20100817_27Tonight, more than  23 years later, Carl, his wife Ramona, Rick, Mary, Doug and I – who all met because of this group – had dinner together. I am exhausted. It was as though we had just left a group meeting and had planned weeks of events. We now are planning to get together for a boat ride – the six of us – on the Chesapeake – this coming summer. Ramona volunteered to start a Facebook page so we can begin to plan a September 28th ‘reunion’ of sorts. We want to revisit what Carl started so many years ago – a group of people who want to get together for social activities – a MEET market he proclaimed at the time – NOT a MEAT market – which was the big problem for singles.

The six of us met at our house for drinks and appetizers for about an hour. Our kitchen was filled with non-stop talk. Catching up; talking about our children – successes – failures; things on the horizon. When it came time to leave for our dinner reservation, we continued to talk. The car ride went by in a flash.

At the restaurant, we ordered and continued to catch up on each others’ lives. We talked about people who have passed away; who’ve divorced – but best of all, we reminisced about how each of us met. To remember those days as if they happened yesterday makes you feel as if everything that you’ve gone through – suffered through – survived – is even more meaningful.

What it all comes down to is – as the character Billy Crystal played in “City Slickers” said is ONE thing: if it were not for Carl and his one idea to put an ad in the local shopper’s guide and reserve the community hall in Voorhees on that September night in 1989 – none of us would have met. Our lives would be completely different.

Thank you Carl – forever; we love you. And we’ll plan that reunion for September 28, 2013.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Do you respect other people and then expect a least a little respect back? I don’t think that’s too much to expect today, but apparently, I’m wrong. I was listening to NJ 101.5’s Dennis and Judi show on the ride back from a client in Ocean County as I usually do. (Driving through the Pinelands gets a little monotonous and counting the number of dead animals along the side of the road just doesn’t do it for me.)
The question and discussion of the hour was “Have you ever gone off on a police officer?” I know it happens, but I could not believe the number of people who admitted to freaking out on a police officer. I always find it amusing when you see one of the police reality shows when the obviously belligerent or drunk person suddenly realizes he or she is in a heap of trouble and gets polite by calling the officer ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am.’ Um, it’s too late, pal.

A couple of summers ago, we were vacationing in New Hampshire. We’d gone out after dark for ice cream at our favorite dairy, Sandwich Creamery; which is way off the beaten path. (Isn’t everything in New Hampshire?). My husband was driving my brother’s minivan and I think six or seven of us were stuffed in the van. Well, Doug drove through the main part of Moultonborough a little too fast and a police officer tucked on the side of the road hit his lights and pulled behind us in seconds. Well, my sweet mom, who I guess lost her senses for a split second, was a bit annoyed we were getting pulled over. She opens the minivan’s sliding door to get out. We all yelled “Stay in the car!” Or words to that effect. We scared the wits out of her. She couldn’t understand why she had to stay in the van. Meantime, Doug got off with a warning – I can only attribute it to goodwill tourism AND that Doug was genuinely polite; fully admitted he’d gone too fast through Moultonborough and would never – ever do it again.

Police have a tough job. They serve us well. Respect is a given.

The Finale

Not wasting a minute of our final day here in Moultonborough, we quickly planned a day on the lake. After a quick breakfast, the serene water pulled me in. Doug and I went for an awesome canoe trip to the point where we are and around the bend and one island. There were birds, bugs, rocks, a gentle breeze, warming sun, the occasional barking dog and such peace that it should be bottled and patented. If more people could experience serenity like this, there would be no toxic arguments – or at least there’d be fewer arguments.

After the ride back at the house, we tried to encourage Andrew & Adam to come with us on our last adventure on the lake for this vacation. I’d packed lunch for us all – but the boys decided they’d rather stay at the house and head out in the canoe a bit later. Believe it or not – they actually did take a canoe ride and eat lunch.

Doug and I first got some gas, then headed to a section of the lake we had not been to before. We went to the town of Glendale which included a marina, the N.H. Marine Patrol and “Snuffer” the fire rescue boat and the Lyons Den Restaurant which is supposed to be quite good. People were waiting for the place to open as we got there before noon. After a walk on shore and on the dock, we motored out, noticing all the beautiful houses – some large – some small – but all waterfront and just delightful. We headed to the shore of Ellacoya State Park. The shore was also dotted with homes; there were swimmers and boaters, but it just wasn’t quite right for what we were looking for. We continued along the lake passing Welch Island, then Sleepers Island – that actually has an old castle on it which is now someone’s home. Across from Sleepers Island was a cove where about a dozen boats were anchored in an area that had a great sandy bottom , with water shallow enough to just float around and enjoy the sun and the glorious day. We had lunch, lounged around in and out of the water; had a catch and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s also fun watching other people enjoy their family, friends and their boats.

After a couple of hours, it was time to move on. We pulled up anchor and headed around Treasure Island and back toward Rattlesnake Island. We made our way across The Broads and back toward Long Island. We were back at the house around 2:45. Unfortunately, it was time to starting the trip home by taking the boat out of the water. For the first time all week, I had mom-son time. Adam drove the boat the five-minute ride from the house to the public ramp at Long Island. It’s always easier to talk with your son with no other interruptions. That was the highlight of my day – that five-minute ride.

Adam expertly guided the boat onto the trailer with Doug acting like he was directing and airplane on the tarmac. (Quite amusing) Dinner took us to Tamarack near Weirs Beach. Doug had a craving for a lobster roll – certainly something you can’t get at home. I stuck with a salad and clam chowder (or chowdah as they say up here). I asked for lobster on the salad. I ended up with more lobster on my salad than Doug had on his lobster roll. The guys also chowed down with fried shrimp for Adam and a lobster roll for Andrew. It’s interesting to note that I have never stood in line for take-out food and faced a $73 tab. All that lobster is not cheap! But oh, is it ever good.

Now, it’s time to pack up our things along with our great memories of this wonderful place. My heart is here – I find true happiness here – I love this place – the loon will welcome us back as they always do.

Melancholy, Baby

We love vacation so much because we get to be somewhere out of our element; experience things we don’t see or do at home and enjoy the company of people we care about. In all the places I’ve been in my years, there is no other place that makes me feel so happy and fulfilled. New Hampshire has become more than a vacation destination – it feels like home.

This morning, the two of us enjoyed some breakfast then took the boat out for a spin on the lake. We had no particular destination in mind, we just wanted to glide on the clear, flat water feeling the warm sun and enjoying just being here. We ended up at Bear Island where you can see what’s happening on the lake via a web cam that is live inside the house right there on the point of the island. Check it out here. I texted my brother who is back at work that we were in front of the camera – and he saw us on the boat. Very cool.

We motored over to Greg and Theresa’s house to say, “good morning” and see them and the kids which was a treat. They paddled around in the water outside their house. The morning sun was getting much warmer. We saw a very small turtle sunning himself on a rock. We gave the Breskins a lift over to cousin Barry’s house so they could pick up their shared boat for a morning spin around the lake and take the kids tubing again. We headed back to our house for some lunch.

Adam and Andrew decided THIS was the day they were going to sleep – forever. When we returned at 11:30 a.m. – they were still fast asleep. The two of them wanted to go experience Monkey Trunks, a climbing, zip-line, rope adventure located next to Fun Spot at Weirs Beach. We headed there and dropped them off so they could tire themselves out some more.

That led me to my 2 p.m. followup doctor appointment. Not a lot of news there; just confirmation that I am healing and I could consider cutting back my mondo doses of antibiotics. Enough said there.

By the time we went back to pick up the guys at Fun Spot, they were finished on Monkey Trunks and spent more time playing games at the arcade. Driving back, I just couldn’t face the refrigerator of leftovers, so we decided to eat at The Village Kitchen. Funny, all the years we’ve passed the restaurant, I thought it was called “Country Cookin’. Those letters are larger on the sign than the name “Village Kitchen.” Anyway, we found what is probably New Hampshire’s version of a local diner. It seemed there were a lot of local folks there. The food was OK; the service very nice and the total bill for four people – $49. No complaints.

The highlight of the day happened as we came home offering Andrew a boat-driving lesson. He excelled – and enjoyed. A few rain showers that passed through left a rainbow; the lake turned a beautiful shade of pink with a purple and gray sky. If only this could be home.

 

 

The Skies Clear – Finally

After nearly two full days of rain, we awoke to sunshine – finally. They say even a rainy day on vacation is better than a day at work. But in all the years we’ve been coming to New Hampshire for vacation, we have never had so much rain.

We maximized the good weather because it appears more rain will be coming. The delicious baked french toast Donna made for breakfast was a great way to start the day. Doug took Erica and Don out for their farewell boat ride since they  were heading back today. Donna went for a long walk while I packed up lunch for a planned excursion on the lake. Arline came by and decided to join us. We made the trip to Green’s Basin in about 15-20 minutes. The lake was a deep blue contrasting with the baby blue sky. So many boats were zipping by and nearly everybody waved almost as if to say, “Hey, aren’t you just loving this day after all that rain?”

We revisited the big rock in the middle of the bay which is part of a state or county park. We anchored so Andrew & Adam could take a dip in the lake and swim to the boulders. They climbed up like monkeys; talked about how they would approach their first jump  – then – AHHHHHH… there they go! They did the jump a few more times. Adam then decided he wanted to swim from where we were anchored to the other big rock in the bay. It had to be about a quarter mile. I watched every stroke. He did breast stroke, a little side stroke and freestyle – and he made it. Nice job!

Donna and I along with Andrew swam from the boat to the rock and climbed up. I wish I could have my camera with me to shoot the scene on the rock and all around me. boats were going past – and an ice cream boat came up. The boys had Ben & Jerry’s bars. By then, Donna and I decided we should make our way back to the boat for lunch. I was happy I was able to maneuver on the rock much better than last year..thanks to the new hip.

We enjoyed our lunch, then headed back to our dock for a relaxing few hours. Doug & Arline paddled around in the lake; Adam & Andrew read or played on their computers; Donna and I chatted while sunning on the dock. While Doug and Arline boated to Greg & Theresa’s house to take the kids tubing, I prepared dinner which turned out pretty well – chicken on the grill, veggies and potatoes in the oven, corn and baked beans.

We invited the other Breskins over for dessert and they ate just about everything – we had ice cream, lemon poppy pound cake, brownies, chocolate chip cookies.. almost all gone. The only odd thing that happened is we have a strange odor emanating from one spot in the kitchen. No, it’s not the trash can, under the sink, refrigerator or dishwasher. It’s just a strange smell that I hope is gone by morning.

Unfortunately, Donna will be gone in the morning. She will be flying home leaving just the four of us in this great house. The Breskins, Barry & Joan and Carol & Herb will remain – but our vacation is starting to come to a close.

The Lost Day

Rainy days and Mondays  – ah, you know the rest of the Carpenter’s ditty. Monday evening was outstanding with family getting together for a delicious meal at Canoe. I was remiss in mentioning my outstanding sister-in-law – Erica and her talented beau Don. Erica is always great with the kids and keeps the adults conversing as well. She enjoyed ordering tasty treats for the folks sitting around her last night – not to mention a great bottle of wine – (Thanks!!). Later in the evening, Don gave us a wonderful demonstration on his accordion. Now it’s not a mainstream instrument that you see every day – especially on vacation.We learned that Don has been playing since his was a child. He played a few lovely tunes that made me want to sit back and have a cigarette – except I don’;t smoke. He spent a good while showing Andrew the basics of the accordion which he really enjoyed.

A good night’s sleep led to a rainy start to Tuesday. Unfortunately, my wound from the other night showed some complications. We headed to Lakes Region General Hospital where we feared we would be tied up for hours. IN ONE HOUR – I was registered, triaged, treated and released. Now, I’m on some mega antibiotics. I’m resting this afternoon and hope to be much better tomorrow.

As we move toward another dinner hour, the skies are at last, clearing. Friend, Donna arrived yesterday and we’ll enjoy our first meal with Doug, the boys and me and whoever else pops in for the evening! Donna was gracious to drive Adam & Andrew to Fun Spot near Weirs Beach. Doug went to hang out with Greg, Theresa and the kids. Now, it’s time for the healing to begin – again.

Let’s take a ride on the boat – the sky is clearing and the sun is setting on another day in paradise.