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.

View from the Lake – Updated

View from the Lake – Updated

Our annual sojourn to Lake Winnipesaukee is underway. It occurs to me I have

Sunset from Tuftonboro

Sunset from Tuftonboro

amassed many stories and listened to others’ tell their experiences about this magical place – my happy place.

Since the author of the splendid piece – who I gave credit to in the earlier version of this post – does not want his story told, I update this post today to share a few words about bucolic Lake Winnipesaukee.

Everyone should have a place in this world where they feel true happiness; whether it’s relaxing with a beverage on your back patio or on a white, sand beach somewhere – happiness is a fleeting commodity.

Author; from Abenaki Tower with view of Lake Winnipesaukee

Author; from Abenaki Tower with view of Lake Winnipesaukee

Now that we’ve been home for three weeks, my perspective is every so clear: life will be better, happier, more content with long stays living by (or near) the lake.

During our two weeks this year, I enjoyed a vacation schedule with some work continuing. My husband and I have home offices; even though we were by the lake, we created a ‘home’ office in our vacation house which included a table, chairs, our computers and solid internet connection. During times when we had to get some work done, the view was spectacular. Work time motored along. We were rewarded for our efforts by being able to step into the boat and onto the lake.

The Post boys jumping from the amazing rock off Moultonborough, NH

The Post boys jumping from the amazing rock off Moultonborough, NH.

My gym time – normally two or three mornings a week – was not interrupted on vacation. I joined the local gym in Wolfeboro for two weeks (at $25 -it was a huge bargain) and kept to my routine. That routine was supplemented  by the short walk up to Abenaki Tower with a view that hugs your mind and soul.

Breskin, Kardon and Friedman families in NH - courtesy Sean Kardon

Breskin, Kardon and Friedman families in NH – courtesy Sean Kardon

While making the move to New Hampshire will be a process; the goal will be to choose a home and site that will fill our hearts and minds with the love we feel for each other as well as for the place known as the Lakes Region. This adventure will be about discovering the community; getting to know the people and further exploring the lake and splendid nature that stretches for miles and miles.

What really happened for us during this vacation was the realization that we can indeed make the move to the Tuftonboro and Wolfeboro region. After enjoying wonderful moments this time with our friends, the Posts from Connecticut and our family from Pelham, NY, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, we know that home for us is wherever we are together. So why not be in a place where we can enjoy nature, people, family and friends? While we may or may not be finished with working full-time when we find a home and settle six months a year in New Hampshire, one thing is for sure the feelings of happiness and joy that fill our days and nights when we’re there – will hug us until we can breathe no more. The timeline is evolving – but the goal is clear: New Hampshire will be home for at least six months out of the year.

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 Year of Living Gingerly

I have this thing – I like even numbers; 2011 is not an even number. Despite the pains of 2011, the year is turning out OK after all.

Let’s get the pain out-of-the-way: about four years of pain led to a right hip replacement in May 2011. Just a few weeks of therapy led to a nearly perfect summer. Then, I tumbled down the steps of our vacation house in New Hampshire and punctured my face on some boating gear at the bottom of the steps. Four doctors and many antibiotics later and the clutz who is me – healed. Finally, in my left shoulder diagnosed as frozen shoulder – has led to

Adam & his electric razor - wasn't he just needing a pacifier?

weeks and weeks of therapy that will lead into 2012 – but I’ll be fine. What is frozen shoulder? Women of a certain age can develop this real pain-in-the-joint affliction; some men and diabetics can develop frozen shoulder as well. The ligaments and tendons literally freeze which leads to restricted mobility. Try reaching up for a plate in the kitchen cabinet or scratching your back with the affected arm. You quickly learn the stages of frozen shoulder: freezing, frozen and thawing. I got to the doctor and physical therapist during the freezing stage. Now, I’m thawing. Thank you Meryl Goldstein, physical therapist at Excel in Cherry Hill. While the therapy is extremely painful – for her as well as me – I’m about 80% cured. Woo-hoo!

Enough of the pain already! Emotional pain has been the hallmark of our son’s senior year in high school. Adam is a bright, happy, overall well-adjusted young man. He’s just not as enthusiastic about life as perhaps he should be at this critical stage of his life. Senior year in high school means applying to colleges, financial aid applications, boy scout eagle project responsibilities and many other details. Detail-oriented – he is not. I constantly struggle over pushing him to get things done to completely backing off and letting him fail. Either one of these options is not the way to go. Striking the balance is extremely emotional. Somehow, I know Adam will succeed and do very well wherever his college career and career path leads.

Do you spend time looking at yourself from a distance? I wonder how I’m going to turn out; how my relationship with my husband will evolve and adjust; which hair color to choose. The thoughts go much deeper than a hair color, but I do spend time late at night or early in the morning thinking about my mortality. That’s pretty painful.

So how are things, really? I must be thankful and grateful for so many blessings: my family – both sides – and all their accomplishments and growth. I became a great-aunt late last year so I have a new family member to get to know. My physical fitness is definitely on the rise; my trips to the gym (and physical therapy) keep my head clear most days. When you see people at the gym who are a decade or two older than you and still getting there every day, you have to at least keep up.

Seeing the stories of our returning troops makes me wonder how they will spend the next year or two or longer adjusting to their stateside lives. The turbulent economy and changes in their families has to be stressful. In the end, I hope they find peace and happiness in their lives and know that so many of us are ever grateful for their service. I want to do something in 2012 to help as our service people return home.

As we opened our Christmas gifts this morning, I couldn’t help but remember that it seemed like a minute ago when my son was spitting up on my shoulder. Today, his favorite gift was the electric shaver we got him. Hearing the whir of the shaver made me nostalgic for the Christmas morning we spent wrestling with the hermetically packaged toys that needed assembly and running around looking for the right sized batteries to make the toys work.

The roast will go in the oven soon and the family will gather again for another Christmas. After the leftovers are put away and the last holiday light goes out, I wish for all the family and friends near and far a much less painful and much more happy New Year.

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.