A Man and his Fish; A man and his water ski

Some people are morning people; some people are not. I happen to fall in the former category. While my old work shift had me waking up the birds, it is so wonderful after eight years of sleep deprivation to wake up with the birds. Actually, it’s been waking up with the red squirrel squealing and chomping on a tree outside out bedroom window on Danforth Bay. But, I’m not complaining.

The heron shows us the way

The heron shows us the way

We actually slept in today until 7:30. By 8, Doug and I were gliding in our canoe on a mirror-flat lake with the morning sun just starting to warm the air that was so cool and comfortable through the night. We went to the Danforth Ponds where only canoes and kayaks can maneuver. The lily pads make Monet look like a fake. The beaver lodges are enormous and plentiful. A rustling in the trees caught our attention. It was a huge bird with a 4-foot wing span. It glided from a tree to the brush on our right; we caught up; he flew farther along the pond. This was a heron; slate blue with a graceful flight that seemed to be showing us the way along the pond. The heron did this a few more times, then flew back to the tall tree where he surely perched himself again to watch for the next group of people in a canoe or kayak. We made our way to the large pond where a lone man in a canoe was fishing. We kept our distance respecting the quiet of a fisherman. We paddled toward the sound of water, which was all we could hear in this pristine spot. We found the small creek feeding into the pond. Just as we came about, the fisherman said, “Look!” He was holding up his catch. We couldn’t react fast enough with the camera, but we gave him a “thumbs up” as he released his 18-inch catch back into the pond. He must have been so pleased someone was there to witness his catch of the day.

A fisherman after releasing his catch

A fisherman after releasing his catch

While Adam and Andrew slept in (until noon), Doug and I decided to go on a little hike. Mount Mary, which overlooks Danforth Bay rising nearly 1000 feet. From the base of the trail we chose, we only had to climb for about 15 minutes. 1/2 mile later, we were at the top, the only people on the trail and atop the mountain, looking down on Lake Ossipee and its bays, channels and ponds.

NHThurMtMary_20090820_11Lunchtime turned into an early dinner before we packed up to head to my brother-in-law’s vacation rental house in Meredith, about an hour away. Doug had a chance to water ski one more time and he had to take him up on the offer. The boys weren’t really excited about hanging out with relatives again, though they knew at the end of that visit they’d be going to the world’s biggest arcade, Funspot, near Weir’s Beach. We decided to let the boys have expanded arcade time, by dropping them off before we went to Meredith on Lake Winnipesaukee. Good call.

We arrived at Greg and Theresa’s rental house where Barry, Joan and Carol had already arrived. We quickly loaded the boat with Greg and Theresa’s three kids, Carol, Barry, myself, Greg piloting and Doug at the ready to ski. Doug was determined to get up and slalom ski. After one failed attempt, he got up and skied around the cove. It was glorious to watch him skirt across the lake on one ski. He jumped the wake and maneuvered from one side of the boat to the other. Then, he’d had enough. The 50-year-old arms and legs just don’t last like they used to. Nicklas, all of 8, wanted his turn tubing. Greg wove around the lake for a while and I swore Nicklas would just fly off that tube, but he held on for dear life and loved every minute of it. Doug then had his chance to “hot dog” it for the kids on the tube. Doug caught some air a couple of times as Greg tried to zig zag around, I’m sure, to try and toss his brother off the tube into the lake. Didn’t happen this time!  NHThurDBski_20090820_59

Doug skis slalom on Winnipesaukee

Doug skis slalom on Winnipesaukee

We said our goodbyes to family, then picked up the boys at Funspot where they thoroughly enjoyed nearly two hours of arcade games and some unhealthy snacks. We’re back at the house; the boys build a fire in the pit by the lake; they’re talking about everything and making s’mores. It’s almost sweet dreams, from Danforth Lake.

A Bigger Lake to Explore

Some say less is more. I generally subscribe to that philosophy. Lake Winnipesaukee equals more. We’ve  vacationed now on Lake Ossipee for two years, now preferring the quiet coves, bays and channels which lead to the huge main lake. The main lake is windy and rough enough on any given day so you’re able to really feel the New Hampshire wind and see the amazing peaks of the White Mountains as well as a peak of Mount Washington.

Enter Lake Winnipesaukee. We vacationed there for three years. There is plenty to see and do in and around the lake. It is massive. We have enjoyed exploring islands throughout the lake, finding coves and conservation areas to explore and one of our favorite swim spots, Braun Bay. People anchor there for hours and enjoy the shallow water to float and swim around in, tossing balls and frisbees and even using their boat grill to sizzle up burgers and dogs for lunch. NHWedWinni_20090819_44

We returned to rent a power boat from Anchor Marina mainly to let our son’s friend Andrew have the Winnipesaukee experience. After seeing Lake Ossipee, which he thought was amazing, he was more amazed at the massive size and how different Winnipesaukee is. The wide, open areas which are great for water skiing and tubing, are never really smooth as glass.

Andrew's 1st attempt

Andrew's 1st attempt

For a beginner water skier, smooth water would have been best. But, he’s 15 and willing to give this a try. Doug gave him the safety lesson and on-board water skiing tips on the main thing: getting up. From a crunched, fetal position with these heavy water skis attached to your feet plus the ski rope which has to be between your skis and the ski vest. It’s a lot to negotiate all while floating in a deep lake. Andrew tried SIX times to get up on those skis. Once, he almost made it. He was exhausted; we applauded his efforts. Between the wind and the rougher water, I knew he might have a tough time. He gave it a shot.

Adam and Andrew then took turns tubing. That experience on Winnipesaukee was also more rough. On a Wednesday, water traffic isn’t too terrible, but the Winnipesaukee mail delivery boats, the Doris E. and Sophie C. were cruising the lake delivering mail to the islands, plus other boats made for more wake and rougher waters. The boys didn’t care; they loved jumping the wake of our boat and others to bounce around like no ride they have ever enjoyed more.

Adam on Winnipesaukee; barge hauling a deck on right

Adam on Winnipesaukee; barge hauling a deck on right

Lunch time came about quickly. I noticed a large, bare dock which turned out to be a camp dock that was apparently closed for the season. We gobbled lunch, then headed out to Braun Bay for some relaxing swim time.

Later, it was time for more tubing. We ended up near where our vacation house on Winnipesaukee is located. Both Andrew and Adam took turns tubing on a very rough patch of the lake. There was lots of bounce and Adam got thrown off the tube when we hit a wake of another boat. Watching their faces grinning with the excitement of the wet ride is what vacation is about with family and friends.

Despite a hearty lunch, the boys were hungry a bit later. We cruised in to Meredith Bay. It’s a lovely town with a great marina area and the Town Docks restaurant which has a couple of docks for drive-up service. We enjoyed a mid-afternoon snack and watched storm clouds pass overhead. There were a few raindrops, but nothing to spoil the day.

The boys were completely wiped out. We headed back to Anchor Marina on Weirs Bearch. The boys got off to head to the car to chill with their I-Pods while Doug and I had a half-hour power date. We wanted to cruise around Governor’s Island which has the most expensive real estate on Winnipesaukee. First, Doug told the marina staff the engine was losing power. That word brought Captain Bob to the dock. He is a character. I don’t know if he’s a captain; I just call him that. He wears a white, Anchor Marina shirt and shorts and has a gold chain with an anchor charm attached. His voice is distinct. He explains all of the safety hazards and basic “ins and outs” of the part of Winnipesaukee that the boat renters will cruise on during their 8-hour rental. Doug, fortunately, is an experienced boater and sailor. I think Captain Bob really appreciated that. He could tell Doug was responsible and not out to “hot dog” and be reckless on the lake. Bad things happen to good people; sometimes those things happen because they think nothing bad can happen to them. Back to the engine power. Captain Bob boarded the boat with us and wanted to “feel” the engine himself. After the staff added a few quarts of oil, the power problem dissipated, but the Captian said the engine was revving too high. No matter; in a few minutes, the Captain was back at the dock while Doug and I continued the power date.

The Governor’s Island properties vary from traditional lakehouse to obscenely huge and completely out of step with the landscape of the lake. The properties cost a minimum of about $5 million into the $20 million range and probably higher. The largest house on Governor’s island is 265′ long. Lord knows how many square feet; I’d guess in the 30,000 range. Obscene. There is a cute play-set in one of the many landscaped areas around the house, so kids or grand-kids can enjoy the place. Of course, the house had several boathouses, an extensive dock and more than your eyes could take in with a “boat-by” glance. Our favorite house was a blue-gray frame, Cape Cod-style house with a screened porch overlooking the lake; a very nice dock and just enough beach to enjoy three seasons a year. Still, that place had to be in the $5-7 million range. Yikes.

After turning in the boat after a long day on the water, we stopped at The Old Country Store in Moultonborough on Routes 25 and 109. It’s a tradition; we stop there almost every visit. I pick up a New Hampshire calendar for the next year; Adam combs through the toys and kid stuff in the back room and Doug plays with the puzzles. Andrew bought a Harley Davidson sign (?). We bumped into a nice couple. Tom is from Medford, NJ now living in Salem, NH. He wanted to know what happened to the racetrack in Cherry Hill; he had heard it burned down years ago, but he had loved the rebuilt sight. No more. All gone. That’s one thing about New Hampshire. There may be new, bigger and obscene houses here and there, but the simple scheme of life here continues. The lake will never change and life around it will be tweaked a little, but I’ll let the lake be my guide whether it’s Ossipee or Winnipesaukee.

Sweet Dreams from Danforth Bay.

Loons, Beavers, Red Squirrels and Nudists (now that I have your attention..)

The magic in the trees of Camp Robin Hood, may never look the same in my mind’s eye after seeing how one group visiting camp spent their leisure time.  More on that later..

Katherine Hepburn stands on the cabin porch “On Golden Pond” crying, “The loons, the loons are welcoming us back” (Or something like that). Once you hear the call of a loon, you have experienced lake-living in New Hampshire. Sometime after five this morning, I heard that solitary call. I heard it just once so far. Loon are solitary birds. Unless they are nesting or training their young, they swim by themselves. Their sleek bodies are longer and flatter than a duck, therefore their bodies are just about below the surface when they swim with their long necks and black beaks showing.  Unlike ducks, they don’t want to come near you for a morsel of food you might toss off the canoe. You just watch; the loons watch you back. Then you move on as do the loon.

Last night after ice cream, Doug heard a rustling in the trees next to our cottage. He also heard something gnawing on the trees. He tried to silently move toward the end of the porch to peer into the black night to see an outline of whatever animal was so close. The noise Doug made bumping a chair spooked the animal which then hustled down the slope and splashed into the dark lake. Doug determined it was a beaver. Across Danforth Bay, there is a small waterway, large enough for a canoe or kayak to maneuver in. Follow that creek and along the way, you’ll see beaver lodges. We’ll make that trip this week.

Right now, I hear a rustling in the trees. A red squirrel with a whNHMonboating_20090817_07ite belly has been very busy this morning. He was chirping and pecking at the trees. Now, he’s chewing something that’s about a third the size of him. It appears he’s chewing the bark off a small limb. OOPS, he dropped it. He’s looking down as if to say, “Aw, crap.” Doug thinks he dropped it intentionally because he’s done with it.NHMonboating_20090817_47

This is boating day on Lake Ossipee. We pick up the 18 foot speed boat at Lakefront Marina this morning. Cousin Barry and Joan from LA joined us for a morning of water skiing (Doug) and tubing (Adam and Andrew) on Lake Ossipee. We decided to pay a visit to Camp Robin Hood and have some lunch. We approached camp’s waterfront on Broad Bay as we have many, many times before. But as we got closer and the people visiting camp for a private event seemed somehow, different. Just as Doug or Barry made note of people in the nude I looked over as a man dove into the lake, au naturale. OK, folks, I’m no prude, but it’s broad (pun intended) daylight. This camp has been in my husband’s family history for decades (1927). The Friedman brothers who founded camp are surely chuckling in their graves today.

Andrew has another "first" experience..tubing

Andrew has another "first" experience..tubing

We got off our boat on the beach at camp and decided to go ahead toward the dining hall for lunch. We wanted to track down some of the camp brass to let them know we were visiting. First, we met a woman who was part of the artistic group that had rented camp for several days. She made a very big deal about US visiting and invited us to join them for lunch. She introduced my husband to the group as a whole, telling them Doug’s grandfather had founded Camp Robin Hood (along with his three brothers). The group applauded. I was mortified. We said hello to the camp owner and a few others we knew, then made our way into the dining hall. The artistic group had a special menu..all vegetarian and vegan. Very interesting, healthy and full of fiber. After a quick walk back to the waterfront, where people were still sunning themselves where the sun don’t shine, we sped away over Broad Bay (really, that’s the name of the bay, not another pun).  I am certain my 15-year-old son and his friend, Andrew will have stories to tell from the open and free way these folks so easily lived for some time. I feel as though I was in a time warp and was in my own little Woodstock. I don’t think I’ll ever see the camp waterfront in quiteNHMonboating_20090817_22 the same way again. By the way, I could have taken photos, but that would have been just wrong.

Our day of the lake was full of splashing, floating, sightseeing and eye-popping spectacles. Another dinner on the grill back at Danforth Bay..amd maybe out for ice cream. It’s oppressively hot, but the sun has set and it will certainly cool off. Sweet dreams from Danforth Bay.