Home Again, Home Again

Jiggety Jig. We had a fantastic vacation over the past week, with Marcia, Katelin and I plus two of Katelin’s friends staying up on Lake George in a rented lake front condo with all of the amenities that I care about (air conditioning, views, a swimming pool, a hot tub, a decent kitchen, plenty of space for people to spread out, good maintenance and housekeeping). If you are looking for a rental spot, we can definitely recommend The Quarters at Lake George.

It was a weird vacation for us on some plane, because in the 13 years we have lived here, we have never taken a long (for us) vacation anywhere vaguely close to home. We normally drive to Maine or to Rhode Island, or head South to the Carolinas, or fly to Amelia Island in Florida, or to New Mexico, etc. It was incredibly nice to finish a vacation and only have an hour’s drive to get home.

Lake George (the lake itself, not the town, more on that later) is probably the most beautiful and spectacular lake I have ever seen in the United States, through which I have travelled very, very extensively. (The Lake George Association has a website that nicely focuses on the natural aspects of the lake more than the commercial aspects). We rented a boat for five days, and explored the Lake from South to North, especially enjoying the area from The Narrows north to Ticonderoga. The vistas were stunning, and there were fewer parasailers, jet skis and paddle wheeled tourist boats up there. We did a 12-mile long, excellent hike on the Eastern Shore of the Lake, around the Shelving Rock Road area, including a walk up to the summit of Sleeping Beauty Mountain. (Note that the summer camp that Katelin attends, Camp Chingagchgook, is also on the sparsely populated Eastern Shore).

Such an incredible natural resource that we have visited on the short term numerous times (most often staying at The Sagamore, where we’re actually going again in October for a work conference with Marcia’s firm), but have never considered for a full week’s break. We now know better. We will go back.

Now . . . having said all this, I do have to note (and this will probably generate hate mail of a “you are a snob” variety) that while 95% of the Lake George experience is undeniably breathtaking and beautiful, the 5% of the experience that is not quite so nice is the part that is contained in Lake George Village at the south tip of the Lake. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that grosses me out about the Village (which I won’t link to, because I don’t want to send it any business), other than to note that it is a really skeevy sort of tourist trap town that mars an otherwise exquisite vacation paradise. The only other place that readily springs to mind along the same lines is Gatlinburg, Tennessee, a similar tourist trap blight in the otherwise magnificent Great Smoky Mountains. If skee-ball and wax museums and bars and tacky gee-gaws and magic shops are your thing, then those towns probably can’t be topped. But they sure aren’t mine.

If, however, you do go to Lake George (the Lake, not the Village) and one or more members of your party are the sort of folks who don’t consider it a vacation unless they have a chance to walk around and shop at little gift shops, then skip Lake George Village and go to Bolton Landing instead, about 15 miles north of the Village on the West shore. It does a much better job of mixing commerce with the natural beauty of the Lake and its surroundings, and has a much lower cheesiness factor. There are free public docks (you have to pay for the ones in Lake George Village), so you can boat up, tie off, walk, shop and eat for a couple of hours, then scoot back to your campsite, cabin or condo without feeling like you’ve stepped back into 1970s, pre-casino Atlantic City.

All told, a wonderful vacation. And I do firmly believe that a big part of taking a vacation is that it makes you appreciate your own home even more when you get back. We are having a nice, lazy weekend about the house, feeling very fond of it after a week away. It’s nice to have a wonderful place to go for vacation, and it’s nice to have a wonderful place to come home to when it’s done.

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