August 10, 2021

Lake Time!

Yet another housekeeping update (so sorry!):  Anyone who subscribes to posts via email may have received two emails for the most recent post I published.  I had transitioned to FollowIt for email subscriptions, but Feedburner has continued to deliver posts even though Google indicated that it would stop doing that in July.  Now, they say August.  I wish they had just announced a specific date and stuck with it.  Since I don’t want all of you to continue receiving two email notifications for each new post, I deleted my Feedburner option.  You should receive notifications only via FollowIt from now on.  I do empathize with those of you who preferred the format of the Feedburner email notifications.  Truthfully, I much preferred the Feedburner format, too, since it allowed you to read a little bit of the post and decide whether or not you wanted to continue on to the blog for the rest of it.  However, FollowIt’s only options are (1) title only (which is how you received the last post) or (2) the entire article (which is how you should have received this one, assuming I made the correct adjustments).  Even though you may receive the complete text of the post, you’ll still need to click through to view the photos or access other features of the blog.  I know it’s not perfect, but it is what it is.  My apologies to all for the annoyance this transition may have caused.  If you’re not annoyed by this, no worries.  I’m annoyed enough for all of us.  Now, on to the good stuff.  Or, at least, the better than this stuff . . .

Didja miss me?  Our family just recently returned from our annual camping expedition to Northampton Beach Campground on Great Lake Sacandaga in central New York.  I know you’re probably tired of me talking about “the lake” as it’s known in our family but, well, I just can’t help myself.  Not only is the lake, itself, gorgeous, but the campground is full of large and beautifully wooded sites.  Our trip this year, though, was a little bittersweet because it was the first year in the thirteen we’ve been making a pilgrimage to Sacandaga that one of our kids didn’t make it at all.  As a result, I spent quite a bit of time this year reflecting on our experiences at Great Lake Sacandaga and the family memories we’ve collected over the years.  So, this post really is more about matters of the heart, than an actual documentation of our camping trip.  The photos included in the post span several years' worth of visits.

We first camped at Northampton Beach in the summer of 2009.  Our son, Ryan, was 15 and our daughter, Kyra, was 10.  I only managed to reserve a few nights on a waterfront site and I was thrilled to have snagged those.  The campground was pretty well booked and open sites were few and far between.  But those few nights were all it took for us to realize what a special place we had found.  In fact, this was the first vacation spot our family truly wanted to return to every year.  And so we did.  And still do.

At some point, Ryan’s longtime girlfriend, Anya, began joining us on our annual trip.  We’ve always considered Anya a “bonus kid,” but next summer she’ll become a daughter-in-law, as well.  Since Ryan and Anya are now the current owners of our first and former travel trailer, we’re already talking about booking two sites nearby for next year’s visit.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes my heart to know the family tradition of camping on Great Lake Sacandaga that began all those years ago will be carried on by the next generation.

It was Kyra who was unable to join us this summer.  Until this year, even if she couldn’t stay for an extended period of time due to work commitments, she would at least make an appearance so that we were all together at the lake, no matter how briefly.  This year, our vacation time coincided with the week that the barber shop in which she works closed for summer vacation – a vacation that the staff plans and enjoys together.  Kyra and a friend joined “the barber boys” and their families in Atlantic City and, as they say, a good time was had by all.  Well, by all of them, not by all of us, because we missed her.  During the second week, when Kyra might have been able to join us at the lake, the weather didn’t cooperate enough to make the drive worthwhile for her.  Maybe that’s just life’s way of lessening the pain of watching your kids age out of traveling with you.  Sigh.

Anya, Ryan & Kyra at the lake together in 2018

Before I go down that road and require an entire box of tissues to stem the flow of tears, let me get back to my reflections.  Most of them weren’t even around the campfire, but a lot of them did occur while I was ensconced in my comfy camp chair simply watching the world go by.

Family camping can mean different things to different people but, for this family, it means morning coffee outdoors, splitting up camp chores, plenty of outdoor and water activities, big breakfasts around a campfire, lots of teasing and laughter, numerous trips to the local ice cream stand and tons of fun all around.

Our current rig is a 32’ travel trailer made by Outdoors RV Manufacturing in eastern Oregon.  Alan and I love the recliners that take advantage of the big back window, but the trailer also has the extra sleeping space that allows our kids to join us whenever they want.  In case you’re wondering if that’s really an advantage, please know that one of our priorities when choosing this rig was the option to house those very special guests.  Our family gets along well and we truly enjoy spending time with one another.  I’m not saying that we haven’t had fun at a luxury beachfront resort; I am saying that camping provides us with the perfect combination of family time and outdoor activities, and optimizes our time both with each other and in the great outdoors. 

One morning, I glanced out the back window of the trailer to see Ryan and Alan sitting side by side in their camp chairs watching the activity at the boat launch.  Ryan and Anya both work demanding full-time jobs and, as new homeowners, they’re often working on their list of projects every weekend.  To see father and son enjoying quiet conversation and the morning’s activity at the launch really was priceless.

A glance at our campfire often brings back memories of those prized marshmallows toasted to golden perfection – and others roasted beyond recognition.  Every marshmallow brings a smile (I’m pretty sure that’s their purpose in life) and, in our family, Kyra holds the title “Queen of the Toasted Marshmallow.”  In her absence, Anya and I managed a pretty good showing.  Sadly, the evidence didn’t last long enough for photos.

A photo I wish I did have is of Anya and me, both sitting at the picnic table, both with our noses buried in our books.  But I don’t really need a picture to remember that perfect example of quiet enjoyment.  Anya and I are avid readers; our guys are not.  While reading is a real pleasure for the two of us, what makes me happy about this scene is that we not only understand each other’s “need to read,” but we’re so totally comfortable in our relationship that we don't feel awkward about checking out of the conversation and simply reading while in each other’s company.  She’s a gem, that one.  Can’t wait for the wedding.

Kyra and Anya - another pic from 2018

Looking over toward the picnic table, I see Whiskey, Ryan and Anya’s dog, watching life in the campground go on around her.  She grew up into a good camping dog, and doesn’t complain when “Mom and Dad” leave her behind with “Nana and Pop” to take their jet ski or kayaks out on the lake.  Canine companionship used to be one of the blessings of our camping trips.  Now that Alan and I no longer have a dog, we get to enjoy the benefits of one when Whiskey comes camping with us.

Our sweet Whiskey girl

Our bikes are parked at the back of the trailer, and they’re employed on a regular basis to take trash to the recycle center, check to see how full the campground is getting or tour the lakefront sections of the campground to see if rising water has chased anyone from their site.  Northampton Beach Campground is large and flat, so biking is a pleasure for cycling wimps like me.  Bike trails in the area, including the Erie Canalway Trail, always entice us to get out and explore and, in my mind’s eye, I see still see our first biking adventure on the Canalway with the kids.  I also recall watching a pleasure boat navigate a lock and stopping for a break at a particularly friendly town along the trail on later visits.  Never once have we regretted buying or packing the equipment we use when we’re camping.  It allows us to explore a variety of places in an assortment of ways, creating cherished memories as we go.

Alan checks out the water level

Halfway between the trailer and the lakeshore, our kayaks lay ready and waiting to take us on an adventure in the inlet or out into the main part of the lake to view the mountains and explore the shoreline.  Both motorized and non-motorized boats are popular on this lake, but our kayaks allow us to access places our power boat can’t go.  One day on this recent trip, Alan saw a large bird land in a tree near the very end of the inlet.  For nearly twenty minutes we just sat quietly in our kayaks watching the bird and working on identifying what it might be.  (Birders we are not, but we’re pretty sure it was a type of heron.)  Kayaking is an outdoor activity that easily matches whatever mood we happen to be in.  That afternoon, our excursion was more of a contemplative, slow-paced paddle that allowed us to alternately drift and paddle at a peaceful pace.  At other times, we’ve paddled hard to reach an island in the lake, pushing ourselves to go the distance.  The kayaks take us where we want to go, at a pace we choose.  They’re always with us at the lake, even when we bring the power boat, because they provide yet one more way to enjoy the natural world.

Speaking of the boat, boating is Alan’s passion and the boat was anchored at our campsite for much of this year’s visit.  Alan loves being out on the water, and he really likes this 29 mile-long reservoir known as Great Lake Sacandaga.  As I listen to the water lapping against the sides of the boat, I’m reminded of family cruises up and down the lake, boating to a lakefront restaurant for lunch and waterskiing amid the diamonds scattered across the lake by the sunlight.  When I look at the boat, I see all these things and my heart does a happy dance knowing just how much we all enjoy being out on the water and recalling the delightful times we’ve shared there.     

The man and his boat

As I look around our campsite, I have to grin.  Last year, my inner child convinced me to purchase two large swan floats for our summer trip to the lake.  We had such a good time with them that this year I added a bright red crab to the flotilla.  There are no young kids in our family.  The youngest of us is 22 – and she wasn’t even at the lake this year.  The oldest, well, let’s just say that he’s a number decades older than 22.  Did that stop us from acting like kids, being silly and having a grand old time?  Not at all.  Every time I see those floats, I laugh and offer a silent toast to the happy sounds of kids (of all ages) at play and money well spent.

Examine a photo of any campsite, and I’ll bet that you can easily figure out the makeup and preferences of the campers staying there.  Pickup trucks full of firewood, four small bikes scattered about the site, a dozen beach towels drying on an RV’s ladder or awning, a bag of empty beer bottles – all are clues to how particular people enjoy the outdoors.   At our campsite at the lake, the boat and bikes, kayaks and floats are evidence of our family’s favorite activities.  Whether it’s just Alan and me or the whole fam damily, camping treats us to fresh air and fun times, magnificent vistas and hours upon hours of pleasure in nature’s playground.

When we’re at the lake, we’re on “Lake Time.”  Life’s hectic pace slows, and work commitments and household responsibilities fade into the background to be dealt with at a later date.  The lake is a place where simplicity reigns, fun-filled adventure is a priority and we can enjoy each other’s company without distraction.  The lake is, indeed, my happy place.  



  1. Hi Mary...if we EVER travel again, "camping," I want a third spot right next to you and Ryan's spot. That lake looks awesome, and I'm bringing a hammock, and a good book too. I probably would sleep more than read, but I guess that's OK too! Loved your pictures by the way. Thanks!

    1. We would LOVE to have you camp next to us! Then we would have three people in our book club. I'll bet Tom and Alan would be out on the boat ALL THE TIME! The lake is just the relaxing kind of place the two of you would enjoy!

  2. Mary,
    I'm not annoyed. I Google Mapped your Lake and, even though it's about 900 miles from me, I was ready to go. Looks lovely and I can see why you return every year. Your photos are great and I got a big chuckle out of the crab. Soon you and Alan will have grandchildren to take with you even if the kids have to miss a year or two. Have a great weekend. Joe

    1. Joe, I have a feeling that Sacandaga is to us what your favorite campground on the creek in North Carolina is to you and Helen. I truly believe that the two of you would enjoy passing time on the shore of the lake taking in all the sights. I have to admit that sharing "lake time" with a third generation of our family paints a beautiful picture in my mind. As for that crab, he's just too cute. I smile every time I think of him. And I felt really bad deflating him and stuffing him back in his box for the trip home!

  3. Having a beautiful and loving family is such a blessing. The good times seem like they will never end--and they won't, because you have recorded them so beautifully for the memories.

    1. Mike, I count my blessings every day and try never to take them for granted. Reminiscing allows me to enjoy the good times over and over again - something I do often and with great pleasure!

  4. Thanks for resuming your postings. Its always great to see your travels, as they motivate us to get out as well. Just got back from backpacking the White Mountains in New Hampshire - kicked my butt!

    1. Good for you, Kevin, and bonus points if you were out last week when the temps in parts of the northeast were oppressive and accompanied by heat advisories. We just got back from a camping trip to Lake Champlain and it was the heat, not the mountains, that kicked our butts. Thank heaven for ice cream! We did bike the Marble Causeway in Colchester, Vermont, which shot to the top of the list of my all time favorite bike trails. Thanks for your kind words and for taking the time to comment. Make the best of the rest of your summer!


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