Every year my wife and I take a 2 week summer vacation and we rent a cottage on Lake Ontario and open it up to all of our family and friends. This year was our 18th season of doing such, and though not everyone made it, it was a busy and fun time for us. It is our goal during this 2 week period to not only provide a fun time for all, but to also reconnect with friends & family that we don’t always have the time to do when we’re home.
There was a time when we would have between 20 & 30 people at the cottage all at once, and sometimes as many as 10 or more overnight guests. Now we rarely have that many guests at the same time. They spread their visits out over the 2 weeks which gives us more quality time with each of them.
Needless to say, there is great preparation that goes into such an endeavor, and by the time we have everything loaded into the SUV, there is only room for Kate and I. We would love to bring our dog Chloe, but the cottage owners don’t allow dogs, so off to doggie day care & boarding she goes to catch up with all of her friends! Chloe’s choice for boarding while we’re away is K-9 Kamp. If you have a dog and need either day care and/or boarding, trust me, this is the place to go!
As with most annual events, there are certain foods and traditions that have come to be expected. My wife makes a pasta dish called Rosa Marina, which I only get when we’re at camp, and then I have to share it with everyone!! She also makes a number of other food dishes, but it’s the Rosa Marina that most everyone looks for. And the last few years she started making frozen pudding shooters using various alcohol blends which have become a huge hit with all of the adults. This year she made 5 batches of shooters, which totals approximately 120 individual servings, and there were only a few servings left when it was time for us to leave. All I can say is, “I’m innocent I tell ‘ya!”.
My favorite tradition is the evening trip to the local ice cream stand, known as “The Trolley.” The crew that works there knows and respects my rule that whenever I come in with customers no one is allowed to pay but me. Many people have tried over the years, but the staff has always respected my wishes, and for that I make sure to tip them well! My other rule for The Trolley is that you can order anything you want, in any size that you want, BUT you have to eat all of it! Failure to do so will get your portion downgraded on the next visit, and as one great-niece found out, I don’t forget any infractions of that rule!!
(One of many Trolley visits)
One other tradition we have at camp for our overnight guests is our morning wake-up song. And the official camp wake-up song is Brad Paisley’s “Spaghetti Western Swing” played at full volume!! It seems to work pretty well, thanks Brad!
(Rise & Shine)
While at the lake, there are certain restaurants that are a must visit for Kate and I. Almost every morning we have breakfast at The Cherry Tree Inn in Henderson, love their homefries! The staff there are always friendly & welcoming, especially Colleen & Deb. Full disclaimer though, I have had one complaint over the years, and that is that their prices are too LOW!! Seriously, I don’t know how they do it at their current price points and still put out a quality breakfast, AND turn a profit! And if you have little ones with you, Colleen even has a treasure chest filled with toys that the children are allowed to pick from and take home. Where was this place when I was a child??!!
(Colleen & Deb)
When we leave The Cherry Tree Inn we head straight to Chrissy Beanz bakery in Sackets Harbor for a mocha frappachino (with two straws) and a cinnamon stick. And yes, we do this almost every morning as well! The array of coffees, pastries, cookies and desserts are incredible, and the mocha frapp is just like Starbucks USED to make. We sit at one of the outside tables and watch the world go by as we sip our frozen drink and savor the cinnamon stick. And if you’re able to be there just when the cinnamon sticks come out of the oven, then it is truly your lucky day, as it doesn’t get any better than that! Chrissy Beanz is another small business with great staff, and we would like to thank Luke, Alyssa, Chloe and everyone else for doing such a great job during our visits this year.
(Alyssa & Luke of Chrissy Beanz)
The gentleman that owns Chrissy Beanz cafe also owns the restaurant across the street named Tin Pan Galley. His name is Andrew Hanzlian and he has been doing a stellar job with his restaurants for decades. And to truly enjoy all that Tin Pan Galley has to offer, you have to make sure that you visit for Sunday brunch (awesome Bloody Marys & stuffed French toast), lunch (my favorite is the TPG lobster roll), and dinner (best enjoyed on a warm summer night with live music playing). You see, the restaurant has a huge outside dining patio that resembles an old English garden, and my wife and I have had some magical dinners there over the years and we go back every chance we get. And don’t forget dessert, the creme brulee is Kate’s favorite.
(Myself, Rikki, Kate & Anne-lunch at TPG)
So, if we’re so busy restaurant hopping, what are our friends & family doing to occupy their time, not to mention how are we reconnecting with them? Well, as you will see in some of the upcoming pictures, many of them are with us as we traverse from one eatery to the next. But, while at camp we’re busy playing board games, card games, coloring, swimming, kayaking, sunbathing, and yes, you guessed it, eating!!
(Eating while playing cards)
(Kayaking & swimming)
(Sunbathing 101 – Safety first (SPF 50, shaded area, proper clothing)
(Coloring – with adult beverage duly noted)
(Reconnecting over lunch on the shoreline)
And finally, time spent with great people over wonderful meals at some of the best restaurants you will ever visit –
(UMAK with Meghan at Good Fellos in Sackets Harbor)
(Can anyone say The Trolley?)
(Or how about Chrissy Beanz??)
And then there’s family –
We have vacationed in a number of great places over the years, but the stretch of NYS between Southwick Beach to Sackets Harbor along Lake Ontario is the place we return to on a regular basis. That whole area has great views, small businesses, restaurants, people, recreation activities, and historic places. We hope one day to summer there when we retire, and if not, we still have a host of memories of time spent with family and friends doing what we do best, finding pieces of life’s puzzle. And if you made it to the end of this blog, as you can see, there were a LOT of pieces!!
(Sunset from cottage shoreline)
As always, thank you for reading, and if you visited us at camp, or you’re in this blog, thank you for being a special piece of our life’s puzzle.