July 24 – July 27, 2016
We recently got back from a nice vacation in the Adirondack Mountains. Adirondack Park is approximately six million acres (which is larger than any National Park in the lower 48). There are over 3,000 lakes and 30,000 miles of rivers and streams. There are also over 100 towns and villages within the region, making it an interesting mix of private and public land.
Several months ago we started looking for a place to vacation with some friends and their kids. We wanted to rent a house somewhere, but we needed one big enough to accommodate a large group. We also wanted one that we could use for a few days instead of a full week since there would be several kids. We browsed the internet for houses in a few different areas of New York. There were options in the Finger Lakes and the Thousand Islands, but we eventually decided on one in the Adirondacks. We had to increase our budget to find one we all liked, but I think we would all agree it was worth it.
Ashley and I were especially dreading the long drive. It was supposed to take about six and a half hours. Ashley’s parents bought a van the day before we left for the trip and generously offered it to us for our drive. That was a huge help, because it gave us a lot more room and it had a DVD player, which meant the kids could watch cartoons. It ended up taking us more than seven hours to get to the house since we made a few stops along the way. The kids got restless and needed to get out a couple of times and we stopped for lunch and gas, too. All told, the drive there went better than I expected it would.
We were the last ones to arrive at our temporary home in the mountains. We stayed at The Lodge at Fern Lake. The house was enormous and extremely nice. It has five bedrooms, an additional bunk room, and four full bathrooms. There is a huge gourmet kitchen with two sinks, two dishwashers, and an 8-burner stove. A giant stone fireplace and an A-frame wall of windows are showcased in the great room of the 5,000 square foot home. There is a large wraparound deck and a big fire pit outside. Oh, and there is also a nice game room in the basement with a pool table and foosball table.
I’m glad the house was so nice since it was basically in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully we brought a ton of food, since there was no grocery store nearby. There were three families of two parents and two kids each, in addition to two other friends. So, there were a total of eight adults and six kids. Our daughter Charlotte was the youngest of the kids (14 months) and the oldest was just shy of turning five years old.
The place is private, which was nice but the best thing about the house is its access to Fern Lake. There is a trail near the house that leads to a small lakeside beach, which is actually the only beach on the lake. The only problem is it requires a ten-minute hike to get to it. That really wasn’t too bad, but it was a pain bringing the kids and all our supplies down to the beach.
We spent most of our time on the beach and in the water, so we got a little creative. We had a total of six kayaks (we brought four and two were already at the house) at our disposal. We thought it would be too difficult to bring the kayaks down the trail to the beach, so we transported them to a boat ramp on the other side of the lake. From there a few of us paddled the kayaks and most of our supplies to the beach on the opposite side of the lake. I helped bring the kids and some supplies down to the beach both days and then kayaked back to the other side of the lake when we were done for the day.
The kids all had fun walking in the shallow water and playing on the beach with sand toys we brought. The adults also enjoyed the beach and the water, and it was certainly easier for us to have fun when the kids were happy there. I liked throwing the Frisbee around with the guys and swimming in the water. I had a sore back when we arrived at the house, but swimming helped a lot.
I really enjoyed kayaking in the lake. I have a kayak, but have rarely gotten out on the water over the past few years. Ashley tried kayaking for a little bit, too, and liked it. So, now I’m thinking next summer when my lease is up I may have to get a pickup truck so it’s easy to transport our kayaks. We both towed Noah behind the kayak in a big inner tube for a little bit. He enjoyed that, but he didn’t want to sit in the kayak with either of us. The water was smooth and glassy the first day and very easy to paddle on. The next day, however, was very windy and when we kayaked back across the lake at the end of the day the wind was in our face. That was tough.
When we weren’t down at the lake, we were generally relaxing up at our spacious house. We brought along our small bounce house, which was a hit with the kids. Otherwise they played with the few toys we brought, played in the kayaks, or climbed on a small boulder. Noah actually fell off a rock wall, but I was thankfully watching closely and caught him. The kids were no longer allowed to walk on the rock wall after that.
The fourteen of us enjoyed some nice big family style meals together. I also liked relaxing on the huge deck. I am proud to say we took a vacation from TV, too. We didn’t watch any TV during our three-night vacation.
Night time at the house was one of my favorite times. We had a large fire in the fire pit each night. There’s something mesmerizing and magical to me about staring into a fire. The sight, smell, and sounds of a fire combine to make it so great. Campfires have always been one of my favorite things about camping in many of the country’s National Parks. I miss relaxing by the fire with a couple of cold ones. Noah joined me at the fire a couple of times before going to bed. He seemed to like it, too.
A bonus about being in such a private location was the lack of light in the area. There were tons of stars spread out across the sky at night. The first night’s sky reminded me of a couple of star-filled skies I enjoyed years ago while camping in a few different National Parks. I had to make a very difficult decision; do I stare into the fire or look to the sky? Thankfully, it was a win-win.
Ashley, the kids, and I made the half-hour drive to Lake Placid for a couple hours one day. We absolutely loved it there and plan on returning… but I’ll write more about that another time.
We had a great time in the Adirondacks on our first “Friendscation.” We’ve already started looking at vacation rentals and brainstorming where our next getaway will be. Here’s hoping it’s closer to a two-hour drive than a seven-hour drive.