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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Recreation Vacation

After our trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame (see the prior post), we went to an all-inclusive resort in upstate New York. The kids took a golf lesson. We putted on a practice putting green, boated (I was a disaster rowing a row boat, a fact that the kids will never let go of), hiked, did arts and crafts, swam, worked out, played ping pong and foosball, played games, watched movies, swam, shot baskets and fished. And, yes, we ate great food but are happy to report that the activities were good enough to enable the adults not to gain weight.

I highly recommend this type of vacation because you travel to close to the middle of nowhere, where the air is clean, the views are great, the temperatures and humidity are moderate, and the accommodations are so vast that you can get lost in the place and have all the privacy you want. You seldom see the same group twice, and families come to these sorts of places with three and four generations represented -- and for years. They're not cheap, mind you, but the sense of getting away and having plenty to do while you're away is invigorating.

We had lots of fun, and outside of the boating debacle (no, I didn't capsize the boat, but I got frustrated with my kids, who were more concerned, I thought, about my embarrasing them by going in circles than anything else and can laugh along with them now at how silly we must have looked) had a great time. Several activities stand out, so here are the highlights:

1. While we liberated my wife to go on a hike without us on the first day, the kids and I fished alongside a vast lake. We decided (smartly) not to fish from a boat, given the prior day's retrospectively humorous fiasco (the kids have vowed not to go on a boat with me again unless someone else is doing the driving/rowing). So, we took a few fishing rods (spin casters), bought some live bait (earth worms) and repaired to some rocks about a quarter mile or so away from the main house.

And we were all-stars. No one near us caught as much as a cold, but my son started off with a small sunfish. My daughter followed with a few bluegills, and then my daughter caught a bass. When my daughter repaired to the dock to replace her hook (we didn't have a tackle box, and she also displayed a talent for snagging the bottom and getting her line snared), my son caught a trout. A ten-inch trout on a light test line, which was enough of a challenge that I had to reel the fish in. After about 1 hour and 45 minutes, we had caught 9 fish, mostly sunnies, a bass or two, and the trout. Because no fish exceeded 16 inches, we released each fish (had we caught one 16 inches or longer, we could have had it for dinner).

The kids casted away, while I served as the guide and baited each and every hook. I started out by cutting the worms in half, but then something clicked that I needed to put a full worm on each hook. That turned out to be a wise move, and the fish responded accordingly.

There was a large family nearby that fished only several yards from us -- they caught nothing but seaweed.

(The next day was a different story. While my daughter did hear the man at the dock telling a family that a family had caught 9 fish the day before -- that had to be us -- we only caught one fish in about an hour and a half -- a large-mouth bass that my daughter reeled in. Otherwise, we excelled at snagging our hooks on the bottom, fighting losing battles with big fish from a different spot, and catching seaweed. In fairness, we did as well as another family -- which caught only one fish that same day -- and better than most others. Afterwards, the man at the dock told us that late spring was the best time to fish because the proprietors stocked the lake at that time. Still, the kids realized what a good day they had on our first day of fishing!).

2. We all had fun at the pool, an indoor facility that was built about three years earlier to offer more alternatives to families in cold-weather months. Afternoon swims were a great way to cool off after mornings and early afternoons of outdoor activities.

3. Lastly, I had a great hike with my eight year-old son at the end of our trip. He's into playing team sports and video games and having play dates, and appreciating the outdoors and good scenery are relatively new to him (at his age, he wants action more than anything else). He wanted to mountain bike and rock climb, only to learn that he was too young to participate, learning from experience the many institutions' risk management departments or advisors run the universe (or their fear of tort lawyers who advertise on highway billboards controls their actions to some degree). So, we opted for a leisurely walk along a trail around the lake, no more than a couple of miles (if that), watching the boaters and fishermen, spotting various critters and enjoying the sunshine. We talked about his camp, his friends and his school. It wasn't forced, it was, well, natural. As it should be.

(My wife had a similar hike the night before with our daughter, and, while they bonded, the guide didn't have a flashlight, a cold front had come in, and the walk was more nervewracking than it was full of warmth and, yes, light).

Escaping from it all in a world of television and wireless communications is no easy trick. But if you dare to go to a reasonably remote location and turn off the communications, you can decompress quickly and thoroughly.

We can't wait to go back.


Anonymous Nancy said...

I too love to travel & visit beautiful places during my vacations.

5:17 AM  

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