A Lake Odyssey: Part 1

Sunrise with a heron out by the boat.

For the past week, The Chad and I spent time with my family up at a house in Seneca Lake, NY. My family totaled 9 people and a baby  – my older brother, his wife, and their 3 month old daughter, my younger brother, my sister, her boyfriend, and my parents. Our house was spacious and we were able to seek refuge when necessary. I’d love to say that it was a blissful and rejuvenating week in the Finger Lakes, but I would be lying. The Chad and I had some memorable bonding experiences, I enjoyed some quality time with my family, and I got to do some awesomely fun activities, but this trip really challenged my self-restraint and certainly tested my patience.

We’ll get to that.


We arrived at our house in the evening, around 5:30. The Chad and I were the “stuff” car. I totally tried to plan and prepare for this trip meal-wise. I had a meal plan written out, supplies identified, and my Vitamix ready to go. I taught my Pedal Power class from 8:45-9:30 on Sunday morning, and we were asked to meet at my parents’ house by 11:30. Having spent the afternoon poolside the day before, my carefully written meal plan was completely forgotten as we scrambled to pack and make our deadline for departure. Luckily, my older brother and his family were the latecomers. Brownie points for me! My mom had a delicious casserole with chicken, kale, and cheese packed up for us to heat up and eat for dinner. One member of our group – let’s call him Sven – needed to have thirds of this meal. Thankfully, there was plenty for Sven to eat his fill.

Now, I created this blog to monitor my progress in my journey towards a healthy lifestyle. I hope any readers will excuse the impending deviations in regular content, because…to be blunt…I need an opportunity to vent a bit. Let’s proceed.


My dad generously rented two SUP boards for the week. I’ve been dying to try a SUP board for a long time…years, really…and went out into the water with my younger brother to give them a try. Typically, the lake is not a place you expect any sort of waves, but when the wind kicks up, it gets choppy on the water and there are even white caps towards the middle of the lake. Anyway, I stood up on the SUP board as if I were on a snowboard (something I’m more familiar with). Turns out, it was the most ineffective stance I could have used. Younger brother explained that I needed to stand up with my feet parallel and get into a squat to balance. My time on the SUP board got so much better after those helpful tips.

Big brother & sister-in-law on the SUP boards
Big brother & sister-in-law on the SUP boards

Breakfast and lunch were prepared and eaten as a group. My dad prepared breakfast sandwiches for the crew, but I opted for a smoothie (a win early in the week! Don’t worry…it goes downhill a bit). Remember Sven? Well, I was an early riser, along with my parents, older brother, sister-in-law, and baby. We’d all be up reading in the living room by 6:30. We’d chat, watch the news, and drink some coffee until breakfast was started around 8. The Chad and younger brother were usually up. As soon as the food hit the table, Sven would emerge from his cocoon. Before anyone could even reach the platter of sandwiches, Sven had two queued up on his plate. Trying out the SUP boards and swimming in the lake was my reprieve from being near Sven. However, as I returned upstairs from the lake for some more light reading and relaxing, I heard Sven mention that he was getting hungry for lunch. At 11:00.

The Chad and I were slated for making supper that evening. Off we went into nearby Penn Yan, where I experienced Aldi for the first (and last) time. Cheap, ready-made foods it has in abundance, healthy, natural foods it does not. We found what we needed and got out as quickly as possible. My parents discovered a Mennonite-run dry goods store that had our remaining ingredients needed. Spaghetti and meatballs!

I made the meatballs with 5 lbs. of meat, seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, shredded parmesan cheese, fresh garlic, dried minced onion, garlic infused salt, and pepper. That’s a lot of meatballs. Over 60, to be exact. The Chad made delicious garlic bread using a cheesy bread we found at the dry goods store, and we had some fresh salad. In addition to regular pasta, I made a bean pasta as an option. All the ladies asked to try out the bean pasta for their meals. As the chefs, The Chad and I dished up everyone’s plates and served them. No sooner had I sat down, that Sven requested seconds. Having made so many meatballs and tons of pasta, shortage of food wasn’t a concern, but the request was delivered more like a command. “I’m ready for seconds.” Well, then. Without offering to bring more for anyone else, Sven lept up and served himself a second huge helping. A third was to follow.

Watching Sven eat such obscene amounts actually made me physically ill. Kind of like watching competitive eating.


Watkins Glen was a 20 minute drive south of our house, so we took the opportunity to explore the gorge in Watkins Glen before tourists began to invade the small town for a NASCAR race on Sunday. Apparently, the small town of 15,000 is jammed with over 100,000 spectators for such races. We did not want to be anywhere near that mob scene.

Watkins Glen
The Chad’s over-the-shoulder action
Awkward selfie-taking
Younger brother surveying the natural wonder

We hiked around a 2 mile path through the gorge and up over 1,000 stairs. After the stairs, there is a rest area on the top of the ridge where a shuttle is available to ride down. A mere $5 per person. The Chad and I decided to hike down with my dad, younger brother, sister, and Sven. Before we left, Sven mentioned he was ready for lunch. I pondered if he would be paying for his next meal. The hike down the gorge was much smoother and easier than the hike up. We were down in 30-40 minutes and met my mom, older brother, sister-in-law, and niece. It was about lunch time, Sven was discussing his hunger, and we had exerted ourselves up and down the gorge, so lunch seemed to be a good decision.

One shop
Lunch locale

We decided to buy a few pizzas to feed our hungry party. Bruschetta and meat pies were ordered, and our appetites grew with the smell of garlic and dough wafting in the air. Sven housed four slices of the twenty-four available, and, according to him…still had room for ice cream.

Some rain and upset stomachs cut our visit around the town short, and we made our way back to the house. Some napping, reading, and SUP boarding took up the remainder of the afternoon. Older brother and sister-in-law took their turn with supper (delicious chicken parm and salad), and pies were available for dessert. Sven promptly took two slices and was prepared for a third. He distracted himself with cookies. Our evening was rounded out with a fire by the lake. It was beginning to get increasingly hard not to tell Sven that eating was not intended to be a major event three times a day.

To be continued…


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