A Lake Odyssey: Part 2

If you’re just tuning in, this is the second part to my family’s vacation up to Seneca Lake. I attempted to eat well, stay active, and rejuvenate. Along came Sven. Sven kind of sucked.


Hanging around!
Hanging around!

It was a rather overcast and cool day – to be honest, every day was a bit cooler. The daytime temperatures lingered in the 70s, reaching the low 80s occasionally. I decided to read Go Set A Watchman, the new Harper Lee novel (and sequel of To Kill A Mockingbird). With such a dreary day, I really plowed through it. It’s been a while since I’ve had the luxury of sitting without any agenda and just read for a few hours. We also had a visit from my Aunt Bev, her daughter Deb, Deb’s husband Mark, and their children: Lillian, Phoebe, and Ezra. They splashed and played in the lake (it was a little cool for me), but we had a great time chatting and catching up. Deb and her family were visiting Bev in Ithaca, which happened to be nearby.

In another memorable Sven moment, as Deb and her children were playing on the SUP boards in the lake, Sven walked out with a life jacket on and announced that he would like to use the SUP board. That was a real crowd pleaser. Thankfully, the situation was handled quickly and sternly, and the kids were able to enjoy the water a while longer.

My dad grilled some burgers, and we enjoyed a large(r) gathering for supper. The Chad and I ate outside with my brother and sister-in-law since the dining room table was not quite large enough to accommodate our group. It was so wonderful to see some family – we used to see them each summer for a trip down to Emerald Isle, NC. After my dad’s sister’s death five years ago, we stopped the tradition. I just loved having a little piece of that precious quality time with my family again.


My sister-in-law and I decided to do a PiYo DVD to start off our day. My mom and brother watched and laughed at us attempt the push-ups and modified burpees (The Chad later verified that he heard “WWE sounds from above”…whoops). We did a 36 minute workout called “Sweat” through the Chalene Johnson (Beachbody) DVDs. Sweat, we did! My lovely sister-in-law also decided to try one of my smoothie concoctions to start off her morning. Of course, I forgot my kefir at home (d’oh!), but I used Greek yogurt in its place. She really loved the flavor and said it filled her up.

The Chad and I took a long ride out on the canoe, and enjoyed the peace of the lake. I was surprised at how serene the lake was – very few boats and fishermen.

After such a productive morning, wine tasting sounded like a great way to round out the day!


Pompous Ass Winery
Pompous Ass Winery
Guess where we are?
Guess where we are?
My sweet niece-y baby :)
My sweet niece-y baby 🙂
Scoping out the selection…
Torrey Ridge Winery
Torrey Ridge Winery
How awesome!
How awesome!

Apparently, we left a little late in the day. Most wineries close at 5, and we began our journey around 3: 0. By the time we were heading to our third winery, it was around 4:45. We were turned away from two wineries before we came upon Torrey Ridge, who graciously invited us in for a tasting as their final group. We discovered the one worker was a Lehigh Valley native (and even knew people I had worked with!) and her husband was a Temple University alumni.

Another fun anecdote: The Chad and I bought two bottles of delicious blueberry wine, with the intent of giving one to The Chad’s parents as part of a gift for watching Frankie and keeping the other for ourselves to enjoy at home (back in PA). We overheard Sven say, “Oh, Maddie and Chad bought two bottles of that blueberry wine, we don’t need to buy any.”

That was an interesting thought, Sven.

In a twisted turn of events, Sven and my sister were responsible for supper. After promptly taking a nap after our winery trip, they decided to take the canoe out. You know, somewhere around 6:30 p.m. They planned on taking around an hour to make supper. Which would mean we were looking at a meal to be served around 9:00. Delightful. My older brother was kind enough to show them their error in time management, and convinced them that the following morning might be a more opportune time to go out in the canoe.

As I type this, I recognize the amount of time I’ve spent mentioning Sven’s antics. I’ll reiterate – the entries about my vacation are a little more about documenting my time, rather than my typical goals. I promise, I really did try to exercise restraint and patience…

Two sausage links, kale, and chickpeas in a pot with flatbread as a side does not a meal for nine people make. And that’s all I’ll say about that.


More reading! I was working on a second book, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, which, despite the title, was a very sweet story. More time out on the canoe – The Chad and I went over halfway across the lake, and had to fight some nasty current and waves on the way back. It felt like it took us three times longer to get home, and my arms were FEELING it!

My family decided to go into nearby Geneva for a local night out on the town that promised independent vendors and music on the streets and in various restaurants and stores until 9:00 at night. We wandered around the town, getting a feel for our surroundings…

Found a playground...
Found a playground…
And climbed up!
And climbed up!
Younger brother scurries up.
Younger brother scurries up.

Besides this awesome playground and enjoying the lakefront, Geneva reflected what we see a lot in our communities – some businesses and restaurants thriving, and other storefronts deserted and up for sale. Despite following a map for that evening’s events, we were disappointed when we discovered that no musical acts were taking place at the time or location they were specified. Somewhat defeated, we stopped into a bar for a quick drink. Well, Sven wanted a meal. My mom explained that we were only stopping for a drink and some appetizers to share. A few soft pretzels, beef on weck sandwiches, and drinks later, we made our way to a record store. The Chad was in heaven, and my whole family enjoyed looking at physical albums and CDs. Sure beats shopping on iTunes.

Dinner was had at the Dresden Hotel – a small place on the way back to our house. The food took a while (around an hour)…and we were among the only patrons in the restaurant…but I loved meal of shrimp sauteed with garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. Very, very tasty.


We made it to our last full day at the lake, and it happened to be my older brother’s birthday. Most of the day was spent relaxing and reading. I tried to enjoy some of the sunshine by laying out on the dock, but the sun quickly hid behind some clouds and it became too cool for me to justify being out in a bikini.

Fast forward to dinner, where my mom made shrimp with a quinoa blend and veggies. We sang to my brother and enjoyed some ice cream cake. It was very peaceful, and a nice way to wrap up our trip.


I wish I could say this was an early morning, but I woke up around my usual 6:00 a.m. and began to pack. Our check out time was 10:00 and we needed to get on the road to avoid traffic going into Watkins Glen for the NASCAR race. The Chad wasn’t in bed much longer before he began to gather his things and help get our car ready for departure. As I’m packing our suitcase and making sure we have all our clothes, I notice that we’re missing a beach towel. I ran down the stairs and up the stairs a few times, asking those awake if they had seen this towel. My mom had already packed up other beach towels, but mine was nowhere to be found. Sometime after 7, Sven strolled upstairs (in midst of the packing frenzy) with two towels in his hands. He said, “I have some towels.” One, I recognized, was mine. And they were both wet from the evening before. “Great,” I said, and ran the towels downstairs to the dryer. Awesome. Then…as he’s watching The Chad, my brothers, and my dad take things out to the car, Sven asks, “Are we officially packing now?”

I wish I were making this up.

More hustle, more bustle. Sven palms the bottles of wine he purchased. “How will we transport the wine?” he inquires.

“Bend over,” I murmur to my mother. She laughs. I come up with a gem now and then.

My much-more-patient-but-quickly-losing-patience older brother explains that whosoever buyeth the wine is responsible for the packing of the wine and ensuring it finds its way home safely.

Despite the…interesting…packing techniques encountered, we were out of the house and on the road by 8:30. We opted to go north and drive on the east side back south to the Lehigh Valley in order to avoid the traffic by Watkins Glen. As we approached the border into Pennsylvania, we stopped at a little diner on the side of the road.

Anyone else hear banjos?
Anyone else hear banjos?

I wasn’t that desperate to eat, but I can imagine someone who was…

So we stopped. We ate. Besides the frozen spinach and broccoli and canned mushrooms in my omelette, it was pretty good. I liked having coffee. I also liked leaving this place and getting home.

I loved having the SUP boards at the lake. I’m kind of in love with it. I also loved spending time with my family and The Chad without the distractions of everyday life. I feel like we had some valuable conversations and bonding experiences, and I find it more meaningful as an adult despite my happy memories from childhood. How I deal with Sven in the future has yet to be determined. Clearly, we have a major difference of opinion in terms of common courtesy, and the reason I harp on it is because it affects everyone in my family. Sven hasn’t realized that, I think. He (somehow) cannot see how his actions may be perceived as rude and/or disgusting and/or inappropriate.

But, I suppose my journey towards a healthy lifestyle is not limited to the physical terms.


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