Life seems to slow down from the minute I exit the highway and proceed to enter a watery realm known as “Lake Life.” This is where I can imagine mermaids hiding under cover in the woods near rocky shoals only to come out after sunset to bathe in the moonlight—their tails lazily flipping back and forth.
While I write with considerable hyperbole, I do believe the water gods such as Titan do bless their underwater empires. Just as Ireland is recognized as the land of the leprechaun, so the lake country of New England is singularly blessed by the mingled spirits of its ancestors—the Winnipesauke (also spelled Winnipiseogeein earlier centuries). Translated, it means either “smile of the Great Spirit” or “beautiful water in a high place.”
This is my view during my 4-night sojourn on Black Cat Island and the vista outside every mansion, home or cozy cottage that hugs this lake—a long curtain of fir trees that is embraced by the big mountain range that dips and dulates, under the canvas of wide blue sky.
I want to spend every moment outside so I don’t miss one second of the outdoor drama that is present to anyone who listens to the cry of the loon or the shriek of boat motor. Yesterday I saw a bald eagle fly from Blueberry Mountain to celebrate the 4th of July; this majestic specimen owns this land.
The Sandpiper“Across the lonely beach we flit,
One little sandpiper and I,
And fast I gather, but by bit,
The scattered drift-wood, bleached and dry.
The wild waves reach their hands for it,
The wild wind raves, the tide runs high,
As up and down the beach we flit,
One little sandpiper and I.”—Celia Thaxter
So too will I flit on this vacation. I will watch the courtship of the woodpecker as he brings a meal of suet to the female. I will mourn a dragonfly that lies dead across a manicured lawn, its glimmering wings now stilled. I will throw a sopping wet lime green tennis ball for a golden retriever named Calvin to fetch over and over. To see him jump excitedly into the icy cold lake to retrieve it – over and over – is Pura Vida (DOG).
This is a different type of vacation then spending a week at a boutique hotel in the Caribbean or Europe. This is adults-go-to-camp vacation where you wake up each morning ready to kayak, swim, jog, bicycle or play bingo. And don’t forget happy hour starts at 5 pm promptly at Rick’s Tiki Bar.
And the fun doesn’t stop after the steak BBQ or the lobster clam bake on 4th of July. Each night Captain Rick piles everyone into the boat for a joy ride across the great expanse of Lake Winnipesaukee, which is New Hampshire’s biggest lake. It measures 21 miles long. Its width can span one to nine miles.
But I wasn’t thinking about the Lake Regions’ geography as our boat roared across the lake’s stony grey waters and kicked up a stream of frothy water from the back. I am simply beguiled by a brightly-lit necklace of lights—reflecting ruby, diamond and sapphire—from the windows and terraces of lake homes. Instantly I feel we have glided through the portal of the Great Spirits.
If you haven’t visited Lake Winnipesaukee, you should add it to your summer vacation list. It is less than a 90-minute drive from Manchester International Airport. Cheap flights are guaranteed on Southwest Airlines IF you book early. I have always flown direct from BWI for under $250, but procrastinators will pay double or triple that fare if they stay non-committal until closer to their date of departure.
Must See Places on the Lake
Check out Meredith with its boat traffic jams, dock dining and a chair that will make you look like a kid.
Moultonborough is home to Castle in the Clouds, featuring the historic estate of millionaire shoe manufacturer Thomas Gustave Plant. But it also boasts stables known as Riding in the Clouds. A one-hour trail ride costs $60 and it offers magnificent mountaintop views as well as great trails through the woods.
You definitely want to hike at Red Hill. Although the climb is steep, the reward is ample. You have a panoramic views of the surrounding towns and geography when you climb up the Red Hill Fire Tower.
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