My Happy Place

We all have places in this world that, for whatever reason, speak to us.  Or we think they reflect something about us – by being here I am showing the world (fill in the blank).  There are many places where I’ve lived or just visited that move me and make me feel so comfortable that they are hard to leave.  For me the feeling is related to the natural features of the place, more so than anything else, like social interactions, activities, etc.

The first time I experienced this with a location was when I arrived at college as a freshman in a beautiful corner of the Catskill Mountains of New York.  It wasn’t more than a couple of days there that I realized that something was ‘wrong’ with the place.  What was ‘wrong’ was the I couldn’t see water.  More accurately, I couldn’t see a lake on a daily basis like I had taken for granted in my home town on Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  I was surrounded by beautifully forested hills and trout streams running everywhere but the absence of a large body of water that was visible daily just seemed wrong.

A similar sensation occurred when I was 21 and working as a ski bum at a small lodge near Rutland, VT.  My family had been taking week-long ski vacations there for several winters and stayed at this lodge, so of course, it was a special place.  However, the day in May that I had to leave to return home to start my summer job was the first time I felt that tug.  I looked in my rear view mirror as I dove away from the lodge toward Rutland and had a great view of the surrounding Green Mountains.  I was instantly overtaken by the feeling that this was ‘home’ and I was going away, rather than the reality of the reverse.

Maybe it is the familiarity of a place that develops when a routine is established.  The routine of a Vermont ski bum is get up early, wash dishes, make beds, whatever your morning duties are, then off to the mountain in mid-morning to throw yourself gleefully down the trails until you must return for the evening chores of entertaining guest, serving dinner, etc. – repeat.  At 21 this is a very easy routine to immerse yourself in for 5 or 6 months.  I don’t know but that pull of the mountains fading in my rear view was powerful.

Well, in my late middle age I found a new “happy place” and, of course, have already left it – hopefully not as permanently as I left Vermont.   To me this place is a little slice of heaven near the shores of Canandaigua Lake and all about stepping out of the daily grind to reflect.  It is so peaceful yet not remote from others – not at all.  It is actually a summer trailer park populated, primarily, by snowbirds from Florida.  Mostly former New Yorkers who moved to Florida in retirement but couldn’t stay away for many reasons.

How we found our way here is not a particularly interesting story but let’s just say serendipitously.  Darryl and I took to the place immediately after moving in our 5th-wheel camper next door to my parent’s travel trailer.  By the second season we had bought the park model trailer across the drive from us.

This was the year Darryl had moved to Florida and I was selling the house.  We didn’t plan on moving very much to Florida so this humble abode became full very fast and had one of the best equipped kitchens in the park.  The shed out back now held all the tools I’d collected over the years plus what gardening and camping gear we had left.  I think I managed to decorate the joint relatively well.
Of course since then Darryl and my sister, Bev have totally redecorated but initially it was comfortable for me and was my home after selling the house.  The drives home from Rochester after my last few gigs with Midnight Groove were grueling 2 hour journeys at 3 AM but the sleep at camp was sublime and the neighbors knew enough not to bother me the day after.  Those few weeks I spent there in the summer of ’06 were filled with swimming, fishing, strolls to the lake and sitting around the many campfires.

Beverly (sister) and Rob (brother-in-law)

Darryl, of course

Stub and Jean – taught me the love of campfires, among other life lessons
I was able to spend most of the summer of ’08 at Camp while doing environmental audits around NY, PA and NJ.  Much of this summer I shared the trailer with my brother-in-law Jeff who worked at the other end of the lake but lived 2+ hours away.  He would show up Monday after work then head home after work on Friday.  We had a blast together and I think he fell in love with the place too.  
I was able to manage a few days there in ’09 just before the move the Washington.  It isn’t clear how much we will be able to enjoy the place now that we live 3000 miles away but my family will keep if filled with laughter and keep the campfire well maintained.  Here are some random shots from around the place.

 Rob shuckin’ corn
Bev makes the burger – I am the Grill Master.

Jim Barnett

My buddy, Dick

Man with the bottle – Marty (park owner) and party thrower

Darryl and Megan enjoy the view of Canandaigua Lake

The Oak Tree

My summer office in ’08

Chairs in the background are where I’d go to think – OK, take a nap.
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2 thoughts on “My Happy Place

  1. The photos of the brazier and camp chairs remind me of when Lisa and I spent part of an evening there in 2006. It didn't rain, which was a change from several previous nights. The red wine was quite good. The company was excellent. But my photos were bad. Somwhere in the bowels of my archives are a couple of badly-executed frames from that night (new camera with operator problems).

  2. Steve, in your next incarnation you should be a professional writer.You have such a way with words and ideas, spiced with a quirky Zen vibe.The things we take advantage of and come to know as ordinary, find their way into your musings and spill out to be extrodinary! I think we (each of your friends and followers) find that we become a bit more special because of you.

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