If I live on a lake, do I really need to vacation at a different one?, I wonder as the Brawny Sherpa, the Bonus Adventurers, and I jump into the car and head north toward Lake George, N.Y. I laughed when a Manhattan-based editor asked me whether, as a resident of a more rural part of Westchester County, I ever take vacation. I do. I used to wonder something similar about people who live in Florida. Do they ever even need to go on holiday? If they do, do they limit themselves to more northern climes?
Still, I question the idea of visiting another lake in my home state. It’s not as if we are heading to the Italian lake region, where just the idea of dipping my feet into Lake Maggiore or Lake Garda could compel inspire me to hop on a plane. I’m not visiting one of the Great Lakes that are sort of ocean-like in their vastness. I live on a lake; I visit a lake. What will I do on this new lake that I don’t already do at home?
Escape, of course. Leave email and chores and neighbors’ complaints far behind. At Lake George, we stay in a motel, play miniature golf, visit an amusement park, ride the Minne Ha-Ha as I dream of the 1940s and ’50s. This is a resort town of the past, with motel after motel after motel, and small cabins, and multiple amusement parks, and tour boats. I imagine family vacations of my forebears, of my grandparents who honeymooned in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., following a road trip from New Jersey.
The new lake is larger, clearer, better maintained. The Village of Lake George is more crowded than the small town I live in; it has more stores, more people, more choices.
Visiting Lake George are humble people, and not so humble ones, smokers, nonsmokers, hikers, nonhikers, drinkers, nondrinkers, swimmers, nonswimmers. In Lake George, I hear more Eastern European accents than I expect to, and I wonder if this area has always been so diverse.
I live in my head, I live on a lake, I visit a lake. The best parts of this place—clear air, clear water, anonymity—await me.