This essay was originally created in November, 2019 – little did I know then that the feeling of being “stuck” without adventuring in our favorite place would continue due to COVID-19. We are keeping our fingers crossed and praying this summer brings us back within the Blue Line as planned.
The promise of summer fuels us the entire year through. Each falling leaf, forming icicle, and fresh spring puddle inches us one step closer to our favorite season of all – not for the warmth, the sunshine, or the longer days (although all are certainly perks) – but for the opportunity to escape for a while as a family. As a school teacher and an entrepreneur, respectively, my husband and I are blessed with the gifts of time and flexibility that allow us to appreciate the disconnect of “summer vacation” longer than most. Eight weeks of 52 stay earmarked for family adventure: to dig in the dirt, dip our toes in our favorite lakes, climb the high peaks, wander a few fern-laden trails. In the summer months, we fall asleep to the sound of loons each night and rise with the Adirondack sun in the morning, eyes open wide to the beauty that surrounds us. Here, breaths seem deeper, time slower, and every memory made a bit sweeter than the last.
If it’s true that home is where the heart is, our full time residency is firmly affixed here: at dirt-covered campgrounds on Lake Harris, aside the majestic beauty of Whiteface, along bustling sidewalks of Lake Placid, in the calm waters of Rollins Pond. We have grown here together over the years – in height and age as well as in our bonds with each other and Mother Nature. It is in this sacred place that we have checked off “Bucket List” items, conquered hiking challenges (always with a graham cracker reward for the kids at the summits), and even survived the Great Leech Incident of 2018. The Adirondacks have been witness to some of our best memories as a family – teaching the kids to kayak on their own, taking off on early morning hikes to the top of our favorite mountains, embracing the excitement of stopping at the ice cream stand at the end of a hot summer day.
Years ago, while sitting around a crackling fire at Lake Eaton, we decided to embark on an ambitious journey as a family, setting a goal to visit every U.S. national park by the time our oldest (then, four) graduates high school. As a result, now at the ages of seven and five, our children have already had the opportunity to travel to some of the most amazing spots in the country – national parks world renowned for their breathtaking landscapes and jaw-dropping wonders accessible only by ferry, where few people are fortunate enough to ever step foot. But somehow even there, surrounded by crystal blue ocean waters, we are left longing for life within the blue line of the Adirondacks. The loons at Isle Royale in the middle of Lake Superior are somehow less entrancing than those on Long Lake; the lakes at Voyageurs in Northern Minnesota aren’t quite as fun to swim in as the chilly waters of Schroon. We would much rather take a quiet canoe trip along the Hudson than an airboat tour through the Everglades. There’s just something special about this place that our souls seem to long for most.
This winter, we will fulfill our wanderlust and continue to plan our routes for national park trips. (Forfeiting a goal is not something that is in our DNA.) We’ve checked off the parks on the East Coast and coming up soon is a journey out west to experience the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, stand amongst the massive trees at Sequoia, and witness the mighty power of Old Faithful at Yosemite. But first, we’re spending an entire summer in the place that none of these famous spots can measure up to in our hearts.
The countdown is on, with each day passing serving as a metaphorical link ripped off the paper chain. We are stuck in waiting between the solstices. Our camper is sitting empty, winterized here in Western New York; our lungs are craving a deep breath of fresh mountain air; our spirits are longing for another eight weeks of simplicity when we can disconnect from the noises and responsibilities of the world and reconnect with what’s truly important: each other.
It might sound silly to some – that we need to travel six hours away from home to truly feel at home. Or that we would pass up every single national park, if given the chance, to be able to spend more time in these humble (in comparison) mountains. It’s something we can’t quite explain. But it’s nice to know that even if we can’t claim a physical address here just yet, we know exactly where our souls belong – and heading “home” to the Adirondacks is only ever a season or two away.