So our 2 weeks of quiet time are at an end. Well, as quiet as 3 cousins in enforced familial togetherness can be. Truth be told, the kids played nice until a) sleep affected argument disorders took root, b) too much ice cream / sugar kicked in or c) TV withdrawal kicked in.
No day was complete without at least one ice cream feast, most of which took place at the local sugaring hole, in our case Boxcar Barney's in Mayfield. Not for us the savory menu. No, 8 of us most assuredly worked our way through the entire ice cream menu. At least once. Each.
Around the corner from Boxcar's the locals (and some visitors) took to attacking large wood stumps with chainsaws. This turned into a cacophony of 2 strokes, resulting in bears, eagles, turtles, benches and all sorts of Americana folk art. The Jesus carving juxtaposed beside 2 naked female torsos was slightly puzzling though.
Amish abound in this part of the world and mostly lead a quiet and separate life from "the English". Our normal run-ins with them were limited to seeing them pass the driveway in their buggies and a couple of pastry runs by our ladies to procure doughnuts and other yummy baked goods. It was amusing to see the boat trailers they use behind the horse drawn buggies and I did assist a local Amish in bringing his boat in. I do however question the safety worthiness of his vessel, being that the gas can was a 5 gallon water bottle, the battery lovingly wedged between it and the inner hull. The cooling of the engine was ably assisted by leaving the engine cover off, probably at the bottom of the lake.
Weather permitting, boating took center stage. The weather failed to cooperate on many days, being cold (60's) and wet with some very serious rainstorms for a good part of the second week. Kim braved the early morning cool temps (early being a relative term when on vacation) to water ski as often as possible. A few circumnavigations of lake Chautauqua took place, albeit at often a painfully slow pace due to the rough conditions. Our poor little boat can't handle anything above a mild swell so 5 mph tours of the shoreline became common. Being at the north end of the lake we were quite well protected but longer trips to Midway State Park (a methuselian amusement park) and Bemus Point (for ice cream) were successfully completed. One final hurrah occurred when we bravely attempted to squeeze everyone onto the boat for a final Boxcars's run, which was a recipe in extreme patience, but we were rewarded with 5 face paintings (do the math, there were 3 kids) and a pleasurable sunset cruise under a harvest moon.
Our stated aim of learning from different cultures (other than the above stated Amish) was limited but this was supposed to be a break before we start the "real trip". Making the acquaintance of New York's finest and receiving a souvenir record of my land speed attempt apparently doesn't count.
Family vacations are best undertaken with plenty of medications, be they grain alcohol for the grown ups or iPads for the kids. But all in all it was a wonderful and relaxing time, much needed by all. We were blessed with a fantastic house with room for everyone to get together or spread out to our own devices. Now onwards to our next leg, after an almost certainly frantic few days back in the 'burgh to settle some outstanding matters, more packing and maybe even catch up with old friends.
(All photos in this post are iPhone pics. I'll post some "big boy camera" pics as time and connectivity allow).