A Week at the Lake

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By: Tom Schulte, CFP®

“If I knew then what I know now….” muttered my dad as he paused to butter-up his cob of corn, “I never would have bought the damn place!” he exclaimed to our family’s utter dismay. For reference, he was talking about the original family camp on the shores of Lake Ontario, roughly forty miles north of our home in Syracuse, NY. This was the location of our fondest memories as a family, primed for good, clean fun each and every summer– so you can understand the dinner table’s dismay upon my dad’s statement.

However, to his point, he was the sole caretaker of the property, which experienced caterpillar, mice, and dead fish infestations (stories for another time), annual destruction of his hand-built rock seawalls (which would be rebuilt and destroyed again), winter care needs, along with the fact that the natural erosion of the cliff the camp sits on would result in its collapse in a mere 5–10 years. So that being said, I guess I can accept his crass feelings. Miraculously, he found a buyer around 2008 and we wiped our hands clean of Lake Ontario—or so we thought…

For the past several years our family summer vacations have been hosted at a typical New England getaway - Maine, MA beach towns, Cape Cod, just to name a few. However, similar to what many of you have told us, we found that vacation rentals are in absurdly high demand. After months of searching Airbnb and VRBO we nearly gave up, until my mom stumbled upon a possible suitor. Located a whopping three miles from our old Lake Ontario camp sat an even older property situated on the water behind the sand dunes, large enough to fit our group of 11. Though very different than previous years, this location was perfect.

The isolation experienced at these Lake Ontario beach communities is double-sided. Since there are virtually no bars, restaurants, shops, etc. within a 30 mile radius, the only things there are to do is to enjoy the beach, kayak, golf, fish and play board games. For the general interests of our family, this checked all the boxes.

Our time at the lake together came and went in the blink of an eye. Birthdays were celebrated, card games were played and marshmallows were burned—life was good.