A couple weekends ago, N and I drove 5 hours upstate to attend his cousin's wedding at Lake George. I certainly never heard of Lake George before even meeting N, and probably never would have if I never came to NYC in the first place. The entire idea of "upstate new york" was foreign to me when I arrived. It still confuses me somewhat--what does upstate refer to, exactly? North of the Bronx? Hudson Valley and beyond? Albany and further? It probably means anywhere above Midtown to some native New Yorkers.
Anyway, N's family hails from the Lake George area--a true vacation spot with 100% sparkling clear water and many miles of protected forest. People travel there in the winter for skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, etc., and in the summer the place is crowded with people boating, parasailing, water skiing, camping, hiking, biking, and above all, eating ice cream. The place has a mom and pop ice cream shop (mostly soft serve) every 5 feet. Well, that's what it seems like to me, at least.
I truly love taking these trips upstate with N to visit his family. Not only is it a chance to get away from the city from a bit, but it's nature. Nature! It's not like going home to Chicago suburbia. It's actually nature. His parents have a forreal natural spring-filled pond in front of their house (none of that manicured, white rocks lining the bottom, powered by a installed fountain artificial junk), and we love catching frogs in it and seeing how big the fish inside have grown while the dogs romp around us. Including Stewie--even though he's a designer lap dog, he certainly loooooves being outdoors in grass. I love letting Stewie off leash to run around, fence and border free. He won't be able to have that experience anywhere else, probably.
Besides the nature, the place swells with old-timey goodness. During our summer visits there, we always make it a point to go to the drive-in. A real drive-in! With the speaker that hooks over the window of the car and everything (that's the pic above). And there's always the truck with an open bed full of raucous children there, too.
I'm going to miss that whole area once we move to LA. I totally see how people live long-term in the city, now--since it seems that most of them have summer/weekend houses upstate, in the Hamptons, or somewhere in Connecticut or Vermont. If I could have that, well, I'd have a much better perspective on the city, too, I bet.