August 12, 2006
Our biggest excursion of the summer of 2006 was to Lake Chalet Campground in Bridgewater, NY. It is one of the most beautiful and enjoyable campgrounds in the area, perhaps in the state.
Joe and Mary Pcola own the Lake. They moved to New York from Slovakia in the 1980’s.
The Utica Observer-Dispatch did a review of the Lake in 2005. “We stopped here one day because we saw how pretty it looks,” Mary Pcola said. “I said, ‘Oh my God, this is so beautiful. I want to live here.’ Joe said, ‘Surprise, you can – it’s for sale.’ So we bought it.”
The Pcolas have taken excellent care of the place. Joe zips along all day in his golf cart (which I almost destroyed–keep reading), delivering wood, collecting trash from the cans, weeding, and pruning. Mary and her little granddaughter were seen weeding and watering the gorgeous flowers. The bright pink phlox was in full bloom, and its heady scent filled the campground.
The prices are a bit steep. My dad says this is good, because it keeps the riffraff out. The other campers were very friendly. Most were seasonal campers, who parked their RVs here from April to October. They didn’t even mind us jamming on our guitars until 10pm.
There were very sweet and rustic cabins, too, but I didn’t see any but one that was occupied.
My family and my dad and his wife rented an RV/tent site for 4 nights. It was the kids’ first time in a tent, and camping, for that matter. They LOVED it.
The first night it thundered and poured rain, so we didn’t get much sleep. The kids crawled into the RV with us adults when lightning started to strike nearby (at 2 am). After the shaky start, it was nothing but UP from there.
We hiked around the beautiful lake, which is dyed emerald green. After dinnertime, dozens of swallows swooped down across the lake to nab tasty waterbugs. The birds left great ripples in the water whenever they hit the lake surface. It was like watching a ballet. Bullfrogs were very noisy, probably protesting the birds’ intrusion into their bug supply.
The scenery was so beautiful.
We fished, the kids for the first time. There were lots of small sunfish and bass.
We swam in the lake every day, played in the sand at the small beach, played at the kids’ playground, and played arcade games in the laundry area.
The boys learned how to split wood and keep the fire going.
The best part was sitting by the fire, with hot coffee in the morning and good conversation in the evening.
We feasted on grilled food every night. My adopted mom, Sharon, makes killer “shish kabobs without the kabobs.”
Too bad we couldn’t have stayed longer, as we didn’t even scratch the surface of all the things we could do here (canoe, go on paddleboats, etc).
We hated to leave, but the check-out day came, and we packed up all our goods for the ride out and back home. Unfortunately, my van doors had been left open overnight, and my battery was drained. I had to find Mary or Joe to get some jumper cables (my husband had taken them in his van to work with him, earlier that morning). Joe drove up in his trusty golf cart and offered to jump the van for me. When we had rigged up the cables and I started my van, the golf cart surged forward (scaring the willies out of me) and the cables tore off. Thank God no one was electrocuted! However, the battery surge shorted Joe’s cart, and he couldn’t get it started! I was sweating bullets, believe me, because I didn’t want to leave Joe without a working golf cart; I figured I’d have to have it repaired for him, or buy him a new one. Sharon, the wise wife of a car guy, suggested we check the fuse box. Joe popped open the hood and changed the blown fuse. IT WORKED!! Boy, relief was my middle name…. we shook hands, said our goodbyes, and all hopped back into our vehicles for the drives home. Never a dull moment, I tell you.