We have been blessed in my family to have a great place to spend summer vacations.
While other folks take a trip to the beach, visit Baxter State Park or pitch a tent, we head to camp.
My great-grandfather had the presence of mind in 1907 to purchase a large piece of lakefront property on Sebago Lake. He subsequently sold it but, realizing the error of his ways, later bought back a smaller parcel that has remained in the family.
Ah, camp, sweet camp.
It’s not a summer home, a vacation house, a cabin or a cottage. My grandmother saw our original two-room building on the side of the road, purchased it and had it transported to its current location back in the ’50s.
On the surface, it’s the perfect arrangement. If you are willing to overlook the exorbitant property taxes.
The front steps are 100 feet or so from the shore of Sebago Lake (the water source for the Portland Water District), which is prime water for swimming, boating, fishing and other recreational activities.
It would be reasonable for you to assume that since I recently took over as the Bangor Daily News Outdoors Editor, I spend countless hours trolling Maine’s second largest lake for its world-renowned landlocked salmon and trophy lake trout. Or even casting from shore for smallmouth bass.
If only it were so.
I leave that privilege mostly to my young cousins in the Raymond family — Kent, Nolan and Kristany — and cousin Melissa Savage. Even my son William, a more recent fishing aficionado, gets out more than I do.
I get out on the water now and again. But the time spent with rod in hand is limited to occasional, and usually brief, forays in our 14-foot MirroCraft (circa 1964).
Even the once trusty boat now requires repairs, its seat benches cracked, rivets popping and aluminum hull ground thin by years of hauling it across the rocks and sand.
Truth be told, I spend more time being taunted by the natural beauty of the lake and its outdoors opportunities than I do enjoying it.
If you have a camp — and it wasn’t built in the last 5-10 years — you may know what I’m talking about.
Camps need work, constant upkeep, to remain functional and comfortable. That’s especially true of older buildings like ours that have fading or peeling paint, inefficient windows and doors, aging outdoor plumbing and curling shingles.
Camp owners also have to deal with mowing the lawn, picking up downed limbs and branches, and sawing up fallen trees for firewood.
The net result, short of shelling out big-time money to have the work done by professionals, is to play handyman.
Last weekend, at the end of a vacation, I spent the better part of two days up on the roof. Fortunately, the ample shade and comfortable temperatures meant the experience was somehow less of a hassle.
I took one selfie from atop the small front bedroom. It originally was a porch and features a relatively flat roof.
Oh, and yes, that’s organic matter growing on the portion of the roof pictured behind me. I understand a zinc strip can help prevent that dynamic. Live and learn.
Needless to say, the rooftop provides a gorgeous view of the water, where vacationers frolicked on their speed boats and jet skis, trolled the shoreline, paddled their canoes and kayaks, and splashed in the water with glee.
It would be a great location for a little second-story porch. If I had that kind of carpentry expertise.
The jury is still out on whether the roof repair will keep water from seeping into the bedroom ceiling, which is an unfinished part of the project that will be addressed the next time.
In some respects, channeling my inner Bob Vila brings its own sense of satisfaction. I know any work I do will help us better enjoy our time at camp and, hopefully, reduce the amount of work that will have to be done once I hang up the hammer for good.
I did go for a two-hour troll during vacation week with Melissa and Will. Apparently, my piloting skills with three lines out needs some practice.
With a south wind blowing us sideways, the line from the bow rod was severed by the outboard propeller, although we were able to salvage it and the gear — because it became entangled in the propeller.
Melissa had one sewed-on shiner stripped off by a salmon, but that was the extent of the excitement. We did enjoy a nice ride and some great conversation.
There’s one other important reality about spending vacations at camp. Those are days that zero work gets done at home.
My wife Annia will tell you I have (for years) let several house projects fall by the wayside as a result.
In the meantime, there is still a lengthy list of needed camp repairs. Whether they happen this year, or sometime down the road, remains to be seen.
Actually, let’s get real. They won’t all get done this year. I don’t have that much vacation time.
And there are fish to be caught.