I am a member of one those lucky extended families that shares a summer cottage in the Adirondacks where we make memories with cousins on neutral territory. No matter how often or how far away we moved over the decades, this spot on the map remained forever a home away from the home we lived in “the rest of the year.” Sometimes years passed without a visit, so we were always reassured to find the huge boulders right where we had left them still majestically marking the way. The trip was always worth it, bugs and all.

When the job search landed us in the suburbs of New Jersey, one consolation was that Keene Valley was just a 6 hour drive away—doable for long weekends in the North Country. Now, one might think that the trek along the NJ parkway and NY thruway would be a drag, but for us it was part of the adventure. 

Preparing for the dog drool was the first order of business. Standing on the back seat of our tiny car, our huge black lab was so happy to be going on a field trip that he wedged his head between the front seats to see out the window, salivating all way. The first time, we wrapped towels around our shoulders which were soon soaked with dribble and tears of laughter. The next time we got smart and put on our raincoats. 

Adding to the silliness was our music selection–my daughter and I could not get enough of Broadway showtunes. Not being gifted singers did not stop us from howling OKLAHOMA at the top of our lungs as we drove through the toll booths. “Spreading happiness wherever we go,” we would say as the attendant giggled and waved (and shook her head, “who are those crazy girls?!”)

Once on a late summer, late night drive we were blessed with a full sky of pulsing light as the borealis beckoned us to our destination. On hot days, rewards came in the form of ice cream, “how looooong before we get to the King of the Frosties, mom?” I think every child’s roadmap should be measured by the distance between ice cream cones, don’t you?! 

Finally, we moved to the mountains shortening the car trip to the cottage by 5 hours. One magical morning soon after we settled in, my daughter and I were driving north out of Saranac Lake and out of the blue (so to speak!!) without a raindrop in sight, found ourselves in a garden of rainbows. I kid you not—there were dozens on either side of the road and for almost 20 miles (at the slowest speed possible) we were surrounded. Now that I think of it, if we had not been so completely awestruck, we might have sung “somewhere under the rainbows.” Sometimes coming home is all about the journey.

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