Tag Archives: Adirondacks



Sauna room, Lapland Lake

Hot air envelopes me. The change in temperature is like walking out into the blazing summer sun after a morning of stale air conditioning. After a few minutes I will be reminded how much I hate being hot. When you’re cold, you can always add layers. When you’re hot, there are limits to how much you can remove, especially in public. I check the dimly lit room: no one home. Good. I remove my towel, step up, and sit on the hot wooden bench. I close my eyes and try to relax. I wait.

I hear voices. My senses go on alert. They’re in the hallway: people going in and out of the bathrooms just outside. I reassure myself that if a woman were entering the outer room, I would have plenty of time to grab my towel while she made her preparations to come in. For many, sauna is a social affair. Last year, the two Russian women, old but still cross-country skiers with good form and plenty of endurance, had stayed the entire hour talking non-stop as they moved from outer sitting room to my sanctum and back. The large cartoon strip posted on the wall tells the story of a group of naked Finnish men having an uproarious time sweating together, jumping into a cold lake, going back in the heat, and into the drink again: sauna as party. Continue reading Sauna

An [Un]Eventful Twilight Boat Ride

In the middle of last summer, during our family vacation in New York’s Adirondacks, we went on a lake tour and narrowly avoided the dangers of my imagination.

Kota Tupa

A bustling cross-country ski center in the winter, Lapland Lake is a quiet retreat the rest of the year, shared only by those staying in the ten cozy and remarkably clean tupas. (“Tupa” is Finnish for cottage.) Every Saturday night, there is a bonfire at the small beach on the shore of the lake, where children and adults roast marshmallows for s’mores and trade stories on a provided theme, such as “why reindeer shed their antlers.”

Our summer evening’s storytelling “competition” was over. Everyone else had headed back down the 1/2 mile trail to the tupas. The 5-tier log-cabin stack of quarter-split logs was down to twinkling embers. The sun was low in the light-blue sky, but still well above the horizon of trees. Or so I thought. Continue reading An [Un]Eventful Twilight Boat Ride