My Mom used to call me the Eleventh-Hour-Child.  And – admittedly – nothing much has changed.

Yes, there is much to be said for planning… and, when it comes to road trips, there are certainly people who plan everything months in advance… (I know someone who even planned which gas stations she’d stop at on her vacation-trip to the coast).

We’re not planners.

We enjoy the freedom of travelling where we want… when we want.  We like our schedule to be unhampered by dates, ETA’s and deadlines – and especially when it comes to a road trip. We like the freedom to stay (if we’re enjoying a place)… and the freedom to leave (when we don’t like what we find).

When Nick and I got married, we enjoyed a two-week honeymoon in Austria.

We had 3 things booked for that trip:  flights, a car and a single night (upon our arrival) in the city of Vienna.  Then… we hit the road and simply followed our noses.  We stopped in the little cities that looked quaint and interesting… and we drove straight past places that didn’t catch our interest.   We found interesting (and unexpected) hotels and guest-houses along the way:

  • An en-suite room behind a restaurant in the city of Melk… (in order to get to our room, we had to walk through the restaurant kitchen)
  • An antique dealership in Lintz (that also doubled as a guest-house).  The owner brought us plates of complimentary Austrian food… (much of it served on animal shaped crockery)
  • A 300 year old hotel in Saltzburg
  • A quaint log-cabin hotel, deep in the mountains… where we enjoyed hot chocolate and strawberries dipped in Nutella as the snow drifted down outside…

Suffice to say – unplanned road trips usually work out in our favour.

But – occasionally… things only work out at the very last minute.

That was certainly the case, during the early hours of the 24th of December – trying to find ourselves a lovely cabin-in-the-woods to enjoy a white Christmas.

But we did find such a place – and it DID work out… perfectly!

The Adirondacks in New York state have been added to my list of favourite-places-in-the-world.  It’s a massive area – spanning over 6 million acres – and it’s all a protected state park.  Just think mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, deer, bears, fishing, birds… and beautiful little cabins and homesteads tucked in-between the trees.

The home we rented was in a little town called Indian Lake – smack in the middle of the state park.  And the house couldn’t have been more perfect (I waxed on a lot about the house in this post).  Here’s a photo:

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We enjoyed a few blissful nights… tucked away in that cottage – and best part – it’s right on the banks of a frozen lake.

This was our very first frozen-lake experience… and, initially, we were very wary about stepping out on the ice (I had dark visions of news headlines:  “Ignorant South African woman thinks lake is frozen and falls through ice”).

But, when we saw ice fishermen… drilling holes into the lake (and later, snowmobiles driving across the lake – some of them pulling sleds full of ice-fishing supplies) we thought:  “Okay, the lake is definitely frozen!”

Here’s some frozen-lake photos:

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Anyway… so I was super-curious about ice-fishing.  

I have only ever read about ice-fishing and I wanted to know more… so I approached two men who were fishing fairly close to the cottage and asked them a lot of questions.

They were very obliging and showed us the tricks of the trade (although, there was a somewhat awkward and embarrassing moment when one of them bent down to check on his fishing gadget and let out a loud fart by mistake).

Here’s some pics of ice-fishing stuff:

That's the live bait that they use… and there's a collection of scoops and odd kitchen-looking utensils that they use too...

That’s the live bait that they use… and there’s a collection of scoops and odd kitchen-looking utensils that they use too…

They drill their holes in the ice with this thingy...

They drill their holes in the ice with this thingy…

Ice-fishermen guys...

Ice-fishermen guys…

The fishing gadget that goes over the holes...

The fishing gadget that goes over the holes…

So… anyway…

We spent most of our time in Indian Lake doing the following:

  • Sitting in front of the big, wood fire… drinking hot chocolate, playing games, building puzzles and creating art…
  • Sleeping!
  • Eating!
  • Playing in the snow… walking on the lake.. and sledding down the hill (straight on to the ice of the lake)

It was very relaxing.  A time for us to just be… for a while.

The owner of the cottage recommended that we pay a visit to the Wild Centre – which is a small, but lovely centre that tells the explains the story of the Adirondacks region and the wildlife that lives there.

There were so many interesting things for us to see and do and experiment with…

Here’s some pics:

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Otter watching...

Otter watching…

So… anyway… at one stage during our visit, we found a lovely trout exhibit.  It had glass tanks and a strong current – so you could see how trout do their up-stream swimming-thing.

The trout seemed friendly enough… they swam close to the surface and all of us enjoyed stroking their slimy little backs:

joah stroking trout

All fun and games, of course… until one of the trout decided that Joah’s little fingers resembled some tasty morsels of food… and bit him!  Hard!

I know I shouldn’t laugh… but the expression on Joah’s face was priceless.  He was so indignant!  How dare that trout bite him?  After the initial indignation, there were a few tears.  The trout had left two needle-width lines down his finger… both of them oozing a bit of blood.

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Joah cheered up quickly though… there was still lots to see and do.

Here’s two more fun photos of the Wild Center before I end this post…

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moose nick

Anyway.  So that’s my little catch-up post about Christmas (you can see I’m a bit far behind – since it’s now the 19th of January and I’m typing this from South Africa… where we’re currently experiencing a brutal heat wave!  Very… very different weather to the icy Adirondacks!)

After a few blissful days at the Indian Lake cottage, we packed George-the-Car and drove southwards – back to Washington DC.  We stopped over briefly in a dodgy motel in a town called Sherburne.

And… a day later… we were back in Washington DC with our friends, Joel, Meg and their daughter, Juno.

And – it was time to hit some more DC sights… (which I’ll write about in another post).

But, now it’s time for me to sign off.  Lots of people to see and catch up with here in Jozi…  I’ll blog soon-soon!  🙂