Pops and Oma gear up next to the boat ramp at the second pond parking lot. We had a total of six people (including Otis), three tents (including Otis's family's oversized mansion), and only three boats. Anicia volunteered to hang back, reading her book while she awaited the second trip.

Our destination: Site #14 on the eastern end of Halfway Island. (Prior to seeing the island, I'd been a little bummed that we had to share it with several other campsites. When we got there, however, and saw how much space we had, my bummed feelings quickly disappeared. And from the looks of the sites on the mainland, we probably would have had a gas even if all the islands were booked!)

We brought out half of the gear and most of the people on the way out. Then, Pops and Andre paddled back with three empty boats. Two paddlers and three boats meant that one of the kayaks had to be towed. (This actually worked very well! Even with the pilot-less vessel fully loaded.)

At one point, we saw a power-boater do a stupid U-turn (while on the phone, almost losing control of the boat) to yell at some other canoers. He told them they weren't allowed in the channel. We all made "Uhm... I don't think that's true..." faces. This got in our collective craw. Later, when Pops saw him again, he waved him down. To our surprise, the guy very quickly admitted that he was wrong and that he'd misread the sign in the parking lot.

Did I mention we had a big tent? This thing is bigger than our front porch! Otis could run laps in it!

The aforementioned lap-runner chowing down on a Lynne-made BLT. Anicia and Sarah flank.

Otis found a "cool feather"!

There was a bit of time before darkness set in, so Oma and Pops decided to settle into their tent for a quick nap. The rest of the gang hopped in a canoe and set out to circumnavigate the island.

This sweet spot was on the rocky opposite end of the island.

It was a little too cold out for swimming, really, but this spot demanded a jump.

Lynne brought her new rocket stove and wowed everyone (except the then-sooty pot) with her ability to boil water burning just a handful of twigs!

There were plenty of people in the lake. Almost all of the other campsites (including the ones on our island) had been booked for months. Even so, we didn't see very many people the whole trip. There's plenty of space, it turns out, in Lower Saranac Lake. And our perfect campsite, perched up on top of a pine-shady hill, was hidden from the lake by an airy grove of tall pines.

Campfire #1.

Good lord... What's that on the back of the burner over there?! Stay tuned...

As Lynne prepared the dinner she'd brought, Otis needed entertainment (slash supervision) down by the water. Mom to the rescue! (Dad to the creepy photography up in the woods behind them!)

Down by the edge of the lake, the water turns to glass. The trees lose their green and the lake surface takes on the pinks and blues of the sky.

And then, back at the picnic table... PIZZA!

FUCKING PIZZA! ON A CAMPING TRIP!!

This pizza was made on a campfire!

About to get ready for bed, Otis burns of the last of his energy running around the mammoth tent and then becomes a moth, transfixed by the LED dangling over his head.

Day 2 itinerary:

1. Nose-picking down by the lake.

Plenty of spiders on Halfway Island. More importantly: No mosquitoes! At least not mid-August...

Otis, tucked in and sleeping happily...

...until morning, that is, when his parents heard the unzipping of a sleeping bag and then noticed a grinning face peeking under the dividing wall of the tent.

A nice mist hovered above the water the next morning.

(Dad is looking currently for cheap waterfront real estate. It was proposed that he take up residence on this one-tree island.)

Back at camp, Sarah looks for her son (and doesn't look too concerned).

There were a lot of berries, buds, flowers, etc. to be picked. Otis was on the case.

I decided, recently, that the canoe is by far the most noble means of conveyance. Accordingly, I have endeavored to at least familiarize myself with its various functions and operations. Last summer, at the lake house in Hague, I tried to execute a wet self-rescue. I couldn't figure it out and this video on how to do a "Capistrano Flip" sure as shit didn't help.

But I tried again and for some reason it worked!

I tried to get it upright with as little water as possible. Then I hoisted myself up and over the side and was amazed to see that I still had an inch or two of freeboard. From there it was just a matter of balancing and splashing all the water out (which turned out to be no easy task).

Anicia poses triumphantly for a picture to send to Steve, her absent beau.

Sarah, likewise triumphant.

Andre paddled over to a nearby island and swam back. Anicia swam to said island and paddled back. (These to's and fro's happened simultaneously.) Then, Pops showed up everyone with a lengthy swim to and back and to and back an even further island.

Otis, meanwhile, settled into an adorable nap on his grandmother.

A firefly landed on my shirt. The nerve.

We only had one full day on the trip and so we decided to maximize our lake enjoyment of the lake. An excursion was planned to nearby Bluff Island for swimming, snacking, and bluffing.

Here's Pops on top of the bluff, cookies firmly secured under arm.

Anicia and Sarah climbed down to a lower ledge and made Pops nervous.

Otis wanted to see where his parents were hanging out, but Oma was having none of that. (Besides, she reminded him, all the watermelon and cookies were up with the grand-folks.)

Heading downwind on the way back, we fashioned a sail and a rudder out of a pack towel and paddle, respectively.

Waiting until ~7:00 to wake up on the first morning, Otis gave his parents the idea that maybe they'd be able to sleep in a little. Not so. Morning number two found the little dude up and ready at the crack of dawn. Andre knew there was no going back to sleep for either him or his son and so the two set off to explore the surroundings.

We found a small grove that had been recently cleared by beavers. Otis mastered the skill of distinguishing between the stumps of trees that fell and those that were chewed down by beavers.

After exploring around on land, Otis and his dad took to the lake for a glassy paddle in the morning sun. The reflection off the water made navigating to the east a little difficult, but otherwise it was a perfect way to start the day.

A closer look at a boathouse we'd spotted the day before. One of the very few structures we saw on the lake the entire trip.

And then, as abruptly as it had begun, our trip was over! It took another two trips to get all the gear/people back to the parking lot, but this time we devised a plan for everyone to paddle back at the same time, leaving nobody behind. (This, of course, meant packing up the canoe even fuller than the first time.)

With the cars packed, the gang headed into town to fill their bellies with Lakeview Deli sandwiches. (Most of the group, perplexingly, did not indulge in a gobbler. But Andre knew best.)

After hugs and goodbyes, we split ways and headed home, talking excitedly about how we couldn't have imagined a better trip.