Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Long Lunch Down Memory Lane

One bite. That’s all it took. One bite of my Caesar salad today and I was instantly transported back to the summers of my youth and our annual family vacation at Lakeside Inn and Resort in Whitehall, Michigan. Where I lived in the pool and was in love with the proprietor’s son.
The earthiness of the romaine and the buttery crunch of the crouton took me back to a time before Caesar salad was even in my lexicon. I only learned about Caesar salad sometime after my family had moved from a suburb of Chicago to a suburb of San Francisco, long after we took leave of the cottage where we would play Uno for hours on end.

A break in the Uno action.
It was where I cut my teeth swimming. I actually remember being in the pool in water wings, probably one of my first memories. We used the diving board so many times that it should have lost its spring. And imagine our astonishment the year we arrived to find that they added a waterslide to a corner of the pool. Christmas in July!
Swoon! There he is!!!
I remember sitting at the end of the resort dock, hanging my bamboo pole into the lake, and eagerly awaiting the first sign of a nibble.  Someone said the fish I caught (and usually instructed to throw back) were sunfish. What did I know?! The same dock where we spent one Fourth of July, listening to Neil Diamond on my brother’s boom box and watching fireworks.
I remember taking what seemed like the longest walks to the White Duck Country Market to get the most bountiful scoops of ice cream I had ever seen.  I usually got strawberry. Or chocolate. But never, ever plain ol’ vanilla.

One of the last years we were vacationed there, the resort even added a few pinball/arcade games to their amenities. For my preteen brother, this made passing the time more bearable even with his little sister often tagging along.  
Eat your hearts out Griswolds!
I used to daydream about being a teenager and still vacationing there and the day when the owner’s son might finally take notice of me, but that was not meant to be.  When we drove home in the summer of 1985, we probably weren’t even aware that we would not be returning the next year.  Or that instead, the following summer would find my dad living and working at his new job in California with rest of us to follow that fall.
It took a little Googling, but I managed to find the website for Lakeside.  And now that my nostalgia has gotten the best of me, I wish I could cancel the reservations we made last week for our sum--er, fall vacation in Santa Barbara and head to the Midwest instead.  While that’s a pipe dream at its core, I hope that someday I will head there again to share the same experiences with my husband and son. And perhaps pop a cork with the boy of my childhood dreams who now sits at Lakeside’s helm, grooming the next generation of innkeepers.

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