The end of senior year is jam packed with so many activities and responsibilities, that before you know it, it’s over! I never once believed anyone who told me that high school would be the quickest four years of your life, until I was stepping off the stage at graduation, and then it hit me, it was over. No more tests, papers or projects. Suddenly, the entire air of high school changed. Now, it was all about graduation parties, college roommates, move in days, and cramming as much time in with your best friends as possible before you move away from each other.
For many high school graduates, the final hoorah of it all, is a graduation party. The time where everyone, as much as a meager backyard and way too expensive rental tents can hold, files in and laments on it all. Even just attending a few of these myself, old memories were shared, as well as awkward conversations with people you realized you’d never talked to or had even seen before. They’re a great time, and I don’t regret attending any that I went to, but even before I graduated, I knew that my socially awkward self would not flourish with my own party. No, the minute my parents asked me what I wanted for graduation, I had my sites set on something much larger. And the best part of it all? It didn’t cost a dime. I knew that I wanted a final trip back to the place I hadn’t been to since my childhood: Lakeside.
Ever since I can remember, my family and I have been visiting Lakeside at any opportune moment. Fortunately for us, my uncle owns two of the houses in the small town, and before I knew it, Lakeside became my favorite place on Earth at which to spend my time.
I’m not sure what it was exactly that made me fall in love with the place, because when I was first thinking about inviting my friends, I was sure they would think it was the most boring place ever.
Here’s the breakdown on what Lakeside is for those who have never visited:
Lakeside, Chautauqua is a small historic town in Ohio located on the shores of Lake Erie. It is a gated community, with a seriously laid back vibe. Inhabited by mostly elderly people looking for a place to take walks, read, knit and eat good food, Lakeside is the place for exactly that! And this is precisely why I was afraid my friends would find it dreadfully boring. I was never the high schooler who went to college parties, drank, and rebelled and I never had a boyfriend, and not that my friends ever did all of that, but I’m such an introverted and laid back person that Lakeside is my perfect happy place, but while describing what it was, I knew it wouldn’t be for everyone. Luckily, I have the best friends I could ever hope for, and they were more than eager to go, if only to get away for a little bit.
After working out the details of our senior trip, my friends and I packed up in two different cars, and after our senior breakfast and senior superlatives (Congratulations Chloe 😉 ), we headed out on the road for the two hour trip.
Now, of course for any road trip, there are certain essentials one must always remember to bring along. After successful completion of my own road trip, here is my advice and essentials:
1. TUNES- bring along an aux cord and make a playlist leading up to the trip that includes music that everyone will enjoy. Depending on where you are headed, make sure you use a program that can continuously run while off of WiFi and with data. Particular to our trip, there were times on the road where it seriously felt like we were in the middle of nowhere and there was no service. It was like a scene out of a crime show where you lose cell service right before a serial killer breaks into your car, but luckily, that didn’t happen. But your radio will go out if you take our particular trip. Take CD’s if you’re old fashioned. 🙂
2. SNACKS- Now, depending on the length of your trip, (or let’s be honest, who really cares? If you’re in a car, you snack), you may want to pack either healthy, minimal snacks, or go all out on the junk food. Here are my personal favorites:
- Almonds, or mixed nuts
- Cheetos (both hot and regular and always the crunchy variety)
- Doritos (Cool Ranch or Nacho Cheese are both viable options)
- Fruit Snacks
- Protein packs, which usually include nuts and cheese
- Granola Bars
3. And finally, the best option when deciding how to pay for gas on these trips, is to always split it up evenly among the group. That’s what we did and it worked great!
Upon arrival at the main gate of Lakeside, my heart starting racing as I was flooded with feelings of extreme nostalgia and happiness. I was back, and I was with my best friends.
My uncle, who made this whole trip possible, had set us up to stay in 409 Sycamore Avenue, or, as I had always called it, The Flip Flop House.
I’d never felt a happier sensation than when I stepped back into my childhood beach house. The smell, the look, the feeling, it was as if the town was stuck in time, and truly, when you stay here, it feels like you are in a completely different place; removed from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. Even the locals claim to run on “Lakeside Time”.
At the beginning of this trip, I thought I would have to be the tour guide, which made me nervous, because if I was being honest, I couldn’t think of something else to do besides take walks, eat in the one restaurant, and shop in the single shop I knew of. Once we had settled in, however, my friends took it all in stride and seeing it through their eyes made it a completely new experience. After showing them the typical sights: Sloopy’s Sports Cafe, the beach, Marilyns, and “the little store”, which is a small convenience store just outside the main gate and within walking distance, I was growing nervous they had seen it all, and although I was content to be there, I thought they would be underwhelmed.
We spent the first night on the dock (pictured above and right) and watched the sunset with some family friends who were staying down the street in the other house my uncle owns, just down the street. They had some scooters, which my other friends enthusiastically rode up and down the dock. And as the sun went down, two things occurred to us: 1. We had to attempt a time lapse, just to be basic, and 2. The lighting was too good to not have a photo shoot, because, again, we are basic.
The end of day one had come to a close, and by that time I was hopeful for how the rest of this trip would go.
I knew the weather in Lakeside could be less than cooperative, so when the next day dawned freezing cold, I thought for sure we would be stuck in the house and boredom would set in, but alas, it did not! We bundled up, and after a morning trip to The Little Store, we came back home to make omelets, of which I would say we had pretty good success 😉 I was proud at least.
And after a delicious breakfast, we headed out into the brisk weather. Although it was pretty cold, we found the perfect solution. In the town, was a restaurant called Ooh La La, a small cafe that sells gelato and milkshakes, as well as tea, coffee, hot chocolates and lattes. Of course, we each descended upon the cafe, and ordered our hot drink of choice. Most of us ordered hot chocolates, but one of my friends, Gill, ordered a Chai Green Tea, which according to her was, “The best thing ever!”.
Now high on sugar and warmed up, we walked to the park, and immediately found a basketball court. Abby and Gill, who were stars of our high schools’ basketball team, decided to throw some free shots, with a deflated basketball we’d found in the street. I’d never had so much fun.
As the wind changed direction and came off of the lake, we finally gave into our freezing hands and faces and decided to return home and begin our planned movie marathon: Lord of The Rings.
I don’t know if we watched the movie so much as made fun of it. I realized how ditzy Frodo truly is, and how underrated Samwise Gamgee is. I mean, he literally carried Frodo up Mount Doom. If not for him, Frodo wouldn’t have even made it. Can we get some support for Sam?!
While we unanimously agreed that Sam was the best and Frodo sucked, there was one issue that completely divided the room. #TeamLegolas or #TeamAragorn . I’m hardcore for Legolas, but things got heated when the room was literally divided between the two. So, to settle this once and for all, vote in the poll for who you think is better:
And of course, while we watched the movie and argued over the vital subject of Aragorn or Legolas, we snacked. A lot. Doritos, Pringles, Swedish Fish, and Debbie Snack Cakes, among other things were our go-to’s. We went to bed that night sick, but never happier.
The third day dawned, rainy, and freezing, but luckily we had about 8 more hours of Lord of the Rings to hold us over, and so, we spent our third day indoors, finishing the whole trilogy, only leaving if absolutely necessary, which meant only for food.
On the fourth day, we lost two of our group. Gill and Abby had to leave a day early, and so, when we awoke the next day, they were sadly gone, and very much missed. Abby and Gill, thanks guys for coming and bringing the life of the party! Can’t wait until we are 21 ;).
It was still cold that day, but the rain had let up, so we decided to head back outdoors, and check out some other places we had missed. Eventually, we stumbled on a tiny bookstore, that I had never been in before, and we spent hours in there, more hot chocolates in hand, reading to our hearts content, and truly embracing The Lakeside Lifestyle.
After we had spent our share of time in the bookstore, we moved on and eventually found ourselves in The Shade Tree, another knick- knack shop. And if Chloe hadn’t gone above and beyond to help me up into the store, because a lot of Lakeside isn’t very handicapped friendly due to it’s age, we wouldn’t have found our next destination. On a postcard in The Shade Tree we saw the prettiest picture of Chautauqua Park, and after putting it into Google Maps and seeing that it was only 0.5 miles away, by foot, we spontaneously decided to go. Well, turns out that that 0.5 miles was easily the steepest part of Lakeside, and was not an easy trek. It was a workout for all of us, but after some arm power, some serious leg power from Chloe, and the kindness of random strangers, of which there is no shortage of in Lakeside, we finally made it to Chautauqua Park.
It hadn’t been built yet. At least all of the way.
It was still under construction, but the basic structure of it had been built, and it was in a pretty beautiful area, and so we decided we had worked too hard to not take pictures. Take my advice: As someone who doesn’t like having their picture taken, just do it. Do it, and just enjoy the outcome no matter how flawed or disheveled you look, because at the end of the day, you have the memory, and you really won’t care what you looked like. Take as many pictures as you can. Of it all. Whether it’s your first road trip or your 20th, I promise you’ll capture something you’d never seen before, and you’ll never see again.
Cold and aching from the trip up, we were more than happy that the trip back was all downhill.
We wrapped up our stay with one final trip to Sloopy’s after Chat aqua Park, one last sunset, and two last trips to Ooh La La, which might I just add that by the end of this trip we were best friends with the woman running the store, and if she ever reads this, I’d just like to thank her for her sweetness and hospitality and her generous service. On one occasion we got gelato, despite how cold it had become, and then on the morning of our departure, we tried the smoothies. Nothing we had from there was bad. 10/10 recommend it all! And after a thorough cleaning of the house the morning we were leaving, we saw my uncle and thanked him for allowing us the best trip away I could’ve hoped for. It was everything I had wanted, and a great trip down memory lane. The best thing about Lakeside is that no matter how long you leave for, you always come back to the same place you’d left. It truly is a town stuck in time.
Thanks for Reading!
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