Wintertime CAN be fun… or really not…


By: S.A. Rowner


The treadmill of a busy life just doesn’t stop.


And it gets tiring, makes one feel irritable, and sometimes just gets overwhelming. Never mind when enough life situations bombard you at the same time, making it feel like someone threw the speed switch up to the max.


And that’s what happened to a good friend of mine about a week ago. Work situations were moving so fast, he felt like he was going to just let go of the handlebars, and shoot off the back of the treadmill.


It’s good he didn’t.


Instead, his wife was kind enough to let him go for two nights to clear his head. So he called me and asked me to come along.


Now I had to beg the favor from my wife, who thankfully agreed to let me go with him.


To where? Well, he’s an avid fisherman. I’m really not one, although I’ll try it for kicks.


It’s the middle of January, for heaven’s sake. And to run off to a warmer climate for two short nights didn’t seem worth the hassle of booking flights, a car, finding a place to stay, and then finding things to do.


So he chose to do this a different way.


The Finger Lakes region of upstate New York is known for its beauty in the summer. And its generous amounts of lake effect snow in the winter, from Lake Ontario.


Lake effect snow occurs when cold air, often originating from Canada, moves across the open waters of the Great Lakes. As the cold air passes over the unfrozen and relatively warmer waters of the Great Lakes, warmth and moisture are transferred into the lowest portion of the atmosphere. Then, the moist air moves away from the lake and locally drops the moisture as huge amounts of snow in a very short time, sometimes measuring in feet!


It stays locally though and doesn’t usually tie in with other weather patterns responsible for bringing typical snowstorms associated with fronts and atmospheric pressure changes.


Anyhow, the attraction of snow was only one reason this Canadian-born guy and Russian-born friend decided to head up five hours North there. But it wasn’t the main one.


The Salmon River was.

The Salmon River is a small, fast-flowing river north of Syracuse in Upstate New York. It is a popular and economically important sportfishing destination, and the most heavily fished of New York’s Lake Ontario tributaries, as millions of popular sportfish fish return to the river for annual spawning runs after spending a majority of their lives largely in Lake Ontario, where the river ends.


We decided at 3 PM to head out there, threw a bunch of cold-weather layers into knapsacks, and were in the car on the way by 4.


We jumped into Evergreen Supermarket in Monsey, NY (along the way), and loaded up on a bunch of their conveniently already-prepared travel meals, bread, a tray of assorted cheeses, and bagged nosh. Now successfully (over)provisioned, we hit the main road for the trip up North.


In the car, my friend arranged a private fishing guide for the next morning, and we booked an Airbnb right on the lake for the night, arranging with the host that we’d be arriving late so we’d let ourselves in.


It snowed along the way, and that was totally fine with us, and we arrived at about 11 PM at the cabin. If we can even call it that.


Entering a musty porch, we could immediately see the appeal of the place – if you were looking for the local furniture dump.


The couches had more springs than a car suspension system and were about as comfortable as sitting atop a pile of assorted-size rocks.


There was a television screen held up on one side by a roll of tissue paper, and the drafts had been creatively dealt with by covering the large cracks in the wall with swaths of blue painter’s tape.


The bathroom had a plastic accordion door for privacy, but no ceiling so the walls only served as partitions, and the A-frame interior wood paneling amplified sound all around the cabin.


But five redeeming qualities generated, in my opinion, the 145, pretty-much all positive reviews that previous guests had left.


The first was the location. Backing right onto Lake Ontario, and being geographically close to the Salmon River, this was a fisherman’s dream.


The second was the outdoor tub. Give people a reason to spend time out of the ugly, and they will rave about that one pretty thing, and forget about the rest.


The third was that the house listing was presented exactly as-is – No attempts to gloss over or photoshop pictures, and therefore, guest’s expectations were delivered on arrival. No luxuries expected, and the cabin delivered on that expectation.


Fourth, the place was reasonably clean. That makes a big difference.


Lastly, the owner, a local farmer was communicative and friendly, and it’s hard to fault a guy who was happy to accommodate, delivered what he said, and even let us check out late.


Oh, and the fishing trip the next day was cool. Literally and in a manner of speaking. It snowed, it was freezing, and we had a really nice time on a private drift boat with our HUGE guide, aptly named “Tiny”.


Typically, my friend caught two huge Steelhead Salmon that we kept, and I caught…. none.


Ah well, next time I think I’ll do Florida, stay in a luxurious Florida Kosher Villa, and probably, not fish.


It won’t get me a Steelhead Salmon for Shabbos, but I won’t have to wrack my brains trying to figure out why everyone reviews the villas so positively. Because each villa simply speaks for itself.


Oh, and I’ll leave the treadmill back home.