This iffy weather found the club owners (and those members present) going about their maintenance chores and other business entirely in textile fashion, and after introducing myself at the office and being told where to park, I stood at my car shivering and frowning up at the overcast for a minute before deciding to start my tour wearing more than just a towel myself. "Yeah, yesterday Ray was riding the tractor around with just his hat on, but it's a little too chilly today." Paulette told me to make myself at home, and pointed out the community restroom and shower building (which serves the camping area, as well as the smallest efficiency cabins lacking their own facilities), the playground (with slide, swings, and a nice wooden elevated playhouse with ladders and a bit of a jungle gym attached), the clubhouse, and the path to the lake. As it turned out, I was the only visitor present; everyone else who took advantage of the open house had done so during the nice weather the day before.
Everything seemed to be clean and in generally good shape, especially considering that the property had just changed ownership and name (from "Forest City Lodge" to "Coventry Club and Resort") the previous November. The clubhouse in particular appeared either newly-built or at least recently refurbished, with a clean and smooth wood floor, a couch, tables and chairs, stereo, big-screen TV, books, "board games available at the office", a nice kitchen area with spiffy appliances, a payphone on the front porch, and an outdoor deck/patio in the back with steps to a lawn area, facing the lake in the distance. Interior lighting was good, with both suspended flourescents overhead and incandescent wall fixtures around the perimeter of the room. One concession to economy was that the ceiling was open to the metal roof, this gave it somewhat the air of a cafeteria/kitchen building at a really well-kept summer camp. The clubhouse does not have its own restroom (its kitchen does have running water); the public restroom building is a short walk away.
The occasion of the open house found a half-dozen of the club members enjoying complimentary doughnuts at the clubhouse. I stayed and talked for a while, and sat for a bit out on the deck with a gentleman and his 13-year-old dog (whose friendly greetings to everyone who came and went were hampered somewhat by an arthritic back leg) and then headed out to look around the grounds.
The rental units were all unlocked, both for inspection by the open house visitors and for the ongoing cleaning and repairs for the upcoming season. The units I looked into varied considerably in size and style: from very basic (and tiny!) campers with utility hookups, to small "efficiency" one-room-and-a-bed cabins, all the way up to nice large one- and two-bedroom cabins and full size mobile homes with complete bath/shower and full kitchen facilities. When I was growing up, my family owned and operated a nice little motel on Lake Champlain, and the cabin accomodations at Coventry reminded me pleasantly of the cottages at our motel. I was told that several additional units were in need of extensive renovation and would not be ready until the next season. In general, there was considerable, energetic sprucing-up activity going on all over the grounds -- a front-end loader tearing down a sagging retaining wall, and hauling away the old beams and clearing miscellaneous fallen twigs and brush from around the volleyball court; and multiple distant sounds of hammering and sawing seeming (in the typical deep-woods auditory illusion) to come from everywhere and nowhere all at once.
I also observed the diggings for the big new outdoor hot tub. Those of you who live in the Northeast probably remember the winter of 1999-2000's parting shot. That, um, "little storm" dumped a good 15 inches of snow on the folks at Coventry in mid-April, and considerably delayed the hot tub construction. At the time of the open house, they had also just graded and seeded a new sunning lawn and "grass beach" by the lake.
By the time my explorations had made it as far as the lake, the sunshine was a bit steadier, so I decided to really test the waters, so to speak, and I returned to my car to exchange textiles for towel. I relaxed for a while clothes-free in the sun on one of the better-established patches of grass by the lakeshore, and drank in the surroundings. The lake is forty or so long, narrow acres of water surrounded by trees, looking something like a movie location set for On Golden Pond. A few assorted small watercraft sat idly about, and a pair of floating diving platforms were anchored halfway out from shore. At the far end of the lake, horses could be seen through a clearing, wandering in a distant field. All in all, I decided that this was a very pleasant spot. I tested my feet on the nice sandy lake bottom, but after wading out ankle-deep and finding the expected springtime Polar-bear temperature, I quickly retreated to the shore.
Walking back, I saw Paulette again. She said she was glad that I had been able to take advantage of at least a little sun, and wondered if I'd like to see a few more of the rental units in other areas; she fetched the golf cart and we set out. Two that I remember particularly were #10, a nicely eccentric one-room bungalow with an elevated sleeping loft tucked up near the roof, overlooking a little living room area (I think this unit had a small bathroom with shower only) and #16, a new one-bedroom cabin with a deck, a good-size living room with a sleeper sofa, and a picture window overlooking the lake, plus a full bath and kitchen.
Overall, I found the location, facilities and people very pleasant, and I decided that a stay with the family would definitely be in order come summer (see next report!)
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