The Lodge

I was nine the first time I saw the Peaks of Otter Lodge. That was in 1964, the year it opened.

My family was camping, the only way we vacationed, hotels being too pricey for my dad’s wallet. But that was fine by me. Cooking dinner on the Coleman stove, roasting marshmallows over the open fire, using kerosene lanterns, and sleeping on the ground in our green canvas tent made the ultimate vacation for me. And camping in the mountains was best, with the cool air, trails to hike, bears and deer to glimpse, and educational programs led by park rangers.

The Lodge was brand new, so we stopped in to take a look. I was awed by what I saw: high ceilings supported by huge beams of wood, shining light fixtures, and a stone fireplace so massive I could walk inside it. A hotel for the wealthy, it seemed, not for families like mine.

We camped at the Peaks several more times during my youth, and in the eighties, for my honeymoon, I actually stayed in one of the rooms. It was a comfortable room with two double beds and a small bath, but the things I liked best were the absence of phones and televisions, and the beautiful view of Abbott Lake and Sharp Top Mountain. Simply sitting on the quiet porch enjoying the spectacular view felt like heaven to me.

I returned to this special place last week, thirty years after the honeymoon trip, and saw that the operators of the lodge have spruced it up a bit, adding Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs to the rooms. I suppose they hope to stay in business by appealing to young professionals. But still, the lodge is old and, after my many years of traveling and staying in all kinds of hotels, I can see just how modest it really is.

The rooms are cooled by window air-conditioning units and there are transoms high on each bathroom wall that open directly to the outside. The bathrooms are tiny, no counter tops, and they sport the original pale blue tile walls. They even have one tile made with a slit labeled “Razor Blades,” making me wonder how many old blades are living inside those fifty-year-old walls.

The dressers and tables in the rooms appear to be the originals, made of rough wood and slate–old, but sturdy. Paint is peeling and siding is loose on the outside of the buildings and the roofs look worn.

Lots of young families used to stay there. Now, it’s mostly old people with gray hair and saggy bodies. All sitting on our patios enjoying the view rather than inside watching TV. Just like we did thirty years ago.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not totally used up. George and I hiked at least five miles every day we were there, strenuous hikes. But the rest of the time, we wanted peace and quiet, no electronics buzzing in our ears and straining our eyes. Living in the memories of what this old lodge used to be.

The heyday of our lives, and of the Peaks of Otter Lodge, is in the past. We’ve slowed down, but that’s okay. No, it’s more than okay. It’s good. Very good.

“To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1


  1. Susie D.
    May 22, 2015

    Oh, how I love this. It’s a good season to be in, isn’t it? Appreciative of all the simple things life has given us through all our years. Sweet and innocent memories of simpler times held close and tight.

    Love ~ Susie

    • Karen Curran
      May 25, 2015

      Yes, it is, Susie. I’m appreciating, and longing for, simplicity more than ever:)

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