In August of 2001, I dragged 15 New Yorkers up to Liberty, N.Y. to look at a bungalow colony for sale: 19 buildings, a weedy pool, 17 acres, which would have required each of us to put up $5,000. Yes, it’s the one (or the 19) that got away, if only because the real estate agent gave us bad directions and we never found it. The next week I took off for grad school in Arizona, and the bungalow colony dream died.
Or, rather, it slept. But in the last few years I’ve become aware that the dream is actually alive and well, with a number of bungalow colonies thriving Upstate. Most of them seem to be in Sullivan County, a fair drive west of the Hudson, which isn’t the best location for me, as it’s far from my brother in Tivoli (aka Shangri-la). Still, this one intrigues me. The Lake Huntington Summer Community, self-described as “a warm weather redoubt for generations of city dwellers looking for a fun, relaxing, affordable vacation,” has all that I dream of in a communal-ish vacation scheme. There’s the, you know, lake, plus a pool, woods and fields, tennis and tree houses, privacy and community, both, with emphasis on community. You can rent a place for as little as $650 a week, although the ones with the word “quiet” in the description give me pause about the potential loudness of the others.
Their description of three-season life there sounds great to me: “It’s retro (as in salsa and potlucks) and communal (most owners live in NYC so we’re used to schmoozing). You can take or leave the many activities such as pot luck dinners, talent shows, movie night, game night, pool, lake and field days, dances, bonfires, sing-a-longs, and spooky nights.” I know that for many, going to the country is no fun with manicured lawns and neighbors, neighbors, neighbors. Not so for me. I want to hike during the day and join the Scrabble tournament by night. I haven’t yet rented a bungalow colony here but I’m tempted, and I aim to keep track of other options.
And, should another vacant 19-cabin colony suddenly go on the market, I’m rounding up my friends again, and this time we’ll actually find the place.