Saturday, July 18, 2009

West Sand Lake, New York

We drove for five hours from Buffalo to the Albany area, and had to pay $63 at the end of the toll road! That’s for five axels, and was by far the most expensive toll in our 13 months on the road. Welcome to New York!

We arrived at the Besch Farm late in the evening, greeted by Nana, Poppa, Clipper, and Wendy. Tucker and Avery were in bed, so playing with cousins would have to wait. This is where Thom spent most of his childhood years growing up.

We settled into the apartment above the garage the next day. Thom, Clipper, Eric, and their parents lived here about 42 years ago when they were expanding the farmhouse next door. Since then, it’s been the home for Thom’s grandparents, brother Fred, and also for Thom’s parents when their new home was being built across the pasture. Now it’s our temporary home, and boy is it nice to have space.

The kids love playing with their cousins, Tucker (10) and Avery (8). The built-in pool is right out our back door. The big red barn is only about 100 yds away, with chickens wandering around. The kids collect fresh eggs daily. I believe the farm has 150 acres. Thom’s happy to be here and is finding many projects to keep him busy. He drove up in a tractor yesterday after chain sawing a bunch of wood. The boys helped him stack it for Nana and Poppa. Robby and Will have been working hard using the power washer to get old paint off a fence around the pool. They’ll start painting soon.
We celebrated Poppa’s 79th birthday on July 16 with a chicken dinner in our apartment, followed by cake and ice-cream. It was the first time Thom was able to be with his Dad on his birthday in probably 4 or 5 years.

We’ll soon be looking at houses in the area. It would be nice to settle here, close to the family and farm. School starts in about 5 weeks, so we need to make some decisions. Thom’s brother, Fred owns a house on 13 acres around the corner. Fred moved to Truckee, CA and would like to sell us the house. So that’s a possibility.

Thom’s still pursuing a few jobs outside of New York. One is in Golden, CO where he had a good interview on July 9. The interviewer emailed Thom yesterday saying he’d like Thom to fly back for a second interview! Thom also interviewed for a job nearby in Pittsfield, MA and is hoping for a second interview. There’s still the possibility of accepting the solid offer in defense contracting in Tampa, FL. So we pray daily for wisdom as we make this important next step.

July 15, 2009 – Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York
We’ve put on hundreds of miles since our Denver departure five days ago. Now we’re in New York, the 8th state since Colorado. The bread basket of the Midwest has endless miles of corn fields!

We arrived in Nappanee, Indiana in the evening, parked the motor coach at Newmar, and jumped on our bikes to ride over to the Burkholder’s for dinner. Marlene had fresh green beans from her garden, along with coleslaw and hot potatoes awaiting us. Michael had cooked up burgers and hotdogs. It was wonderful spending time with our Amish friends again. We were last in this area at the end of May. Kari laughed as she played with the boys, and Larry compared stories with us about Pike’s Peak and other Colorado landmarks. To celebrate Thom’s 50th birthday, Marlene baked four desserts including chocolate cake, rhubarb pie, cream pie, and the kids’ favorite….peanut butter pie. We were all stuffed!

Newmar worked on our coach the next morning to replace a headlight part. While they worked on it, we headed to breakfast at our favorite local restaurant, the Corner Café. Amanda, the waitress, remembered us and even recalled that the boys like hot chocolate, Thom drinks decaf, and I prefer regular coffee…that’s great service! The boys were thrilled to return to the Burkholder’s home for the rest of the day where they helped with chores and rode bareback on Princess the Pony. Thom and I tracked down Sara with Jonas’ help, and boy was she surprised to see us! Sara was our first friend in the area who then introduced us to her family and friends two months ago.

That night, all three families got together at La Fogata Mexican Restaurant in town. Larry treated us to an open buggy ride with his horse, Rose leading the way. We all loved riding along on a sunny evening with our friends. Sara, John, Jonas, and Jonathon joined us also and we had a great visit while enjoying authentic Mexican food. Marlene shared so many gifts with us including homemade cookies, produce from her garden, pie, coffee mugs, key chains, and magnets, while Sara gave us 3 dozen fresh eggs, green beans, and more yummy cookies. The kids had so much fun playing together, and we enjoyed the conversation with everyone. It was hard saying goodbye to our wonderful friends as we headed out the next morning.

From Indiana, we continued east through Ohio, the NW part of Pennsylvania, and into New York. This morning we left the RV in the Sam’s Club parking lot while we popped over the border into Canada to see Niagara Falls. You can see the Falls from the US, but the best views are from Canada. Today was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for walking alongside Niagara Falls. Robby and Will were here about 10 years ago, but they don’t remember the trip.

What an amazing volume of water pouring over the Falls every second! We all threw pennies over the Falls making wishes. The greenish-blue water looks incredibly clear as it crashes over the Falls. I learned that the Horseshoe Falls, those on the Canadian side are receding one foot per year, due to erosion of the rocks.

Thom took us to the Dare Devils’ Museum, which not only tells about the crazy, courageous people who went over the Falls, but also displays the wooden barrels, steel barrels, and boats designed to accomplish this feat. I think 15 people intentionally went over Niagara Falls, and 10 survived. To read their stories is unbelievable. Many did it for fame. Some did it multiple times. I was surprised to read that at least 5 or 6 have done it in the past 25 years. It’s illegal and the US fines a person $25,000 for doing this, while Canada’s fine is a mere $10,000.

Sam must have asked me 10 times if I’d be scared to go down Niagara Falls. Of course I’d be terrified, I told him. What terrifies me even more is his curiosity about it, especially when he finished our visit proclaiming that he wants to go over Niagara Falls one day, or at least ride the treacherous rapids and whirlpool further down the river!

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