As I post this final section of our 2019 road trip in late January 2020 I have already planned the itinerary for a spring trip only three months away. The week ahead promises subfreezing temperatures and I’m hoping for dry (frozen and free of snow) roads in early April so we can escape before mud season.
Friends and Family in the Home Stretch
National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan
This may be news to some of you but not to others: “Toni has a love affair with cherries”. She owns at least two cherry pitters and has a gifted several others. At the beginning of our trip four months ago she secretly repacked the cherry pitter, which I had surreptitiously removed weeks before from the kitchen galley of the teardrop. That said when she heard of the annual National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan and asked if we could stop there the next day I knew better than to even hint that it would add hours to our travel time.
Cherry Pitter: an essential tool when making cherry pies!
After finding a place to park at a Meijer grocery store some distance from the city center and catching the shuttle bus (which is why we parked there), we made our way to the festival. It was a mostly commercial affair with several food vendors and some commercial exhibits, BUT there were no fresh cherries. It was a late spring and we were weeks ahead of the cherry harvest. The main event of the day was a Native American powwow which attracted dancers of all ages from as far away as Toronto Canada.
As we made our way towards the exit we stopped at some of the booths and got our picture taken by a young woman who was doing promotion for the event.
Lima, OH, Hometown of Toni Hover
Toni’s sister, Paula, and her husband Doug as well as her high school good friend, Anne still live there. We arrived on July 3rd, were welcomed with hugs and got the updated nickel tour of the house and grounds. Paula has several shaded gardens and two goldfish ponds with little fountains. We relaxed outside on the lawn chairs engaged with the neighbors (many were curious about the teardrop) and admired Paula’s friendliness with the garbage pickup crew as she gave them cold water and fresh fruit.
The next morning the annual Fourth of July fun race went by their front door. We cheered them on and then waited for the main parade. That afternoon Toni and I walked to the cemetery where her mother and father are buried. And that evening we sat in the backyard and watched a very high class pyrotechnic fireworks display.
Columbus, OH, home of OSU and Toni’s good college friend
Darrell rolled out the carpet to make us welcome. It seemed like he couldn’t do enough, but in fact he did more than enough. He took us out to dinner, drove us around the city to his favorite places and then to the OSU campus for a tour to update Toni on their current amenities. Darrell and I had several opportunities to sit and chat while Toni immersed herself as she reminisced about her landmark years as a college student here. He especially remarked how engaged she was as she walked around the quadrangle where her forestry professor taught his class about the common species of trees of Ohio. Her other favorite was the topiary garden in Columbus’s Discovery District. The sculpted trees depict the figures from George Seurat’s 1884 painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande.
Returning home by a route that would keep us off the major highways at least part of the time reminded me of why I like to research ahead of time and make advanced reservations for campgrounds. After missing our exit off the Pennsylvania Turnpike, getting lost and then at dusk arriving at and quickly rejecting a campground (Salt Springs State Park) with no obvious campsites we rolled into Elmira, New York and checked into a Red Roof Motel around 10 PM (after asking for a room change when the first one smelled like cat urine).
The next day driving diagonally Northeast across Central New York the countryside reminded me of the area I grew up in. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion and I felt I was home six hours before we actually arrived in South Royalton, Vermont.
Home Sweet Home
Arriving home after four months on the road was all the sweeter because of the care provided by the two women who lived there in our absence. Last January as we approached our departure date we thought it would be nice to offer our home to someone who could look after it while we were gone. We made a decision to open our home to house sharing with two seasonal Rangers at the marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historic Park where we volunteer during the summer. The park season ends in late October which meant we would be truly “house sharing” including the kitchen. Before we knew it Julia and Jennifer (both of whom we had met the previous summer) had responded to our invitation. That meant some serious scrambling to clean out the collection of “stuff” that had collected over the years in the downstairs hallway and the two rooms that we would make available. What a difference some tidying up and fresh coats of paint can make.
Julia has a love of flowers and she planted them in our garden and in the planting bed near our entry which required some major cleanup before she could do that. In the latter half of the summer we always had fresh flowers cut from the garden in our home on a regular basis.
Jen, with property maintenance in her background, mowed the lawn, rototilled the garden and planted vegetables. When we arrived home we had fresh greens from the garden and a variety of other vegetables as the garden matured during the summer.
On their days off they would often disappear to visit other family members in Vermont or in Maine. One of Julia’s passions is round dancing which drew her away several weekends. Jen became a grandmother for the second time in late summer so she could often be found rocking that new baby on her days off.
On one of her days off Jen, along with Toni and myself, spent the day kayaking on the Green River Reservoir north of Morrisville, Vermont. Here are a few pictures we took that day:
So long, ’till next time.