Friday, July 1, 2011

Completing the Circle

We were back in New Jersey for Memorial Day weekend. Parked in Mom & John's driveway once more, we almost immediately began the hunt for a house without wheels.
Gardening with Babci
Not knowing where we'll be next is a little unsettling but it feels good knowing we'll be in one place for a while now. I look forward to unearthing all our non-camper stuff and cleaning out yet again! We're not sure if we'll keep the camper and truck but if we sell it there's always our tent for little excursions when the bug bites us.

With Dad by the River at Camp Carr

Our "new" backpack from Tanya

Eating Lessons
For now, we'll spend a week at Camp Carr by the river then come back to Voorhees Road before heading down to Ocean City, New Jersey for two weeks at the beach with family. We have two very exciting weddings coming up also. Our friend Jen who works with Chris and one of my bridesmaids, Kristin, has hired me for her own wedding in Rhode Island!
Grass Squeak Lessons

Napping on the Flipside in my G's

Flipping the page for Dad

Chris will return to his teaching position at Voorhees and Lily and I will develop a new routine without him during the days. I've tried, during this adventure, to imagine myself years later thinking back on this time. It helps me appreciate the simplicity, freedom, and gifts that this arrangement has afforded us. I can't possibly know where we're going but I know where we've been and it's been an awesome ride.
Lily and the House

Muzzie & Popsie’s House

View of the Hudson Valley from the Hamilton Fish Bridge
We crossed yet another vast river, the Hudson, and another, the Connecticut, before entering Old Lyme and assuming our “regular site” behind the barn at my parents’ house. I’ve driven over both rivers too many times to count but they are both more awe-inspiring to me having been tuned in to the grandeur of our natural landscapes on this trip. I was even impressed by the field of yellow turnip flowers blooming from my Dad’s Biologic planting. And by the pond I grew up swimming, fishing, and playing in. And even by the huge oak trees that dot the perimeter of their property.
Lily naps in Chris' lap under the awning

My parents have, over many years, created a sanctuary. Their house, yard, and outbuildings were all too easy to take for granted when I was growing up. I said some of this in my winter visit blog but it being spring almost summer now I see how their work has paid off in so many ways.

Muzzie and Popsie know how to host…we were treated to so many tasty meals during our stay. We got to lounge in the grass with Lily and I even got to take two trips down to see Kermit alone. What a special treat this was; Muzzie and Chris watched Lily while I took the hour drive to Bethany. I rode and generally got dirty which was perfect therapy for my weary body and soul. My seat bones ached for a while afterwards but it was worth it!
Lily & Muzzie talk about the grass
Lily laughs histerically at Muzzie and vice versa. They are too funny to watch when they get going. It was pretty special that during our week in Old Lyme we were visited by Nana from down the driveway, 

Lily’s Auntie Mary and cousin Jack (6 months) from New Hampshire, 

Lily’s Auntie Emily and Moose (dog) from Massachusetts, 

and my grandparents Grap and Grandpa from New Hampshire! 

Popsie, Lily and I went tag-sale-ing one Saturday morning. We didn’t find much good except one house with a ton of baby clothes so I scored a couple of good deals there but mostly it was just nice being out with Dad. Muzzie and Popsie are connecting the garage to the house this summer so they had to move several bushes while we were there. Again, it was just nice sitting nearby on a blanket with Lily watching them work while Chris worked on sabbatical stuff.
Lily working on her walking skills
Most mornings we’d see Muzzie shooing the geese off the lawn so they wouldn’t provide poop-meals for Breezy their 8-month-old black lab. Dad would go off to work, come home later and get to work on the garden or another project. Chris and Muzzie took a number of great walks over to Roger’s Lake. When Mary and Emily were with us we all went for a trek: Mom, Mary, Emily, Me, Chris, Lily, Jack, Breezy, and Moose. Phew!

Change of Plans

We left Ohio on I-80 East and decided to forgo our prior idea of visiting the Ecovillage at Ithaca, New York. Instead we made reservations for one night at Bald Eagle State Park near State College, Pennsylvania. We had visited there before on our way back from a Michigan or Notre Dame trip in ’09 so we knew it was a nice park. Our site faced an overgrown meadow that was filled with birds and lush underbrush and young forest growth.
Packing up at Bald Eagle
It was at Bald Eagle where Lily first expressed her desire for Mom and Mom only. We took her on a walk in the stroller thinking she needed a nap but she just kept crying so Chris took her out and tried to keep walking. But, it wasn’t until I took her that she immediately stopped crying and we knew what was up.

It poured the night before our arrival and soon after we were packed up to leave the sky opened up. We hadn’t driven in rain until entering Pennsylvania. What a blessing to have been so flexible to avoid major snow and rain and wind on this trip.

We left Bald Eagle and continued through the lush green scenery that lines I-80 East. Eventually we started seeing familiar signs: Camelback billboards, To Scranton, and Stroudsburg such and such miles. I got itchy and questioned our plans. We were originally heading to Promised Land State Park near Milford, Pennsylvania for one night then to Old Lyme with my parents. We were so close to New Jersey though!

We exited toward Easton, crossed the Delaware on Route 22 and pulled up in front of the Donofry’s house in Alpha, New Jersey. We rang the doorbell and were greeted by Chris’ sister, Lisa, who was in perfect disbelief and quickly called for Elizabeth (6) to come see who had arrived! Jacob (10) and Joshua (17) were also home and completely surprised by our presence. My cheeks hurt from smiling at seeing them all again as it’s not ever been so long between visits.

Jake and Elizabeth help Chris set up the camper in the driveway and we all vowed not to tell Babci (Chris’ mom) that we were there. We went to Pohatcong to watch Jake’s baseball game which was fun in and of itself. Christiana (18) met us there after arriving home to see our camper in the driveway but no one in sight! After a great meal and lots of laughs with Lily, we retired to the camper in yet another awesome driveway location.

We pulled into Dolores and John’s driveway the next day and went ringing at the front door but Mom wasn’t as surprised…I think she was on to our change of plans when she couldn’t get a straight answer out of Chris about where we’d be staying these two nights! She lovingly tracked our itinerary and accepted our check-in calls at each new place along the way around the country. We just loved this brief but warming visit with them and were of course welcomed to a big meal in the house. Lily awed and astounded all with her blossoming personality and wobbly walking about holding our fingers.
By chance, it was Wednesday and Chris’ brother Cas was working in nearby Califon so we got to see him for lunch. We called his daughters to share that we’d be at Mom’s for a night if they wanted to come by so sure enough Nicole (16) came driving up with her Dad on the passenger side later that evening. Lindsey (18) was working so we’d have to wait until our return for good to see her.

How energizing and comforting it was to see our Jersey family, if only for a short time, on our way through. Home is where your heart is and our hearts are largely with our families.