A Happy and Thankful Thanksgiving

IMG_0004.JPGWe arrived in Union, Kentucky late yesterday afternoon. We left North Branford Tuesday morning and drove through New York, New Jersey, and into Pennsylvania before stopping for the night in Washington, PA, south of Pittsburgh. We stayed at a nice KOA campground where full hookups were available. While it was cold, there was no precipitation during the night. The campground was fairly quiet, just freeway noise from I-79.

We were on our way by 9 am and arrived at Jim’s house right at 4 pm. We drove through serious snow for the first hour or so. The rest of the trip was very uneventful.

We’ve had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, played some games, enjoyed a fire in the fireplace, and getting ready for bed.

Life is good!

A Few Pictures from Our Visit to Chardon, Ohio

Our House on Thwing Road
Our House on Thwing Road
We bought this house when we returned to the United States in 1976 from our assignment in Germany. The house was almost finished when we bought it, so we stayed in an Howard Johnson motel for a few weeks while waiting for the occupancy permit to be issued. We sold the house in 1989 when we moved to Pleasant View, Utah.


Our Chardon House
Our Chardon House
The people who bought the house in 1989 have lived there since and the woman is now a widow. The trees and foliage have just about consumed the house. The driveway is like it was … with the bend in the driveway just as bad as it always was. This is the house where our kids all grew up.


Dinner With Ed and Pam
Dinner With Ed and Pam
We went out to eat twice with Pam and Ed. This one was at the Red Robin restaurant in Willougby, Ohio for lunch. The snow had started and by evening we had plenty of snow to contend with on the drive home.


The Band Practicing on Tuesday Night
The Band Practicing on Tuesday Night
Ed and his buddies get together each Tuesday evening to practice for a couple of hours. Nina, Pam, and I had spent the day visiting the covered bridges in Ashtabula County and got back to Pam’s house just in time for the boys to start practicing. The next two and a half hours were just absolutely delightful. Ed has an amazing talent!


Chardon Town Square
Chardon Town Square
We lived about 13 years in Chardon and the downtown area was an important part of Chardon life. In the 1830’s, Kirtland was part of Geauga County where Chardon was the county seat. As a result, Joseph Smith went often (particularly in 1838 and 1839) to Chardon for various court appearances. The Ohio Legislature created a new county called Lake County in 1840 to separate the Mormons from the rest of northeastern Ohio. By that time, the Mormons had left the area for Missouri and Illinois.


Geauga County Courthouse
Geauga County Courthouse
The Geauga County Courthouse sits on the eastern side of the central park in Chardon.


The Gazebo on the Green
The Gazebo on the Green
The gazebo on the green is a favorite spot for weddings and many other community events. We would come up to the green in the summer for band concerts in the gazebo. Ed and his band plays occasionally in the gazebo or elsewhere on the green during the summer.


Panorama of the Chardon Green
Panorama of the Chardon Green
About 4″ of snow had fallen when we drove around the square taking pictures. By the next morning close to a foot of snow was on the ground. Chardon gets a lot of snow, particularly lake effect snow from Lake Erie.


Park Auditorium
Park Auditorium
The Park Auditorium and School was an elementary school and the only school auditorium when we lived in Chardon. Since then it looks like a nice auditorium has been built at the high school. All of our children performed in plays, musicals, recitals, and other events in this auditorium.


Chardon High School
Chardon High School
James, Heather, and Dawnmarie all graduated from Chardon High School. We moved to Pleasant View, Utah when Trevor was a senior. He attended all but his final semester in Chardon but graduated from Weber High in Pleasant View, Utah.


Snow and Ice Covered Motor Home
Snow and Ice Covered Motor Home
We left Chardon, heading towards Albany, New York on Saturday, November 15th. The big lake-effect storm was underway. This was the storm that dropped six feet of snow in the Buffalo, New York area. We had nine inches of snow that required me to climb up on the roof and remove the snow so that we could close the slide-out. With that, we said goodbye to Pam and drove off. We stopped to get gas at the freeway entrance at I-80 and Ohio Route 44 … and Pam showed up to say one last goodbye!

Pictures From Indiana

Welcome to Otterbein
Welcome to Otterbein
We lived for a couple of years in Otterbein, Indiana, so for purposes of documenting life story, we stopped and took a few pictures.


Welcome to Otterbein
Welcome to Otterbein
The church is across the street from the grade school on the corner of Church and Oxford street. The building and surrounding area has not changed at all.


Chardon Grade School
Chardon Grade School
Our oldest son Jim walked from home to first grade in this school. It looks pretty much the same!


Sign in Front of Grade School
Sign in Front of Grade School
I hadn’t remembered the school’s mascot … the “Red Devils”. I think this is an appropriate name for grade-school-aged children! Jim attended the first grade at this school. We moved to Mentor On the Lake, Ohio where he attended second grade.


Panorama By Our House
Panorama By Our House
The house we owned way back then is on the right and the field across the street from the house is on the left. A new church has been built in that field. During the couple of years we lived there, crops in the field alternated between corn and soy beans.


Our Otterbein House
Our Otterbein House
We bought the house because house payments were cheaper than paying rent, we could buy for nothing down on a VA loan, and we could get a few extra dollars each month while going to school to help pay the mortgage. We bought the house for $12,000 and sold it for $12,000 a couple of years later when we were transferred to Cleveland, Ohio. All in all, we saved a little bit and learned a lot about owning a house!


Side View of Otterbein House
Side View of Otterbein House
The house has since gotten new aluminum siding and looks quite a bit better than when we owned it! In addition, there used to be a window on this side of the house upstairs. A bat flew in the open window one night. Getting the bat out of the house was a memorable event!

The lot was 1/3 acre and the first couple of times mowing the lawn with a manual push mower convinced us to buy a power mower. We had a nice garden along with some excellent tomatoes. The city was building a municipal sewer system, but that hadn’t reached our part of town. The septic system was under the grass to the south side of the house. The septic system had lots of problems and needed pumping out about every six months.


Front of Otterbein House
Front of Otterbein House
Another significant change to the house was replacing the screened-in porch with a new porch. We used to enjoy sitting in on the porch watching the thunderstorms that occurred regularly during July and August. Some of the lightning shows were very spectacular.


First Apartment in West Lafayette
First Apartment in West Lafayette
We moved to West Lafayette, Indiana after getting out of the Air Force in the fall of 1968. I was attending Purdue University. We arrived just as the school year was starting and apartments were difficult to find. We ended up with a six-month lease in an apartment in this apartment complex. The Church was within walking distance (the building has since been sold and a new building erected). Purdue, however, was quite a distance away so Nina usually drove me to school. I was working midnights at Purdue National Bank, going to school in the mornings, and trying to get some sleep in the evenings. The whole combination didn’t work very well.

We then rented an apartment on Wood Street in West Lafayette. It was within walking distance of Purdue so the transportation issues became much easier. The house has been torn down as Purdue expanded into that neighborhood. From Wood Street we bought a house in Otterbein, Indiana.


Indiana Veterans Home
Indiana Veterans Home
The Indiana Veterans Home was a short distance from our first apartment in West Lafayette, Indiana. Nina’s father George spent the last couple of years of his life in the veterans home. He had been an officer in the Navy during World War II. He had moved to Indiana while we were living in Otterbein, met a delightful woman, married her, and spent the rest of his life in Lafayette / West Lafayette, Indiana.

Catch Up on Pictures … A Photo Gallery

Driving Into Snow
Driving Into Snow
This was the first of several snow storms we have driven through on the trip. We were driving from Laramie towards Cheyenne when the snow started to fall.


Pine Bluffs Campground
Pine Bluffs Campground
This campground has the significant attribute of being next to a Very Busy Railroad. Trains and whistles all night long … with no breaks, it seems.


Double Nickel Campgroundl
Double Nickel Campgroundl
This campground had new owners who were busy making a number of renovations. A big plus for this place are the swings at every camp site. Definitely worth the stop.


A Closed DQ
A Closed DQ
We stopped for gas and saw a Dairy Queen across the highway. It was time for ice cream! Problem: the DQ was closed for the season. While turning around we saw this old car for sale. Nina had me take her picture (on her phone) beside the car.


Carl Sandburg's Birthplace
Carl Sandburg’s Birthplace
We stopped at Carl Sandburg’s birthplace in Galesburg, Illinois. On a previous trip to South Carolina we stopped at the house he lived in later years and where he died, so it seemed fitting to fill in the gap and stop at his birthplace.


Ashes Interred
Ashes Interred
This is the back yard of the house where Carl Sandburg was born. His ashes are interred under the rock at the back of the yard.


Caterpillar Visitor Center
Caterpillar Visitor Center
As we drove into Peoria, we weren’t planning on stopping. We were going to drive further south to Springfield, Illinois to visit some Abraham Lincoln sites. However, there was an accident on the I-474 freeway (a truck hauling a wind turbine rolled over causing some injuries) so I decided to continue into Peoria. Then we saw a sign for the “Caterpillar Visitor’s Center” and decided to stop and see some of their big machines. The visitor’s center was a lot of fun and very informative.

As we drove away, however, somethings (plural) were wrong. There was an unusual sound in the front end and a tire was thumping in the rear. We went to a tire shop who couldn’t work on vehicles of our size and sent us up the street. The Bridgestone store found we had a flat inner tire on the passenger side as well as a missing bushing for the tie rod on the passenger front tire. They were able to fix both and get us back on the road in a couple of hours.


Driving Through New York
Driving Through New York
We were able to miss the major lake-effect snow fall that buried western New York State. We drove the “Southern Tier Expressway” through Elmira, Corning, and Binghampton eventually ending up in Glenmont, NY, a suburb of Albany. There was some snow along our route, but we had a nice day for driving.


Nina Piloting the Motor Home
Nina Piloting the Motor Home
Nina prefers to drive and I like to watch everything going on around us.

Life is great!

Visiting Family in Connecticut

Little Free Library
Little Free Library

We have arrived at our next significant stop on this Great American Road Trip … North Branford, Connecticut, home of Nina’s cousins Linda and Chris. Our motor home is parked in their driveway and we’re sleeping indoors in one of the bedrooms affectionately named “The Honeymoon Suite”. It’s a nice, warm queen-sized bed and we’re sleeping very well.

Both Linda and Chris work the afternoon shift. However, Linda has had yesterday and today off from work and Chris will have tomorrow and Sunday off from work so we’ll get a lot of time with each of them during our visit. Yesterday we did some shopping and local sightseeing. Today we drove down the coast towards New York followed by a brief visit to Chris at her work.

In addition to visiting and sightseeing, Nina is also copying a whole bunch of family history information. She’s set up in the dining area with the scanner and her computer scanning in pictures and lots of other information. There is quite a treasure trove of information here!

Tomorrow we’ll make our way over to visit with Peter and Maureen. On Monday we hope to get into New York to see Sister Kendra Baker, our granddaughter missionary. Nina visited with her mission president today who gave us permission to spend some time with her on Monday. That should be a fun visit!

Along to way today, I saw a box on a fence at a larger intersection. We stopped to see that it was a “Little Free Library” (see littlefreelibrary.org). It was worthy of a picture! Quite a few books in the box.

Chris, Nina, and Linda
Chris, Nina, and Linda
Chris works at a call center which does solicitations for various organizations. We stopped in at her work area just before her shift started to say hello and see where she works. She’s a supervisor at the company and was surprised to see us. We had a short but delightful visit.

It is definitely Very Chilly here in Connecticut. However, life is very good!

Sightseeing In and Around Albany … and Ice Cream!

IMG_0002.JPGThis is our last day visiting with Nina’s cousin Priscilla. We’ll leave tomorrow morning to move a little bit further east from the winter storm going on to the west of us. The weather turns back warm this coming weekend. It can’t happen soon enough for me!

We had another laid-back day. A leisurely breakfast, showers, and such. We left about 11:30 am and headed north to meet Priscilla’s daughter for lunch. Then we took a short tour of the Capitol area in Albany then headed way south to an octagonal barn that Nina had seen the last time (a 13-sided barn) when she and her sister Pam were here. Then back near our starting point for ice cream. Nina had a bowl of strawberry ice cream topped with chocolate chips and I had a bowl vanilla ice cream with hot fudge. Very nice. The ice cream shop was definitely “old school” and the picture above is the inside of the shop.

Now we’re watching some TV and relaxing. Later we’ll be getting the motor home ready to roll.

Life continues to be great!

Sightseeing in Albany

IMG_0001.JPGWe’ve had a very laid-back, pleasant day. The weather has been pretty lousy today … lots of rain, windy, very chilly (high of 36 degrees). We had a late breakfast and about noon left the house and did some sightseeing. We visited a museum in Schenectady featuring a lot of General Electric history along with a reasonable planatorium.

After the museum we had lunch / dinner at a deli that Priscilla has eaten at a number of times. The picture with this post is from inside the deli. Chili and cornbread was the special and my choice. We’re back home chatting and paying minimal attention to the TV.

We’re hanging around here one more day. It’s supposed to be cold tomorrow, but no rain or snow in the forecast. Wednesday is forecast to be mostly sunny, a much better day for traveling. Here in Albany it’ll be in the 50’s next Monday. By the way, I’ve been schooled on how to pronounce Albany … It’s kind of like “owl-bany” or “ahhh – l – bany”, close to how we pronounce Albania. I’m still working on that. Haven’t mastered it, yet.

Life is great!

Glenmont, New York! We’ve Arrived at the Next Big Stop

Getting the motor home ready to leave Chardon was a bit of a chore … we had more than nine inches of snow! I had to climb up on the roof to move the snow off so we could close the slideout. The valve for the grey water tank was frozen, so I wasn’t able to dump the tanks before we left. The GPS said 8 hours from Chardon to Nina’s cousin Priscilla in Glenmont, New York. I was hoping to be gone by 10, but it was much closer to 11 before we actually drove away.

The drive was completely uneventful. We drove through a few snow squalls but the roads were for the most part dry and occasionally wet. However, at least half of the drive was in the dark. We decided that we won’t do any more driving at night. We don’t have a hard schedule, so we don’t need to do night-time driving.

We’re parked in Priscilla’s driveway. We’ll be here a couple of days before heading eastward to Connecticut. The weather forecast is for rain / snow / ice over the next couple of days. That’s not particularly exciting….

We went to the Albany First Ward for Sacrament Meeting this morning. A high councilor spoke and the bishop spoke. It was an excellent meeting and both Nina and I were very impressed.

The high councilor spoke about temporal and spiritual self reliance. In the talked he related an experience he had as a Branch President in a meeting with Elder Scott, an apostle. He had asked how he, as a Branch President, can help his branch come closer to the Savior. The answer was very interesting to me: You must know the Savior!

The bishop spoke about gifts of love quoting from a talk given by President Henry Eyring when he was Director of Church Education in a speech given at BYU in 1980. The bishop elaborated President Eyring’s “Theory of Gift Giving and Receiving”. The theory had three key elements: (1) The giver feels what you feel and is touched, (2) the gift is free with no strings, and (3) the giver feels the sacrifice is a bargain. The bishop then challenged the ward to give a gift of love sometime during the coming holiday season.

We’ve spent the rest of the day just visiting. It’s been a nice Sunday.

Life is great!