New Orleans – Week 1

We’ve been packing in the sights on our off-hours this week. I’ve been getting up with Jesse and touring the French Quarter in the mornings, and then Dan takes her to a great 4.5 acre dog park at lunch, followed by adventures in Louis Armstrong park late afternoon, and then walking tour of the area. Phew, we’ve covered some miles this week! We also lucked into being in town for St Patrick’s Day, so got to see a full-on parade, bead madness (I even got a garter 😉 ) and a whole lot of drunk people wearing green. Once again I was surprised by the things that Jesse-dog counts as fun, but walking in a parade is on.

Kimbo and Jesse after the St Patrick's Day Parade

Kay and Jesse after the St Patrick’s Day Parade

One of the highlights was meeting up with my brother Dave, who happens to also be in town this week, competing in a national bridge tournament. We met up for dinner and cocktails afterward, with him, his bridge partner and friends. He also showed us around the tournament setup, and we got to see how real bridge is played. Impressive!

We spent today touring around the Garden District. Because none of the tour companies will allow dogs, we figured out self-guided walking tours and have been consulting our phones as we cruise around different historic areas. This walking tour worked out pretty well!

Welcome to the Garden District!

Welcome to the Garden District!

A dog-friendly mansion... Welcome to the garden district!

A dog-friendly mansion… Welcome to the garden district!

Author Anne Rice's home and the setting for the Mayfair Witches books

Author Anne Rice’s home and the setting for the Mayfair Witches books

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Touring through Lafayette Cemetary

I will write a poem about this shoe.

I will write a poem about this shoe.

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Tiptoe through the clover… the grass is always greener… so many tacky options for this caption 😉

 

Whirlwind Drive to New Orleans

We traveled through four states in a day… what a whirlwind! And Sunday night we landing in New Orleans!

Hello Ala-Missi-Lou!

Hello Ala-Missi-Lou!

We’re staying put for two weeks, and have found an awesome location just a couple of blocks off of the French Quarter. It’s very strange; right next to St Louis Cemetary #1, at the end of a dark alley, is a quite nice RV park (minus the giant billboard in the center). Great services, excellent security and as you can see here, most convenient freeway access 😉 We have our own patch of grass, a cobblestone parking area, and full hookups. Jesse and I tour the quarter every morning before work (and right after the street cleaners have been through), and have made lots of local friends. She loves it; what an urban girl! Here are some shots of our first hours in the city.

We are here!

We are here!

Dan and Jesse whooping it up on Bourbon St.

Dan and Jesse whooping it up on Bourbon St.

Parades everywhere!

Parades everywhere!

Cafe du Monde... Home of the world's greatest chicory coffee and beignets! I even brought one back for Dan to try.

Cafe du Monde… Home of the world’s greatest chicory coffee and beignets! I even brought one back for Dan to try.

Goodbye Pensacola

We had a great week in Big Lagoon SP, just outside of Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle. Our good friend Gary D just moved to Atlanta, and he drove down on the weekend with his love, Susan, to spend time with us. The weather held out for fun bonfires, and Gary and I have spent so many years (decades?) hanging around the campfire that it felt like old times. The weather held out for us, as there were huge storms all around us, but managed to miss us by miles. Good times with great friends, and the perfect way to say goodbye to Florida!

Gary, Susan and Otis at camp

Gary, Susan and Otis at camp

Gary and Dan

Gary and Dan

Gary and Kimbo

Gary and Kimbo

Our Last Week in Florida

It’s bittersweet as we prepare to get on the road again; what we planned as a 2 month layover in Florida to visit with my extended family has morphed into a glorious 4 months, but it’s time to set our sites West and prepare for the homeward journey.

We’ve had some really wonderful times with my family, and for the first time in almost 20 years, I’ve had the chance for leisurely get-togethers and deep time, rather than the usual frantic week or two ‘see everyone’ visits. We’ve been blessed to be 5 minutes from Mom’s house, so have spent many mornings and post-work afternoons walking with Mom, or spending time at her house visiting. With brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and aunts and uncles all in-state, it’s felt like one long, lovely family visit. And we even got a chance to spend a brief time with my best friend Pete, who visited his dad from Korea, and we were able to meet up.

After one last visit to the east coast with Mom and Aunt Barb this weekend to visit my sister Cindy, we’ll hit the road westward. We hope to meet up with our dear friend Gary on the Gulf coast, 2 weeks in New Orleans, then on to Texas to visit cousin Jake. After than, we’ll see where the wind (or the weather!) blows us.

We’ve obviously been having too much fun to update the blog, but here are some highlights in images from our last couple of months:

At the end of the road: Key West

Welcome to Florida!

 

Santa-Barb delivering presents

Santa-Barb delivering presents

Barb 'passes the hat' to Dan... Hello Santa Baby!!!

Barb ‘passes the hat’ to Dan… Hello Santa Baby!!!

Mom must have been good...her stocking overfloweth...

Mom must have been good…her stocking overfloweth…

Jesse and Don tussle for the mat

Jesse and Don tussle for the mat

New Year's Day at the beach with Shobi and Amiet

New Year’s Day at the beach with Shobi and Amiet

Jesse LOVES Shobi!!!

Jesse LOVES Shobi!!!

Visiting with Dave, Sinder and Sabrina in Orlando

Visiting with Dave, Sinder and Sabrina in Orlando (by Rollins College)

The 'Other Highway 1'... On the way to the end of the road, Key West

The ‘Other Highway 1’… On the way to the end of the road, Key West

We made it to the end of the road.... time to head home. Decision is made.

We made it to the end of the road…. and we make the decision that it’s time to head home.

Pete and Kimbo. Hard to believe he's been my BFF for almost 30 years!

Pete and Kimbo. Hard to believe he’s been my BFF for almost 30 years!

Love these guys! Pete, Kimbo and Dan hanging out on Sanibel Island

Love these guys! Pete, Kimbo and Dan hanging out on Sanibel Island

Sunset at the end of the road, and home to the world's greatest key lime pie

Sunset at the end of the road, and home to the world’s greatest key lime pie

A quick trip to Mexico to photograph Jillian and Monte's wedding

A quick trip to Mexico to photograph Jillian and Monte’s wedding

 

A quick trip to Mexico for Jillian and Monte's wedding

A quick trip to Mexico for Jillian and Monte’s wedding

A quick trip to Mexico for Jillian and Monte's wedding

A quick trip to Mexico for Jillian and Monte’s wedding

Next trip to Orlando... Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure with Amiet and Sabrina

Next trip to Orlando… Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure with Amiet and Sabrina

Butterbeer in Diagon Alley. Perhaps not the best 9:00 am dietary choice...

Butterbeer in Diagon Alley. Perhaps not the best 9:00 am dietary choice…

More fun at Universal

More fun at Universal

One of my favorite places to hike (Oscar Scherer SP), and my first decent photo of an eagle

One of my favorite places to hike (Oscar Scherer SP), and my first decent photo of an eagle

Hiking at Oscar Scherer SP; I'll miss this place

Hiking at Oscar Scherer SP; I’ll miss this place

Happy New Year from the Bermenders!

As 2014 comes to a close, it feels right to take a reflective moment to think about all of our friends and family, many of whom we’ve missed seeing this year while on the road – know that we think of you often. We hope that this holiday season finds you well, and that it’s been a good year for your and yours.

2014 was our year of the nomad lifestyle (we’ve borrowed the phrase ‘technomads’ to describe our adventure). Kimberley started travel early, with a wonderful 80th birthday excursion to Guatemala with her Mom. She had a fabulous time, and has probably left a few locals confused with her mangled Spanish – but it was enough language to do lots of negotiating during many shopping trips. The people they met during the trip were wonderfully hospitable and generous with their beautiful country – this set the tone for the months to come.

Once back in CA, it was just a few weeks of packing up the house, and we set off on our ‘year-long’ (more on that later) work-camping trip across the States. You can check out our route , or follow the details of the adventures in the Technomads blog.

Quick summary: we’ve really loved our travels, have met many great people, and are awed every day by the beauty of this country. It’s been a lot of work, as we’ve been on the move almost every week until we hit Florida, but we feel like we had a good balance of experiencing different places without being too rushed. Jesse’s turned into quite a traveler, and has loved hiking the many trail miles that we’ve covered – we’ve even got to do bits of the Continental Divide, Mah Dah Hay, and Appalachian (well, 3 miles of that one 😉 ) trails. We’ve visited a total of 24 states so far – half of this great country’s mainland.

Happily, both of our bosses have felt like it was a successful experiment, and we’ve had no issues on the work front, huzzah! We wrapped up last year with the plan that Dan would be leaving his work at the Defense Language Institute, but they decided to allow him to work from the road, and it seems like all are happy with the situation.

Dan is returning to California for the first time since heading on the journey, to ring in the New Year with his Mom and family, and to spend some time at DLI doing some in-person work. Kay continues to enjoy her work for Symantec, and couldn’t imagine a better software gig. After taking a semester off from her MFA program in photography, she returned in the fall. Next semester marks the mid-point of her program, and she’ll begin her thesis work. Very scary and exciting!

We are currently spending three months in Florida, just five minutes from Kay’s Mom’s house, 2 miles from an awesome state park with lots of hiking, about 2 miles from paddleboarding the Intercoastal waterway, about 3 miles from a rad dog beach at the ocean… all in all a pretty good gig while we recharge the batteries to make the trek back across the States.

As mentioned, the year-long adventure is definitely expanding. We’ll be gone at least until the summer, and may end up settling elsewhere in California for a while. We’ll see where the wind blows us. For now, the plan is for Kay to head to Mexico in early Feb for friends’ wedding, and then we’ll hit the road again.

For those of you that we didn’t get a chance to see this year, please know that our thoughts are often with you and we’ll hope to see you soon. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday and happy 2015!

Happy Holidays,
Dan and Kimberley (and Jesse-dawg)

Happy New Year from the Bermenders!

Happy New Year from the Bermenders!

Florida for Christmas

It’s been a couple of months since the last post, so this post is going to be pretty big. A lot has gone on in the last while.

With our slow pace we followed the fall leaves all the way down the eastern states to Florida. It was an amazing journey.

 

Claytor Lake State Park VA

Claytor was an amazing display of how beautiful the fall colors can be.

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Grayson Highlands State Park VA

This site was recommended to us as one of the greatest sites in Virginia. It definitely lived up to the expectations.

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Appalachian Trail

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One of the favorite pictures of all time. Kimberley is down there grabbing a photo of a graveyard just past that amazing tree.

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Appalachian Trail

 

Kings Mountain SC

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The colors really are that caramel color during sunset.

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Crooked River State Park GA

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Jesse just heard Kimberley’s telling of “Why the chicken crossed the road”.

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Florida has bugs like nowhere else.

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A big and colorful grass hopper.

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Sugar mill ruins trail

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Reminds me of Indiana Jones

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Sugar mill ruins trail. The canopy is filled with Spanish Moss.

 

Cape Canaveral FL

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Welcome to Florida

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The surf Mecca. Also known to the locals as “The house that weed built”

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If you’re the 11 time surf champion of the world, you might get a 25 foot statue as well.

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Nice to see that Ron Jon had the modesty to put the Surfer Dude flag lower than both the FL state flag and the US flag. Shows class brah.

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Venice FL

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Jesse’s first swim in the Gulf of Mexico.

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My nephew owns this store. Way to go Amiet!

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Oscar Scherer State Park FL

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There’s a bald eagle in there right next to the cloud

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If you look closely you’ll see a wild turkey

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The coolest dog on the beach. It’s amazing his shades stayed on with all his running around.

 

Myakka State Forest FL

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A word about Christmas

I’d like to finish up this post with a word about Christmas, in particular about nut-crackers.  Having once been a functional instrument it has morphed into something quite different than how it started (like TV).

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In this picture you see two quite useless nut-crackers branded with kid friendly characters. With the Mickey nut-cracker you’d be lucky to be able to crack a roasted pistachio. The Charlie Brown nut-cracker probably can’t even crack bird seed.

Fortunately these crackers are child safe, but the professional adult versions are equally quite useless.

My 2 cents,

Dan

 

 

Virginia

Driving across the boroughs of New York in an RV with truck in tow, cross-town thanks to the ‘no commercial vehicles on parkways’ rule which somehow manages to include RVs, is definitely not for the faint of heart. Lucky for us, with Dan at the wheel and Jesse helpfully navigating while I took photos and exclaimed over random points of possible interest, we made it out of the big city and to our next stop at Elk Neck SP, MD.

Goodbye New York!

Goodbye New York!

Beautiful lighthouse, reminding me of Santa Cruz and our wedding day, though not-so-romantically named ‘Turkey Neck” – who looked out over the vastness of Chesapeake Bay, the historic landscape, and thought, yep, there’s a name for a lighthouse, sure does look like a turkey neck to me.” Between the turkey neck and overpopulation of Maryland’s state bird, the stinkbug, I really didn’t feel like we gave this park a fair shake. But if you’ve ever had to do hand-to-hand combat with two stinkbugs in a shower, you may forgive my lukewarm review.

Turkey Neck Lighthouse, Chesapeake Bay, MD

Turkey Neck Lighthouse, Chesapeake Bay, MD

We packed up and headed to Virginia to meet up with our friend Joe (Dan’s good friend since elementary school, and co-adventurer in DC, Santa Cruz and Hawaii) for the grand tour of Charlottesville and area. Hello, US history! We stayed in a little campsite on the James River, near Scottsville, where a levee was created to deal with regular flooding of the river – up to 40 feet some years! That levee was also the local dog-walking hangout, and I met lots of local folk, two and four-legged, who gave me the run-down on the area, pointed me to the local farmer’s market and to a day spa where I got my first massage in months – heavenly. The oldest church I saw was built in 1745 and the newest was 1850. We spent lots of evenings dining out with Joe, met up with and old California friend, Melanie, did a bit of wine tasting (who knew that Charlottesville has so many good vineyards?), and toured Monticello and the Madison estate (where we had a partial tour by Joe’s dad, who is a docent there) as well as a visit into the mountains to the Walton museum (my idea ;). We crammed a lot of sightseeing into a week, and managed to get a good bit of work done, as well. One of the joys of our travel is meeting old friends in new places, and Joe is a master tour guide.

Joe, Dan & Mr. and Mrs. Lynch Joe, Dan & Mr. and Mrs. Lynch[/caption]

Madison House, VA

Madison House, VA

[caption id="attachment_809" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Walking the Levee Walking the Levee

We continued to chase the fall foliage as we headed to Claytor Lake, VA, where we spent some lovely hiking time, but with weather in the mid-fifties and overcast, I wasn’t too interested in getting out paddling and taking advantage of the lake. As I hiked through the forest, I started two new photo projects – I’ve been waiting a while for inspiration to hit, so am excited to get my mind and eye focused. We then spent the weekend at Grayson Highlands SP, well in the Blue Ridge mountains (is it the highest peak in VA?). We were expecting a huge colorful array of foliage, but instead found bare trees – it turns out that cold and wind make for early winter. Despite the lack of vibrant color, we had a great time doing some challenging hikes, including getting on the Appalachian trail (OK, only for a couple of miles, but they were tough miles!), and following a creek to its source, skirting several waterfalls.
Today, I get on a plane in Charlotte, NC for a brief work visit back to CA. While the plane heads west, my thoughts are in the East.

I love this forest!

I love this forest!

Jesse leads the way onto the Appalachian Trail

Jesse leads the way onto the Appalachian Trail

Chasing waterfalls

Chasing waterfalls

Heading South for the Winter (New York photos)

Our northward journey has come to an end. Time to start following the flocks south.

I haven’t posted in awhile and we have a lot of new images to share from New York.

Green Lake State Park (Take 2)

We stayed here again for a couple of days after Kimberley returned from Burning Man.

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The lake is really that green.

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Wow! Imagine what the penalty is for J-walking…

 

Waddington

As Kimberley said in the last post, we stayed here for a couple of weeks. Fun times for sure.

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Great sunsets in Waddington.

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Cousin Kate is a natural. This was her first time on a paddle board.

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I love that sign.

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Nice day for a family photo.

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Barb, Buck, and Don spending time with us on the Saint Lawrence River.

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Jesse's getting the hang of the paddleboard - finally!

Kimberley posted this picture last week. I just want to say that this is actually really hard to do with a 35 pound dog running up and down the board. Not my most stylish moment ever either.

Adirondack Mountains

A couple hiking trips guided by Aunt Rose and Uncle Buck were great. Uncle Buck and his friend Dave got us to a beautiful overlook on one of the peeks in the Adirondack Mountains.

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The journey continues.

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Good friends.

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Ready for work.

 

Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn

We camped out at this airfield in Brooklyn. It used to be the main airfield for New York City, now it has been turned into a park and an air museum.

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Picture of the gems inside a dilapidated hanger.

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One of the jets on display.

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It’s probably a good idea to remove that one before you fly. Otherwise you might have a 500 mph metal frisbee coming down the runway.

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Mario’s going to start work on restoring this one soon.

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The hanger at night.

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The berries along the field really are those colors.

Coney Island

A trip down to Coney Island was a great weekend activity.

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The old parachute ride. No longer operational, but still a very visible symbol of for the island.

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Kimberley walking off the metro platform all geared-up for an adventure.

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Beautiful architecture is everywhere (bad architecture is abundant too though). What a mixed bag.

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When the trains come along you really notice it! I had to drive the RV (towing the pickup) in this chaos on the way out of town. Not easy…

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Manhattan

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Manhattan here we come!

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You see amazing patterns everywhere you look.

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Park Ave, just like Monopoly.

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The world must have grown around that church.

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Is it just me or is this somewhat disturbing?

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My mom found out on ancestry.com that we’re part Huguenot. Who would have know. 

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French Episcopal Church – Interior.

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My hair’s getting long now. I might have to find a barber at some point.

Central Park

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Just when you thought you’d seen it all.

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K and Jesse

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A little to the left please.

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A little to the right please.

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Life is good.

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Grand Central Station – Manhattan

This place is amazing. We got in there right before sunset. It is dog friendly too.

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Glimmerglass State Park

They have the oldest covered bridge in the United States here. It was being renovated at the time we were there.

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The oldest covered bridge in the country.

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The “Tin Hat” (or was it “Tin Top”) at Hyde Hall

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On the Road Again

The rain is falling softly on the camper roof, and we are tucked in quiet and reflexive after our day traveling through the Adirondacks as the leaves begin to turn color and we get the hint of cold weather to come, south to the Catskill mountains where we’re back to warm temps and humidity. Reflexive because we are back to just us three after almost two lovely months of spending time with family and friends. While Dan has been keeping up the blog, I feel like I have lots of catching up to do.

It’s been a really special few weeks as we’ve got to spend extensive time with my family. It’s been so nice to have hours and days to relax and enjoy company, rather than the usual frantic pace of a quick visit which is what I’ve done for many years. Hard to believe I’ve been gone for almost twenty years! We started the trip  at Mom’s house and visiting with Barb and Don, got in a quick camp trip with my best friend Pete and his son Lewis who were in from Korea, family reunions large and small, then while I went to spend time in CA with friends there, Dan got more time with cousin Andy, Melissa and the kids in Ithica (what great photos he got! And he had a blast hiking and spending time with the Ithica crew). When I got back to the east coast, we hightailed it out of Syracuse and moved into cousin Kate’s River House near Massena, where we’ve spent over two delightful weeks. It is a magical place, right on the St Lawrence with a small town nearby, hiking and dog-walking trails, and a private beach where we were steps away from glassy paddleboarding adventures. And with that as a home base, we had lots of time to have family visit us, hike the Adirondacks with Uncle Buck and Aunt Rose, share dinners, and over the past couple of days, enjoy cousin Kate’s company as well. It was definitely with mixed feelings that we said goodbye and headed out on the road today. It takes the sting out of things though, when I know that I’ll be seeing family again in just a couple of months when we reach Florida. Here’s to the next reunion!

Sunset at the River House

Sunset at the River House

Just doesn't get old... River House sunset

Just doesn’t get old… River House sunset

Ships pass by all the time - and that's Canada across the river

Ship! Ships pass by all the time – and that’s Canada across the river

Mom supervises the paddleboarding

Mom supervises the paddleboarding

Jesse's getting the hang of the paddleboard - finally!

Jesse’s getting the hang of the paddleboard – finally!

The Point - my great discovery and wonderful dog-walking trail

The Point – my great discovery and wonderful dog-walking trail

The Point - Jesse likes it too!

The Point – Jesse likes it too!

At  the summit of Mt Regis, Adirondack Mountains

At the summit of Mt Regis, Adirondack Mountains

Signing out of the register at Mt Regis

Signing out of the register at Mt Regis

Stone Vally Hike

Stone Vally Hike with Rose, Buck and Kate

My office view - that lanai rocks

My office view – that lanai rocks

Fall day driving through the Adirondack mountains

Rainy Fall day as we say goodbye to  the Adirondack mountains