The Long Drive

Several long drives took place this week – Maddie, Oona and I drove up to New York to visit family (roughly 9 hours each way) on Friday and back yesterday, and Paul drove up to Long Island Thursday night (roughly 7 hours) with the girls and back Sunday night.

Paul and the girls took the bus.  I was a bit nervous seeing them off on Thursday night.  It wasn’t until about 9pm that they got going and I guided them out of the driveway.  Paul’s quite capable with large vehicles, but as a former bus driver I worried about him making his maiden voyage without any real training.  I reminded him about 10 times about clearance and weight limits and pivot points (that would be your back tires) but he made it up north without a hitch.

Maddie and Oona and I had a smooth drive up Friday and enjoyed the scenery.  We took route 15 north basically the entire way from Virginia into New York and once we got into Pennsylvania the foliage was just spectacular.  Maddie quickly got bored of staring at farmland, but I kept wanting to stop and take pictures of all the beautiful old barns and farms (I didn’t).  Once we got into New York it got dark and rainy (and cold!) and we had quite a lot of fog.  Still, we made it safely and had a lovely weekend with our family.

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The maple tree next to grandma’s house is all golden and red and there was a delicious chill in the air (though I think I may have been the only one who enjoyed it – everyone else was less impressed with the chill).

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We toured the old cemetery at the end of the road.

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These graves had been largely overgrown and forgotten until very recently.  A neighbor took it upon himself to cleat out the overgrowth and find all of the broken, scattered and sunken headstones and repair, clean, and re-place them.  Many of them had been covered over by sediment for years after the Genesee River flooded (severely so) in the early 70’s.  You can’t see it from this photo, but the river is just beyond the trees in the background.  The river rose again in the mid 90’s and probably buried them even further – but now they’ve been taken over by a caring steward and some of the town’s history can be gleaned from the old stones.  It’s all very incredible to me since this was all forested when I was a child there.  You could see one, maybe two, stones poking out of the weeds back in those days, but the old site seemed destined for obscurity.  My grandfather’s ashes will soon be residing here, and I think I may even want my own here some day.

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Oona was her usual charming and energetic self, though she remained too shy to really warm up to anyone other than my grandmother.  Given more time she’d have no doubt demanded everyone allow her to treat them like jungle gyms.

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We got to explore the old hotel a bit and see the work the new owners have been putting into restoring it.  A lot of walls and ceilings are being re-built, along with new plumbing and wiring.  The outside is being meticuloulsy repainted and a new fire escpae is at the ready to be installed.  I can’t wait to see how it looks when finished.

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My aunt Leisa and uncle John drove out from Cayuga Lake and my uncle Jeff drove in from Buffalo and we explored a bit down by the river and collected fallen chestnuts from a tree Leisa had planted years ago.  It was funny to me to see the river so high – in the summers you could walk almost completely across on the exposed rocks.

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Oona “helped” Leisa dump the wheel barrow full of weeds near the river bank.

Sunday we had more family out – Aunt Leslie, Uncle Jamie and cousin Tyler joined us for a stroll in the park.  I completely forgot my camera, so I had to use my Blackberry.  I think it actually took pretty decent pictures.  Tyler pointed out that the camera on his phone had just as many mega pixels as my good camera and that made me a bit sick to my stomach – and all the more determined to get a REAL camera sometime soon!

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We focused our sightseeing on the water falls.  I’ve been there a million times but I always love it  – I could sit for hours just watching the falls and listening to the roar of the water.  Maddie, on the other hand,  likes to make faces.  (It’s ok – she was just being funny).

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See the rainbow?

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Leslie and I both think this waterfall – the Middle Falls – is the best.

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There’s another hotel right here in the park – just above the Middle Falls.  One day I’d like to stay there – it’s just beautiful.

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Check out Maddie’s Day-Glo pants.

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This spot is called “Inspiration Point”.  I must have hundreds of photos of this spot, but I took another one anyway.  People get married at this spot – isn’t that lovely?  And then honeymoon at the Glen Iris Inn – that lovely old hotel above the falls.  Very romantic.

From there we took a little trail through the woods and came out at a visitor’s center and gift shop.  I bought a few small things, including a jar of “Letchworth State Park Chocolate River Rocks”.  They’re candy – coated chocolates that look exactly like little river rocks.  I kid you not.  Oona loves them (so do I, actually).  The thing is, they really really look like rocks.  One of these days Oona’s going to be out in the gravel driveway thinking she’s hit the chocolate mother load.

Anyway we had a wonderful, wonderful visit.  I really needed to be around my family and it was just what I needed.  The trip back was longer than the trip up, not just because that always seems to be the way of it, but traffic was heavier and we sat for nearly an hour trying to get through Selinsgrove, PA.  It didn’t help that we had quite a lot of wind noise from the passenger’s side window (bad seal, I think) and all we had was an fm radio – Maddie complained of “radio finger” from constantly having to scan through all the static to find a decent station all 9 hours.  We made it home safe and sound just as it was getting dark.

Paul had gotten home around 5 am Monday morning after a much later than anticipated start home.  He and the older girls of course were at his brother’s wedding.  Originally I had planned to go – had been looking forward to it – until we were told we couldn’t bring Oona (no small children allowed).  So, Paul and the older girls went and had a good time, though we were all very upset that the bride’s nephew – Oona’s age roughly – was there.  I can’t tell you how upsetting it is to know that no one cared that I was unable to attend because Oona was not allowed but the bride’s small nephew was more than welcome.   All I will say is that I learned to whom  I really matter this weekend, and it’s clearly my own family – they were fantastic and kept me from being too sad and upset about the whole thing.  I need to spend more time up north with them.

Now it’s back to routine – I have a house to clean and chickens that need tasty recipes for rotisserie read to them since they still have not produced a single egg.  AND – a little purry boy cat to find and cuddle!

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