Travel Journal, Day 3: From Ohio To New York

June 17, 2017

Waking up to the smell of German-style pancakes, bacon and fresh brewed coffee was great on Saturday morning. Katja’s husband had fixed breakfast for all of us. The kids had eaten already and were outside catching frogs in the pond. It gave Kevin and me the opportunity to get cleaned up, before we would hit the road again. But before we left, we spent some time outside to look at the farm, the life stock and the frogs. Of course, we had to capture photos for our online albums. Before we left, Katja and her husband said we were welcome to visit again. We definitely have to repeat that. But next time, we’ll fly to Ohio. ๐Ÿ˜‰ After getting directions, how to get back to I-71 faster, we were ready to leave for New York.

After we passed Cleveland, we soon entered Pennsylvania. For the girls, this was a new state. Kevin and I have been traveling through Pittsburgh many years before. I’ve noticed a lot of vineyards along I-90. But the grapes were still teeny-tiny. East of Erie, Pennsylvania we made a stop at a park and had some homemade sandwiches. We all needed to stretch our legs, and the park was leading to a beach at Lake Erie. Katelynn and Sara couldn’t wait to get their shoes and socks off to get their feet wet in the water. When it was time to get out of the water, Kevin had to carry Sara to a shaded area. The sand got hot due to the sun baking it.

Soon, we entered New York. The whole toll road adventure began right at the border. Oh boy! New York state really knows, how to pull money out of people’s pockets. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Buffalo was only an hour and a half away. Once we arrived there, I was really excited to see the Niagara River. On the east side of the river is the USA; on the west side is Canada. After we crossed Grand Island, we made it to Niagara Falls (USA). We got a hotel room 1500 feet from the falls. When the helicopter landed and the pilot turned it off, we could hear the water falling. But we had to keep watching the falls for later that evening. First Kevin got some sodas and waters, so we could meet with his high school friends in the Oppenheim County Park. Jackie arrived with her daughter shortly after I managed to drag that heavy cooler across the field. I was glad, we had the first gazebo. Christine rolled in with her boys, minutes later. And she brought snacks. Oh my, her Texas dip was so great! I couldn’t stop eating it with some chips. Delicious! All the girls and the boys had a blast in the splash zone and at the play ground, while Kevin enjoyed talking about the good ol’ times, when they all were in high school. When Lisa finally arrived, she had some stories to tell as well. I can’t count, how many times I laughed so much, I had watery eyes. When the sun set and dusk crept upon us, we decided to go to the falls.

Walking from the hotel to the falls, the falling of the water became louder and louder. After walking over a little hill, the Niagara Falls were in sight. Both, the American Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls looked very impressive. They reminded me once again, how small we really are as human beings. It’s very humbling seeing all this water falling 167 feet deeper to the lower part of the Niagara River, which flows from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. What makes the Niagara Falls very attractive in the dark hours are the different colors of light, that illuminates the water. It is so pretty to see it change colors every several seconds.

The evening turned out to be great. We made arrangements with Lisa and Jackie for dinner on Sunday. Kevin and I had plans to go to Toronto that day. And then we would have a nice meal in a Texas restaurant, after we come back into the US. Yep, we traveled all the way to New York to eat Texan food. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I’ll write more of that, tomorrow.

… to be continued …

Travel Journal, Day 2: From Missouri To Ohio

June 16, 2017

Well rested, Kevin, the girls and I left the Motel on Friday morning. Between Waynesville and Fort Leonard Wood, we stopped to get a bite to eat for breakfast. And the car tank needed to be refilled, anyway. Kevin was telling me about his time in Fort Leonard Wood, when he was in basic training over 17 years ago. It was interesting to hear a little story from the past, before Kevin and I met in Germany later that same year. ๐Ÿ˜‰

One of my favorite things I did, while we were on the road was to photograph some local wildflowers along the trip. Some flower can be found in Texas; some seemed new to me. Due to the warm weather and some rain, the wildflowers are flourishing along the freeways. If you get a chance to travel on the highways and freeways this Summer, look out your side windows from time to time. You would be surprised, how colorful it is along the freeways at this time of the year.

Finally, we arrived in St. Louis. Since I wanted to capture photos of the “Gateway to the West” Arch with the mighty Mississippi in the foreground, we had to cross the river to get to Illinois first. There is a little park across the Mississippi, called Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park. It’s a nice park, which has a man-made geyser and the Mississippi Overlook. The overlook was built recently in 2009. Standing on top of the overlook, we had a good view to see the arch, the city, and the river. The overlook has a nice imprinted metal map to show visitors, which buildings they looking at St. Louis. Getting some rest, we sat next to the statue of Mr. Malcolm W. Martin. It is a round stone bench, with a beautiful compass in its center. What I also noticed, that the overlook is very wheelchair friendly.

Kevin, Katelynn, Sara and I really enjoyed our time in St. Louis. But it was time to move on. In a town named Effingham, Illinios we had lunch (Yeah, we had some good jokes about the name of this town). ๐Ÿ˜€

After driving through Illinios and Indiana, we arrived in Ohio. Ohio is my 30th state (Katelynn’s 27th and Sara’s 23rd state), I’ve visited in the US. My school friend Katja lives with her husband and two kids on a nice 25 acre farm outside of Columbus. Katja and I hadn’t seen each other for 30 years. We had the same teacher in 7th grade back in 1986-1987. About a month before the trip, I told her about us passing through Columbus. And she invited us over to her sweet farm house for dinner and to spend the night. We had a lot of catching up to do. Because a lot of things happened in the last three decades.ย Her daughter and my girls seemed to have a really good time, too. When it was bedtime, they all were sleeping in one room and telling each other ghost stories in the part of the house, which is from the 1840s. Haha, I can imagine a couple of ghosts were giggling in the corner of the room as well. That night, I passed out very fast after I hit the pillows.

… to be continued …

“Autumn Beauty” Sunflower

After we got greeted by our pets I had to check on my garden beds, yesterday. Everything “exploded” while we were gone on vacation. I also noticed, that my “Autumn Beauty” sunflowers began to bloom in the backyard. Did I mention before, that sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers? Rain or shine, they always smile at me.ย ๐ŸŒป

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“Autumn Beauty” sunflower in my raised bed

Travel Journal, Day 1: From Texas To Missouri

June 15, 2017

While Kevin had to take care of a few items at work I used the chance to finish packing, on Thursday morning. I asked the girls to get each a pillow, a blanket, and their favorite plush animal for the road. Clothes, DVDs, markers, pencils, journals, and snacks were already packed. I just had to take care of the small little details like tooth brushes and passports.

Kevin came home before noon. He packed everything in the car. And on the road we went around 1 p.m. With all the plans and the sights we had in mind, we were really excited to go on this road trip. We made a short stop for lunch in Van Alstyne, before we left Texas.

Arriving in Oklahoma, we took Highway 69. It is the shortest way to get to I-44 and then hitting east to Missouri. When we made it to Will Rogers Turnpike (I-44), we took a short break at the rest area near Vinita. The rest area is in the center and can be reached by people traveling both ways, east bound and west bound. It’s called the Will Rogers Archway. Katelynn and Sara were fascinated with the fact, that people can eat in a fast food restaurant while watching the traffic passing by under them on the freeway. With their noses touching the glass windows, the girls watched the semi trucks coming in and out of the rest area.

Another several miles later, we paid toll before we left Oklahoma and entered Missouri. We stopped at the first rest area to have dinner. The girls love “Brotzeit” (“Bread Time” in German). We usually pack some bread, lunch meat, lunch cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, snacks, juices, water, and other goodies for the road. That saves a lot of money, and it is healthier than eating every meal in a restaurant. Kevin, the girls and I enjoy sitting outdoors for lunch/dinner. And when Katelynn and Sara are done with their meal, they still can spend some time at the playground or run around in the grassy areas. On past travels Kevin and I learned, it is very important to take more breaks to let the kids run and get the wigglesย out of their systems on the rest area grounds. They are much happier and can handle the upcoming stretch to the next rest area much better.

In Lebanon, Missouri we stopped at a Motel 8 that night. I liked the fact, that the Motel was far enough away from the freeway to not hearing all the traffic, but close enough to see the freeway at a short distance. Katelynn noted, she didn’t like the matress too much. It was a little bit too soft for her. But overall, she still got some good rest, before we left for St. Louis the following morning.

 

… to be continued …

I’m Back From New York!

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This was a very spiritual occurrence, we had in New Jersey looking over the Hudson River to Manhattan, New York. We’ve got rained out. But Mother Nature let us witness a beautiful moment.

Wow! This was a long trip! We went to St. Louis, Missouri; visited a friend in Columbus, Ohio; visited more friends in Niagara Falls, New York; crossed the border to see Toronto in Canada; went to New York City; saw the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and took a short break to see the in-laws in North Carolina, before we went back home to Dallas, Texas. About 3752 miles (6038 Kilometers) in 8 days were driven. Kevin, the girls and I had tons of fun on this trip. And we definitely have to go back to New York City to see more sights.ย In the days to come, I’ll write more blogs about this wonderful trip. โค

Summer Solstice

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Blessed Litha!

Blessed Litha!

Blessed Litha! Sacred fire!
Magical sunrise stirs desire
Queen of Heaven and of Earth
We celebrate your bright rebirth
We see your first blessed rays
In these magical solstice days
Ascending cycle to fulfil
Dancing on the silver hill.

Lilies burn with your desire
Intoxicating spirit fire
As oak and myrrh and mugwort burn
Elder, chamomile and fern
The sacred serpent eats the Spring
Then brings Autumn on the wing
Burning wreaths of sweet vervain
The Goddess will return again.

Martha Magenta

Father’s Day

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Sara, Kevin and Katelynn in New Braunfels

Walk with me, Daddy

Walk along side me,
Daddy and hold my little hand.
I have so many things to learn that
I donโ€™t yet understand.

Teach me things to keep me safe
from the dangers everyday.
Show me how to do my best
at home, at school, at play.

Every child needs a gentle hand
to guide them as they grow.
So walk along side me, Daddy.
We have a long way to go.

Author unknown