Friday, July 29, 2011

Sailing Away

We have a supporter who owns a sailboat and who loves to sail.  He offers to take us sailing whenever we're around and we're happy to take him up on the offer.  It's always a relaxing, fun day and this time was no exception.

Suzanne and Theo got to go with us this time.  We weren't out a long time because thunderstorms were predicted for the afternoon.  Without further comment, here are some pictures of our day out.

Guess which of us hasn't been working outside all summer?

When we got back to shore, our friend suggested that we go to the Submarine Museum.  I had never been there and found it very interesting, though we didn't have enough time to look at everything.  The most interesting thing was looking through the periscopes and touring the USS Nautilus.  

Our next "sailing" expedition will be tomorrow as we sail through the clouds towards our other home in Africa.  It will be good to be back, but at the same time it will be hard to say good-bye to our kids.  We got to see Daniel last weekend and Suzanne and Theo will be coming with us for a few weeks. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

If I Were Rich and Famous

As you know, John and I did a "staycation" this year.  On one of the last days of our break, we went to Milford, PA to visit Grey Towers.  Grey Towers was the summer home of the Pinchot family.  James and Mary Pinchot made their fortune in the wallpaper business.  They also cleared the hills of NE Pennsylvania of their trees, shipped them down river, and sold the logs for lumber and the cleared land to farmers.  The Pinchots fashioned their family home to be exactly like LaGrange, the country estate of Lafayette, located in France.

James and Mary's son, Gifford, along with his wife Cornelia, inherited the family home.  With the encouragement of James, Gifford studied forestry and became the founder of the USDA Forestry Service.  He also served two different terms as the governor of Pennsylvania.  His wife was active in the suffragette movement and both Gifford and Cornelia promoted prohibition.

Here are some shots of the inside of the mansion, which the Giffords referred to as their "hunting shack".  They spent their summers here and did a lot of entertaining, especially during the years Gifford Pinchot was governor.

In the entry hall.  Cornelia kept her gardening table and supplies in this hall. 

In the Pinchot's library

The library again.

The parlor.  The pictures on the walls are "trompe d'oeil"....a trick of the eye.  They are actually painted on the wall, but look like pictures in frames hanging on the wall.
 The parlor had originally been two rooms, the dining room and the ladies' parlor.  The library had also been two rooms....the library and the men's parlor.  After dinner the men would go in their room and the women in theirs.  But Cornelia thought that was all nonsense, so she made the library into a large room and did away with the dining room, making this all one large room.  She believed that if they were to have a summer home, they should eat outside.  So she created an outdoor dining room.

This is the dining room table....a pool, surrounded sheltered by wisteria vines.

The food was brought to the table in wooden bowls.  When you wanted to pass food, you had to scoot it across the water.

There was also a skylight above the pool so that during evening meals the moon would shine down on the water.
 I loved sitting there, it was so calm, peaceful, and breathtakingly beautiful.  When the park ranger wanted to move the tour on to the next place, I didn't want to leave.  I told John that when we are rich and famous we have to live someplace warm like Arizona and have an outdoor table like that.  If I had endless amounts of money to have whatever extravagances I wanted, that is what I would do!

Gifford and Cornelia had only one child, so they built him a play house where he could go to escape all the adults that were always around.  These two pictures are taken outside his play house.

 The Pinchots also had an in-ground swimming pool, the first ever in NE Pennsylvania.  In front of the house was a moat and we discovered quite a number of bullfrogs in there.  

If you find yourself in NE Pennsylvania with $6.00 to spare, the tour of Grey Towers is worth every penny!

Before going to Grey Towers, John and I took some time to explore the town of Milford.  There are a lot of old, very pretty houses there. We also ate at a restaurant that was also a hotel....we had the most expensive hamburger in Pennsylvania, and it was the cheapest thing on the menu!  But it was fun to eat at something other than McDonalds.

This will probably be my last post from the good old US of A!  Next post will be from the other side of the ocean.  But who knows, maybe on Thursday I'll have time to catch up on some of our other activities from this summer and do another post.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hiking in Ricketts Glen

Ricketts Glen State Park in North East Pennsylvania (approximately located between Wilkes Barre and Williamsport) is an amazingly beautiful place.  Every time I go there, my reaction is, wow, God is amazing.  Who but God could have created such an amazing place.  Thankfully, people are also careful to not dump their trash everywhere and so it is a clean place as well.

When John and I decided to take 10 days off, we had Ricketts Glen on our list of things to do.  Then Suz and Theo came home for the weekend with a crew of other counselors and said they wanted to go to Ricketts Glen.  We asked if they minded if we went the same day, so last Wednesday we went there.  We ended up with three cars of people and essentially divided into two groups.  The bigger group wanted to hike the entire Falls Trail which ends up being over seven miles of challenging hiking. It's not like you need ropes or anything, but it is steep and very rocky.  We (John, me, Suz, Theo, and one of Suz's friends) decided to do the top half of the trail, so we hiked about five miles.
This is the path.  Kind of like life....nobody said it would be smooth or easy!

You have to watch every step you take which is frustrating because you also want to watch the scenery.  Every time you come to a waterfall, you have to stop just to take in the beauty. There are 22 waterfalls if you do the entire hike.  Some of them have pools at the base where those who like frigid water can take off their shoes and socks and get into the water.  

Back at the top we had a picnic.  We had told the other group to meet there at noon, but that time frame got all messed up.  We crossed paths with them as they were going up and we were still going down, so we thought they'd be at the picnic area impatiently waiting for us (the food was in our car!).  So when we finally got back to the picnic place we didn't know how we'd ever find them as it's a big area and there were a lot of people around (there is also a lake there for swimming).  Theo said we should just take the food and claim a table and then look for them.  So he lead us off to the side to an empty table he saw.  As we rounded the trees, guess who was at the table next to the one we were headed to!  We honestly didn't see them until we were almost on top of them.  So that was a God thing that He led us right to them.  They had only been there about five minutes.

After lunch a few people got in the lake.  The other group started hiking back down.  But we were done hiking and went home as Suz, Theo, and their friend needed to get back to camp by 6:00.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

An Early Anniversary Celebration

Our anniversary is not until August 16th.  This year will be the big 25 year celebration....our SILVER wedding anniversary.  Does this mean we are getting old?  Or just better?

Suzanne and my friend, Sharon, decided to throw a surprise party for us.  Sharon invited us over for a picnic on July 5th....a delayed 4th of July picnic, she said.  We had to do it on the 5th and not the 4th because Suzanne and Theo and Sharon's son, who works at the same camp as Suz and Theo, would not have the 4th off.  I asked her what I could bring and she said whatever I wanted, so I made mac & cheese (if she said nothing I might have gotten suspicious).  We were supposed to get there at 6, and it was pretty close to 6 when we walked out the door.  Theo made a comment about walking to there.  I said it's possible, but it would take too long.  I was also thinking how difficult it would be carrying hot pans of mac & cheese.  There were three other girls and a guy staying with us, so we said we'd have to take our car and Theo's.  Two of the girls got in our car and one in Theo's and the guy in Theo's.  Then Suz came out of the house and made one of the girls get out of our car and into Theo's so she could ride with us.  I thought it was really strange that she wanted to ride with us instead of with Theo, especially since the shot-gun seat was being reserved for her in Theo's car!

As we drove down the drive way, she said we needed to stop at the Recreation building to get her shoes which she had left in there.  I also thought that was a bit strange because she had told me earlier that she and Theo were going for a walk and I didn't know how she had keys to get in the Recreation center.
As we drove up, a bunch of people came out of the building.  "Surprise!"  I was like, surprise what?  Then we saw the silver paper hanging in the door and I realized it was a party for our anniversary.  Almost everybody from the small group we attended was there.  There was a lot of food.  Sharon made this really amazing cake.  It was banana cake north of the equator and 4th of July "confetti cake" south of the equator.  Suzanne had put a lot of work into this scrapbook she made for us. She had told me she was making something for our anniversary and that if her door was closed I couldn't come in or ask her questions, but I had no idea what she was concocting.  She did a fantastic job on it and it is full of some fun memories.  Suz and Sharon put up a calendar page for every year of our married life.  They also put sheets of paper on the tables that had listed important historical events that happened on August 16.  

We were really surprised and had a fun evening.  Suz and Sharon, you did a great job on planning the evening!!!  And here's to another 25 years of August 16s!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Enjoying our "Staycation"

John has been working non-stop on his doctoral studies for over a year now.  And while we were in Maryland he taught nearly a full load at the Bible College.  So I told him that when he got back from England he had to take 10 days off with absolutely no work being done on his doctorate.  

Not only has he been working so hard, but we also return to Niger the end of this month.  So we want to be rested up as we know we'll hit the ground running once we get there.

We are just staying home since we live in a beautiful restful place, don't have money to travel or stay anywhere else, and John doesn't feel like doing more traveling right now.  So we've planned out some fun things to do around here.  

On Saturday we walked around Lake Scranton.  It's a 3.5 trail, and I didn't feel like taking my camera with me.  Here is an old postcard of Lake Scranton.  While I walked around, John ran.  Then he started around a 2nd time, but when he caught up to me he walked the rest of the way with me.

Saturday evening we went to a barbecue restaurant in a town near us.  They only serve on weekends and this is their busiest weekend.  We had to stand in line quite a while, but it was well worth the wait.  If you're ever in Hamlin, PA on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night in the summer and need a good place to go, this is the place.  (I did not take this picture.  It was WAY more crowded than this the night we were there.)

Sunday we just went to church and took it easy all afternoon.  Later in the afternoon some friends of ours came over, bringing some delicious dessert with them.  I had apple crisp and strawberry shortcake for supper!

Today was the 4th of July, so we had to go on a picnic, of course!  We went to Promised Land State Park.  There were tons and tons of people there, but we didn't have any problems at all finding a table.  Then we took our chairs near the lake and just read for a couple of hours.  I'm reading Radical by David Platt.  It's got so much good stuff in it, I'm taking notes as I go.  Here's John catching up on one of his news magazines.  We didn't go swimming because there were too many people crowded into the small swimming/beach section.  We thought of doing the paddle boats, but they were pretty expensive.  So we just sat and relaxed, something neither of us do much of.

I hope you had a fun and relaxing 4th of July (ahem, for my American readers, anyway!).