May 2, 2016-May 15, 2016
Long Island, New York
Range of miles: 11,724–13,654
Week #11 and#12/23weeks
After that spectacular lightning show and pouring rain, everything was a little damp at our camp site. But the gloomy day was not going to shade our sunshine filled hearts. We quickly packed because we were headed to Long Island, New York, (my home town) for a little R&R (rest and relaxation). However, first we had to make a quick stop (about an hour away) to pick up more HTHL student workbooks from our printer.
Country Pines Printing has been family owned and operated for three generations. It was wonderful to meet this talented group. They pride themselves on doing the extraordinary! I know HTHL gets compliments all the time on our print quality, and it’s all because of these dedicated folks.
Carla gave us a tour of the facility. The printing machines were humming and clunking throughout the plant. There were reams of paper stacked to the ceiling, and the scent of fresh ink was present in every room. Chad, Carla, and Eloise recanted milestone memories of God’s faithfulness in their business. It is truly a pleasure to partner with this dedicated family.
Forrest loaded up the HTHL trailer with a fresh stock of student workbooks, and we were on our way again! The HTHL van followed a ribbon of road that intersected with Highway 50, otherwise known as “The Loneliest Highway in America” This highway stretches from Sacramento, California to Ocean City, Maryland. For us, it’s a special highway because exit 41 in Placerville, CA, leads us to our home. We paused at the intersection looking left and right. If we turned left (west), the ol’ 50 would take us back home in two days. If we turned right (east), Highway 50 would offer us opportunities that only the Lord knows. Team HTHL took a deep breath of perseverance and made our way down 50 east, and looked for the possibilities that God had planned for us.
Forrest kept our wheels moving late into the night. BusyGirl pounded out her school work, and I caught up on emails and HTHL business.
When you’re traveling on the road for days on end, “things that go bump in the night” usually means a flat tire. Yup, flat tire #3! This time it was on the van which can be a little more tricky to switch out when you are carrying three thousand pounds in the cargo cab. But once again, my man had us back on the road before AAA arrived. We rolled into a truck stop at 11:00 pm. Forrest and I were wide awake. BusyGirl slept while Forrest and I chatted until sleep won us over.
We are becoming experts at tire shopping in the middle of nowhere. The Lord led us to the Madison Tire Company.What friendly folks! They had us back on the road in a jiffy! They even gave us free t-shirts. Forrest and I just had to sport our new tees!
We played beat the clock, road style. Google Maps indicated there were 13 hours of travel to reach our destination, Hampton Bays, Long Island, New York. Our goal was to arrive at my cousin’s home about 10:30 pm. Powered by a desire for home and family, Team HTHL accelerated towards the rising sun. We stopped only for fuel and restroom breaks and ate our meals as we drove. We cruised through New York City and watched Forrest morph into “City Forrest”. Over the years, I have learned that it is not wise to talk to “City Forrest” or make any bathroom requests. Once out of the city, Forrest’s white knuckles returned to normal color. We arrived at my cousin’s home at 10:35 pm. Hugs, kisses, and a warm wood stove greeted us. Ahhhh family. Ahhhh a home.
Let me show you around the Hamptons and meet some of my family. The Hamptons are known for being New York’s summer playground for the very wealthy. However way back when my family moved to the Hamptons, it was nothing but farmlands, commercial fishing boats, and raising ducks for restaurants around the world (Long Island Duck-It’s what’s for dinner!). When I was old enough, I would spend a couple of weeks with my aunt and uncle and their seven kids, my cousins. Seeing the ol’ house again brought back memories of going to the beach, canning pickles, running around barefoot, and playing with my cousins.
Sip ‘n Soda is a local old fashion diner. Food and memories go hand-in-hand. The creek of the door, the phone booth in the back, the smell of the greasy grill brought me back to younger years. I could almost hear the clamor of cousins shouting out what each one wanted. I thought of my Nana, who often would treat us to ice cream in this shop. I thought of my “PopPop” who was known by everyone and was so loved. I really miss them both.
I felt like I was ten years old again. Years, maturity, and life experiences have not eroded my childhood memories that seem frozen in time. It was nice to replay old familiar scenes and share the stories with BusyGirl and Forrest.
The Shinnecock (pronounced shin-ne-cock) Bridge was iconic for our family. My family lived about an hour away from the Hamptons. In kid time, that translates to FOREVER. When my siblings and I saw the bridge, we knew we were only miles away. My parent’s gray Volkswagen Beatle could barely contain the excitement of three little kids anxious to arrive. (Who needs an SUV when you have a VW Beatle?)
Hampton Glass & Mirror is owned and operated by my cousins (two generations) and have been doing business for 20+ years. I am so proud of how they have expanded from a tiny shop to this!
I am in love with New York pizza! There is nothing like it in the whole wide world. I asked my family to ignore me while I closed my eyes and savored every oil-dripping bite. Oh, I do hope this is one of the foods in heaven!
Forrest and my cousin Frank spent quite a few days fishing and clamming in the Long Island Sound. They are two peas in a pod when it comes to foraging food from the sea. My cousin Paula, Frank’s wife, and I loved watching our men sit on the couch with their wide open tackle boxes disclosing fishing secrets to each other. I was so glad Forrest had a chance to rest. He has been non-stop working and driving.
Happy Mother’s Day to all! We attended Grace Presbyterian Church with our cousins. Attending church with family was a treat! Do you like my new dress? It’s my Mother’s Day gift from Forrest!
I’m not sure why, but the communion table caught my eye. I thought it was so beautifully displayed. It reminded me of a family dinner. After everyone had taken communion, I noticed the leftovers. My heart sank. I prayed, “Lord, may we invite more people to your communion table so that we don’t have any leftovers.”
After church, we met at a local diner, to honor the east coast matriarch of our family (and my godmother), my Aunt Phyllis. My aunt is one tough cookie: wife of a career Navy corpsman, mom of seven, grandma of 16, great-grandma of six, and has been on dialysis for the last five years.
My Aunt Phyllis and I chatted and shared photos for hours. We reminisced about dark days, memorable moments, and upcoming joyful occasions. I wish we didn’t live on opposite coasts.
For Mother’s Day, BusyGirl gave me a copy of my favorite children’s book, Caps for Sale. This is the very first book that my mom bought me. I was in kindergarten when she gave it to me, and I quickly memorized every line. I still have the original book although it’s tattered and in a ziplock bag for safe keeping. I can’t wait to read it to my granddaughter.
The afternoon was filled with phone calls from each of my kids wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day and catching me up with the highs and lows of their lives. Nothing brings me more joy!
Meet my Aunt Clara! She is 103 years young and still lives on her own with some outside help that comes in a couple of times a week. Bless her heart she took the time to share with BusyGirl about the day of BusyGirl’s grandma and grandpa’s wedding day. Aunt Clara also told us about when she was afraid during the Great Depression because she saw so many lose their homes. Her father told her, “Clara, the bank can’t take our home because it’s not theirs; we own it.” She imparted to us the lessons of frugality that she learned from her dad. Priceless advice.
My baby BusyGirl turns 16 years old on May 18. Forrest and I are so proud of our young lady! However, on May 18th, we’ll be on the road; so we decided to celebrate her birthday a little early, and in “New York” style.
So early in the morning with her cousin Samantha, we boarded the Long Island Express Train, bound for Penn Station centered in the heart of Manhattan. We went to 16 different tourist sites and snapped a picture with BusyGirl holding a candle. (My plan is to put the 16 pics in an album for her.)
- Macy’s-where she spent the birthday money she received from Grandma and Grandpa
- The High Line- where we had lunch
- Central Park-where we met a man on the street who “spoke to the geese”
- Subway-where I convinced the peeps on the Subway to sing Happy Birthday to BusyGirl.
- The Plaza-where we walked the red carpet into the lobby that was filled with flowers.
- Trump Tower- where we rode the escalators.
- Tiffany & Co-where she received a polishing cloth because it was her birthday
- New York Public Library
- Radio City Music Hall
- Dylan’s Candy Bar-where we ate ice cream
- Lego Shop
- American Girl Store-where we listened to BusyGirl explain every doll and story.
- Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
- Times Square at night
- Rockefeller Center
And number 16? Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway (We got some seriously discounted tickets!) I don’t think BusyGirl will ever forget the day.
It’s always hard to say goodbye, and the older I get, the harder it seems. Lots of hugs later, (0ur family is known for long goodbyes) we found ourselves back on the homeschool convention road again.
However, we had one last stop down memory lane, the home where I grew up.
Our family lived in a little town called Bellmore, NY. The old homestead is tucked away at the end of a dead street (pictured below). Spring, summer, fall, winter, the seasons of my childhood replayed familiar stories that I hadn’t thought of for quite some time, and yet seemed like they had just happened. It’s hard to believe that my own children are grown, and the next generation is beginning all over again.
“City Forrest” made his way through New York City. Once across the Verrazano Bridge, he relaxed back into my loving husband. We arrived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania about 7:00 pm, with plenty of time to celebrate Forrest’s 51st birthday!
We made the 9:00 pm showing of the 3D movie Jungle Book! (Thanks to our son who gave us movie gift certificates!) We pretty much had the whole theater to ourselves!
We awakened bright and early! I had HTHL business to do and spent some time preparing for my workshops. The afternoon was spent setting up our booth for the CHAP Convention. We finished Forrest’s birthday celebration at dinner with the help of our vendor friends.
The CHAP Convention was buzzing from the moment the doors opened. This was our second time at CHAP, and it was a honor to meet so many HTHL families and hear about their young writer’s success. One mom had tears in her eyes as she told us about her son, a reluctant writer who willingly writes now because he likes to write. Her family has used HTHL for the past two years.
What a joy to hear HTHL success stories from the kids who use HTHL! At CHAP, we had lots of “little visitors” who shared with us their favorite HTHL writing projects.
One of the highlights of the convention for me was a CHAP board member that came up to me and told me he and the CHAP team were praying for me as a speaker. It meant so much to me! God’s peace was guarding my heart.
As a speaker, I spend time praying before each workshop. On Friday, I awakened with God’s peace and the word Emanuel, or “God is with us” on my heart. I began to praise Him,”Thank you Lord for being with me.” The comfort of His promise that He would be with me as I spoke and served, charged me during each session.
The very thought of Jesus being “with me” overwhelmed my heart. I kept dwelling on His beautiful promise all weekend. Of course, I had read many verses in the Bible about God being with me, but at CHAP, His Word brought me new life.
We were invited by Pam and Keith Moore and their two children, Eric and Arianna, to attend their church, Lives Changed By Christ (LCBC). The title of the sermon series was, Fearless. The pastor told a story about his little boy who was having trouble staying still for a CAT scan. His little boy was finally able to stay still when he held his father’s hand. His son said, “Daddy, when you’re with me I’m strong.” The pastor continued, “We can be fearless because God is with us.”
A coincidence? I don’t think so, and neither did my tear ducts. It’s a message for all of us.
Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Side Note: The reason we are all laughing/smiling so hard in this pic? The Moore Family uses HTHL for writing instruction and knows very well the sound of Captain Knucklehead’s voice. Just before this pic was snapped, Forrest used his “Knucklehead voice” and we all burst into laughter.
Thanks for riding along with us! Next week, come with us to Canada and meet one of the sweetest couples, Louise and Harold House from The Learning House. You’ll also get a tour of the Homeschool Building, one of the most interesting co-op models I have ever seen, and of course, stay tuned for all the action at the INCH Convention in Michigan.
From Our Home (On the Road) to Yours,
Follow our journey on HTHL’s Google Map (Click: HERE)