Ossining, NY: Spencer, Andrea, and Friends

When we come into an area, we usually have one family that we “know” there. However, in Ossining, we had THREE (and throughout our time there, we met many more families who we will never forget!). We parked the RV there before we headed off to the city…and then we came back to it on Monday to spend more time hanging out with these amazing families.

I “met” Andrea quite awhile ago and have always loved her gentle spirit and her sensitive heart towards the Lord. Some of you may know her as “The Flourishing Mother” in the blogosphere. She writes delightful entries about her role as a Christian mother and wife. Spencer and Andrea have 3 girls (14, 7, 5) and a little boy (2)…and we just ADORE this family. Bella got along famously with the kids and is still talking about them to this day. We stayed up late into the night talking with Spencer and Andrea…we ate the most amazing food (tofu tacos…yum yum!)…and experienced blessed fellowship. They fed us not only physically, but spiritually as well. We felt such a connection with them and know that our paths will cross again.

We spent a wonderful afternoon with Dorothy and Keith and their girls. Keith is a fellow “greaser”…who bought a Golden Fuel Systems kit and will be installing it in his Suburban soon. Matt and Keith went “grease hunting” and found nearly 200 gallons of grease for the RV and for Keith to store for future use. Dorothy and I enjoyed hot tea and watched the girls play princess and ride the bikes around the neighborhood.

I also had the pleasure of meeting “L.L. Barkat” from Seedlings in Stone and Green Inventions Central. Laura is an incredibly intelligent and sweet spirit…and I so enjoyed getting to know her better.

It was VERY difficult to pull the RV out of Ossining…it’s always hard to say goodbye, but this was the hardest so far. Andrea wrote in our ‘tour book’ before we left and said, “…God brings His people together at a time of need and definitely NOT by chance.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. We know God had all of these “appointments” already planned and we are so thankful.

Photo album here.

New York City, NY: A Whirlwind Weekend

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of a life in the big city. In this imaginary life, I lived in fabulous row house, ran around in high heels, and worked in a high-powered job. And if I couldn’t have that, then I at least wanted to visit NYC and pretend to be those things! Well….I finally got my chance! Of course, my visions didn’t exactly align…Instead of high-powered in heels, I was a dreadlocked, mama from the Midwest in tennis shoes…slinging a nursing 3 year old around the city that never sleeps. Ahhhhh…how life changes. :)

We weren’t alone in our exploration. My sister, Laura and my brother, Scotty…along with Laura’s roommate, Amy, flew into La Guardia on Friday night LATE and we all stayed in one hotel room in Queens. We took the train into Manhattan on Saturday and Sunday and spent the entire two days taking it all in.

New York City. How do you describe it to someone who has never been there? Crowded? Busy? Insane? Dirty? It did live up to all of those descriptions…but it was so much more. It was alive with energy…bustling with talented and creative people who LOVE their city. It IS crowded, but I loved watching every face go by me on the sidewalk. I wondered where they were going and what was going on in their life. There were so many lives intersecting and people interacting everywhere. How can you not LOVE this city? It is also perfectly laid out to live without a car…the subway may be a little dirty, but it’s FABULOUS. I adore the subway. It’s easy, cheap, and fast. There is so much to do. So much to see. So much to take in.

I could go into detail and tell you every little thing and how amazing it was…but then I will have no stories for later :) Plus, there is just no way to put into words all of the sights and sounds and smells. So, I will let you browse the photos to see our adventures in image form (154 photos to be exact…that should be plenty to give you a “picture” of our time there!). Hint…click on “View as Slideshow” to go through them quicker. I have added quite a few captions for this set…so if you want to know more details about our adventures, be sure to click on them individually.

Here are some highlights:
The Subway*Grand Central Station*Times Square*Toys R Us*Rockefeller Center*Central Park*Metropolitan Museum of Art*Trump Tower*Union Square*Green Market*Greenwich Village*Jack’s Coffee*Washington Square Diner*Washington Square*The Arch*NYU*World Trade Center Site and Tribute Center*Chinatown*Little Italy*Ping’s and Dim Sum*Walking the Brooklyn Bridge*Grimaldi’s Pizza*NYC Skyline at Night*FAO Schwartz*

It was exhausting and amazing. When we came back to the hotel each night, we exchanged many back and foot rubs :) But it was so worth all of the walking, leg cramps, and stinky subways…to experience NYC in all it’s glory. What a weekend…I can’t wait to go back!

Photo album with captions here.

Albany, NY: Jim and Rene

We were so excited to be able to meet up with some fellow travelers in upstate New York! We have watched Jim and Rene’s journey for quite awhile and when we discovered our paths would cross in Albany, we jumped at the chance to meet them! They came over this morning and we gave them the grand tour of the RV. After that, we headed out for coffee and we had so much fun talking about full-time RV’ing, veggie oil and biodiesel, and where this journey of life has taken each of us. Jim and Rene sold their business in California and are taking a year off to travel and discover the best community to start a new business in! They also have a dog named Jerry, who is a “tri-pawd” (a dog with only 3 legs!). He’s super friendly and even has his own website! Bella loved walking him around on the leash and talking to him. :) Safe travels Jim and Rene!

Photo album here.

Ithaca, NY: The EcoVillage

As we headed up the hills outside of Ithaca, the RV was chugging along at 35 mph…then barely 30…chug chug chug…those hills in New York are HUGE! Wow. Can you tell we started in Iowa? :) RV’s like roads that are really flat.

The rained had stopped and it was a gorgeous day. We followed a windy gravel road a couple miles outside of town…past an organic farm…and a few people walking. We came to a stop at the EcoVillage at Ithaca. This was a stop I was particularly looking forward to…because I have done so much research on intentional communities, co-housing groups, and things of that sort. When we arrived, we met Courtney and her partner Adam…and they directed us where to park. We chatted with them for quite awhile, and then we were on our own to talk with curious onlookers. It was a quiet day and we enjoyed the view from where we were parked. We could see for miles and miles! Bella enjoyed riding her bike around their basketball court which was located right behind our RV.

While we were there, Bella and I ventured around the property a bit. It’s a beautiful setting…with homes so close together, and a gravel walking path connecting the different neighborhoods and common buildings. The view from the homes is indescribable…so many colors and textures woven into the scene. The homes are all very unique and charming…most with gardens out front or in back. There was laundry hanging to dry, kittens running around, people out reading books, children chasing. We hung out at the central playground area for quite awhile and Bella got her fix of kids for the day. It was wonderful to see such a diverse, eco-minded community thriving and also teaching their children to live lightly on the earth. What a dramatic change from some neighborhoods I’ve seen where people rarely come outside to meet the neighbors! They have meals together several nights a week…and of course, there is much more going on there. Be sure to check out their website for more information!

Photo album here.

Ithaca, NY: Around Town

It poured down rain nearly the entire way to Ithaca…but even with the thunder, lightning, and haze, the drive was more beautiful than anything on our trip so far! Wow. As we neared the outskirts of the city…we started our descent, past a stunning lake. Ithaca lies in a valley, surrounded by beautiful forests of trees changing colors…I felt like we were back in Bozeman, but with trees instead of mountains!

We pulled into WalMart to park for the night, unhooked the car, and headed into town with our laundry in tow. We found a nice, quiet little laundromat and quickly went to work. Before too long, more kids came in, and Bella made friends with them immediately. There was an adorable little girl her same age and they had fun running in circles and playing “school”.

The next morning, we headed way up the hill to Cornell University to look around. What an amazing campus with incredible views of the the city! After that, we went down to “The Commons”…which is Ithaca’s downtown pedestrian mall. There are all kinds of fun shops and restaurants…very similar to Pearl Street in Boulder, CO (but smaller). As we tried to find a parking spot…we realized that everything was completely blocked off and there were police everywhere…on every corner and everywhere in between. We thought maybe something really bad had happened! It turns out that the Dalai Lama was in town for three days giving talks…and that was his security detail. Whew!

We stopped in at the Mate Factor and had the most delicious belgian waffle…ooooh so yummy. The cafe was very enchanting…carved trees for beams and railings…hand drawn menu boards, etc. We finished up, walked around a bit more and then checked out the Greenstar Cooperative Market…well known for their number of local products they stock. It was lovely.

Then it was back to the RV…we were due to be at The EcoVillage at 1:00 p.m. for an afternoon demo. So off we went…

Photo album here.

Rochester, NY: Abundance Food Coop

We pulled into Rochester around 7:30 p.m., not really knowing where we were going to park that night (a very common thing for us!). We ended up going on a wild goose chase from one place to the next for an hour and a half. We finally decided to just go straight to the Abundance Food Coop and stay there overnight…we had to be there in the morning for a demo anyway.

Luckily, it was in a semi-decent neighborhood (or at least it looked that way). I only woke up once to screaming, swearing people outside my window…and once when the garbage truck arrived about 10 feet from my pillow at 5am…beep….beep…beep. Ahhhhh….the joys of living in an RV.

We set up in their parking lot, met our contact, Amy…and immediately had people start showing up for tours and asking questions. We remained busy throughout our demo…talking to a variety of people who were interested in eco-living and alternative fuels. I’m always amazed at how diverse our crowds are…from students to retirees. Transportation issues affect all of us…whether you consider yourself “green” or not!

The coop provided us with a delicious lunch and snacks for the road…and we headed off to Canandaigua and Geneva, NY to see the Finger Lakes.

Niagara Falls, NY: Niagara Falls State Park

We packed up and left The Pinery…taking back roads all the way back to the U.S./Canadian border. As we came into Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, we were so overwhelmed by the HUGE crowds of people there for the holiday (Canadian Thanksgiving) and the weekend…that we missed our turn and unknowingly headed into the biggest tourist trap ever. There was absolutely no where to turn around, so we crept our way through the traffic and crowds to a turn around point, and headed back. Along the way, we had the most breathtaking view of the waterfalls across on the U.S. side. Holy Moly. If you’re never experienced it, there is just no way to describe the beauty! I was enthralled. It was fun to people watch as we drove along…I think there must have been people from every part of the world there that day. Such diversity and energy…wonderful.

Getting back into the U.S. was unbelievably easy compared to our exit. The official asked us where were were born, looked at our I.D. and opened the gate. Whew!! We wanted to try to park the RV there at the Falls, but couldn’t find a spot anywhere. After going around in circles for awhile, we ended up heading into town and parked it at a grocery store…unhooked the car, and headed back to the Falls right at sunset.

I had no idea that Niagara Falls attracted to many people from all over the world. I knew it would be big and beautiful, but it was so much more. Seeing a “wonder of the world”…and watching so many people stand in awe of God’s creation (whether they acknowledge Him or not)…was so awesome.

Make it a point in your lifetime to get to Niagara Falls…you won’t be sorry!

Photo album here.