Journey Begins- Year in a Van

Starting September 1st 2016, Paul and I will be living in our van till mid June 2017. Preparing for the journey was the hard part. We rented out our home to a family from Scotland using Sabbatical homes website and spent much of the summer cleaning, painting and organizing. Emma had stayed with us for a week in July so we already felt comfortable with the exchange.  On Sept. 1st we finished the last bits of work at the home and spent the night in our van outside Baily and Chips. I welcomed a warm shower, dinner and wine. My allergies were so bad from cleaning that Baily gave me some medicine.  The next day I had an early doctor appointment and we checked in to see if everything was okay with our tenants Emma, Daniel, and their daughters Clara and Lizzy. It was nice to see the kids already running around in the yard. We showed them a few quirks about the home and then we were off to Ithaca.

Ellen was waiting for us with a nice dinner. I was still not feeling too well but had some tea and slept great outside her home. The next day Ellen and I went thrifting for some wedding stuff while Paul did some work on the van.

20160903_141745We visited a couple of farms that Ellen worked on and picked vegetables.


Ellen and Paul harvesting tomatoes


the fruits of their labor…

In the evening we had dinner in town to celebrate Izzy’s birthday. We returned to Ellen’s for cake and chocolate covered strawberries. The next morning Paul and I went for a short run up to the Cornell campus and back down through the woods. We had a delicious breakfast of cheese scones, frittata, fruit and coffee prepared by Matt and his girlfriend Cat. It was a birthday breakfast and a send off as Izzy was headed back to school. We all packed up and headed different directions. Paul and I drove to Chautauqua where Mary Pat and Jack have a home.

Jack was waiting for us and we had a relaxed dinner, wine and conversation. Everyone slept in the next day. I went for a short run around CHQ while Jack packed up to go. There are some amazing houses to look at and a large variety. Most of the homes in town are Victorian style with large porches on the front for rocking, relaxing and enjoying the lake breeze.

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Jack and Catherine left in the afternoon. I wanted to try swimming out so Paul and i headed to the dock by the Gleason Hotel (which is now for sale). It was way too seaweedy so I gave up and went to the roped in swim area by the bell tower. In the evening we went shopping for dinner, ate, read, computer time and sleep. The next day Paul was planning to get some work done so I  headed out on a bike ride. I did what they call the Findley Lake/Panama Rocks route. It was about 60 miles and went through Amish farm land. There were so many hills that I was pretty spent by the time I got back so I jumped into the lake to cool off. Paul spent the day codeing and had a run around CHQ. The next morning I was pretty sore so I eased into the day with a book “The Long Quiet Highway” by Natalie Goldberg. I had a much longer afternoon swim and saw a lot of the same faces. CHQ is so quiet when summer is over. Here is a little poem I wrote called

Chautauqua after Labor Day

Packed up cars motor away
Quiet leaves rustle no children at play
Still vacant homes summer energy no more
Shops are all empty except the book store
Swim without waves seldom boats motor by
Time moves so slowly watch seagulls fly
The weather is gorgeous porch coffee outside
No traffic to speak of still a hard bike ride
Squirrels are all busy gathering nuts for the cold
Benches and beaches shine with white hair of old
Chautauqua is sleepy getting her rest
For next summer is coming maybe the best

Our last evening Paul and I checked out the Southern Tier Brewery. We had dinner and I enjoyed the Pumking Ale which is my favorite.


We headed to Wisconsin the next morning with a stop in Toledo, OH to run in Wildwood metro park. It was an interesting park with lots of diverse trails to explore. We rinsed off outside the van and made one more stop outside Chicago for dinner at a Tapas restaurant. Good food, over priced sangria, mosquitos but it was a pleasant atmosphere. Arrived late at Mom and Dad’s with a cool night to sleep.