“You can’t buy anything,” Ron said when we pulled up to The Bicycle Barn.
Excited to explore Saturday morning, I headed out to get discovering discover I had a problem. During the drive-up, the chain protector became mangled. Recruiting Ron’s help, we found no tools to remove it, hence the trip to The Bicycle Barn.
As best we can figure, when we dropped the bike rack to access the trunk in McKees Half Falls, the force of the pedal hitting the ground caused the damage.
Along the way, we saw our first horse and buggy belonging to Mennonites in the area. Like Ron and I, a husband and wife out for a Saturday drive. Since the 1970s Mennonites and Amish have moved west from Lancaster, settling in the rich farmland of the Finger Lakes. Mennonites gained their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch Catholic priest who left his order to form an Anabaptist church.
“I definitely want to stop at Edgewood Country Store,” I said when we saw the sign along the road. How convenient the Mennonites in the area make shopping for me. Beautiful hand-sewn quilts and bags, homemade goodies, and many other things made the stop worthwhile. Ron did one lap around the store and then sat in the car, waiting for me to finish.
Chaos ensued when we left the store; having bought several items, one a birthday card for ,my nephew I somehow lost the envelope. Because they don’t give bags for purchases, I carried the stack of memorabilia to the car and set them on the floorboard. A few miles down the road, when I looked for the envelope, I couldn’t find it.
“Do you want me to turn around?”
“We have to; I don’t have an envelope that will fit it.”
So Ron turned the Subaru around and headed back to the store a few miles away. The young girl looked perplexed when I told her my dilemma, allowing me to take another envelope at no charge. We both thought I had the envelope when I left.
Opening the car door, I saw the missing envelope under my seat. Embarrassed, I turned and made my third entry into the store in less than an hour.
“It was under my car seat. I saw it when I opened the door.”
Her sweet laughter and beautiful smile filled my heart as she extended grace to my antics.
Laurentide Brewery in Penn Yan quenched our afternoon thirst. According to their website:
“Two and a half million years ago in the midst of the Ice Ages, the Laurentide Ice Sheet and Glacier was formed which ultimately created the largest freshwater lakes in North America including New York’s Finger Lakes.
From Ice comes Water, from Water comes Beer…”
Our appetizer, fries made from a mixture of cornmeal, garlic, and cheese formed into four long, rectangular cubes of deliciousness, surprised us. Tucked behind the main street, finding the restaurant proved adventurous.
Birkett Mills Buckwheat boasts about the griddle they possess that cooked the World Record Pancake in 1987, the year I graduated high school. Lake Keuka borders the town. Formed in a “Y” shape, the lake sits near the middle of all the Finger Lakes, just east of it.
When Ron looked up the Finger Lakes’ origin, he found two possible answers for their creation. One geological response to the twelve spindly lakes that look like fingers says glaciers carved the bodies of water when they made their slow descent southward. The second, and my favorite, comes from the native Indians who believed the lakes formed when God placed His hand on the earth.
Of course, we had to stop at the local farmer’s market, where Ron bought eggs straight from the farm, and I discovered a wine glass listing all the Finger Lakes, which fit nicely into a heart.
Meet John and Max, our hosts.
First, John did a drive-by, Max in the back. Sitting on the deck, we watched them loop around the property.
Next, Max, a beautiful Golden Retriever, came sauntering around the fire pit, headed in our direction. Walking up the stairs, he came over and introduced himself.
“I figured it was Max that got them going,” John said. Referring to our barking pups, he rode up on his four-wheeler a few minutes later. You hear a sample of my yappy dogs in the video.
After visiting with us, then the neighbors, John and Max, did one last drive-by, and I managed to video it.
New friends met while sitting on the deck, enjoying the view.
And the journey continues:-)!
“Excuse me, ma’am, this is for you,” said the beautiful young girl to me as I stood looking around the sanctuary.
Ron picked the church we attended.
“Our worship band is all on vacation this morning, so we’re singing Acapella today. But that’s ok, you’ll know ’em.” I had to take a picture when we began to sing Psalm 121. Any time I hear Mom and Aunt Margie’s favorite verses, I can’t help but tear up a bit. In this case, I knew Ron chose well for our worship service while in New York. In today’s world, worship sang acapella doesn’t happen often. But when it does, wow! Singing “Open the Eyes of My Heart” with the body of believers encouraged and uplifted me.
“If you love the Lord first and each other second, you’ll make it. I Pray you have many more years together.” Tom introduced himself to us after the worship leader told us about the band. When he found out the reason for our trip, to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, he offered us marital advice. I agree 100% with his words.
A published author, Tom, married Naca married April 2022. From Africa, the pair met online, dating for four years without meeting. Finally, Tom made the trip abroad, they met, and within months, married. Naca moves to the U.S. in September, which will bless the church. Tom’s writing their love story for his next book, which he’s sending us.
“If conviction isn’t part of your story, you’re not regenerative.” Pastor Price’s message deserves a listen. My notes overflowed onto three pages from all of his wisdom.
Talking to the pastor’s wife after service, I learned she came from Puerto Rico. Raised Catholic, she met the Lord at 27. Like Tom and Naca, Pastor Price and his bride met online through Eharmony. The pastor didn’t believe in Jesus then and broke off the relationship. A year later, driving down the road, God convicted him of his sin, and he repented, turning his life over to Jesus. Finding his Puerto Rican love on Facebook, they reconnected, marrying within the year. Two years later, Pastor Price felt called to ministry.
“God bless Ron and Beth’s 10th anniversary, give them many more years together, and bless their vacation.”
When they prayed for us, I cried. At the end of the service, the congregation has prayer time for the community. Our new friend Tom took the opportunity to pray for us, as did the pastor’s wife.
Hearing them our names and as they asked God to bless us brought instant tears to my eyes.
And I prayed for them.
I felt so stupid, as my voice choked because of my tears, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to pray for such a lovely group of people.
“God bless Heart Cry. Thank You for your warm welcome. Let their ministry flourish; let them transform the world around them.”
On the way back from Lake Keuka, I spotted Jerome’s sunflower field of free bouquets. Unable to stop at the time, Ron took me back after church, and I picked a free bouquet to freshen our cabin. What an excellent idea.
Now on my bucket list growing fields of flowers where people can come and pick free bouquets for their homes.
Majestic Hills Golf Course won the award for closest to the cabin. At $20/person with a cart for nine holes, we can’t complain. Stunning views of mountains surround the slopey course. Rolly greens with many up-and-down breaks proved challenging. Ron’s first time back since his knee, he decided to take it easy, playing from the reds with me. I snuck in a win, shooting a 48 to his 53.
Ron’s morning breakfasts started our days. Scrambled eggs and bacon, a little cheese on top, always tastes good. After feeding the dogs, we took walks around the countryside so they could take care of business. Wifi struggles on the mountain; when I uploaded the golf video during the drive to the cabin, it took two days to upload fully.
With a distinct odor, water comes from an artesian well on the property; it flows under natural pressure without pumping. John recommends bringing bottled water to drink, which we did. The memory foam bed proved comfortable and soft but doesn’t offer the same sleep as our new mattress back home. Ron and I find ourselves tucked into the middle, snuggling the night away. In the morning, crawling out of bed takes effort.
Enjoying a rustic cabin for a week makes you appreciate the comforts of home. The kitchen cabinets pop open constantly, which drives Ron’s OCD crazy. But the views from the many windows, coupled with the wood stove, leather couch, and vaulted ceiling create a lovely respite from the world. When you walk in the front door, the smell of the cabin invites you into its secrets, knowing many have passed through these doors before us.
When a truck drove by one morning, I told Ron, “Traffic’s heavy today,” since no other car passing since we arrived.
Monday we spent the day at Watkins Glen recreating a moment from history, which you can read here.
Tuesday, we rested, doing laundry at Holly’s Lost Sock, then getting some work done at Caruso’s Cafe, The Crossroads of Food, Friends, and Coffee.
Ron grilled burgers for lunch; then, we took an afternoon nap before taking the pups for a long walk through the woods.
We ended the day watching bats fly overhead as the sun melted away and the full moon rose.
We celebrated our tenth anniversary with a day trip to Niagara Falls; click here for that adventure.
“Awesome, not many trees. It’s an open course.”
I should have known when Ron said those words; trouble lay ahead. I ended up behind every tree on the course, or at least I felt like I did. Ron lost three balls in the tall fescue, which irritated him. What looked like an easy course turned out problematic. Ron won gross; I won net.
Old Hickory Golf Course proved more challenging than expected. Windy, with highs in the ’70s, the course had a lot of activity. Despite my poor play, we enjoyed our day at Old Hickory.
Middletown Tavern had the local feel I love. Regulars sat chatting with the bartender when we entered. A young couple sat talking quietly at one of the tables, waiting on their food. Deciding to sit at a table, we found one tucked in the corner. Smiles came to our faces when we saw the couple pray over their food when it arrived moments later.
“Sorry, we don’t accept debit or credit cards. (ATM on premise)”
Black block letters on the yellow sign thumbtacked to the pole let us know we needed cash. Thankfully, we had some. Ron ordered from the bar for us, wine for me, and beer for him. And, of course, we had to order NY’s famous Spiedies, marinated chicken on Wonder bread. The appetizer didn’t disappoint, nor the fried green beans we had, together they made the perfect afternoon snack.
Thursday night the temperature dropped into the 60’s, perfect for a fire. John graciously dropped off firewood to the pit for us. When we came home from golfing, we found sitting on our porch newspaper, fire starter, and a lighter compliments of John. Without a doubt, John wins the award for best host and Max for the best assistant.
“Maybe that wasn’t the best choice of words.”
Ron called me an “issue” indirectly in conversation. I couldn’t help but call him out on it.
“Glad to know I’m an issue,” I said jokingly.
Ten years married to a wonderful man, a blessing I never thought I would enjoy. Knowing life changes quickly, I try to cherish every moment.
I’m praying no major life changes anytime soon and many more fun conversations with my honey over the next few decades.
Olde Country Store came highly recommended by our waitress during our anniversary dinner. Located a few miles outside Naples on the way to Penn Yan, we added it to our “to-do” list.
“I’m going to give you the card. I’m going to wait outside.”
No wife complains when her husband says those words.
One entire side of the store had penny candy of every kind. Priced at $6.49 a pound, heaven on earth for those of us with a sweet tooth. Controlling myself, I bought a hand-designed water glass and a Christmas ornament, not doing too much damage with Ron’s card.
A man of his word, I found Ron waiting patiently on the bench out front. One side says “Democrat” and the other “Republican.” Ron sat on the empty one, as the other one had an occupant enjoying his lunch, also the reason I didn’t get a picture of the entire storefront.
“Which is ironic because $1500 is what we spent on our wedding and honeymoon,” I said on the drive to Penn Yan for an afternoon bike ride.
Actually, we spent $1500 renting the Alliance for a two-hour sunset cruise when we married, now $2000 if we wanted to repeat the experience. About the same as we spent on this vacation. Rustic cabins, meals cooked at home, coupled with cheap restaurants made our trip affordable.
On the way home from our honeymoon on Hilton Head Island, we did our first budget. We set up automatic transfers each month to find our vacation fund. Trust me when I say, one of the best decisions we ever made.
Keuka Outlet Trail, 13.8 miles, has two waterfalls, Seneca Lake Falls and Cascade Falls (closed due to maintenance on the observation deck). Primarily flat, we used our electric motors on the few hills we encountered. However, the entire trail has a slight slope to it.
“It was all downhill. 400 ft, great, great. We gotta ride back up it, ” Ron.
Parking in Penn Yan, we rode to Dresden, a slight downhill grade that made the ride easy. However, his disappointment showed when Ron realized we would have to ride uphill for 7 miles. In the end, the ride didn’t tax us as much as he anticipated.
“400 ft spread over seven miles wasn’t too bad,” Ron said when we neared the end.
We saw Lynnie Lou’s Ice Cream on the way to the Old Country Store and wanted to make sure we paid a visit. After riding 14 miles, a banana split seemed like a great reward. Ron went with a single scoop deer tracks cone. “Like moose tracks,” the attendant said when Ron asked about the flavor.
Every bite melted in my mouth, filled my belly and satisfied my sweet tooth for the duration. Praise God for the person who created banana splits; the blessing never ends.
“The bears cross in the morning, usually around 4:00 or 5:00,” John said when we arrived.
Each morning, I would peak outside in the early hours, hoping to catch a glimpse of the black beast sauntering across the property. Apparently, they liked John’s grapes when ripe. But I never saw one, much to my disappointment.
John’s funniest bear story involved a couple from NYC who rented the cabin a few months earlier.
“Don’t keep coolers on the deck; the bears are active,” John warns all renters.
The city couple didn’t take John’s advice. When the lady opened the door at 4:00 a.m., thinking Max had come for an early visit, imagine her surprise at seeing a bear at the door, investigating their cooler.
She screamed, the bear ran, and they vacated the premises within 2 hours.
John can’t help the bears. But in all he can control, he goes above and beyond!
We wanted to make the most of our time, so we played one last round at Majestic Hills. Ron’s form came back quickly, and he once again bested me. Beautiful views, perfect weather, and good company made for another enjoyable day on the course.
“You’ve got to stop now. You know how yard sales work. They’re not open all day.”
Driving back from golf, we passed a yard sale with good stuff. Ron wanted to return later, but any respectable yard saler knows the early bird gets the worm. For my tenth wedding anniversary, I bought myself a $25 antique writing desk to go in my prayer closet. Praise God the tender wood fit in the car.
“How much you offering?”
“Not much, ’cause we gotta drive it back to VA, and we don’t have a lot of room. $20.”
“I originally wanted $50. How about $30?”
“How about we split the difference, $25.”
A look of hesitancy, mixed with disappointment, crossed her face as she realized her limited options.
“You’re getting a hella of a deal; it’s over 100 years old. You can tell by that lacing on the back.”
And now you know how I acquired my favorite souvenir from our anniversary trip!
Now praying for a safe end to our vacation and an easy trip home with little traffic, God willing.
“Let’s do laundry, so we don’t have to do it when we get home.”
Ron agreed, so after golf, we visited the Lost Sock one more time to drop off the laundry. Once the washer started churning, we headed to Neopolitan Pizzeria to wait. On Ron’s list of to-do’s, the weather worked well for a visit.
“That’s right fear; it could happen right now. That’s a fact; that’s real. I can’t change it, so let’s move forward.”
Our conversation on the way to the pizzeria centered around anxiety, specifically mine. Ron’s right; we all have those feelings of anxiety, but we can’t get stuck in it. We have to learn to keep moving forward, no matter what.
Planning reactions help us react well. If you know you struggle with anxiety, find a way to respond well and practice it whenever you feel anxious. Ron helps me react well to my anxiety.
“I’m going to put that in the blog. What do you think?”
“I think it’s hilarious,” Ron said.
While waiting at the pizzeria, Ron researched CBD on his phone; my thoughts wandered to Mom.
One glass of wine relaxed me, and I wondered what comforted her.
My mom didn’t drink and had three hellions to deal with and an invalid husband. My dad went on disability because of a work-related injury; I didn’t grow up rich. However, I know in some people’s eyes, I did.
My mom had it rough; she was born during the Great Depression and lost her father at five. Her mother sold eggs and did laundry to get by until she remarried seven years later.
Whether or not my mother used nerve pills, I won’t know. But what I do know every time I became histrionic, princess extraordinary, she had nerve pills for me.
So I concluded she either had a prescription or the doctor prescribed it for my more emotional moments as a child.
One truth I won’t know until I see her in heaven.
“If it’s my last bottle of wine on vacation, then I’m getting the most expensive one,” I told the store clerk.
$13.99 for a Malbec on our goodbye evening in NY. Naples prices don’t hurt the wallet as some places do, thank God.
Spending ten days in the Finger Lakes rejuvenated our marriage in unexpected ways. We dreamed and planned together for the next decade. We prayed and asked God to guide and direct us, blessing our efforts.
If we don’t set goals, we’ll never achieve them, especially in marriage.
And now, I’m ready to go home and re-engage with everyday life and healthy eating habits.
No doubt, both of us have a little more weight on the bones to take home with us. Praise God for the food; we certainly did enjoy it.
“Oh, I’ll miss the old cabin,” Ron said as we began to wrap up the last fire after another quiet evening watching the sunset and the moon rise.
“5:45, we’re outs,” Ron said when we left Sunday morning. After walking the dogs and taking a few last pictures, we piled into the fully loaded car and headed home.
Across the street, a light show came from the dilapidated house. All week we wondered about the structure, overgrown with climbing vines, ladders leaning against the walls, yet we saw no motion, just a mysterious car coming and going. When I saw the light in the window, it surprised me; I didn’t think the house had electricity. The story behind the home remains a mystery as we leave it behind, along with so many good memories.
One last picture of the upper cabin, John’s motorcycle, van, and pontoon boat filling the lower driveway. Our neighbors still sleeping as we pulled out of the driveway.
“1006 miles, so it’ll be about 1007. That’s a lot.” Ron said 9 1/2 hours later when we exited the interstate, arriving safely home.
Another meandering comes to an end. Until next time:-)