Week 242 November 17, 2018

We so appreciate our family and friends who visit this site as a way to keep in touch, we always love hearing that you do, and treasure your support and friendship!

Loren and I began this week on a hike with friends at Lake Chabot, but it was dicey to be outside with the smoke from Butte County’s Camp Fire 200 miles away, both visible and caustic. Our normally blue skies had been obliterated in haze daily recently as the smoke has coated the San Francisco bay area, and it is predicted do so for the foreseeable future. But, we pared down their normal 3.5 hour hike to just under 2, and to catch up with these friends was special and good.

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Then Loren and I got serious in packing up our belongings at our AirBnB. By being there 4.5 months, we had nearly completely unloaded our van and accumulated more items that had to be sorted and packed back into the van again. I am quite proud to have completed a shredding job of masses of papers that have been needing my attention as part of this packing effort. After a nice dinner with Loren’s Mom and sister, his sister drove us to BART – Bay Area Rapid Transit, to reach SFO – San Francisco Airport for our overnight flight.

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No, we did not practice yoga in the airport even though we had had enough extra time, but it was tempting. Then on the connecting morning flight from Charlotte to White Plains, we saw our first blue sky in weeks as we flew north along the east coast.

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When we stepped out of the plane onto the jetway we immediately felt the crisp and chilly fall New York air. Our California weather had been in the 40’s-70’s and we were already complaining about feeling the cold as the 10 day forecast was to shift down to the 40’s-60’s. Now here the weather is already in the 30’s-40’s. But that’s not all – we are heading to visit friends in Pennsylvania with forecasted temps in the 20’s-40’s, and, New Hampshire, where we are headed after Thanksgiving to see relatives and other friends, was already showing in the 10’s-40’s. Brrr! It is a good thing that we brought some warm clothing. After signing for our rental car, I stepped out of the airport and smelled… smoke! “What? No!” I thought. With relief I noticed it simply came from a cigarette.

We saw gorgeous red leaves on several maple trees as we exited the airport, but then saw barely any colors anywhere else! After we arrived to stay at my brother and sister-in-law’s lake house, she explained, “Last week the colors were full blast on the trees! Looked like a painting on the lake, sorry it didn’t hold out for you! We had a terrible wind storm that blew everything off.” So the vegetation and deciduous trees – which are everywhere in New York, look to be what I remember from childhood winters: barren and dead. On a brighter side, we have seen a whole flock of water birds with white heads, and a cat with similar coloring sneaking down the steps to the beach and out to the little point, even testing its paw in the water before going on through what appears to be its usual hunting ground through Pfitzer junipers. It is always so enchanting here!

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Then the local forecaster called for a “wintry mix” and road signs flashed warnings of “WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY.”  As the storm was due to arrive in the afternoon, we kept our morning plans with a dear friend to visit at John Jay’s childhood home in Rye for a docent-led tour. The house no longer exists, and in its footprint John Jay’s eldest son Peter who inherited the property had built a new one in the Greek Revival style of the day. Regardless, it was well worth the time, to further appreciate the acts of one of our seven Founding Fathers, as explained from our well-informed and devoted docent.

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As we and our friend parted ways after lunch at a nearby market, the storm began. Little did anyone know just how much of a wintry mix it would be. From soft flakes to wet snow to sleet pellets, it swiftly pummeled down, blanketing at least 6 inches at the lake house and causing massive traffic and transportation problems during the afternoon to late night commute. 

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In contemplating how to make it safely to our next day’s 8:30am scheduled tour of Ellis Island, I decided that we could not and would not, and so left a voicemail late in the evening to cancel. In the morning I had a return call, and found that we could still attend the 12:30pm tour. Yay! The snow then finally stopped at 10am as predicted, in time for us to shovel our car out and drive to lower Manhattan.

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The sun was already shining again and it was a beautiful blue sky day! In fact we had a perfect view of the Freedom Tower as we sought out a parking garage nearby, and, we had spectacular views all around Upper New York Bay as we sailed first to Liberty Island then to Ellis Island.

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So, our interest in visiting Ellis Island had been to visit the place where Loren’s maternal grandmother had arrived to the United States with her mother and then two siblings a bit more than 100 years ago. I had had a most difficult time in trying to find their records online the night before, therefore we were especially interested in stopping in at their records department for help. We first enjoyed a tour with a Park Ranger and visited a couple of exhibits which were worthwhile and informative, but then we learned that Loren’s grandmother had actually not come through Ellis Island! Her ship had sailed directly from Genoa to Boston. But now I am curious to find out about how Loren’s Italian grandfather, as well as his English and German grandparents arrived to the US… Once again, it was more than worth the visit, as we learned more about our US history.

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Loren and I finished the day in New York City with a wonderful evening out to dinner with dear friends who live in Manhattan.

[I will update this week’s post with]
[a photo of the four of us at dinner]
[here – once I receive from them a]
[copy of the photos that were taken]

We wish you and yours a fabulous Thanksgiving this coming week!

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