Posted in family, travel

Tuesday Tour: everywhere but here

You’ve been on a few journeys with me by reading my Tuesday Tour posts, if you’re a faithful peruser of Mama’s Empty Nest.

A song Johnny Cash sang comes to my mind: “I’ve been everywhere man. I’ve been everywhere, man. Crossed the desert’s bare, man. I’ve breathed the mountain air, man. Of travel I’ve had my share, man. I’ve been everywhere.” (lyrics written by Geoff Mack)

Okay, I’ll admit, honestly I haven’t been EVERYWHERE. Scads of folks have traveled to more places than I have. But I have visited 40 of the 50 states here in my own country, the USA. Only 10 more to go! The only other country I’ve stepped foot in is our neighbor to the north, Canada.

Someday, if the world and all the craziness in it ever calms down, Papa and I would like to travel abroad. Time will tell if we get to fill that bucket on our list.

In the meantime, we’ll journey as much as we are able, but for this week, my Tuesday Tour post is different.

You see, Papa and I have been on the open road again. Doing a bit of traveling outside of this empty nest. Not to accomplish some sightseeing, but to visit our grown up children who live in different states than we do.

“I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me.” ~ Walt Whitman

We trekked several hours to the state next door to spend a few days with our son, daughter-in-love, and grandchildren in their new home. And over the Thanksgiving holiday, we traveled a good day’s journey down southern way to scarf down turkey and the trimmings with our oldest daughter and son-in-love.

So, we’ve been traveling our favorite way, on road trips, and time for writing more touring posts and scanning the old 35 mm photos from those excursions past has been scanty.

With Christmas looming in the very near future and all our family singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” I’m not convinced that there will be any more “virtual” tours in this blog until after the holidays are complete. This Nana is going to be one busy gal until the new year arrives.

For now though, Papa and I just relished our time together rambling down the highways to spend cherished days with loved ones. (The opening photo was taken on one of those trips.)

And we’re grateful for it and each other.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re going. It’s who you have beside you.” ~ Unknown

© 2021

Posted in Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving blessing

Today is a day set aside for us Americans to count our many blessings. As I do so, I name them one by one and give thanks to God for each of them. And I would be remiss if I didn’t include the many readers of Mama’s Empty Nest as my blessings.

Thank you, faithful readers. May you be blessed not just this Thanksgiving Day, but in many ways in the days to come.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

© 2021

Posted in Life

Words for Wednesday: when lost is found

Have you ever been lost? I mean really, truly lost in a place where you had absolutely no familiarity. A place in which you didn’t know how you got there or how to escape.

I often think how positively terrifying it would be to be lost in a wilderness. Lost in a heavily forested area in the dark. Lost on a mountain of snow and treacherous terrain.

I’ve never experienced those kinds of circumstances, and I certainly hope I never do. The closest I’ve come to feeling lost was during the you know what when Papa and I set out on a backroad’s country drive about.

It’s what we often resorted to when our state was on lockdown, and we couldn’t really go anywhere but drive around in our vehicle just to escape being at home all the time. And we were thankful we live in an area where we could do so.

Papa was driving on country back roads that were familiar to us but eventually he wondered where does this road lead to? And then, let’s turn here and see where this goes. And then, where might this macadam byway take us?

Eventually, we found ourselves in unfamiliar territory. We had lost our way. Honestly, we weren’t sure where we were, but we thought we were either still in our county of residence or near it.

Since we were definitely located out in the country where there were few homes, no places of business, and lots of wooded areas and hillsides, we soon realized the GPS on Papa’s phone didn’t work either. No signal.

I had no clue where we were even though I grew up here in this neck of the woods we now call home. Papa’s a transplant, having been born and raised in an entirely different area of our home state.

But fortunately, Papa has an exceptional sense of direction and can usually figure out which way to go with ease. It may be inherent or possibly a left-over skill learned while he was a military man.

In my case though, I get turned around easily and can lose my way quite quickly. I can’t always figure out what direction I need to go, especially when hills and curving roads disorient me. So, it’s beneficial that we don’t depend on directional clues from me.

Finally, after a few turns this way and that and a couple of turn-arounds as well, we found a highway which helped Papa ascertain where we were and how to head home.

Being lost is trying. It’s frustrating and can be downright confusing. When we lose something important or valuable, it’s very difficult.

Let me tell you about a loss I experienced. If I slip my wedding rings off, I always place them in a ring box. Several years ago, I did just that one evening.

But when I tried to retrieve my rings later, my diamond engagement ring was missing! I couldn’t imagine why my wedding band and other less valuable rings were in the open porcelain container (the lid had broken long before) and my engagement ring wasn’t. Where on earth could it be?

I knew with absolute certainty I placed both rings in that container when I took them off. I went into full panic mode searching the floor of our bedroom, under furniture, inside drawers…. everywhere it seemed.

No ring to be found. I enlisted Papa in the search and then our kids. We searched high and low, here and there without a trace of where my ring might have gone.

I couldn’t understand how it had become lost. I was beyond frustrated. I was upset. I cried. Then I got angry because we couldn’t find it.

Finally, I reached resolve that my ring had completely disappeared. Something of value and cherished sentiment being lost saddened me tremendously.

A day or two later, while cleaning Papa’s home office, I moved the desk chair aside to vacuum under the desk and between the chair and wall. And that’s when I noticed something shiny lying against the baseboard.

On closer inspection, I realized it was my engagement ring! How on earth did it get from the master bedroom in our two-story house to the first level office near the front door?

And then it dawned on me – the cat! Our beloved calico cat was a bit of a “cat burglar.” She loved all things shiny, glimmery, and shimmery and had been known to snatch, with her teeth, a piece of jewelry lying about anywhere, carry it somewhere else, and play with it.

Apparently, she had visited my dresser, spied the glittering object in my open ring box, and “stole” it. Then she must have carried it downstairs (again in her teeth!!!) and played with it some more until she tired of it.

I was so grateful to find my ring. I was equally grateful the cat hadn’t swallowed it or knocked it into a heating vent or any other space where it would not have been found. AND that I had not vacuumed it up unobserved!

Happy and relieved doesn’t even describe how I felt finding that ring. What was lost was now found.

Writing that statement reminds me that “I once was lost but now am found; was blind but now I see” because of God’s amazing grace. (Amazing Grace lyrics written by John Newton)

If it saved a wretch like me, His grace can save anyone who feels lost in this world. The lost will be found if they choose to be. And the Good Shepherd will rejoice when the lost “sheep” is found.

“You may feel lost in a sea of people but remember — He knows you by name. He knows your story. He knows your pain. And He loves you the same.” ~ Reinhard Bonnke

© 2021

Posted in Life, photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: discoveries

From the mysterious to the awe-inspiring, we discovered many sights worth seeing on a road trip our family took over 25 years ago. (Photos shown on this Tuesday Tour were captured with a 35 mm film point and shoot camera.)

On our way to visit San Francisco (read about that here) from our home in Oregon, we traveled down Highway 101 into and through northern California.

One of the discoveries we had never encountered before that trip were observing massive Redwood trees in the heavily forested section of this state.

After living in the Midwest for several years and both Papa and I having hailed from Pennsylvania, none of us had ever seen such enormous trees. So, we just had to find one of those monster trees that travelers could drive through.

We did so in Leggett, California. Located in a privately owned park along Highway 101, we found Chandelier, a drive-through tree which still exists today. The park was established in 1922 to give travelers a place to stop. However, the huge redwood tree there wasn’t carved out for driving through until 1937.

Our young children got a kick out of experiencing this attraction when Papa drove us through in our station wagon. I took photos of us inside the tree and our car parked in it as well and then we visited the gift shop there.

I don’t remember if we paid to drive through Chandelier Tree or not, but today autos must pay a $10 fee and walkers, bikers, and motorcyclists pay $5 for the privilege. The site is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm daily and there are areas for hiking and enjoying picnics in the park.

On we continued to yet another mysterious sight – Trees of Mystery in Klamath, California. For 75 years, this family owned/operated attraction has existed.

After being greeting by a 49-foot, 2-inch statue of Paul Bunyan, the legendary lumberjack, and his 35-foot tall companion, Babe the Blue Ox, visitors walk along a one mile hiking trail through the enormous redwoods.

The mystery comes when you observe the different formation of many of the trees like the one pictured below – the Cathedral Tree.

The trails are open year-round and in the years since our visit, a gondola ride, called the Sky Trail, was added so visitors can soar through the massive trees. There is, of course, a large gift shop and a free museum featuring Native American artifacts on the premises. Families will find a restaurant and motel also available there.

Before we headed into San Francisco, we stopped in Santa Cruz. Although the Pacific Ocean was no longer a mystery to us since we had made several trips to the Pacific Northwest coast, we spent a day on the beach in Santa Cruz soaking up warmth and sunshine.

Not something we encountered as much on the Oregon Coast, where the water is frigid and the sun doesn’t always shine. Our children enjoyed our day relaxing and playing at the Santa Cruz beach and experiencing, for the first time, a boardwalk with amusement rides, typical beach shops, and eateries.

After our San Francisco tour ended, we traveled north on Interstate 5 where we caught a good look at a 14,179-foot tall volcano, Mount Shasta. This snow-covered peak, surrounded by the Shasta Trinity National Forest and located in the Cascade Mountain Range, sits 60 miles north of Redding, California, and 60 miles south of the Oregon state border.

Both summer and winter recreational activities abound in the Mount Shasta area and surrounding Siskiyou County, where there are hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails and scenic lakes.

Yet probably the most awe-inspiring yet mysterious sight we discovered occurred when we entered southern Oregon and traveled to the deepest lake in the United States. The photo at the beginning of this post, taken by our oldest child, shows our younger selves posing there.

Thousands of years ago, a tall mountain volcanic peak named Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed resulting in the formation of Crater Lake.

Described as “one of the most pristine lakes on earth,” this lake has amazed scientists and visitors alike for its absolute pure, fresh, and crystal-clear blue water that is provided by rain and snow. Not only is it the deepest US lake at 1,943 feet (592 meters), it’s also the ninth deepest in the world.

Visitors can view the lake within the Crater Lake National Park, which was founded in 1902 to preserve this national treasure and is one of the oldest national parks in the US. Even though the park is open daily year-round, roads, trails, and park facilities close for the winter season.

Why? Crater Lake is one of the snowiest inhabited places in the country, according to the National Park Service website. Deep snows force the roads to be closed to vehicular traffic by November 1 or when the first substantial snowstorm hits.

While viewing the lake, visitors will also observe Wizard Island, a 763-foot cinder cone that was created after the volcano collapsed and when Crater Lake began filling with water. During the summer season, boat tours to the island can be taken and hikers can follow a trail leading to the island’s summit where they can view a 90-foot deep crater.

We visited in late summer and discovered the beauty of this area to be inspiring.

Discovery is one of the many reasons this Papa and Nana traveled with our children when they were young, and it is still a valid reason for our travels now from our empty nest.

“Discovery is exciting, no matter how big or small or close or distant.” ~ Mike Brown

© 2021

Posted in Faith, Life

Words for Wednesday: lukewarm

Looking out a kitchen window one morning, I noticed a battleground.

Not a literal battleground where one foe was pitted against another. But a different kind of battle. One side in contrast to another. A vast difference displayed right in front of my eyes.

Our backyard had transformed into a battleground of opposing sides. One side sunny. One side shady.

One side where bright green grass could be observed. The other side, shaded from the sun, where the same grass was muted in gray and blue colors.

One side hot from the sun melting the hoarfrost away. One side still cold from the previous night’s rime.

One side toasty. One side frosty.

And as often happens when I observe something visual, God’s Word comes to my mind. When I viewed those two distinct sides of my yard, two verses from the very last book – Revelation – of the Bible’s New Testament drifted through my thoughts.

That book of the Bible was written by the Apostle John, one of Jesus Christ’s 12 disciples. Revelation is different from the other five books in the New Testament written by John. God revealed events to come, occurrences that would take place thousands of years in the future to John and he recorded those in Revelation. But that’s an entirely other story.

The words John wrote that crossed my brain waves when I looked at our back yard were these: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” ~ Revelation 3:15-16

Neither hot. Nor cold. Lukewarm.

My yard was “hot” on one side and “cold” on the other. Lukewarm? Not so much.

So, I started wondering and pondering why these verses ran through my mind. Really, what do those words the disciple John wrote even mean?

Does being cold mean turning away from faith, rejecting it, even a dead, hard heart against God?

And by hot, did he mean being on fire for Jesus, having a passionate, consuming faith?

And what about being lukewarm? Maybe blah, apathetic, indifferent, uncaring. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Several years ago, I recall learning about those words John penned in Revelation. A good friend of ours, who is quite a Bible scholar, explained these verses by putting them into historical context pertaining to a church in Laodicea about whom these verses were written.

In John’s day, hot springs were located a few miles north of Laodicea and several miles east was a town known for cold, pure drinking water.

The hot springs provided healing aspects that made that area a kind of health center while the cold, pure water from the other town provided excellent drinking water. Laodicea did not have its own water supply, so water had to be piped there by aqueducts.

Whether it was the hot water that provided health benefits or the cold water that gave the town good drinking water, by the time it arrived in Laodicea, water was lukewarm.

In addition, the hot springs water was full of minerals like sulfur which would be nasty to drink. Certainly, drinking lukewarm, bad tasting water would not quench your thirst. So, what would you do? Gag and spit it out most likely.

So do these verses mean God literally will spit us out if our faith is lukewarm? If we truly have faith and have accepted God’s gift of salvation, God does not reject us.

But truthfully, those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ are not perfect Christians. We all have periods of time when we feel like we’re being lukewarm. Our faith wanes. We have doubts. Our passion and zeal for reading and studying God’s Word and praying sometimes falters.

God would rather see us possess a healthy, vibrant faith like the water from hot springs. Or perhaps embrace faith that refreshes and satisfies us like a clear, cold glass of water. When we’re lukewarm instead, it’s a warning sign that we need to be aware of our attitude, have a change of heart, seek Him and His Word more fully.

Being hot or cold, even though they seem polar opposites actually could both be good conditions of faith. But being lukewarm is not. These verses point out that the Laodicean church was unremarkable (lukewarm) when it came to their faith and they needed a change of heart.

Lately, I’ve been feeling just like that ancient church. Unremarkable in my faith. Downright lukewarm.

I think God used that visual picture placed in my back yard at just the time I needed it. Time to change. Time to be hot or cold, not lukewarm. Time to strengthen my faith with Bible study and more time spent in prayer.

And it took a backyard battle to remind me.

“Put your nose into the Bible every day. It is your spiritual food. And then share it. Make a vow not to be a lukewarm Christian.” ~ Kirk Cameron

© 2021

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: heart not left

It appears that people are leaving more than their hearts in a certain West Coast city. In the last year or so, San Francisco has received some bad press about its unsafe and unhygienic streets.

News like that certainly could impact tourism and cause folks to have no desire to visit there.  Back in the early 1990’s, our family did visit San Francisco.

We lived in the Pacific Northwest, where we had re-located from the Midwest. We amassed as much sightseeing as we could on the West Coast because we had never been there before.  

One year we took our three children on a road trip vacation to Northern California and since both Papa and I wanted to visit San Francisco, we decided to spend a couple days there.

Some memories wane about that trip and I find that I didn’t manage to capture a lot of photographs with my old trusty automatic camera. I suspect Papa and I were too occupied with entertaining and herding three young and active children to be taking many pictures.

But a few distinct places in that city do come to mind on this Tuesday Tour and I’ve scanned the old photos to view here.

Since we traveled into California on Highway 101, we distinctly remember driving across the Golden Gate Bridge and marveling at this iconic structure, but alas, I have absolutely no photos of it.

In those days before GPS, we managed to find our next driving stop fairly easily, the famous “crookedest street in the world.”

Lombard Street is a typical thoroughfare in the city except for one block, a busy tourist attraction featuring a steep, red-bricked, 600-foot long section with eight hairpin turns.

Driving down the one-way street with a speed limit of five miles per hour seems to be one of those attractions every driving tourist wants to accomplish so there was a line of cars waiting to descend. At the bottom of the street plenty of tourists lined up with cameras as well.

We checked into our hotel in the Embarcadero area of San Francisco and were delighted to find we could catch a cable car nearby to travel to many of the places we wanted to see.

Currently, the city possesses the last manually operated cable car system in the world. In days of old, 23 cable car lines provided transportation through the city, but now only three routes remain. The cable cars are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

We found it fun and entertaining to ride the cable cars once we were actually able to board. Because they are a big tourist attraction, waiting lines for the cars were quite lengthy though. We also remember tourists from other countries in line and chatting while we waited with a friendly German couple touring California.  

I suspect our children soon grew impatient and tired of waiting but they managed to behave nicely. However, I distinctly remember how rude people were when they shoved by and through our family of five to board before us. It was a mad dash and I recall Papa and I hanging onto our children for dear life so we wouldn’t be separated by the crush of inconsiderate people.

From the cable car ride, we observed Chinatown, although we did not wander through the streets there. Another major attraction, San Francisco’s Chinatown is considered the oldest of its kind in North America and the largest outside of Asia.

Our favorite place and one that was family friendly (at least in the 90’s) was Fisherman’s Wharf, or Pier 39 as it’s also called.

Pier 39 stands out in my memory for two aspects: we had our very first taste of the scrumptiously decadent Ghirardelli Chocolates there and brought some home with us and we were amazed at the plentiful fresh produce at a fruit market. The fruit was huge and we also sampled another first there – Asian pears – which we discovered were so very tasty.

We enjoyed strolling along the historic waterfront and watching sea lions cavort and snooze on the piers. Plenty of restaurants, shopping, and entertainment – we stopped several times to watch street performers – could be found there as well as nice views of the San Francisco Bay and the city itself.

We also managed to spy Alcatraz Island from a distance.Tourists could take a boat cruise out to the island and tour the well-known place, which was once a fort, a military prison, and finally a maximum security federal penitentiary at one time.

However, we chose not to subject our young children to that tour because it wouldn’t hold their interest. If they had been older to understand the history of it better, we probably would have purchased tickets, but only Papa and I would have benefitted from the excursion.

Now, all these many years later, I’m glad we visited San Francisco when we did as it was one of the US cities we had always wanted to visit. But I think it’s safe to say we didn’t leave our hearts there as the old 1960’s song, made popular by singer Tony Bennett, says.

I don’t think we’ll ever go back there, but we have a memento of that trip that causes me to recall that city every year we decorate our Christmas tree – an ornament which is a musical cable car that plays…you guessed it…“I left my heart in San Francisco,” that city’s theme song.

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take…” ~ Lewis Carroll

© 2021

Posted in Life, photography

Words for Wednesday: falling fast


all is falling fast.

After practically a full month of balmy weather – mostly warm sunshiny days with some rainy ones mixed in, the weather has turned chillier. The days have grown shorter.

The deciduous trees in our neck of the woods did not proclaim their splendid color as predominantly this year. And all too soon, what color did burst forth quickly turned brown and windy gusts blew the trees practically bare.

Time to take down the tree swing, the porch swing, and store away the deck furniture. Time to remove the porch boxes with frost-bitten petunias, the potted herbs, and the other summer flowerpots with blooms now long gone.

It’s sad really, but necessary. It’s time to put summer and even the glorious days of autumn away and prepare for the winter season. And even though autumn and I have a love-affair and I will miss my favorite season tremendously, I will greet winter and be thankful for it.

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Experiencing four distinct changes of season is one of the reasons why I love where I live. This corner of my home state where I returned with my family over 20 years ago now enables me to enjoy the signs of spring, summer, fall, and winter and I’m so appreciative of that.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

Winter will bring cold temperatures for certain. But I can be thankful for a warmly heated home and plentiful garments to keep me from suffering the chilled blast of winter’s breath.

Winter will bring snow, but I will find delight in those first few flurries of the season and spying a pristine, sparkling blanket of white hugging our yard and draping over bare tree limbs.

Winter will bring celebrations of the season and I’m grateful for those as well.

First, we’ll commemorate Thanksgiving when we Americans who have much to thank God for will gather around tables with loved ones and plenty of food to do just that – be thankful. And many of us who have abundance will provide for the growing number of those who don’t.

Next, we will celebrate Christmas – a holy holiday for those of us who call ourselves believers in Christ as we remember the birth of our Savior.

I’m hopeful this year that we will concentrate on the true meaning of the holiday instead of being caught in the commercial snares of consumerism. And again, we’ll find ways to help those who are less fortunate find a spot of Christmas joy.

After a season of being held in winter’s grasp, God willing, we’ll once again welcome spring. And the cycle of life and its seasons will begin anew.

“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”  ~ Henry David Thoreau

© 2021

Posted in Life, photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: stepping back in time

This past weekend an occurrence probably discombobulated some folks – I know it always affects me.

Here in the United States of America, most of our states operate on Daylight Savings Time and to do so means we change our clocks twice a year. Spring forward (set our timepieces ahead one hour) in March and in November, fall back (turn our clocks back one hour).

If you don’t practice this and it messes your head to think about it, imagine what it does to those of us who must capitulate. It messes with not just our heads, but our bodies as well. Young and old alike.

Technically, the clocks aren’t reset until 2 a.m. on the given day, but we don’t sit up waiting to do that, we reset the time before we go to bed. But our brains and bodies work on our internal clocks and it takes a while to acclimate to the time difference even though it’s only one hour.

For example, our oldest grandchild stayed with Nana and Papa on Saturday night when we changed the time. Usually, she awakens by herself anywhere from 6:30 to 7 a.m. because she has to prepare for school. Sunday morning (after that change of hour) she awakened at 5:30 a.m.

And of course, so did Nana and Papa, unfortunately. At least we were all ready for church in plenty of time!

All this thought about changing our clocks, both external and internal, prompted me to think about stepping back in time. And that’s what today’s Tuesday Tour is about.

Back in July, Papa and I embarked on a day long road trip to Maryland, one of our neighbor states, and in doing so, we found ourselves taking a step back in time.

We decided to visit an area that we’ve never been before and just explore whatever sight worth seeing crossed our path.

By meandering with no specific plan in mind, we ended up in a small town named Accident, MD, on our way to a popular vacation area called Deep Creek. Then accidentally, we noticed a sign for an historic log cabin and decided to drive back a dirt road near a cemetery to view the place.

The Drane House was built in 1797 by a man named William Lamar, the brother-in-law of James Drane. In 1803, title to the home and surrounding acreage was given to Drane.

The historic log house was inhabited continuously until 1952, setting a record for the longest occupancy of any domicile in this county (Garrett). Descendants of Drane restored the house in the 1990’s and visitors can view the log home and grounds by appointment.

Of course, since our visit wasn’t planned, we hadn’t made an appointment, but we still enjoyed stepping back in time to view the historic place and later, I found an interesting fact about it. Before any restoration could begin on the property, an archaeological survey had to be performed.

During the process, a 1780 Spanish coin was found. Wouldn’t that be an interesting find? Not unusual though, since in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, both Spanish and British coins were used for monetary exchange instead of paper money that the newly formed United States government issued.

We next found ourselves stepping back in time when we stopped in Oakland, another small town, and happened upon the Oakland B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) Railroad Museum. Since Papa’s a big train enthusiast, we HAD to visit this place located inside the old B&O train station.

The old station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and the museum features interesting exhibits. A volunteer tour guide provided a lot of historic information as well inside the museum.

On such a pleasant summer day, we also examined the B&O locomotive and railroad cars outside the depot/museum.

In addition to a tasty lunch and an enjoyable ride around the Deep Creek area, we also visited a nearby lavender farm. Even though the lavender was past its prime bloom time, the scent of lavender provided a relaxing visit as did all the lovely lavender products in the gift shop.

Our day trip offered us a chance to step back from the worries of the world (and the ongoing you know what) and spend time together doing something we both take delight in.

Alas, our road tripping has ended for the time being, so for the next few Tuesday Tour posts, I will have to “step back in time” once more and recall some of the trips we’ve taken in the past.

Needless to say, we can’t wait to get back on the road again.

 “Take a step back, evaluate what is important, and enjoy life.” ~ Teri Garr

© 2021

Posted in family, Life

Words for Wednesday: the way we were

I just spent several days in October with my sisters, which doesn’t seem that extraordinary, does it? But the three of us, of which I am youngest, haven’t been all together for four years or so.

One sister lives in the area and she and I are together often for which I am grateful. But my other sister lives a couple thousand miles away, so time spent with her is sparse due to distance or circumstances beyond our control.

Circumstances are what happened when my far-away sister and brother-in-law attempted to drive their RV from their out west state eastward to visit us back in May.

An unfortunate accident, when my sister fell and broke more than a handful of bones in her leg, prevented them from continuing their trip and waylaid them only a few hundred miles into their journey.

After surgery which prompted me to call her the “bionic woman,” much recuperation and physical therapy for many, many weeks which turned into months, she was cleared for travel once again. And this time, they made the cross-country trip without incident, again a reason for gratefulness.

What joy we experienced during their visit! And we shared a lot of memories. Wonderful memories of the way we were in our family.

If you’re a certain age like I am, you may recall a movie from the 1970’s starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford entitled The Way We Were.

Streisand sang the movie’s theme song and those old lyrics came back to me so easily as I sat down to compose this post.

Light the corners of my mind
Misty water-colored memories
Of the way we were
Scattered pictures,
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were
Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time re-written every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? Could we?
Mem’ries, may be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember…
The way we were…
The way we were…
(Written by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch)

Memories. While the three of us sisters gathered, we shared many truly lovely, endearing, and even funny memories of the way we were.

“Time and space may separate us, but not the thoughts and memories that bind us.” ~ Ed Parker

And we sorted through even more memories. With our mother already in her heavenly home, our father passed away over a decade ago, and we then emptied out our parental home to prepare it for sale.

We just couldn’t decide what to do with some memorabilia, so we packed items into plastic totes and unfortunately, those bins took up residence in my basement ever since. So, while our other sister was visiting, the three of us sorted through those remains.

What did we find? Memories. But most of them did not belong to us. Some were from our parents. Even some belonged to our grandparents who passed from this earth over 55 years ago.

Old greeting cards. Long forgotten letters. Personal items like Grandpa’s coin purse, bow tie, and leather straight razor shaving strop. Grandma’s hat pin, shoe buttoner hook. Mom’s overflowingly full recipe boxes. Dad’s high school graduation yearbook and his retirement recognition. Memorial books from all their funerals.

And there were scrap books. Five scrap books full of newspaper clippings some going back to the 1930’s and further back.

Memories. All those memories that actually did not belong to us but gave us a glimpse into the past. A glimpse of our departed loved ones’ memories. The way they were.

But the question we had to ask ourselves was “Who will care?” Who wants to preserve those old memories of days gone by and long forgotten? Not one of us three sisters believed our children or grandchildren would be interested in any of it.

As we rifled through those memories, sorted them, and eventually tossed most of them into the refuse bag, it saddened me.

Not because I wanted to keep those remnants but because at some point in time, our family members long gone thought they were important enough to keep. But their value had diminished away.

And the material items we think are worthy of value now will do the same. Perhaps we should leave memories behind by our words, told and retold to our children and grandchildren, not our things.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.” ~ Dr. Seuss

© 2021

Posted in photography, road trips, travel

Tuesday Tour: discovery

Isn’t it fun to find something worth seeing that you didn’t know existed? We discovered just that this past summer.

If you’ve been a regular reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, you’ll know that we enjoy visiting lighthouses and covered bridges. And I’ve documented many of those interesting sites here on my Tuesday Tour.

Today I share yet another discovery.

Our summer journey through New York’s Adirondack Mountains provided a sightseeing treasure, a surprise for Papa and me that we didn’t know existed.

Near the town of Jay, NY we accidentally “uncovered” the Jay Covered Bridge, the last remaining covered bridge in northern New York and the only covered bridge in the Adirondacks.

Constructed in 1857 and completely restored in 2007, this single span wooden bridge crosses the east branch Ausable River and is 175 feet in length, making it also one of the longest covered bridges in the state. 

Jay Covered Bridge is listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.  The bridge is open to foot and bicycle traffic and sits in Douglas Memorial Park, where visitors can picnic. 

Not able to get a close photo of the structure because a celebration was taking place inside the bridge and parking nearby was at a premium, we did locate a spot where I could snap a photo of it from its side.   

Then on our way to Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon (Pine Creek Gorge), we discovered a couple of covered bridges off (way off) the beaten path.

Located in Lycoming County, we found Buttonwood Covered Bridge, which was built in the late 1800’s (there’s a dispute over its construction date as being either 1878 or 1898).

Crossing over Blockhouse Creek, this approximately 70-foot long bridge was restored in 1998 after being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. As one of the three covered bridges still existing in this county, Buttonwood is the shortest and, because it is still open to vehicular traffic, one of the most heavily used.

After wandering around the countryside in this rural area, we also managed to locate Cogan House Covered Bridge, also known as Buckhorn Covered Bridge. It’s not easy to find because it’s situated far from any highways, but we lucked out and stumbled upon it. 

Crossing over a tributary of the west branch of the Susquehanna River named Larrys Creek, this span is considered the oldest and longest such structure in Lycoming County.

Erected in 1877, the bridge is 94 feet long and you can drive through it. However, after doing so, you discover you are on private property on that side of the bridge. Of course, we promptly turned around and drove back through.

An interesting fact about Cogan/Buckhorn states that it was the only bridge over Larrys Creek that survived a huge storm which caused the famous 1889 Johnstown (PA) Flood.

Try as we might, we weren’t able to locate the third Lycoming covered bridge, Lairdsville Covered Bridge, mainly due to time constraint and the realization that we continued traveling in circles on country roads to locate it.  If we ever get back to that area of the state, we will attempt to find it then.

We’re always ready for a road trip that leads to discovery.

“Isn’t it astonishing that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so we could discover them!”  ~ Wright Brothers

© 2021