*Photo taken from Hogback Mountain in the Green Mountains of Vermont
It’s been such a busy week I can barely remember everything we’ve done since I last wrote a blog post. Michael and I have made some life-altering decisions in that short time, and we have a serious amount of work to do in order to get ourselves out of Olean once and for all. After our weekend excursion to New Hampshire last week, we got ourselves back to work for a couple of days to paint and finish more trim on our Olean house. We really have to put the pressure on now that Michael has been off work for so long, especially since we came home from New Hampshire more certain than ever that we are ready to buy property there and make it home base. Traveling the country for the last couple of years has been a delight, but Michael has had to apply for a nursing license in every state where he works—it’s expensive and time-consuming. For the time being, we feel it’s important to get ourselves established in New Hampshire so Michael can have the benefit of the compact licensure they offer their residents. This means that in the other approximately 30 states which are part of the compact, Michael can simply go there and work without applying for a new license. That is huge. It also means we can take the time to get the land we really want if we’re living there for a while, and then start building a tiny house-style cabin. The Aluminum Falcon still sits patiently waiting for us to continue work, and it looks like it will be a while before that work can be done.
In the meantime, we need to get at least the interior of our Olean home finished before leaving town, and then we have the exterior to complete. So we worked for a few days in between things we were doing, because it’s summer and we made plans, and also because we want to make time for friends. Recently a friend had to put down his dog, and then he called to see if we wanted to do an overnight at a nearby campground. Due to our upcoming weekend trip to Boston, we almost declined, but then thought better of it. You only live once, and when a friend loses a pet, it’s like losing family. We decided to go. Off we went to Patterson Campground near Cherry Springs, PA, which is known for its dark night skies, and often attracts amateur star-gazers for events. The Perseid meteor shower has been active in the first half of August, and while we camped we had the good fortune of seeing a few “falling stars” in the twinking star-studded skies overhead. We followed our typical protocol of making food over the fire and chatting late into the night while we watched for meteors. I hope it won’t be the last time we camp for the summer, especially after our backpacking trip was foiled, but it might be. At least we got one night in the tent.
For anyone interested in visiting Patterson Campground, it’s primitive car camping with fresh water you hand-pump from a well, has a single pit toilet, and there are a couple of pavilions which can accommodate larger groups meeting for picnics. The campground is actually a great spot to overnight before heading out to the Susquehannock Trail, which is accessed right from the campground. Michael and I did a couple of nights on the Susquehannock several years ago, and it’s a well-maintained trail system which encompasses 88 miles of trail through Pennsylvania forest. A fun aspect of the Susquehannock: the chairs and tables you come across along the trail, probably built by campers or trail groomers, are made entirely of large rocks found in the woods. Whoever built these delightful spots to camp had an industrious work ethic, but we appreciated them every time we came across them. This forested loop of hiking trail has plenty of access to water, and there are lots of entry/exit points to be able to hop on for an overnight or weekend trip. Timber rattlers are widespread in this region, so be wary while hiking here. Carry a bear can for your food, as you may come across black bears, and please also note that recently a photo of three mountain lions was taken near the Jake’s Rocks recreation area, which is near the Kinzua Dam. If you hike alone, be prepared with bear spray to ward off the animals if they get curious, and remember to do your best to scare animals away to discourage interaction with humans.
After our overnight in Patterson, I made a point of seeing a local show in Salamanca at the Ray Evans Theater. Beauty and the Beast was performed by a local group, and my daughter was in the cast as part of the chorus. The show was fairly good for a local production, and I was impressed with the lighting, acting, singing, and choreography. Some of the sound issues made it hard to hear all the actors on stage, but with limited funds and limited microphones this is bound to happen. Overall, the show was fun and an enjoyable evening, and the theater was a pleasant atmosphere to take in a show. Despite my late night out for the show, we had to head out in the morning for Boston, a trip we’ve had planned for quite a while. Months ago I bought tickets to see Ben Folds and Cake at the Blue Hills Pavilion in Boston. I didn’t expect to still be goofing around with finishing work on our house at this point in the summer, so fitting in this trip around all the work was especially frustrating. My cousin lives in the Boston area, and I was hoping to use our concert tickets as an excuse to spend time with her because it’s been years since our last visit. With only a few days planned for Boston, the visit was much too short. We also had to bring the dogs, which limited our ability to be able to spend our day in the city as we originally intended. Luna couldn’t be left behind after the last two trips, since she made a nuisance of herself by howling all night long.
Though we didn’t have the day in the city, we did get to enjoy at least a little time with family, and we had a nice dinner with them while we were there. The concert left a little to be desired, as I saw Ben Folds on another occasion, and he was much more engaging than this last concert. I think it probably had to do with the people he played with this time, but that’s just my guess. Either way, his energy wasn’t quite as good as the last concert, but at least we enjoyed seeing Cake for the first time. They were fun, and the lead singer amused us with his audience banter. Now that Cake is producing from their own label, they are back in action and in charge of their own destiny—hooray for artistic independence! I am a fan. Though the concert was a bit of a let-down, we still enjoyed it. I don’t think I would be likely to go to another concert at this location, though, after the prices we paid for the tickets, only to get there and discover the expense of all the food vendors. $7.50 for a bottle of water seems more than just steep—it’s highway robbery. And a beer for almost double that price? No, thanks. I didn’t even bother to look at the food. We went home and ate leftovers. It rained through the entire concert, and I felt bad for the people at the edges of the pavilion, where the rain splattered down onto the seats. Most annoying was the fact that anytime anyone needed to get up, the entire row of people had to stand to let them out, which meant everyone behind that row couldn’t see until they sat again. This happened so frequently, I almost stood for the whole concert. At least public transit to the venue was very easy and convenient.
On our way home from Boston, we drove through New Hampshire and took a tour of a potential home to purchase. Though our realtor was thoughtful about choosing a property around our desire to live in the woods, the house we toured didn’t meet our needs. At least we got the ball rolling, and it looks like we have some tentative plans, a move date, and a sort of schedule. It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks. Though we probably won’t find a place before we head to Keene for Michael to start working at the hospital there, we do have a place we hope to stay for a short time so we can get ourselves in the area. I have to find some extra income to supplement the loss Michael will take on his paycheck (travel nursing is much better pay), but as long as we get ourselves there, all things are possible. The dream is alive. We are on the cusp of making our New Hampshire retreat a reality, and also in freeing ourselves from our Western New York homestead. Honestly, I am getting so excited to become a New Hampshire resident. Ever since we lived there in 2016, I have felt drawn there like a moth to a flame. It feels like home, and I can’t wait to call it by that name. The wonder of the woods there is a happy thing for us, and the pleasure of owning land we can preserve for the future will be an opportunity of a lifetime.