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  • J.F. Rowan

So, where the heck are you?

A slight color change with the coming of autumn surrounds my aunt and uncle's farm in Vermont.

Where? Well, Connecticut would be the easy answer. But I assure you it’s much more complicated than that. When we are on the road, we are a very versatile and formidable force of a self-sustainable nature. But we still have ties to the area that we’ve lived in for over 30 years. And so, like the proverbial moth to a flame, we found ourselves homeward bound, drawn back to where it all started. We had several reasons to return and as we got closer, we planeed ahead to only stay until about the end of September. Then, we would return to the open road and slowly work our way south, ultimately ending up in Texas for a 6-week house sit in the small town of Smithville. This would be our kick-off to “Season II.” But, as with life, the best-laid plans…

Back in New England and all plugged in at Bramble Hill Farm

It was great to re-connect with several friends and family that we had not seen for about ten months and in some cases, a few years. Some folks are happy to see you, some are indifferent, but everyone asks questions. And that’s okay because people have lives of their own that are much different than ours. Some folks seem glad to see us, some still think we’ve lost our marbles! But overall it’s good to make contact face to face as opposed to ten months of texting, phone calls or through the mud fest that has become social media. Along with just reconnecting with friends and family, sometimes visits can end up being, well, something more. We need a system to keep track of all the activities in such a small time frame!

Helping friends stay ahead of the "Russian Olive" in Connecticut.

Long time friend KC Mazer and I talking about the attributes of this "Sporty" 1951 Ford tractor.

Helping each other best comes from the heart. It’s not something you can force someone to do, or legislate. You either want to do it as an individual, or you don’t. I won’t go into the details but we saw an opportunity to help someone and to us, it was far more important to help in whatever way we could, rather than to stick to a particular schedule or getting back on the road. So, we saw this opportunity to help a lifelong friend and it was an easy decision to stick around another 30 days. So, as I write this, we are occasionally hopping back and forth between Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut taking care of errands, visiting and sometimes helping friends and family, and taking care of some scheduled maintenance for the truck. The last being probably more frustrating than I anticipated.

A return trip to Balise in Springfield to fix a mistake made during a recent oil change (Over filled by about 2+ quarts)

After several tries getting the Tiger into two major dealerships for service, the end result was a botched oil change (They over-filled the crankcase by almost 3 quarts) which could have a serious impact on the lifespan of the truck's engine. Fortunately, the mistake was caught in a relatively short period of time after it happened, and to date, there doesn’t seem to be any blowback from the maintenance blunder. We will monitor fuel consumption and oil consumption very carefully here on out looking for possible trends that might spell trouble. I have to say, maintenance in the south has gone a heck of a lot smoother than here in the north.

Visiting in Vermont. Crisp evenings and warm, long-shadowed days.

One of the cooler moments was an email from my cousin. Knowing that we would be in New England, he had invited us to Vermont to stay and visit for a few days. Again, having the ability to have more flexibility in our life we decided, "Why not?" So off we went to Vermont for few days. The visit brought back great memories sparked by the sweet smell of early morning wood smoke, horses grazing on the hillside and my aunt and uncle. A couple whom I’ve admired since I was young. I've always though of them as pioneers who set out when they were young and literally carved a life for themselves in an area where a person must rely primarily on one’s ingenuity rather than fixing a problem simply with a credit card. They're tough, smart and have a strong love of family. I’ve always respected that. Sitting down and having a meal together, sharing stories and feeling like a family again was a real treat for both of us and will leave us with memories that we will keep close to our hearts for years to come.

Moist conditions bring out the shrooms! Yvette's phone takes great photos!

While there we walked in the Vermont woods around their farm almost every day seeking out and photographing any wild mushrooms we could find. We didn’t collect or even consider eating any of them, but sometime in the future, we hope to be able to learn how to gather and possibly even consume them. Though I have to admit, just buying dried mushrooms in bulk has more of an appeal at present. But again, tromping through the woods where I visited years and years ago was a treat all in itself. The things I looked for that I remembered when I was younger and finding totally unchanged, was something that for me, gives me comfort. Like the simple wooden spool attached high up on a pole that my cousins put there years ago as part of a homemade ski tow that apparently worked extremely well and provided hours of fun.

Good times during our Vermont visit. Spending time with my aunt and uncle (next time I have to get some photos of my aunt too!) There great house, the "38", the dogs, and my new friend, Sparky.

So even though we love to travel and our wanderlust hasn’t dwindled in the slightest, it’s still part of the adventure to do those things we always wanted to do, even locally, that we couldn’t do before because of our busy lives. Our stay in New England will probably extend to about the end of October when we will start our exit process. But heading south will mean initially heading north, where we will head through Vermont and into New York, hoping to hug Lake Erie exposing our route as little as possible to the state of Pennsylvania. The state is great to visit, but it’s not a great state to travel through. From high fuel prices, terrible roads or high toll prices, it’s an easy decision to take a northern course. And, we get to see Lake Erie!

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