In mid-April, we took advantage of the "mud season" lull and headed out on a family adventure. Come along for the ride!
Our trip began in Stoneboro, PA where we enjoyed a Mishler family reunion. Here is almost the whole gang on the front steps of my sister Cinda's beautiful home. (My sister, Kathy, and her husband were unable to attend and Nadine was there, but had to leave before the photo op!)
After leaving Cinda's, we followed our trusty (ha!) GPS on an obscure route through the Ohio countryside and suddenly found ourselves at the end of Shelton Rd - the road where I grew up! We just HAD to drive the 1/2 mile down the once-dirt road to see my childhood home. Many of our trees have been removed so the property looks very open compared to what I remember. The house looks the same except for the windows which have been modernized. The slight slope at the front left of the picture is where I taught myself to ride a bike by coasting... it seemed so steep at the time!
We continued on our journey - heading to southeastern Ohio. Enroute to our next destination, we stopped for a wonderful dinner date!
Many of you will recognize this smiling couple. We had the privilege of having dinner with Jonathan and his lovely wife, Becca. This was the first time we'd actually met her! Jonathan lived with us for a few months after he graduated from Messiah College. None of us could quite figure out how he manuevered his TALL frame up in our little loft!
Pink dogwoods and baby green leaves painted such a beautiful scene along the roads. And then we arrived...
Our destination for three days of ranchin' adventure!
We decided not to rough it on this trip, so we enjoyed one of the deluxe cabins. We had two bedrooms, bathroom, livingroom and a full kitchen. All the comforts of home!
The ranch offered trail rides. None of us were too experienced with horses, but we were excited to try. (Well... three of us were excited to try!) We began with a lesson in the indoor arena. Things went pretty well until my horse, Bart, decided to "test" me. The wrangler told me it was because he thought I was a "light-weight!" "Show him you're boss," she said. Yeah... right!
After three days of riding, we were much more at ease and truly enjoying the feeling of controlling "1100 pounds of pure muscle" as the wrangler described our horses!
Bart and I even made peace. He was really a very good horse for a beginner and I found myself missing him in the days after we left the ranch.
Our VERY patient wranglers, Kristen and Chrissy, made us feel at home. Their warmth and kindness gave us a new appreciation for how our guests feel when we go the extra mile to make them feel like they "belong."
CorrieAnne enjoyed all of the animals...there were four goats who wandered around the ranch. It was always a bit startling to get butted from behind!
The horses were definitely the main attraction for the girls. They were thrilled to be invited to help with the chores each day.
While we were at the ranch, they received a shipment of 50 steer. That was fun to watch! CorrieAnne got to help pour the feed into the feeding troughs. Then they opened the gates...
And THIS is what happens to cows who get too frisky and break the rancher's leg! No kidding!
Speaking of the rancher... Smoke Rise Ranch is operated by three brothers. Here is Lynn with his parents. His dad was a cowboy out west during the era of big cattle drives. If you want to learn more about the ranch, check them out at www.smokeriseranch.com.
At the end of each day, we were smelly, dusty and tired, but deeply peaceful as we fell asleep hearing the birds, bullfrogs and gentle nickers of the horses. Ahhhh....
All too soon, our time at the ranch ended and we headed for Columbus, OH to visit our son, Christian, and his family.
Meet our "new" grandbaby! Well... he's already a year old! But this was the first we had met Liam in person. What a cutie!
And here is the whole gang! From left to right: Brady, Jacob, Liam (in front) and Chloe. This picture is a few months old, but it was nearly impossible to get this active bunch all together in one photo frame!
Our visit included a golf outing, McDonald's playland, lots of Chloe hugs amazing food - Jessica loves organic food just as much as I do!! (Great homemade stromboli!)
After spending several days in Columbus, we headed back to New York. Johnstown, PA made a nice stopping point and a great excuse to see our dear friends, Chuck and Barb Davis.
We had a great time seeing everyone and having some new experiences (like learning why cowboys walk the way they do!). Now we're home again and preparing for the busy summer season.
Spending time away gave us a new appreciation for the gift that the Snow Goose is to our guests. We feel deeply honored to provide a place for people to rest, be refreshed and reconnect with their loved ones. (Now to remember that in a few weeks when we're facing the piles of laundry and dishes!)