Sunday, May 30, 2010

10 Days - 1,500 miles - 24 friends & family - 4 patient horses!

I've been told on more than one occasion that I'm a "bad" blogger - meaning that I don't write very consistently. Indeed, over the past two years, I have skipped several great blog entries because they were old news by the time I got around to writing. I was tempted to skip this entry as well since the event occurred about 6 weeks ago, BUT... I know that some of you wouldn't want to miss these pictures, so I'm hoping that the rest of you are in a forgiving mood!

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!

And the family photo with Jonathan!

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!

This was the view from the front porch.

And on the back porch ... a wonderful way to entertain the girls!

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!

Riding lesson over... ready or not, it's time to hit the trail!

We enjoyed the peace of riding through the early spring woods

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."

They don't mess around in these here parts!

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.

Until... Sodie was give THIS chore! (And you thought that cleaning the kitty litterbox was bad!)

They loved helping to unsaddle the horses at the end of the day.

Grooming the horses

And putting them out to pasture for the night

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...

It got a little crowded and noisy!

This guy seemed to rule the herd. He wasn't real friendly so we stayed far away!

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

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.

They remembered Wayne's birthday with a delicious ice cream cake!

And remembered my love for the Indians with a special bed covering!

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!)

Sunday, May 16, 2010


When we first moved here, I felt a little nervous about the idea of being neighbors with bears. I wondered if a bear might enjoy the smells of dinner cooking and punch his way through our big kitchen windows. I worried if I should let the kids outside to play. Feeling like a bit of a "city slicker," I talked to some of the town folk and even emailed a real Adirondack guide to find out what to expect. Everyone told me the same thing ... not to worry!

Sure enough - over our 2 years here, we've had a few funny "bear" moments, but no encounters...

One of our very first guests, a young man who lived in the Bronx, was relaxing on our front porch late one night. He sat gazing out into the darkness, listening to the night sounds, drinking in the peace ... and wondering, "Would a bear come up on the porch?"

CRACK! A twig snapped across the driveway and according to his story the next morning, he shot straight up and into the house in one quick move! (I'm giggling remembering!)

And then there was the beautiful starry night when we returned late to realize that we'd forgotten to turn any lights on. Friends, visiting from Harrisburg, found the total darkness to be "much scarier" than the city! We assured them that all was safe and urged them to stand quietly, look up and enjoy the amazing stars that can't be seen in city lights...

CRACK! A twig snapped across the driveway. I never saw my friends move so fast! (Giggling again!)

On another occasion, CorrieAnne and a little friend were playing in the driveway. They looked up behind the barn and saw a tree moving back and forth. THEN... they were just SURE they saw a big black thing hugging the tree... They streaked down the driveway into the house and we couldn't get CorrieAnne back outside for weeks!

Our first real "proof" that we might indeed have bear neighbors came at Christmas time. Wayne and a friend found a real live bear track in the snow right behind our barn! (And our barn isn't very far away!!)

So we now knew that there really WAS a bear in the neighborhood... but of course, he would go deep into the wilderness once the weather turned warm. We wouldn't see him. Our neighbors who have summered here for 30 plus years hadn't ever seen one....

And then came Thursday morning! Wayne headed out to work and discovered that our trashcans had been attacked by ... well ... definitely something BIG!

The trash lay strewn all over the ground, the trashcans were dented and scratched and punctured in several spots!

Wayne cleaned up the mess... but in his haste, somehow he missed the BIGGEST evidence of all...
Yep - that's his boot print right in the big pile of bear scat! (Giggling yet again!)

Since the latest visit had occurred even CLOSER to the house (by the wood shed), Wayne decided to sleep in his truck that night. He left the window down so that he would hear the intruder, shoot a few pictures and then scare it away so it wouldn't get the idea this behavior was ok! The only problem was .... it began to rain. Rain on the roof of a truck is very soothing. And Wayne is a very deep sleeper.

He awoke a few hours later to see the trashcans once again dragged out into the driveway and opened! He had slept through the whole thing!

In the words of the child's song... "We're going on a bear hunt... We're going on a bear hunt ... We're gonna catch a big one ... We're gonna catch a big one..."

Hopefully (or maybe NOT) one of these days, I'll have a real photo of a real bear to prove that we really do live in a wild and wonderful place!

Sunday, May 2, 2010


As many of you know, our tradition of attending church on Sunday mornings has been (how shall we say?) "challenged" by our new lifestyle as Bed and Breakfast owners. A table full of hungry guests with hiking stories to tell does not lend itself well to dashing out the door for worship! We have found that Sunday mornings are special times here at the B&B. Usually it is our guests' final morning so they are more relaxed and we've had some wonderful (sometimes 2-3 hour!) conversations.

When we don't have guests, we visit several area churches. Other times, we gather by the fireplace or on the front porch for a family worship time. And then on lovely mornings like today, we enjoy one of our favorite sanctuaries. Come along and see!

There wasn't much traffic on the way to church

The pews have a rustic essence

Or for those who prefer.... there are the padded pews

Someone brought flowers to decorate the sanctuary

The carpet matched the padding on the pews ... perfectly!

An artist had created a very natural looking mural on the ceiling

I shared my pew with this VERY bright little worshipper. I must say that I preferred my seatmate to CorrieAnne's. She encountered a black snake!

Music lifts the soul to God. This church had exceptional music! Soft and soothing at first...

... and then swelling to a glorious crescendo of praise!

Many people have wondered how the change in our church life has impacted our girls. We continue to seek opportunities for them to engage with other people of faith. But there are meaningful moments to be found in this season of life as well. With her permission, I conclude with the thoughts that CorrieAnne recorded yesterday as she worshipped in her personal sanctuary.


As powerful as a current
As strong as a rock
As fragile as a web
As quiet as a spider
Whispers like trees

As beautiful as a yellow flower
As tiny as an acorn
As gentle as a moss

CorrieAnne Stoner - May 2, 2010 (age 10)