Our story since saying farewell to the schoolhouse
Glad to be back in New Jersey. For a few days as the US started locking down, we had nowhere to go. The Georgia campsite was closing at least for non-residents, the friends we would have stayed with had to say no, because Terry is a nurse and couldn't have anyone except immediate family in her home.
We considered NJ State Park campgrounds, but they were not open until April, and by then were closed by the COVID restrictions.
Then a friend, Jenn, with a small house in Byram, said we could park the myPod in her drive and we would figure out how to share her bathroom and living space. So for 6 weeks we slept in the myPod in a driveway, mostly cooking outside, and we were very grateful! After the 2 weeks of as close to quarantine as we could manage, we started to relax.
Jenn lives literally on the edge of Allamuchy State Park, and we made use of the many hiking trails and watched the spring arrive. That huge erratic, in the previous slide, is called The Pebble. It was deposited by the Wisconsin Glacier as it retreated 10,000 years ago.
We knew Jenn before we left for our winter tour, but not nearly as well as we got to know her and her children, and many dogs and cats, over those 6 weeks.
So thank you so much, Jenn, for taking a chance on a couple of COVID refugees. We won't forget what you did!
Soon after we got to Jenn's, another friend. Maureen, said we could have stayed with her. So after a few weeks with Jenn, we reached out to her and asked if we could take her up on her kind offer. For the first time in four and a half months, moved out of the myPod into a house.
Maureen, was as generous as Jenn had been, and again we were so grateful. Her home is on the edge of Mountain Lake, just a mile from our old home, with walks into the surrounding hills, or around the lake itself. This little oven bird hit one of the windows. I thought it was a gonner, but after warming up and a rest, it flow off seemingly unharmed.
After a couple of weeks, Maureen generously extended the invitation to Jack as well, and we were united as a family once again. Here we are after the hike up to High Rock, which overlooks the lake.
And this is the view from High Rock. Maureen's house is visible, if you know where to look.
We shared Maureen's home with her five cats. This is Samson, who graced many photos of Lorna's hand made cards while we were there.
While we stayed with Maureen, we were able to arrange to rent the apartment being vacated by Jenn's mother as she was retiring and moving to South Carolina. We got to share July 4th, with Jenn and her partner, Rich, and later with Maureen. Fireworks are always spectacular over the lake.
We moved into our current address on July 15th, and quickly discovered that we really enjoy apartment life. There is a lot less maintenance than there was in the house, although Phil misses his workshop and tools. In compensation, we have yet another state park on our doorstep, and time to get out each day and hike for an hour or more.
This is the snowfall of December 16th, and it was a treat to be the first to break the snow on this fairly steep trail.
COVID still affects us all, of course, and we are doing our best to stay safe while we wait for vaccines. Warren county has about 330 case a week, in a population of 100,000, and as everywhere, some people are suitably cautious and others still seem oblivious.
This year has been quite the adventure for us, and while our plan to return to England was completely upended, we have had some amazing experiences, made some new friends to whom we are forever grateful, and explored many new parks and trails.
By strange coincidence, this apartment block right next to ours, was where we lived when we lived in Hackettstown in 1997. The buildings are well maintained and comfortable.
Cleaning up after the snow was quite an operation, though all we had to do was dig out the car and move it out the way so the plows could get in to clean up the parking lot. Phil doesn't miss shoveling the driveway 🙂
We reached out to friends, Jim and (a different) Maureen, to see if we could get a Christmas tree from the farm Jim's dad runs. They said, "yes," so we got to repeat the time honored ritual of choosing and cutting a tree. Here is our choice.
And this our beautiful Christmas "shrub."
And a socially distanced photo of Maureen, Jim, and, Carol, who came to meet us at the farm.
This is the shrub all dressed up. It is just perfect for our apartment.
If you got this far, well done! We wish you a safe and healthy holiday season, though gatherings may be small this year, the vaccine is finally in sight and being distributed as I write. 2020 changed all our lives in ways we could never have imagined this time last year. Looking forward to better times ahead in 2021. Love from Lorna and Phil.