European Adventure

Earlier this year while working at the Kenwood Mall in Cincinnati, a patron at the store where Michelle worked struck up a conversation with Michelle. The woman (Charlene) was purchasing apparel for her daughter (Grace) who had recently graduated from High School and who was planning on taking a tour of Europe in celebration of turning 18. Michelle and Charlene found that they got along very well. It turns out that only recently Grace’s parents had discussed the idea of finding a travel companion for her as she traveled. Although I’m compressing the conversations that ensued, Michelle agreed to be that travel companion.

What follows are the various pictures taken on that trip.

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The Ashes Follow the Willow

After finally succumbing to the Emerald Ash Borer, we have had the two Ash trees removed.

If you live long enough in one home, you eventually outlast the trees you planted.  I’ve written before how barren of trees our property was when we first moved into the neighborhood.  We could look out our back window into the farm field across the two-lane state route 41.  We spent the first few years hauling small saplings in the trunk of my father-in-law’s LTD out to the house.  Our property has a healthy four inches of topsoil covering (at least) two feet of clay (I’ve never been able to dig a hole deep enough to judge the depth of the clay).  Digging holes for each of those trees was not something I enjoyed.

But now those trees are dying off.  In the spring, the Corkscrew Willow came crashing down across our backyard.   The Ash trees we purchased as a set twenty years ago were our most recent departures.  Both trees have spent the past two years slowly eaten away by the Emerald Ash Borer.  It was obvious they were struggling.  Entire limbs were suddenly devoid of leaves, and in the fall the leaves fell earlier than they had in any previous year.  This year, in a desperate attempt to stay alive, each tree had started sending out new shoots from the base of the tree.

We’ve been talking about having the tree removed almost a year now (we are at times a little deliberate in our decision-making).  We had a few companies in mind and planned on having a few out to give us quotes.  The plan was to be deliberate and get quotes from a variety of contractors and select the one with whom we were most comfortable.  So like many of our projects, the opposite happened.  The very first contractor showed up, gave us a great quote and said he’d have the trees out that same day.  Like any spontaneous couple (that’s sarcasm folks), we accepted his offer.

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The Fall of the Corkscrew Willow

When we got home this evening we discovered the long suffering Corkscrew Willow had fallen. It’s been shucking brittle branches in to our backyard for the past four years so it’s no surprise. But man, it fell so well – not in our neighbors yard, not on the boat, not on the house, not on the fence. Perfect

Except for the pines that used to separate our house from the farm field across the two-lane county road behind our house, we’ve planted every tree in our yard over the past 20+ years. We lost a Birch, a Willow and an Oak in that time.  For some reason, the Maple trees in the yard are the only healthy trees we have.

When we got home this evening we discovered the long-suffering Corkscrew Willow had fallen. It’s been shucking brittle branches into our backyard for the past four years so it’s no surprise. But man, it fell so well – not in our neighbor’s yard, not on the boat, not on the house, not on the fence. Perfect.

I’m set on firewood. The next question is how many months it will take me to get this thing into burnable pieces.  More pictures are here.

New York Sprint

We toured New York city this past week while picking up Michelle from her co-op role. I’ve included some pictures and a map of the sites visited.

Michelle’s co-op role in New York ended this past week.  We deeply regretted our decision to have Michelle travel to New York on a regional bus line back in August and decided the best, cheapest and safest approach to get her back in Troy was to go pick her up.  While it’s not something I would want to do on a regular basis, the 9.5 hour drive time is tolerable.

It seemed a shame to travel all that distance and not sample the city so I booked us on a tour of the city through OnBoard (which I do recommend – hence the explicit reference).  The tour was sold as a 7.5-hour tour, but the time passed much faster than that.  I’ve included some pictures below as well as a map with place markers noting most of the places visited.  Additional photos are available on both the Google+ and Facebook pages.

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