California to New York Day 9

This morning I said farewell and left my sister Naomi’s house at 9:30am. I stopped for lunch in Ohio and realized that Grove City College was just 3 miles off the highway, so I swung by. One of my former students, Christian Prezzano, attends, so I tried to say hello to him, but unfortunately he was in class. I texted and left him a voicemail to let him know I had stopped by. I then drove to my Larkin grandparents’ house in the town of Tidioute, PA. My grandmother and I pulled in at the same time. She had driven to Pittsburgh this morning to drop my grandfather off at the airport for his flight to Tanzania, Africa. My Aunt Bethany, Uncle Terry, and cousin Kelsie came over, and my cousin Erika made us a great dinner. After dinner I talked with Adriana and we searched the internet for the latest on the affects of the hurricane and discovered that there are restrictions on the bridges into NYC tomorrow and Friday. Most of the bridges are only open to vehicles carrying 3 passengers from 6am-midnight, which means that the one bridge I’ll need to take is going to be crazy. I debated leaving tonight, but after considering it with Adriana, decided that my best bet is probably going to be leaving tomorrow night and trying to cross the bridge in the wee hours of the morning on Friday. We also found out that our movers will not be arriving with our belongings until the 7th, which means another week of being unsettled in addition to the hurricane issues. Adriana and the girls are spending the night with my sister and Ady’s brother (They’re married. It’s not incest. I promise! Do the math.) as they have power and hot water. Please pray for the people that have been impacted by this storm and that the areas affected will recover quickly. We are hearing anywhere from a week to 10 days, and even heard mention that it could take up to a month for power to be restored in some areas on Long Island. 

California to New York Day 8

This morning at 11am I left Chicago and grove 3 1/2 hours to my sister Naomi’s house in Fort Wayne, IN. In addition to seeing 2 of my nieces, I had the joy of meeting my new nephew Parker for the first time. We had a nice evening just hanging out together at the house. For dinner my brother-in-law Mike grilled some steaks. At 9pm I enjoyed going out for coffee with one of my good buddies from college, Keith Reynolds.

Hurricane Sandy = Mom-Son Date Day (California to New York Day 7)

Today I got to go on a Mom-Son Date with my mom! We took the train into Chicago and had a great time together! Started off with some Portillo’s Polish Saaaaausage (Da Bears!) then enjoyed walking all over the city and enjoying the sites. After Dad finished work he met up with us and we went to Harry Caray’s for dinner. It was awesome seeing all of the sports memorabilia in the restaurant. This evening we took a picture of all of us together then Dad and I took the dogs for a walk. Tomorrow I plan to head to my sister’s house in Indiana where I’ll spend the night. I’m glad to have family to spend time with while I stall getting to New York, thanks to Hurricane Sandy.
I’ve been trying to keep up with Adriana and the girls throughout the day. This morning they lost power. The family they are staying with has a generator, so that is a huge plus. The last I heard they said there were lots of trees down and some flooding. Ady said it was scary, but they were doing well and felt very supported by the family they are staying with and the Shelter Rock Church community. Please continue to pray for the millions being affected by this storm.
Related Post: See Mom and Me 36 years ago and today. Click HERE.

California to New York Day 6

With the impending storm targeting Long Island, I’ve decided to spend a little more time with my parents here in Chicago. This morning we went to their church (Willow Creek) and heard a fantastic message on wisdom by Bill Hybles. After church we had lunch then came home and dad and I worked on the van to try and permanently fix the radiator hose issue we had patched up in Arizona. (When I say Dad and I worked on the van, I mean Dad did the work and I handed him tools. lol!) I then went for a walk with Mom and the dogs (below is a pic of the dog Mom got Dad as a surprise). Afterward we ruined the exercise and I bought my parents their first 5 Guys burgers. They enjoyed them.

Yes, she really is my mother. No, I am not adopted.

Mom and Dad’s New Dog! 

Grand Canyon Rain Dance

While at the Grand Canyon on Wednesday, my dad caught an incredible sight on video! Adriana said this is the real explanation for the impending Hurricane Sandy. Enjoy!

California to New York Day 5

This morning we ate breakfast and visited with Barry and Lori. After saying our goodbyes Dad and I went to pay our respects to Lori’s late husband Jim Frew who was my dad’s best friend. Jim and his son Jimmy died tragically serving the Lord on a missions trip in 1995. We visited the baseball fields that were named in Jim’s honor by his church and also his grave site. I remember Jim well, but I so enjoyed hearing Dad talk about his best friend. (More to come on this in a future post.) We then spent the day driving to Chicago, IL. We saw literally a couple hundred hawks along the highways. Other than that, the highlight of the trip had to be stopping at Iowa 80: The World’s Largest Truck Stop. Every time I’m there I get chills down my spine. I am awe-struck. Speechless. Tears begin to well up in my eyes. So moving. lol!

We got to Mom and Dad’s house at about 7:30pm and Mom greeted Dad with a surprise: a new dog! Their dog Tyson passed away a few months ago, so they were ready to find a new four-legged friend. We had some pizza before looking at pics from our journey and watching a movie. Glad to see my mama!

California to New York Day 4

On Friday morning we left Estes Park and drove through Big Thompson River Canyon. We spotted a herd of big horn sheep and got some pictures, stopped off at Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park, visited the Dam Store, then popped by Group Publishing where we were able to see my buddy Scott Firestone. We then drove about 7 hours to Grand Island, Nebraska where we are spending the night at the home of Lori Frew Keslar – my first grade teacher – and her husband Barry. Lori’s late husband Jim was my dad’s best friend until his tragic death in 1995. It was awesome reminiscing about the times they shared together. It was also great to visit with two of her three sons – Brian and Nate – and their wives. Brian owns an inflatables rental company, so I went with him and Nate to tear down a job to earn our keep. lol!

California to New York Day 3

This morning we drove up to Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. Stunning! We then headed to the Rockies. En route we saw a bald eagle, a coyote, and a prairie dog. As we got closer to the mountains, it began snowing quite a bit and we couldn’t see the mountains. By the time we got to the park (just after 5pm) the weather seemed to be improving a bit, and though the visibility wasn’t the greatest, we were hopeful we would at least be able to see some wildlife. We entered the park through the west entrance, however, we were greeted by a sign that said, “Road closed 10 miles ahead.” We drove in the 10 miles and spotted 2 herd of elk, a coyote, and 3 bull elk locking their antlers a bit and posturing for dominance. We then turned around and went for dinner in Grand Lake. At 7pm we drove to a gas station and inquired about the alternate route to Estes Park. The girl said, “Go back 20 miles. Then you can turn left and go through [she named about 10 towns]. Then you’ll go through a big pass. Then you’ll catch 70.” Then she said (I am not kidding!), “But I wouldn’t go that way if I were you.” She said, “If I were you, I would turn right, go through 2 towns and catch 70.”  It reminded me so much of this scene in the movie Funny Farm:

I asked her which way was faster and she said they were both the same. So, what would Griswolds, I mean, Mahaffys do?

We came to a fork in the road. To the left was difficulty and near-certain death. To the right was easy. We turned left and took the road less traveled.

Dad drove. We climbed as high as 11,260 feet in a snow storm, and several times went up over 9,000 feet. It took us 5 hours to get to Estes Park. If the road through the park would have been open, it would have taken us 1 1/2 hours. O the fun memories and adventure! Love it!

California to New York Day 2

On Wednesday we left my Aunt Cindy’s house and drove north in Arizona. We pulled off to go to Sedona and when we got to the stop sign smoke was coming out from the hood, so we pulled over. Radiator fluid had sprayed everywhere. We put water in the radiator and drove 5 miles to a service station and were met by just the kind of guy we needed to see at that moment – a true mechanic who said, “Pull it right in.” A plastic connector had cracked and was spraying. It was a dealer part, but the guy was able to disconnect the rear heater hose and do a temporary fix. We will call in the parts in Chicago and fix it ourselves permanently. It was a cheap fix and we were on the road with only an hour lost. Decided to bypass Sedona and get up to the Grand Canyon. We were just going to stay for an hour or so, but it was just too beautiful and we ended up staying through sunset. We then drove about 5 hours up to Moab, Utah for the night, arriving at midnight. Today we are going to Arches National Park then driving through the Rockies in Colorado and will spend the night in Estes Park. Having fun Father-Son time!