Monday, March 1, 2021

Happy 60th Birthday Peace Corps

On this day in 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order establishing the Peace Corps and naming Sargent Shriver as its first director. In the 60 years since, 241,000 Americans have volunteered in 143 countries around the world: from Benin, Belize and Bangladesh to Senegal, Swaziland and Samoa and so many other places in between! Most volunteers commit to 27 months abroad (although some will extend for longer) with the first 2 or 3 months spent in training to learn essentials such as intense language classes taught by host country nationals as well as cultural, safety, and health classes. 

My own Peace Corps journey began on October 7, 2009 when I and 22 others in my Peace Corps group landed in Samoa. A far-off South Pacific island with beautiful lagoons, swaying coconut trees and inland mountain peaks—its people and culture quickly welcomed us as we began our journey. 

At the conclusion of our training, all Peace Corps Volunteers are required to be sworn in as volunteers and have the honor of reciting the very same oath that all U.S. Senators, House Representatives, Civil Servants and Soldiers take after their election or appointment. I took my oath as a Peace Corps Volunteer on December 8, 2009 and it was administered by the chargĂ© d’affaires.
“I, __________, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
From that moment on I have been honored to be a part of the Peace Corps family. Without a doubt, my Peace Corps experience was one of the most challenging and life defining moments in my life. If there was ever an initiation into my own adulthood—it was Peace Corps. I went through homesickness, self-doubt and questioning—what was my purpose there? How was I supposed to help make a difference? Was I connecting with my students in a meaningful way?
Slowly, over the first several months, I found my footing. The stabilizing often came in the small daily routines or tasks: the water felt a little less cold from the river source; I visited one more family than I had the week before; one more student would learn to read a book, or I would learn a few more Samoan words. Finally, there were days I would write in my journal and realize I was beginning to love my time there. The homesickness had faded and my thoughts and priorities were focused on my mission, on the oath I had taken, and what I needed to do in order to fulfill that oath.

I will be forever grateful to the members of my Peace Corps group who were on the journey with me (15 of us would complete our 27 month service). They became friends and family. Only they understand the weird stories I have and can recall the ways in which we grew together. 

And also, a debt of gratitude to the Peace Corps staff in Samoa,—both Americans and Samoan nationals—who worked quietly behind the scenes to assist all of us volunteers in making sure we were safe, healthy and well cared for. 

My parents Les and Karen, my sister Jenny, my friend Katy, and so many other friends and family who sent letters, cards, care packages, and prayers helped make my journey possible. Without their support, I would not have found my way easily—if at all. 

But the biggest thanks must be extended to my Peace Corps village and all the Samoan people who welcomed and loved me over the course of my service. Their love, patience, laughter and prayers allowed me to fall in love with Samoa, so much so that I continue to visit yearly and stay in touch with my former students, teachers, host families and friends. I even feel blessed to have had two families name their boys after me, and another by my surname. It’s a reminder that my time there had an impression, even if in some moments it felt like the days moved slowly and the work felt cumbersome.

So on this 60th anniversary of the Peace Corps, I am reminded that we are all in this world together. That none of us alone has all the answers and none of us alone can change the communities we live in. Rather, it is a team effort that spans near and far. 

To my Peace Corps family around the world who were evacuated last March due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, I salute you for your patience and resolve these past months as all of you were cut short the time and experiences you wanted in your villages. Know that you are a critical part of the 60 year history of the organization and that Peace Corps Volunteers in the years to come will be reminded of your strength in times of great change, and how you honored your oath to your country. 

Happy 60th Peace Corps!

I was fortunate to have a couple visits from members at Peace Corps Headquarters in DC visit me over my 2 years at post. This time was particularly memorable as the driver got the Land Rover stuck outside my house on a muddy slope.

All 15 members of Group 82 at our Close of Service Conference in September of 2011. It was my idea for us all to climb up on this coconut tree.

Peace Corps Conferences or Friday night visits into the capitol allowed volunteers to see one another and attend a movie, go to dinner, or just play Monopoly! Here I am with Corina, Cassie and Tiffany.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Party Crasher

Like the Trade Winds along its cost, I blew back into Samoa this week. Samoa was calling once again; a whisper from afar. I was finishing work on January 12th and with a week and a half off, I decided just a few hours before boarding my first of three flights that indeed I would trek down to Samoa for an early-year visit. When I got back from Austin in the morning that Saturday, I drove home, changed out of my uniform, unpacked my bags and loaded in some ie lava lavas and for the first time, my tent which I hoped to set up next to the South Pacific, under the Southern Cross! Packed minimally, yet sufficiently, off I went, back to the airport I had just come from. Chicago to San Francisco, then onto Nadi, Fiji where I have connected through many times. From there it was a short two hour flight to Apia to finish things up. Flying out on Saturday evening and landing in Samoa on Monday, I actually had a perfectly good excuse for not attending Sunday Mass, given my hop across the Date Line erased the day from my existence.

We landed in the late afternoon around 4p.m. When I was last in Samoa in June I met a really nice taxi driver named Tau (pronounced Tah-o) who is in his early 20s. So I pleasantly surprised to see him standing at the arrivals gate this week! He remembered me too. Perhaps because I had tipped him so well and that not a lot of Palagis (pronounced Pah-long-eze) speak Samoan and wear local clothes when they get off a flight. So when we met again on Saturday it was a warm reunion. I asked if he could drive me out my village. He eagerly agreed and we loaded into his car. Soon though, we stopped at his family’s home where he said his dad would drive me the rest of the way; he was president of his church youth group and had an evening meeting. So we switched vehicles at his house and his dad drove me the rest of the way. I forgot my sunglasses in Tau’s car, but other than that the trip back to my village was just as enjoyable as always.

Tau, my taxi driver
It’s approaching 10 years in October that I first arrived to Samoa. Every time I return, there is a smile on my face and an excitement of the time to be spent there. I’m also very reflective of those years of the past, the challenges tackled, the growth made. This visit was just as memorable: the kids continue to grow—some of them aren’t kids anymore. My name sake, Kyle, is nearly 6 years old and has warmed up to me to the point where he’s my little shadow. Some of my former students from years 7 and 8 now have their own kids, or spouses. Telephone service has continued to improve and social media (namely Facebook) has continued to find its hold on youth and adults alike.

There’s also the subtle changes which I noted. A large mango tree which I had always passed every day on my runs had fallen over and was in the process of being cut up into many pieces. During mango season when the mangos would fall onto the road and then be run over by cars, it always left a smell of fresh fruit in the air under that tree, a smell I’ll always remember. Also, the volleyball court in my village has been replaced with a cricket court, uniting the entire village, men, woman and children alike. In a time when so many in Samoa are using social media, it’s refreshing to still see old sports being enjoyed by so many.

In medical news, it came to my attention that about 20 boys and young men had been paid a visit from the doctor, having circumsition performed. At first I thought they were joking, but when overhearing their parents talking about the painful experience their boys had undergone, it had to be believed. I could only assume that since many children are born at home, circumsition is done later in life; although it was a scary thought for me to have. This was all a reminder to me of the sometimes peculiar ways Samoans deal with such topics: PDA is all but non existent in Samoa, and most sex eduction in schools is very limited. But yet you have families laughing and talking about circumsition of 20 year olds around meal time. There definitely is a contrast to be recognized.

The beautiful road from the
main road in Falefa to my old village

Overall, the week was a restful one. Days were spent with morning runs along my old running route to Falefa, visiting families in the village, swimming in the ocean and naps in the afternoon. Evening brought prayer, dinner, and Phillipino movies with English subtitles. The camping experience in the tent turned out to be a hot one, literally—and so hot that I only camped out one night with Kyle and let his brother, Pulumu, sweat away the other night.

Friday was spent in the capital, Apia. I took Kyle and a few of his siblings to McDonald’s for breakfast. Besides the breakfast sandwiches, the air-conditioning was a big hit, and all in a newly remodeled restaurant. After I took them back to the bus I met up with an old friend, Seti, who is from Falefal and does a lot of good work in Samoa related to sporting events and attracting athletes from around the world. He was also helpful to me when I created the Samoan Youth Empowerment Initiative in 2012 to bring Milo, Saulo and Neueli to the United States. Seti and I met over lunch and Pacific Jewel and had a good time catching up on our travels and life projects.

I also stopped by to see my good friend Mafi at the Peace Corps office. Peace Corps has new digs and so I got the tour from Mafi. For the the past couple of years I take my old Economists to the Peace Corps office so the volunteers in country can stay somewhat up to date on world events, so I dropped a bundle of those off with Mafi and delivered her birthday present. Mafi had just started with Peace Corps in 2009 as my language instructor but has moved her way up in the organization and is now in charge of program development and training. More than a valuable resource for volunteers, she’s a good listener and true friend.
Mafi and I in Apia at the new PC Office
I stayed in Apia Friday night at Tanoa Hotel because my flight was leaving so early on Saturday morning. I decided to do dinner at the Yacht Club, an old favorite spot for Peace Corps Volunteers during my time in Samoa, and for the ex-pat community as well. It felt good to be back there and enjoying dinner over the water. Many conversations unfolded there over the years about frustrations of life as a volunteer and about where life would take us after Peace Corps. It’s interesting to be present in a place having lived through significant moments which were so defining.

Walking the sea wall to the Yacht Club
When I went to pay my bill, I realized I didn’t have enough cash. Knowing the answer to my own question, I still asked if they accepted card. They said no. I asked if there was an ATM. They said no, but they explained that if I went next door to Sails, another restaurant, and paid there, I could bring my receipt back and show it to them. I could only assume both restaurants are owned by the same owner. But I suspect they thought I might dash without actually paying my bill, so with a full and crowded restaurant and with only two servers, one of them was instructed to walk with me a quarter of a mile next door to Sails to pay my bill. It was while walking over that the woman learned I spoke Samoan, so she warmed up to me pretty quick and we began talking and joking around. I asked her if this wasn’t a hassle for her being so busy and having to walk with me next door. She seemed to appreciate the break.

The birthday boy whose party I
unexpectedly walked in on.

When we walked up, there was a huge sign that indicated the place was closed to the public for a private event. But I followed her instructions and went to the bar to pay. The place was bustling with young adults and middle aged Samoans too. I asked the woman behind the bar what the event was and she said a 21st birthday party. I asked where the guest of honor was. Feeling the humor of the moment, having to walk to another restaurant to pay my bill, I called the 21 year old birthday boy over and introduced myself. I wished him a happy birthday and could see the puzzled look on his face, as if he thought he should know me. I never fully explained what I was doing there. Had I not needed to get back to the hotel for some rest I probably would have sat down and started a conversation with someone, knowing full well I’d be welcomed with warm affection because that’s the kind of people that Samoans are.

I keep going back and keep reflecting on the past because my time and connection with Samoa has changed my life. It has made me fearless, outgoing, provocative, thoughtful, inquisitive, stronger, and happier. The small and unscripted memories mean the most, and help tell the story of how Samoa has become like a second home for me over the years.

Until next time…

I hiked down to a new spot near my village.

Milo and I at his house.

Neueli and I in Saletele.

Helping Kyle write "our" name.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Facebook Revolution

Visiting kids in the village to donate books.
Welcome Back! Since my last extended stay in Samoa in 2012, I've been able to return three times to visit. The first was November of 2016 for my former student, Saulo's high school graduation. The second visit was this past April for about 10 days, spending most of the time in the village. And now this visit, when I arrived on September 18th to visit Saulo once again before he leaves on his two year mission in Papua New Guinea as part of the Mormon Church's outreach and evangelization. In addition, for this visit I was able to bring a suitcase full of children's books to hand out to kids in my former Peace Corps village.

Amongst all the excitement of these past few visits, there is one thing that strikes me: the Facebook revolution well underway.

When I arrived in Samoa eight years ago next month, cell phone access was only about 5 years old, and in the village where I was assigned, a remote costal village, nestled beside the mountainous regions of the Northeastern coast, there wasn't ANY cell phone service at all. The cliffs and mountains surrounding my village blocked any cell signals and without a cell phone tower in the vicinity, I was left to run the road along the high cliffs to the outer edge of the mountain to grab a signal from the neighboring village 5 miles away.

This in itself was a subject of several posts from over the years in this blog, but what I want to express in this post is the way things have changed for ordinary Samoan people, especially in my village.

In front of my old house in the village, now empty and a bit in disrepair.

Take this for example. After having one of the local telephone companies instal a tower in my former village, many more people in the village began to get cell phones which could easily be "topped up" with credit by purchasing scratch-off cards. But there's more! Last night while relaxing with Saulo's family, and sipping koko Samoa, his father, Kapeli, took a messenger call through Facebook from family in Utah. Holding the phone up to his ear, his kids very abruptly said, "No! Look at the screen and their face!" A younger generation of Facebook consuming teens and twentysomethings informing their parents how the ways of the future really work. His dad preceded to talk (and show his face) for about 20 minutes. When he was done, we said prayer.

Just six years ago, during my second year of Peace Corps service, if it was raining, making a phone call or even sending a text meant either waiting for the rain to stop, or getting drenched to make it out to my spot along the road where I could get a signal. This week I sent a text and took a phone call from the States on a rainy morning in the village and just smiled thinking of how easy it was!

It's impossible now to visit a Samoan fale (house) without watching someone scroll through a Facebook feed or take selfies to post and then make comments on. The busses to town have always been famous for their remixes of pop and reggae music, but now that's just background noise to the technology in the hands of so many--both young and old alike. Even I have to contiously put the phone down and remind myself this amazing view took me 7,000 miles to reach, and that Facebook will be around when I get home to Chicago.

Sunday afternoons have always been about sleeping and resting in the village, followed by slow afternoon walks to by Samoa's version of a pancake. But yesterday during my evening walk through the village, more than one of the kids (and also an adult) asked if I saw their post on Facebook and also took time to comment on mine. I guess it's good to know we're all in this together!

Overall, I think it's great for people of this remote island nation to have easier access to keep in touch with family and friends both here and abroad, but with it comes the challenges that every culture has faced in recent years: how to balance the new with the old.

For me, I'll probably always tend to be Facebook shy when visiting this beautiful country, but of course, you may find me posting a selfie every now and then!

I wasn't able to attend Peace Corp's 50th Anniversary here in Samoa, but was able to sign the sign.

After Saulo's Church send-off before leaving on his 2 year mission this week.

How Samoans eat a fish!

Many of you will remember Neueli, who visited Michigan in 2012. He's now 20!

Neueli working on one of his carvings to sell at the flea market.

Little Kyle is still a couple years away from having to scrape the coconuts, but here I am 8 years after my introductory course and still have a lot to learn!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cyclone Evan: One Year Later

One year ago today, December 13, 2012 in Samoa—Dec. 12 in the U.S.—my faith and endurance was about to be tested in what would prove the most challenging week of my nearly three years in Samoa. At this time last year, there was a cyclone bearing down on that remote Pacific island, yet few anticipated the strength it was approaching with.

The day began in my former Peace Corps village where I had stayed the night with a very dear family; I had been at Saulo’s house. It was a Thursday morning and the next day, Saulo, Neueli, and Milo, were to head back to the United States with me to begin their Samoan Youth Empowerment Initiative. It had been months in the planning and excitement levels were at their peak.

Heading into town that Thursday morning, the wind and rain were increasing with strength. I was traveling into town with all of the boys’ parents to take care of some last minute paperwork before the boys’ trip the U.S. But when I left, I never knew it would be the last time I would see my village as the “normal” I had always known. The next time I would return, Milo’s house would be completely destroyed and Saulo’s house would be without a roof. The trees would be stripped bare of their leaves and the coconut palms bare of their branches. However, what I would discover was that although these physical things would change, the faith of my friends and families there in the village would only increase and grow stronger; they would not be damaged by a Category 3 Tropical Cyclone, but instead they would grow in patience, endurance and trust in God.

In the capital of Apia that afternoon, I tried to gather details about our upcoming international flight the next day, while also trying to remain optimistic that our plans would not be changed. I completed the paperwork with the boys’ parents and they asked me if I wanted to go back to the village with them. I will forever wonder if I made the right decision, but in the end, I decided to go to my house on the western side of the island because it would give me easier access to the capital in order to monitor our travel plans. They got in the van and headed back to their village and I prayed they would be safe.

Over my three years in Samoa, I had done my fair share of hitchhiking, but never before while a cyclone was hitting the islands. Nonetheless, that was the position I found myself in as the bus service was very limited, taking me only half the distance to my house. I wanted to get to my house to make sure my things were secure. I trusted that the boys and their families were safe back in my former Peace Corps village.

Arriving home just before the worst of the cyclone hit, I found my kitchen had been taking a soaking as the wind hurled rain through the slat windows. My ceiling was leaking, and power had gone out, but I was safe. I rode the storm out over the next several hours, gaining very little sleep during a night that never seemed to end as rouge bands of the storm seemed to linger long after the worst of the storm had hit.

That night I used my laptop to charge my cell phone and used my small FM radio to receive updates from the stations in town. When one station ran out of fuel for their generators, I turned to another station and found myself listening to Radio Australia, as even they reported on what would turn out to be the worst cyclone to hit Samoa since the early 1990’s.

That night, I wondered if the families in my Peace Corps village were safe. All I wanted to do was get back out there to be with them and see if they were ok. Somehow, I finally was able to fall asleep, but the next morning would bring all kinds of challenges. December 14th would become a day of waiting and worrying, while at the same time a day of prayer and trust…

(Please check in tomorrow as I write the 2nd of this three part anniversary remembrance blog)

The heavy rains and winds were strong, but were even more severe on the eastern side of Upolu island near my Peace Corps village.

In Apia on Dec. 13th, a few hours before the worst of Cyclone Evan arrived.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Happy White Sunday, 2013!

Kids in my village, White Sunday, 2011
White Sunday is a great day of celebration for the youth of Samoa! You can read about some of the traditions in THIS FORMER POST by Peace Corps Volunteer, Matt, from Group 81 who kept an amazing blog during his service in Samoa!

A large part of White Sunday are the preparations which begin weeks in advance as Pastors begin rehearsing songs, dances and prayers that the kids will present for the big day. Families go through many preparations as well, buying new clothes for the kids to wear on Sunday, and shopping for groceries for the big toana'i (Sunday feast) which happens after church. Ice cream, which is normally for only special occasions is also served for many families!

Sunday mornings involve getting the kids ready for their big day of prayers and songs at church, as you can see one of the families in my Peace Corps village preparing HERE before heading to church.

After celebrating four White Sundays in Samoa, my thoughts are with the kids of that great country on their special day! Although I am not able to be there with them this year, they have been in my prayers today!

As the celebrations begin once again for yet another White Sunday, I am thinking of the kids in Samoa who work so hard throughout the year by helping their family, church and village. The youth of Samoa are an integral part of the rich culture of that country and its future. May all of them have a wonderful day and enjoy the recognition and love they receive from their families and communities on this White Sunday!

First White Sunday in Samoa, 2009, with Emilie and Jenny, both Group 82. Standing in front of the old Catholic Cathedral on Beach Road.

White Sunday in my village, 2010. The kids performing their songs and dances.

White Sunday, 2011.

Milo and I on White Sunday, 2011.

Mareta and Ickle, 2011.

Saulo and I before Church on White Sunday, 2012

Saulo and his family, 2012

White Sunday 2012, after Mass at the Catholic Church.

The toana'i feast, 2012.

Even on a day that celebrated the kids, Ickle couldn't catch a break, being asked to fan the flies away while I ate my meal, 2012.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Klinger Lake, We'll Miss You!

Places we spend time with family often take on new and deeper meanings than what they actually are. A special gathering place can see multiple generations come and go and lead to so many unforgettable memories. This has been the case for my family.

On November 19, 1954, my grandparents bought a house on Klinger Lake in Michigan and since that time, it has seen five generations gather there to celebrate holidays, birthdays, graduations and so much more! They purchased it after the difficult years of the War and for them, it was a slice of their American Dream. It was a modest house that would grow over the years—both in size and in meaning. Today, October 3, 2013 that house is being sold. After nearly 59 years, the time has come to let it go. Grandpa and Grandma have passed from this Earth and we are left with their wonderful memories and the memories of their home.

Circa 1954
Their home became a special place to each of us in our own ways. For my mom, aunts and uncles it was the house they grew up in, the place they learned values, hard work, and compromise. Every time we gathered we were sure to hear a story about the old days. There was the time my mom and aunts sent their little brother (my uncle) around the lake to sell pot holders, trying to make a quick buck. There were stories of “Little Grandma” climbing up Turtle Hill on some hiking route, memories of them taking the boat out when they were told not to—and getting caught, or just reminiscing about Grandma’s ability to make 5 lunches in what used to be a tiny little kitchen area!

There were stories about the neighbors and childhood friends who would visit for the summer. I found out during one story telling time why all the pines along the driveway have, to this day, a bend in their trunk: the snow piles from the Blizzard of ’78 piled on top of them leaving them with that deformity. Why does the old maple tree in the back yard also have a bend in its trunk? It had to grow that way around the old garage which use to stand right next to it—and for anyone who was wondering, their use to be a “tiny room” connected to that garage. There were stories of the milkman coming and Saturday nights spent watching The Lawrence Welk Show in the small room beside the stair case. They had adventures of playing in the apple orchard behind the house, and later us grandkids would too!

We have heard stories of people being thrown off the end of the dock, pushed through windows and fires starting at the neighbor’s house! There have been trees that have been cut down, and others that fell on their own timing—almost taking out the neighbor’s summer cottage. There were additions which transformed the look of the house and made room for a growing family.

The family came together for so much: New Year’s, Grandma & Grandpa’s anniversary, birthdays, Easter, graduations, spring cleaning, aka: dock installation, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, July 4th—which was also my Grandpa’s birthday—Christmas, Thanksgiving, fall cleaning, aka: dock removal and on so many other occasions.

As I said, Grandpa’s birthday was July 4th, and that meant big crowds, lots of food and fireworks being shot from the island just out in front of the house. In the later years we even started an annual “4th of July Obstacle Course” which had some of the hardest laughing I’ve ever done before. My cousin and I also had a long tradition of playing patriotic music on the end of the dock right before the fireworks began—one year during a lightning storm!

What impressed me as a child? A driveway ½ mile long which very rarely saw a car travel down it, the sprinklers in the back yard which I used to run through, the small bell by the front door which I would ring with annoyance to everyone else, the landing on the staircase where my cousins and I would play school, the dozens upon dozens of old National Geographic magazines which Grandma and Grandpa stored upstairs on the bookshelves, the different colored rooms which reminded me of the White House, the music box in my grandpa’s room which use to play “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” the accordion style wall lamp which was in Grandma’s room and feeding ducks out on the end of the dock.

What marks have I left on the house? In Grandma’s room I tore the wallpaper at about the age of four when I was bored during nap time, and a blue marker spot on the wallpaper leading upstairs from playing school. My mom told me just this past weekend that when they were kids they removed a loose brick from the fireplace and placed a note behind it—as far as she knows it’s still there!

Grandpa and Grandma’s legacy is still very much a part of Klinger Lake. Grandpa was brilliant when it came to designing and crafting. In 1961 he began his own business, Con-De Manufacturing, selling a uniquely designed dock which telescoped its pieces together, making for easy installation and removal. Grandma helped him run the business by keeping the books and answering the telephones. It was a small business but had a large imprint: today the majority of docks on Klinger Lake are Con-De built, and even many surrounding lakes have them dotting their shoreline.

What I’ve learned over the years is that although we cared for that house very much, it wasn’t the house which made the memories: it was the family! When you empty a house of all its stuff, it’s left with a void, but if you follow the family that once lived there, that is where you can find life. If Grandpa and Grandma were alive today, I know they would be proud of our family for keeping old traditions and making new ones. They would be proud to have known that 13 of their great-grandchildren were able to come visit that house they bought way back in November of 1954. They would be proud to see what each of us have done with our lives and how we have grown.

Today we are thankful for having been blessed with that house, with Klinger Lake and all the memories there. We grew and became closer because of our time spent together at that beautiful place. Most importantly, I know we are thankful that we still have each other and that will never change!

The family gathered together this past 4th of July.

The north side of the house.

Original field stone around the fireplace.

The wallpaper I tore at the age of four is still up in Grandma's old room.

View from the lake.

As kids we enjoyed playing on the stairs!

Looking over the dock from upstairs bedroom.

The heaters were a bit outdated, but classic... they made the clinking noise as the hot water flowed through the pipes.

The large maple in the middle of the yard which was forced to grow around the old garage!

Grandpa's original Con-De Dock from 1961, still standing strong!

Sunset on Klinger.

The old pine had a twin until it fell towards the neighbor's house several years ago...this one has survived the test of time!

Klinger Lake on July 4, 1980.

A younger generation enjoying the lake...July 4, 2013.

Summer evening 2013.

Summertime recreation!

The driveway to Grandma & Grandpa's

Early April 2009.

April snow, 2009.

We love you Grandpa & Grandma!!