Sunday, January 26, 2014

Moving into a New World

As I had mentioned in my last blog, we were ready to live in the USA.
Dieter's parents and his 2 brothers were living here already since 1953. As you might have read in one posting, Dieter had to go with them, but he returned to me, to Germany, at Christmas the same year....

We arrived at JFK Airport in New York on July 3rd., 1984.
Dieter's parents picked us up. At that time they lived in New Jersey. Dieter's father took the following picture of us when we had cleared the customs.


The following day, on Independent Day, we bought a Dodge Caravan....it had a big cargo capacity which later came handy to serve us when we built our home in Greeley, Pennsylvania.

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I have scanned over 60 pictures of our property, a very small portions of all the pictures we have.. Before I even start I will post one to keep your interest. It is taken near the driveway entrance. If you see later more detailed pics, you will wonder why we exchanged our beautiful property for the open road. Our relatives still think we were - and we might still be - crazy!! But our life as camper full-timers will be another post at another time.....




In the beginning we lived directly next to the Delaware River in a cabin built and owned by Dieter's younger brother. It was a very simple way of living for 3 months without electricity or running water, but it was in beautiful surroundings and we were thankful to have a roof over our head and nice beds to sleep in, and we could cook our own meals. Dieter started to work right away to build up a general construction business for his brother, together with his nephew and a friend of him. In the beginning the jump from the metric system to the inch/foot system was a slight hurdle which Dieter overcame very quickly. Having worked in Germany the last years from behind the desk and supervising huge building sites and now hammering away and working with his hands again was a painful process. His muscles were building up and were hurting....

During those 3 months we bought a property on the same road, Market Road, where Dieter's brother already had a house while he was still working in New Jersey. His wife and kids were already living in Pennsylvania. The newly aquired land was a piece of forest of Oaks, Red Maples, Pines, Hemlocks, Sassafras, Mountain Laurels and tall Blueberry bushes. And it had stones, huge stones under the surface, over the surface - big boulders....leftovers from the last ice age rims....
In October 1984 we could move into a small apartment in Greeley, we would have been totally stuck at the riverside in all the snow and ice.
Dieter bought a chainsaw and started to fell trees to make room for the house - in the center of the property of almost 2 acres. The area for the long driveway had to be cleared and for the septic mount also....
Many of you have similar experiences while establishing a property, but I will post some pictures how it all started. We also found out that we had a couple of springs sending steady trickles of water downhill which made parts of the building site pretty soggy. Later on Dieter built all kinds of ditches, partially covered, and a little pond in the front to catch the water downhill, a collection tank for it all etc.

After one year living here as visitors, we received the "Green Card".
In 1990 we were citizens of the United States of America.

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Building the Septic Mount, a large one, in the back of the property. It had to accomodate 2 families....in the meantime Dieter's parents had asked if they could live with us. We said Yes, but only in a separate house, which had to be connected to our buildings by law because it was just short of  2 acres.
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In the beginning of November 1984 we were ready to lay the foundation for our house.

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Working on the driveway meant also to harness the running wells and put drain pipes into the ground....

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Drilling of the fresh water well....
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Without words - - the over-next year (1987) we both quit smoking on my initiative - and "cold turkey". We never had a cigarette since....

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Dieter is building the smoke stack of our fire place in the living room, which will be the corner in a nice room, which was conceived as breeze way first in between house and garage. The open side of the chimney is  in the living room ( fireplace ). We decided to close the breezeway  up and make a leisure room out of it with a big sliding door to the deck in the back. You will see details later....

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Dieter learned to be a mason before he went to college to be a construction engineer and architect. He is an excellent one,  and the bricks around the smoke stack look beautiful.

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The big "breezeway room" takes shape  and to the right you see our extra long double garage. In the back it has a small room, which was my Gym and a storage shed with a double door to the back.

A big Black Bear might have thought we build it all for him, for his enjoyment....

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He does not like the "clicks" of the camera and turns to leave on the opposite side, the sliding door was not in then......

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Next to Black Bears ( see one bear R side of the wood shed Dieter had built?) we see Whitetail Deer, Foxes, Coyotes, Possums, Squirrels, Chipmunks and wild birds, of course.
This picture is taken from the back deck. The wooden cover you see is heavy enough to protect the septic tank with the pump in it to pressure the stuff into the mountain. Dieter made all kinds of walls outside with the smaller pieces of rocks he collected while establishing a lawn where it was possible. The wooden pathway from the garage/storage shed to the wood shed   ( in this picture just in the rough )  and the deer feeder covers also a little river. A "tributary" joints from the left. Before Dieter harnessed it all, it was so big that we had migrating geese feeding in it. I should have made more pictures............The wall on the right is the edge border of the even leveled sewer mount. The grass on it was so very well maintained by Dieter that we had a redneck Golf Course on it, with holes and all......

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Black Bears check the deer feeder for leftovers......we had at least one in the vicinity every day......

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A little story comes with this picture.....
I am in the kitchen and Dieter calls me very loudly from the back yard: Get your camera! A bear is going to the front on the R side of the house! I quickly got the camera and positioned myself directly outside at our front entrance door, which was in the corner of the building - as you will see later. The column is one of three which holds our balcony up. I have the view finder in front of my eyes, and.........suddenly I see nothing anymore than black, I mean: black/black.  I forgot to press the button and peeked - the black bear was about 4 feet next to me. I froze for a second or two and grabbed the entrance door and went inside to breathe...then I went out again and took the pic. The bear was already on its way to our street.....was about 400 pound.

The camper trailer was our first one in the USA, we made vacations in it to Virginia,  South Carolina ( Myrtle Beach) and Florida ( Panama City Beach ). The firs are still small on the lawn, when we left in 2000, the yard was like a park.

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Since we are talking bears, this one is taken from our deck in the back.

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Dieter built this heavy oak door - later on it got a screen door in front of it.

This picture of me was taken before we were invited to a birthday celebration at "Pinehurst", our favorite restaurant in Greeley.

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After we realized that our house needed more paining jobs than we would have liked, Dieter made the decision to dress the houses with white Vinyl Siding. From then on it was easy to keep the dust off and keep it shiny. Here you can see the matching screen door. Our house was the best insulated house in Greeley, I guess, all the inside walls and ceilings were heavily insulated. We had no Air Conditioner. During the 3 weeks of "Dog Days of Summer" in northestern PA,  I regulated the temperature by drawing insulated curtains where the sun just was. It was so efficient, that I had to open the sliding door in the back in the afternoon to let some warmth in....

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Before we finally come to the pictures you are waiting for, I have some winter pictures to offer.
It was normal in northeastern Pennsylvania to have at least 8 feet of snow every year. Nowadays those snow piles are caused by "Polar Vortexes" , at that time, before 2000, they were just winter storms and had no names, they simply came from the Great Lakes......



Not only was our entire property on a slope, so was the Market Road. It does not look so steep on this picture, but the icy conditions were the reason, why Dieter sometimes could not drive to work and neither could I with my car. The mailbox you see here is ours right at the driveway entrance....

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Pennsylvania mail boxes were in jeopardy all the times in winter. More than often they were damaged by snow removal vehicles because no one could even see them....Our driveway entrance is to the left. It had to be cleared by Dieter every time a snow plow drove by, otherwise we would have not been able to leave the property.

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Our parking places in the front of the house - and Dieter's work truck...

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In the front of the property you see our camper and "B & R" 's Box Van. We had a tractor with a snow blade, but the hight of the snow made that useless,  Dieter had to shovel the snow and throw it high up, so we had still the use of the driveway. And it was cold, as you can see, because Dieter can take harsh temps usually without overalls.

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View from our front area in direction of the garage of Dieter's parents house.

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All pictures are not from one winter but a selection from different one. Our backyard. Nothing underneath the snow - -just drifts and accumulation from shoveling....

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How to get to the wood shed and the deer feeder??   Shoveling !!!!!!!!!

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In the winterime we covered the flower pot in the front with a bird feeder for big wild birds and squirrels.. Across the street you can see a neighbor's house.

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View from our guestroom window onto the covered back deck and onto the wood shed, which in the meantime got an extension for Dieter's tractors and maintenance stuff. We had to dress the wood shed up and cover the entrance to keep bigger critters out, so we would not encounter them by getting firewood.

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This was in one winter before we put vinyl siding on. View from the wood shed onto the back wall of the extended garage....

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We had about 15 deer in wintertime waiting for Dieter in the evening to return home from work to receive a big bowl full of good stuff.....we had bought deer feed with molasses in it, they just loved it.

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With this winter view of our house-complex, which included several buildings and extensions,
I say once more Good Bye to cold winters. 

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Second Part of this Blog - showing more details.......


Entrance, Kitchen, Living Room.......upstairs: window of a smaller guestroom and to the right the sliding door from the master bedroom.  Right: Covered Breezeway.

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The access to the 28' x 6' covered balcony is only from our bedroom. It was our very private world.....

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Later on Dieter covered this porch with treated lumber. He found something to improve every year.

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On the right side of our garage you see part of the entrance porch to the house of my In-Laws.

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Entrance area of the house Dieter's parents lived in ( sliding door to living room and garage.All connected to our garage. The entire length of all the connected buildings is 100'.
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Dieter had built another room and connected it via a covered passage with double door to the side path  to be able to pass with tractors. When it was very hot in summer, I was sitting in that passage with the doors open, it gave me a cool breeze....The new room was heated with Propane Gas - it was Dieter's office when he had taken over the lead of the firm. He did not want people with dirty shoes walking through our house.

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Passage and Dieter's office building.

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The only garden we could have was a rock garden. We needed a digging bar everytime we wanted to plant anything.
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In the foreground the septic mount. Dieter had just finished to convert Mom Gertrude's vegetable garden into a fine patio and had replaced the fence with a better one.....
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The entire complex was insured for 250,000 Dollars. When we sold it, we got only 145,000 for it, it was only the amount of money Dieter had put into it over the years. A family with a dozen kids moved in.....
Meanwhile Dieter's father had died and his mother lived with us because she was not able anymore to live alone. 
Dieter's father was 90 when he died and his mother was 93. By then she lived in the Assisted Living Center in nearby Shohola, where I once worked.

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Our back deck - - which I sincerely miss sometimes, especially in the summer, when we sat outside in the warm evening and looked upon the forest in the back, which Dieter had illuminated with a lamp in a tree...that was just magical. 

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View from the kitchen window.....   without the snow - haha!

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Nice seating area next to our pond.

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Dieter built a little fountain into it to give the little fishes some bubbles. We also had frogs and bullfrogs in it and we had planted water lilies, which grew wonderfully.... This pond was created by harvesting dirt for the sewer mount. It is pretty deep and filled itself by rainwater and spring water. 

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Path from the back toward the driveway.

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Isn't that a neat wood shed and an elegant tractor shed?? Dieter saved the glass doors from a building site which had to be remodeled. All the floors in our house had thick hardwood floors.

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BTW - I did all the painting work with the entire property, inside and outside.

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Dieter also built all the furniture inside, including the entire bedroom and this heavy oak table. We could stand on it if we wanted to....I was sewing all the curtains from scratch. Dieter also put the mural on the wall. The lamps are from IKEA....

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Later on we exchanged this older lamp with 2 new ones and bought a new couch.
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We took the heavy door to the breeze room out and left an open passage, which we later outfitted with a folding door. 

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Seating corner in the bar. Dieter built everything, the bar, the chest, every nail and screw in those buildings went to his hands.....

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From left to right: Dieter's youngest brother Herby, then Karin, her sister is taking the picture and her husband stands next to me ( they were visiting from Germany ), and at the right Dieter's younger brother Fred. Both brothers are not with us anymore. And Dieter is the bartender. 

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We moved the old couch, which we got from relatives when we moved in, into the breeze room when we bought the new one for the living room.

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As I said before, Dieter built  the vanity and all the furniture in our big bath room by himself.

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This is the only picture of our kitchen without persons in it and therefore the only one I can post - but I think it is sufficient to show you that we had a real rural kitchen, admired by every visitor.

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I hope I did not bore you with too many pictures.... If you enjoyed it, please, post a comment.

Several times, when friends in facebook envied us for our lifestyle of sightseeing and living on the road, I told them that everyone can do it when we can do it.. We sold all what you saw here - and not have seen - ...
The next post will be about going full-time as campers.

9 comments:

  1. Wow I love your place. You must be so proud of it.

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  2. We are still proud of what we accomplished, Michael, but we sold everything in 2000 to move into a campertrailer and see the USA.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Lieber Bernd, du kannst in Deutsch auf meine Schreiberei reagieren. Mein Verdacht ist, dass du deswegen deinen Eintrag geloescht hast. Jede Sprache ist willkommen. Im heutigen technischen Zeitalter kann man alles uebersetzen lassen. Danke, dass du dir den Blog angesehen hast.

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  4. Incredible Karin! And to think you and Dieter did so much of the work yourselves. I am very impressed by all of it. It looks like the winters in Pennsylvania are absolutely brutal and I can understand completely your desire to leave those behind. It must have been difficult to give up your beautiful property though! On the other hand, travelling everywhere and seeing so many different places must be pretty exciting! You truly do have a wonderful life, Karin. ☺

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    1. Thank you, Debbie! I like the idea of settling down completely now, but we have to find a place where the climate is not too harsh in winter and not too hot and humid in summer. Will look out for it. but this time it will be a small RV lot, I guess.....

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  5. Beautiful home. Much like you folks, my husband and I are very handy and are slowly making our home our own. You are an inspiration. Maybe someday we will be able to travel a little more, but this is the stage we are in now and enjoying it so much.

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    1. I wish you would have left me your first name within your comment, dear Anonymous. I thank you very much for being interested in our life.

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  6. I have a Russian facebook friend living in Koenigsberg ( today: Kaliningrad), who grew up in our old neighborhood, visited the same school I did and went daily into kindergarten, which is in modern times in the same house we lived in, in Koenigsberg-Ponarth. Isn't that something? He ordered my book and read it and also roamed in my website and Blog. Today I received an email from him with a Christmas Card showing the Koenigsberg Castle before it was in ruins with "Frohe Weihnachten" on it.....I assume he would agree that I post it here as comment. I love it, Sergey. Copied from my inbox: Hallo Karin,

    I read with interest all the memories, that reflect your life. It made an impression on me. You left Königsberg as a little girl, escaped the horrors of war, survived postwar years in Germany, met a man, with whom you go through the life together. Then you left Europe and began a new life in the new world. It is not an easy destiny. Your husband built in a forest, in an empty place, cosy house. As we say, a man must do three things in his life: build a house, bring up a son and plant a tree. Your husband did all that. And the fact that you drove so many miles, so much seen-it makes me respect and a little envy. This way of life is acceptable for my soul. I'm not sitting at home too. I worked as Reefer Engineer on large transport ships for almost 40 years. I have visited many countries of our world. But the fact that you've lived such an interesting life on the road-it makes me admire. I wish you health, vitality and energy.

    Your Ponarter Sergey Roslin.

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