Category Archives: Travels with Larry

Travels with Larry/Space A/Fly Like An Eagle

Sometime this year we hope to CIMG4858travel Space A again. We have been on a Lear jet twice from Washington DC to Scott Air Force Base in IL.   I could not travel without him; Larry put in the required time of over 20 years for the privilege.    He spent 4 years in the Marines as an air-controller and in the military police. He then joined the Navy reserves for 18 years and did most of his duties at the former Glenview Naval Air Station where he enjoyed playing many practical jokes on his friends.

We started flying Space A about 6 years ago as part of our retirement travel plan.  It has been the source of many adventures to various places like Germany, Spain, Italy and Hawaii.   We have been on a C5 and a C1-17 cargo medi-vac and twice on a Lear Jet.  But the most exciting was being   on a refueling tanker  We were able to lie on our stomachs and watch while our plane in mid air was being refueled. The pilot was a young woman with a blonde pony tail. We have enjoying getting to know servicemen and women. They tell us about their deployments and say they are glad to serve.

Flying Space A is not for the faint-hearted. You can have very long wait times and it may mean hopping around the US before reaching your destination. But it is a wonderful adventure that I thank God for letting us experience. It reminds me of one of my favorite verses in the Bible. “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:30-

A Joyful Heart is Good Medicine

Washington 2015 060To enhance a relationship, add fun and the unexpected.  Over the years Larry and I have learned to laugh regardless of what is going on in our lives.  We took a vacation to Seattle, Washington and camped for three days at the Olympic National Forest. We hiked and enjoyed the beauty around us. I noticed a cylinder culvert ahead so I scampered ahead and hid on the side of it planning on scaring Larry.  I timed it just right I thought. I jumped out and said BOOO but to my amazement, it wasn’t Larry. It was a tall heavyset Englishman with dark rather spiky hair. “Bloody Hell,” he proclaimed. I quickly apologized saying, “So sorry—I thought you were my husband.” I truly scared him out of his wits. Welcome to America.

But then I situated myself again and jumped out and succeeded in scaring Larry.  Mission Accomplished. Larry calls me Nissa, a troublesome little Norwegian gnome. I’ll continue to live up to my name and watch for his comeback. Feel free to share how you add adventure to your relationship.

Calling you to A North American European Experience

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Bonjour from Quebec City in 2012!  Going to French Canada is a low cost European experience. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and experience a different culture. Don’t get in a rut and take the same boring vacations—enjoy a new experience. The most fulfilled people know that experiences offer more happiness than things. Make memories with your family and friends. Take your bikes along and camp.

All the signs and free handouts are in both languages. The signs are in French/English. You’ll be using the metric system and shopping at unique stores. It will be a wonderful education for all.

We took off for Canada through Michigan and traveled through Sault Saint Marie toward Sudbury. The currency is close to the same—-97 cents to our dollar with the Canadian advantage. We camped with our small trailer and cooked most of our own meals—eating healthy most of the time.  Taking a tour with others along the French River by boat was exciting. An eccentric older man wearing a beret  was our guide.  He took us on a hike pointing out various plants and then he jumped off a 15 ft. cliff inviting us to join him.

Our goal was to eventually visit Quebec and immerse ourselves in the Canadian-French experience. I saw the St. Laurence River for the first time and got emotional thinking of my grandfather who traveled that route to Wisconsin from Norway as a child.

I purchased a phrase book and began to practice phrases I remembered from college.  It was interesting to listen to the radio playing French tunes and giving the weather reports as 21 and hot today. A local stopped and talked with us about  the Black Hawks and Michael Jordon. He then talked about how he knew important people in the government and how he secretly still hoped Quebec would sucede.

Quebec City was spectacular. It dates back to 1607 when Samuel de Champlain settled the area. Notice the age and quality of the building below.

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It was rare to hear English except in  the stores and restaurants.  It’s not uncommon to hear French spoken in Canada; but when you get to Quebec, it’s all in French. So go back in time and get the European experience for a lot less money and time.

We drove home through Montreal and the New York entrance. I have to say as much as I enjoyed being in a European atmosphere, I was ready to be back in the USA where English was spoken. We took the back roads home through the Adirondacks—stopping at Lake Placid, the site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympics.  It’s a beautiful city.

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Escaping your comfort zone can make you happier, smarter, more confident, and more satisfied with life, while strengthening ties to the people you love. Talk with strangers. Don’t over plan. Leave some room for new experiences and trust that things will work out for you.

And remember when diving  off a 15 ft. cliff on the French River to take your Canadian money out of your pocket. Au revoir

Feeding the Fish in Ottawa Canada

Now that our daughter, Julie, and her family are going to Canada this summer, I thought I’d post our adventure  in 2013. We drove to Ottawa and then to Quebec City. It was a North America European experience. But before we got there, we took a boat ride and a scenic hike which included both of us jumping off a 15 ft. cliff.  Larry jumped off and forgot he had Canadian money in his pockets; so now he is feeding the fish. The rest of this entry is directed towards my grandchildren but gives you some insight into the provinces.

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(He forgot about the money in his pocket.)

You’d enjoy seeing the money here especially the $5 bill that has a picture of kids playing hockey. It looks like toy money but it is very much like our $5.00 bill. The exchange rate is close to the same by a few pennies to the Canadian advantage.

Ottawa was our second place to stay. We toured the friendly city by bicycle. Ottawa is the capital of Canada. There are canals running through it with a bicycle path all around it. There are many old picturesque buildings here—the Parliament building is where the government is located. Next to the Parliament is the Supreme Court building. We met a man who spent some time in jail before he turned his life around. Grandma talked to anyone and everyone. She conversed with to a high school student who said he works hard at the grocery store and then spends the rest of his time playing ice hockey. He said people come from all over the world including Russia and the US to play hockey in his town of Prescott/Russell. He hopes to be a professional someday. Ottawa’s border is shared with Quebec. The people in Quebec speak French and have talked about seceding from Canada because the Canadian people are connected with Britain and honor Queen Elizabeth II. Their loyalty is to France. When you study history you will find out that France and England have always been at odds with one another. The man we talked to from Quebec said they were thinking of seceding again since the vote to do so was so close at the last referendum.

I have been studying French while on this trip.  I took two years of high school French and one year of college French. But I haven’t used it in years. Being here in Canada, everything is in English/French. It’s a great opportunity to learn again. In Quebec the signs are only in French. Grandpa is doing fine following the French road signs .  He drove in Italy so he can drive anywhere with attitude.

We love getting a cup of coffee at Tim Horton’s. It’s the Mc Donalds of Canada. Grandma tried ordering in French but Grandpa was impatient for his coffee and there was a line. We finished the order in English.

Ottawa had a free light show on the Parliament building. It was wonderful—I never saw anything like it. They told a story with pictures accompanied with English/French dialogue. It was about the diverse  provinces, the Indians, the various Olympic stars, celebrities and the animals like caribou, seals and whales. We all clapped with enthusiasm and respect for this great country.  Canada claims to have a heart for all people no matter where they come from. It was a wonderful show that gave us a superb education. We talked to a man from Pennsylvania who said he likes the Canadian people because they are not so viciously angry about politics and religion.

We are now on our way to Quebec City. It is like a European city. Tune in next time.

I Have a Bone to Pick with You

CIMG4345Now that fishing season is almost upon us, I’m reminded of a lifewithlarry experience. Our daughter, Deborah, who resides in Bozeman, Montana taught Larry how to fly fish one summer. He took to it like a bee to honey.  He can be see practicing on the road here in Fox River Grove, IL.  People come from all over the world to fish in Yellowstone and pay enormous amounts of money for the adventure. Deb took Larry to a small spring creek near a railroad track and Interstate 90.

“There can’t be anything in here. It’s too small.” Larry reacted. But it turned out to be a fishing supermarket.

He caught 32 fish in a manner of a few hours. They hit any brown fly Larry threw at them. He was bursting with excitement like a kid in a candy store while cleaning and gutting the four he decided to keep.

“It was going to be a great dinner,” he said knowing we were going to have company that night.

When visiting Montana, we often camp at Hyalite National Forest—–one of God’s most magnificent creations. We tow a 19 ft.  trailer and that is our home for 3 weeks. People come and visit us in our beautiful, pristine surroundings. Our daughter-in-law’s parents came up that evening for a fish dinner. By the time the coals were hot and dinner ready to be served, it was dusk. Ravishingly hungry, we devoured our food until we heard Larry gag.

In the darkness of the evening, he had mistaken a bone for fish. Coughing, bread, water—–nothing seemed to dislodge it. So the next morning, we headed down the mountain to the medical center.

“Hi Larry”, the doctor said. You see Larry, from Illinois, had visited the center other times in past years for one malady or another.   He looked down his throat and said, “I haven’t seen anything like this in twenty years.” This was all I needed to hear. My hopes of a problem free vacation were quickly vanishing.

Next he said, “If I cannot dislodge the bone, it will mean surgery.” Surgery——- for a fish bone! Whoever heard of such nonsense? Larry suppressed the cough instinct and allowed the doctor to lunge down his throat with a pair of round pliers with a round tip. After a couple of attempted, he captured his prey.

“In addition to teaching and construction,” Larry said, “I could now have another career as a professional  Sword Swallower.” We all agreed.

Now when eating fish in the dark, I insist that he put on one of his many REI head lamps, or I’ll have a bone to pick with him.

Costa Rica/ A Bit of Paradise

“Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” Proverbs 25:25

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It was with great joy that I connected with Eric and Caroline  and their lovely children, John and Evie. Eric was one of my students at Cary Grove High School where he was the valedictorian of the class. Caroline was Kate, the lead, in our school play,” The Taming of the Shew.” I had heard that they were working in Costa Rica.  My husband and I began supporting them a few years back. So it was interesting for us to visit them in a different relationship. We actually knew little about their ministry and their role in Central America. I emailed Eric and asked if we could visit. He graciously invited us and set up a two-week agenda for us.

Our first morning in Costa Rica, I woke up to the sound of birds, the crowing of roosters and the smoke from the nearby volcano dotting the pink clouded horizon. Eric took us on a tour of the campus which is a taste of paradise. The flowers, palm trees and large pines spoke of God’s presence in nature. We were able to pick oranges, lemons and grapefruits off the trees. I had been transported from below zero temps in Chicago to the warmth of the sun. With tears in his eyes, Eric shared the wonderful story of how God provided this unique campus. The day in CR begins and ends between 6 AM and 6 PM.  A lot is packed into that framework which included joining a visiting Pennsylvania church group in jobs like cutting down trees, varnishing doors and windows and taking down a termite infested building. Serving and eating together helped us develop close relationships.  Our cook, a little size 2 dynamo woman named Marlin,  cooked up a storm for us. It was not all work. We were part of the bus tour to La Paz where we saw waterfalls, animals and tropical plants; we also enjoyed a wonderful buffet. From there, we visited a coffee plantation.

When the Pennsylvania group left, I mentored some of the staff members in English while my husband continued working with the grounds’ team. As a former English teacher and now a writer, the role fit me perfectly. I also loved hanging out with the many children on the campus.  I’m uplifted by their energy, imagination and pure love of God. I encouraged little Evie to speak Spanish with me and she occasionally corrected my pronunciation—nothing like learning from a four-year old, smart cookie.  John runs like the wind just like his father did in high school. They both enjoy playing and watching soccer.

We then rented a car for three days at $50 a day which included a Garmin. We spent our first day at Jaho beach, our second in La Fortuna, home of backpackers and volcanoes. We stayed at the Arsenal Palace, a suggestion by a local, that gave us a great view of the volcano and a  full breakfast—all for $60 a night, no tax.  Our last day, we took a boat trip on the Rio Frio near Nicaragua  to see monkeys, sloughs and birds in their natural habitat.  Larry said he has a muse in the  slough who sleeps in a tree and comes down once every two weeks to relieve himself.

It was inspiring to watch Eric and Caroline follow in the footsteps of Jesus by developing disciples. Eric has a heart for the youth and Caroline is devoted to women’s small groups. This took on the form of stepping into Bible studies with them and taking pictures of their soccer games. God uses so many means to draw people to himself.  We also joined in the evening meetings where the Pennsylvania group processed their working day and shared what they learned in their personal devotions.

After our two weeks in CR, we were convinced that this is a wonderful ministry to support with our work and finances.  We hope to encourage others to be part of a team with us next year.

How to be Safe while Serving in Construction

safety (Click here to see the video)

The house we built in a week with Habitat in Katrina, Bay St. Louis
The house we built in a week with Habitat in Katrina, Bay St. Louis

Larry has been working with my son-in-law on remodeling their house. Yesterday they worked on installing electrical sockets, etc. As a result they both got mild shocks—-they soon discovered the problem. Larry has worked in the construction field as a contractor, a teacher, and now in retirement. Click on the above link to see the Blitz Build safety video he shared with a team at Willow Creek Church before going to help Katrina victims in Bay St. Louis. Not only is it helpful, but quite entertaining. He mentions and shows footage of Mike Breau giving a message and accidentally stapling himself. Enjoy and learn some tips.

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Hats the new owner gave us to combat the intense sun.
Hats the new owner gave us to combat the intense sun.

A Cold Get-Away/ And Christmas Past

Gardinerski 005 Merry Christmas Everyone!   It’s Christmas 2014 in Fox River Grove, IL this year. But I remember a  few years back when we traveled to Yellowstone to celebrate.

There’s nothing like seeing a bison come ambling down a hill behind you as you cross-country ski on Tower Falls Trail in Yellowstone at 6278 ft. elevation and – 6 degrees. Yes, Life with Larry has given me another first time experience with extremes. Our son, Aaron Schuerr, is a chip off the old block. He arranged the two night winter get away at the Yellowstone Institute in the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. When I heard that it was predicted to be bitterly cold, I assumed we would be canceling.  But the word cancel is not in the Schuerr vocabulary.   I was comforted with the fact that the cabins we would be staying in were heated; nevertheless my bottle of water turned to lumps of ice by the morning. I tried to negotiate with my bladder at 1:10 AM telling it to shut up and let me sleep. But it persisted so I grabbed my fleece coat and gazed at the breath-taking stars that filled the dark sky until I remembered that I had to be on the look out for stray buffalo who often wander into the camp. I heard the sound of a coyote in the distant and hoped it was not hungry for a short squat Norwegian-American. Finally, I made it to the bathhouse 50 ft. away which doesn’t sound like much of a feat, but it was -28 degrees.  “But it’s a dry cold,” they say.

After a hardy breakfast, we covered nearly every inch of skin and donned our cross-country skies to face the -6 degrees. I didn’t want to get out of the truck until August, my 10-year-old grandson said, “Suck it up Grandma,” ——such inspiration.  I shut the door on the van as my thumbs were the first thing to freeze and my toes felt like frozen peas. But soon the constant activity, lack of wind and beautiful sunshine warmed me like slow pouring heavy syrup. “It’s a dry cold,” Larry would remind me. When we got to Calcite Springs, we poured cups of tea and nibbled on Cheesites. A hot toddy was what I had in mind. But that would have to wait.

Montana winters didn’t bother Larry.  He must have been born in a deep freeze.  He even made himself a Frostline tent when the kids were little.  We had a lot of snow that winter so he built an igloo in front of our house on Rt. 31 in Crystal Lake, IL.  It was Larry and our St. Bernard dog.  But he came in at 5 AM in the shape of a cramped pretzel. That night he was testing the quality of his sleeping bag. “My sleeping bag is only rated to -20 degrees.” he said—-his excuse for coming in early. These days we are happy for cabins.

I made it to 2:30 AM before my second trip to the distant bathroom. As it turned out, the temperature improved to a balmy 10 degrees the next morning so we put on snow shoes, a first for us, and became Louis and Clark explorers. By 1 PM Grandpa and Grandma said good-bye to the hardy campers and headed to Chico Natural Hot Springs in Pray, MT to thaw and recuperate knowing that tonight we would sleep in a real bed with real heat.

It was an adventure, I’ll never forget.

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Travel to Italy/A Place where Dreams are Born

The Leaning Tower of PisaMy best friend growing up was Adelina Gina Maria Sangineto… I clearly remember seeing her parents grasping her eight year-old hand as she stumbled behind them to register for school. She had sparkling brown eyes, long black hair and an effervescent personality. She soon became my best friend. When I came over to study geometry with her, I could hear the operatic sounds of Enrico Caruso. Her mother always saved a small dish of whatever they had for dinner—-such as mostaccioli, spaghetti or ravioli. It was like stepping into a scene from Under the Tuscan sky.  Adelina would brag about her many trips to Italy where she had 5 proposals and was pinched many times. I knew that someday, I would have to visit this enchanted land. That dream became reality  when we traveled Space A-retired military along with the deployed military to Aviano. It’s a country full of history, beauty and culture. Hopefully, you’ll learn what to do and what not to do while traveling in Italy. You can travel quite successfully without a tour guide as we did.   A copy of Rick Steve’s book and a GPS system will be your most valuable tools.  Learning Italian phrases also is most valuable. You can watch free classes on the internet to perfect your pronunciation.

We squeezed into a Fiat—-a tight squeeze for my husband Larry’s 6’2” frame. Since the car was not equipped with a GPS system,  we were forced to study the maps more intensely. Their Auto-strata system is different from ours. There are no signs like 90 E or W and no shoulders. The local roads use the rotary system which we embraced. Being indecisive, we could go around like a hamster in a cage before being ejected to the correct town.

If you choose to drive as we did, be sure to have a partner who is a good map reader and remember to refrain from harsh words with one another. When we got lost, we made it an adventure. We looked at it as an opportunity to interact with the locals and to see unexpected towns—It’s all new to us regardless. Helpful Italians are everywhere. For instance, a father and daughter were washing their store windows when we approached them for directions. “Porfavore, Dove esta Sienna?” The daughter understood English but did not know the directions. The father knew the directions but did not speak English. They became an exciting duo as the father explained with much gusto in Italian and the daughter erect like a solider translated. The father was so animated that words were not necessary. We often heard easy, straight ahead—but nothing in Italy was straight ahead.

We only had a week in Italy; so we decided to stay at Camp Darby, an army camp in central Italy where we took day trips. We were able to use the dollar at the military base which saved us a lot of money. The locals referred to the area as FIPILI which stood for Florence, Pisa, and Livarno. Our first adventure was to Pisa which is like visiting the United Nations. It is one of the seven man-made wonders of the world. The circular stairway was so narrow; Larry’s shoulder’s touched each side.

Next we visited Lucas, the birthplace of Puccini. It’s one of the two cities with walls totally intact. The walls were built to protect them from neighboring  Florence.

On our way to Sienna in Tuscany, we took the back roads enjoying the country view of olive gardens and abandon villas. Rick Steve recommended a stop in Voltaire where we drove up a mountainside reaching a town that took us back to medieval times.  Colorful laundry hung out the windows to dry.  The town is known for alabaster wares.  We stopped for lunch at a restaurant resembling a catacomb. We had soup, wine and delicious bread. We dipped the bread in olive oil and sweet balsamic vinegar. I didn’t see a pad of butter all week. Eating in Italy is always a wonderful experience.  We had melt in your mouth ravioli while we sat outside under the star-filled skies. Even at McDonald’s the food was good.The spinach bun melted in my mouth and the tiramisu was as smooth as silk.

Next we visited Cinque Terre—-the Italian Rivera with five colorful towns cut into the mountainside. Soon we had our own hiking group. We were drawn like a magnet to anyone speaking English. We met a couple from New Zealand and another from Florida.  We had lunch together and  served as our own tour guides by sharing our knowledge of the area. The next day we read that there was a mudslide that destroyed several buildings including the restaurant we had visited. Several people were killed.

Our final destination was Florence—a place where fairy tales were created. We saw a cathedral constructed with three distinct colors of marble. It glowed in the setting sun.

But the highlight of our visit was seeing the breath-taking and massive statue of David, Michelangelo’s crowning achievement.   On a lighter side, Larry was drawn in by commercialism.could see no reason why he shouldn’t purchase the pair of swimming trucks or apron featuring a graphic picture of David from the belly button to the knees.

It was sad to say good-bye to Italy. But after a week and the difference between the dollar and the Euro, we thought it was wise. We certainly hope to do another week in the future to Venice, Rome and Naples.

Start now saving for your trip to Italy. Don’t be afraid to drive and go without a tour group. Decide before hand that it will be an adventure you will never forget so keep your cool. Meet wonderful people, eat Italian cuisine and see unforgettable sights. Remember learning some phrases, bringing a Garmin and studying Rick Steve’s travel guide should help you get ready. By the way  despite 5 proposals, my friend Adelina Gina Maria never married but instead devoted her life to her parents, her teaching career and traveling to Italy.

Arrividerci/Chow

Sue Schuerr

Beef Jerky Montana Style

 

We just got back from a family reunion in Glacier Park and it reminded me of a previous summer in the wild West.  Larry bought a kit at Cabellas for making his own beef jerky. He spent an afternoon making some pretty tasty jerky for our hikes out in Montana. We eagerly looked forward to a family reunion. Our son, Aaron, rented a newly built rustic cabin tucked away in the woods and surrounded by rivers, hiking trails, and the Crazy mountain range beckoning us to adventure. The spacious Bennett Cabin outside of Clyde Park in Montana is a work of art. Its sturdy 80 year old logs are accented with green cedar shingles. It’s very reasonable to rent since it’s devoid of plumbing which means a 2 AM run to the outhouse.

Aaron and his wife Lynelle climbed out of their van with our three energetic grandsons August, Jasper, Isaac and their trusty chocolate lab, Gracie. Family fun would now begin. But it didn’t take long for Gracie to discover a strange substance she enjoyed chewing. She also rolled into some foul smelling pond and only a bath in the nearby stream could get rid of the stench.

We shared Larry’s delicious beef jerky with the family while hiking along the stream. But after a half hour or so we were stopped by fallen trees that were the result of a June tornado that swept through the area. That evening, we came across the journal where visitors describe their time at the cabin. We were told to look for a fantastic view of the stars, a visiting owl, and an occasional bear sighting. But what caught our attention the most was an entry from the previous week. It went something like this.

Entry 7/8. We were sitting around enjoying coffee and conversation when a very polite forest service man informed us that our serene time was coming to an end. A downed tree caused by a tornado killed a cow and now they, meaning the forest service, were going to have to deal with it. Yes, they were waiting for an expert to arrive from Bozeman who would help them with the situation as a resident bear had discovered the beast which made it unsafe for cabin residents like us. More trucks began to arrive— some seven or eight of them donned with helmets and chain saws as they cut through the tree. They then covered our cabin windows with plywood and asked us to park the cars behind the cabin suggesting we take a hike. We went toward Target rock over fallen trees not knowing what to expect. Soon an explosion ripped across the mountain—-an earth shattering and auditory resound of military impact. What we were hearing was the sound of an exploding cow. An exploding cow! It took a legend to blow up one single cow. There was enough gusto to take down a herd of cows. Any resident bears must have fled completely out of the Crazies for good——with need of therapy. We went back to our cabin and were greeted by a considerate and good humored forest service employee informing us that the danger was now over. I felt it was my duty to walk to the gate where the deed was done to investigate. The dirt road was strewn with clumps of red meat the size of salmon servings and flies were swarming in mass. The smell was prehistoric. I was witness to something that looks simple, but is complex. Now little critters will nibble the bits. As for bears—the therapy continues.

Now we understood why Gracie was having such a feast. The mysterious substance was nothing other than—Montana beef jerky. Her last treat resembled a cow’s ear—Yuk! Coming from Illinois and chewing our own beef jerky, we knew we were witness to the aftershocks of an event done only Montana style.

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