Enjoying my time with my former host family

Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
Trip End Aug 20, 2013

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Flag of United States  , New York
Friday, August 16, 2013

Relaxing and catching up on the latest developments

The next few days I spent relaxing and recovering from the long hike and hearing and seeing the latest developments in my host family and in the area. I enjoyed spending the time with my host family, meeting their son Eric, his wife Maureen and their little two year old son Ethan again. I was surprised that Ethan actually remembered me and that he regularly showed me a picture that I was on with what he said: "This is you.... when you, when you, with no beard". How cute!

So I played a lot with their son at my host family's house, and was introduced to his favorite activity: being on pappi's (my host dad) real tractor and putting on the signal and warning lights. When I had seen him last about a year ago, he had already been fascinated by cars, but no it was more of an addiction, with him always talking about tractors :-). All in all I was fascinated by how much and how well Ethan was already able to talk, and how well behaving he was. His parents had surely done a great job.

Besides going hiking in the Adirondacks park, there is one other activity that is a long tradition of mine, and repeated every time I am visiting my host family. Eating at the famous Dinosaur Barbeque Restaurant in Syracuse, a city about 40 minutes south of my host family's house. This place is amazing. The food is sooo delicious, it's almost undescribable. So all of us, Jan, Joe, Eric, Mo, Ethan and I went to the Dino for an early dinner. As usual I settled for the "Big Ass Pork Plate" with Barbeque Beans and mashed potatoes. It was great just like I remembered it. While Ethan was busy watching a kids show on one of the smartphones, we enjoyed the excellent food. Afterwards we went for ice-cream, and I had to learn again that portions in the US are just much bigger than at home. Each of us ordered a small ice-cream, which consisted of about four scoops of ice-cream. I surely don't want to know how many scoops a large ice-cream consists of. Well, it was delicious, although by now I was really, really full. "Welcome back to America, Steffen" :-)

After hanging around my host family's house for another day, my host mom made me go to the doctor to get treatment for my toe, that had anything but recovered from the coral cut in Fiji about five weeks ago. Well, I am happy that I went to the doctor, who prescribed me some antibiotics to finally get rid of the bacterial infection, that could have easily ended up in a very severe or even fatal blood poisoning. I was very lucky. Next time I get such a cut and infection, I will make sure I see a doctor immediately. Anyway, everything was good now.

A fun day with a two year old

Another day we all went to Eric and Mo's house in Syracuse. Eric, who is a teacher at the high school that I went to during my exchange year, was still on summer vacation. With Mo, his wife was busy working, Jan, Eric and I played the boardgame Siedler von Catan that they had once purchased in Germany. It was a great game, and even better when I won both times we played :-). Next time I come to the States, I will bring the board game "Ticket to Ride / Zug um Zug" and beat them again ;-).

While Jan and Joe returned home, I stayed at Eric and Mo's house, and we spent the evening looking at some pictures from my world trip. Next day Eric and I spend all day with his little son Ethan. I had a great time and insight into a kid's daily life. At first we went to the library where I read for Ethan three books about firetrucks. We then went to the "Nice-Lady-Cookie-Place", a cafe with delicious donuts and muffins. Afterwards Ethan showed me his favorite playground and all the things he could do. The highlight of the day though was when we walked back to Eric's house and stopped in a small forest section along the way. Here I was overwhelmed by little Ethan's creativity. We had sit on a fallen tree, on what Ethan refers to as the airplane. Actually there was another fallen tree laying across it, so it actually looked like the tree had wings. Well, we then flew to Sesame Street to meet Elmo, Cookie Monster and all the others. What a hilarious activity. Another very funny situation was when Ethan put a plastic plate on his head and said "I am Chinese". LOL. Somehow had made this joke to Ethan, and somehow he had remembered it right away. You should always be careful what you say and show to these little kids...

Once back at the house, we had some lunch and Eric put Ethan in his crip for his midday nap. Well Ethan didn't feel like sleeping and only wanted to play with his favorite toy tractors. Well Eric made him stay in his crip for two hours, no matter if he slept or not. In the afternoon I helped Eric, and Ethan helped me watering the plants in their garden with a hose. Ethan then made me play horse, by running around the car in the drive way jumping like horses. He also showed me the home of his favorite bugs by lifting a stone in the driveway under which some bugs were living. After some more games like hide-and-seek, Eric, Mo, Ethan and I drove to my host family's house.

On the way Ethan asked me to read another book to him, and I made the mistake of having him choose one. Surely he picked the by far biggest book of all. I got about two thirds through the story of Winnie Pooh, before I had to give up due to motion sickness, and instead look to the front and breath some fresh air. By now Ethan was sleeping, making up for his missed midday nap.

All in all it was a lot of fun with Ethan, although I have to say that playing with a two year old an entire day can be very tiring. I surely didn't have any problem with falling asleep later on :-).

Learning more about the Adirondacks in the official museum

Having been so excited about the hike in the Adirondacks, my host parents had told me about the official Adirondacks Museum and we had decided to go up to the park and visit the exhibition. At first we had thought about taking their canoe and going canoeing in the area, but when we couldn't find all the necessary tools to take the canoe with us, we decided to go for the museum only. I have to say the long drive up to the park's museum, was well worth it. For lunch we stopped in a local restaurant in the town of Old Forge, which served amazing food, all of which was organically grown in the area. We then spent about three hours in the museum, learning about the first european people to come there, hunting for beaver skin and later for recreation, escaping the smoky industrialized cities.

It was a great museum and on the weekend we visited there was a special event, with people showing how mountain men used to live back in the days. Very cool and interesting! We then drove back to Old Forge for dinner at the same restaurant we had lunch at, and it was again amazing :-).

It's always a great time visiting my host family

My host family is a huge fan of the series Breaking Bad like I am, and the last season just started. However, I had not yet watched all of the previous season. Fortunately Jan and Joe were eager to watch the previous season again and made me catch up with it one episode at a time :-).

Now my two weeks of visiting my host family is coming to an end. On the 19th of August I will travel by bus to New York city and then take an evening flight to Frankfurt with a later connection to my hometown of Berlin. I am very happy that I have decided to spent the time and money to visit my host family once again. It was an amazing time, especially as after a few days it always feels like I've never been away for a long time and ever since my high school exchange year, they have become a second family for me and I have become a third son for them. Leaving the US again is always a hard time for me, because I won't see my lovely host family again for a while. But thinking positive: So far we have managed to see each other almost every year and I will surely be back to Upstate New York again. Furthermore my host family is going on a biking vacation in Italy later this year and then visiting their second son Adam, who is currently living with his wife Barbara in Tübingen, Germany. So maybe I'll have the chance to see them again even sooner than next year. I am looking very much forward to it!
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