Theodore Roosevelt slept here...and other oddities to boggle the mind

Traveling from Texas to New many beautiful sunrises and sunsets

The Kenneys have finally landed.  And land with a thump and many bumps we did!  We officially sold our home in Houston and have survived the trek up through 13 states to arrive in New Hampshire. 

It sounds so simple to condense the entire family move into one sentence.  However, each step of the way was filled with dramatic pauses, non anticipated hyperbole, and plot twists that bordered on ridiculous in comparison to the original story line.

Stopping for a wonderful holiday visit with my brother's family in Mississippi

Our buyers in Texas desperately needed to close a week earlier than planned so they incentivized us to close much earlier than projected.  

As we became leasers of our own home, we made the rash decision to let the historical home go back on the market in New Hampshire.  That was the house we anticipated directing our moving truck to the week of December 16.

So we were leasing here and not purchasing there.  That meant we were officially "homeless".  

Stately and Serene...lovely and graceful Mississippi

Our behavior at that time can only be described as frantic, panicked, and frenetic!  We now had a moving truck due to arrive within one day and no address to give them...or us!

Patrick and I were at the kitchen table the night before the moving truck was to pull up in front of the house, fingers and phone calls flying, hopping from zillow, craigslist, and to any tips that we could research in order to find an apartment, home rental, or storage facility willing to take us on...oh...a day's notice.

The farmlands of Alabama, Georgia, and West Virginia

We began calling all over New Hampshire inquiring about lease agreements, rental terms, pets/no pets, etc.  We were committed to the decision that we made about not purchasing the home we had contracted, but knew this part of our journey was going to be nothing short of tumultuous.

Preparation for Rosemary, Pear, and Asiago Scones

Tumultuous is a good adjective to describe that 24 to 48 hours of chaos.  The moving crew arrived the next morning. They were a fabulous crew and laughed good-naturedly at our predicament.  We sat in the middle of the tumult making more and more phone calls to find a place to live.  

Patrick and I decided to drive over to the bank to finish some paperwork.  That was when plot twist #2 decided to give us whip lash. Our phones started pinging with multiple alerts containing ominous messages.

Fraudulent activity detected...unauthorized usage of your debit cards...all accounts now being shut down...Your accounts have been hacked!!!  

We stood in the lobby of our own bank, while blood drained from our faces, watching someone out there drain funds from our bank account on a wild shopping spree.  The ironic thing that struck us was...we were in the lobby of the bank!

The sultry Smoky Mountains

A good hour later, with half the bank staff working feverishly to close our accounts and arrange for new cards to be issued within hours, the wonderful bank staff waved us on with pity as they wished us well on our move that would take place within hours at this point.  They were heroes at that moment as they quickly shut down our accounts, ordered to cards to be delivered to us within hours, and wiped the fraudulent charges off our accounts so we could drive from Texas to New Hampshire and have some funds for things like...oh, gas and food!

A glimpse of the 3 story red barn behind the back porch

With this unexpected fire put out, we desperately turned our attention back to lock in a living arrangement while we sorted out the mess that ensued from not finalizing our house purchase.

I remembered a beautiful farmhouse that I looked at back in September on my first house hunting trip in New Hampshire.  It was vacant.  It sat high up on a hill wrapped by an enchanting porch overlooking a quaint wooded covered bridge and roaring river.  I liked the house quite a lot but it did need some care and renovation work.  It is called the Nehemiah Ordway Homestead and is listed on the national registry of historic homes.  Also, it was further north than we had anticipated settling so I kept it on the back burner for further consideration.

Drive from Texas up to New Hampshire

I placed a desperate call to the realtor of the house...throwing all caution to the wind that we might arrange some sort of agreement with the owners.  The odds that a house that I picked for potential purchase would be available for emergency leasing seemed too improbable...or would it seem too serendipitous?

Fortuitously, as the movers were loading the packed boxes onto their truck, all the stars aligned for a few moments of tremendous relief.  The owners of the Nehemiah Ordway Homestead, who live thousands of miles away, were delighted with a lease proposal. The realtor cobbled together a lease agreement with an hour working hard to give us peace of mind.  We thrust a final address into the hands of Glen, our super sweet moving coordinator. Glen chuckled some more and said, "O.k. Kenneys...let's get this show on the road!"

The huge heavy doors of the moving truck were locked, we exhaustedly piled into our one remaining car (having sold the other), and we all drove out of the city of lights into a truly unknown future.  

Back in September, I had seen the house for about 30 minutes.  There was a lot to like about it.  However, Patrick and the kids had barely even seen any photos of the house much less stepped foot inside.

So the adventure was to truly begin!  And, not at all the way that we had intended events to unfold!  But, we were on the road, serenaded by the cat throwing up 10 minutes after take off.   We were exhausted but ready to drive through half of the country.  We would climb our way up to New England through 13 of our beautiful states.  Finally, I felt some relief and reached for my camera to capture some of this land's beauty.  

And what a glorious drive across this beautiful country!  After we breakfasted on piles of pancakes and biscuits with pure maple syrup and roasted apples, we felt optimistic and adventurous.  We counted 13 states that we passed through from Louisiana to Mississippi...up to Tennessee and Pennsylvania...and then into New York up to Massachusetts and finally into our chosen land of New Hampshire.  

One of our first stops was to feel some much needed Christmas cheer at my brother's gorgeous home in Mississippi.  The stress of the past few weeks were beginning to lighten. The holiday spirit was in full force at my brother Scott's house.  We drank in their hospitality and festiveness hardly realizing that Christmas was only a few days away!

Our first eyefuls of the Nehemiah Ordway Homestead
 overlooking the sweet wooden covered bridge

We lunched on delicious jambalaya made by my sister-in-law Gail, enjoyed their lovely neighborhood set in wooded rolling hills and decked out in festive lights  It started to really feel like the holidays weren't going to pass us by this year.

Wild red flames in a blanket of white snow

Back on the road again, we drove through the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, the rugged foggy terrain of West Virginia, and the pastoral undulating farmlands of Pennsylvania.

The weather was kind to us, holiday music regaled us along the way we well as ample supplies of soft peppermint sticks and nutmeg spiked coffees.

Our first friend, Cricket, and her amazingly beautiful dog...Suli

We were able to make another holiday stop to visit my cousin and her adorable family who live in West Point, NY.  Her husband, J.D. is a professor at the Academy there and they have 3 of the most precious little girls that one can ever lay eyes on...creative artistic and quiet Maria, thoroughly entertaining and ever-smiling Camille, and sweet lovely little peanut Lila.  

We were immersed in more holiday cheer, Christmas lights, and yummy homemade treats for the rest of the drive into New England.  The exciting part of this visit to my cousin, Jena's house, is knowing that there will be many more because they are only 4 hours from us now!

Inspired by dinner at The Hancock Inn in Hancock, New Hampshire...
Swordfish in a Balsamic Brown Butter sauce with roasted tomatoes

So we rolled over the adorable covered bridge and saw the water tumbling below over huge granite boulders.  We laid eyes for the first time on this old 1800's New Hampshire farmhouse.  We were a whole lot nervous, a bit shell-shocked, but smiling at the beauty of our surroundings and hopeful for the future of a state that has bucolic vistas around every corner.

And then...Glenn, our moving truck drive called with the unexpected news. Instead of a December 23 delivery, they would not be unable to arrive with our goods until December 26...after Christmas.

The good news was...we didn't really care!  We were in a beautiful home.  We were healthy.  We were incredibly fortunate to be in such a beautiful setting. We had our house sold and closed. The spirit of Christmas season could be felt everywhere and the snow falling gently out the windows of this rambling farmhouse made us relaxed and carefree.

Four days of air mattress "glamping" with a fire and of course...s'mores!!

So on Christmas Eve, we journeyed one town over. We shopped at a local L.L. Bean store.  Everyone was treated to new warm down coats.  We picked up a few air mattresses, some marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate to roast in the large fireplaces while we camped on the floor of the living room.

For several nights, we  "glamped" as Patrick put it on the floor of the living room right in front of a cozy fire...bellies filled with s'mores.

West Point, New York...we are out of the tropics for sure

One of the highlights of this trip, and the inspiration for this Swordfish dish, was our wonderful Christmas Eve dinner at The Hancock Inn in Hancock, New Hampshire.  I wrote about this inn in this article here.  I had such a nice stay there that I booked us back in November for their Christmas Eve dinner.

Our first glimpse of the Nehemiah Ordway Homestead

We each enjoyed our selections, but it was my taste of Patrick's swordfish dish that won the favorite of the night.  I kept thinking how delicious it was for days afterwards.  

When our goods finally arrived, accompanied by many back breaking hours later of unpacking boxes, rearranging furniture, and sorting way too much stuff, I decided the first meal in the farmhouse kitchen would be a dinner centered around swordfish.

In between snowy treks down to the covered bridge and walks along the sweet trail that runs the length of the farmhouse property, I broke in the kitchen so we could all enjoy our first official dinner of Swordfish with a Balsamic Browned Butter Sauce with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.  

I happened to come across a recipe that caught my eye for savory Scones with Asiago cheese, Rosemary, and Pears.  They were delicious with the briny flavors of the fish.  We popped open a bottle of wine, listened to the sounds of this old farmhouse entertain us, and then relaxed (seemingly for the first time in weeks) in front of the roaring fireplace.

I think we are going to adjust here just fine.  There is a very old hand written sign in one of the closets that informs that "Theodore Roosevelt slept here".  In the closet?  We all looked at one another in puzzlement, carefully closed the closet door.  In old houses like these, who knows?  

After all, if Theordore Roosevelt slept in a closet in this house, then camping out on the living room floor is good enough for the Kenneys.  

New Hampshire...we had the entire country to choose from...and we picked you

...upon our official arrival, you have won our hearts over already!

Sunrise from the upstairs tower

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