Montrose Christian Writers Conference

The lovely Robin and I arrived yesterday in Montrose, Pennsylvania, for the 24th annual Montrose Christian Writers Conference.

I was honored to give the keynote last night. Through this week I'll be teaching on "How to Get the Most Out of This Conference," "The Well-Rounded Writer," "Write a Winning One-Sheet," "Keys to Coauthoring Success," and a morning plenary, "If John Had Not Written." I'll also be critiquing manuscripts and meeting with developing writers.

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The Joseph Hochstetler Homestead and Gravesite, Mifflin, PA

After a day of wonderful conversations, meetings, speaking opportunities, and book sales at the Jacob Hochstetler Family Association's Sixth Quinquennial North American Gathering today, the lovely Robin and I, with my brother Don and sister-in-law Arvilla, drove to the Mifflintown area to tour the Joseph Hochstetler homestead and burial site (and the burial site also of his son John). 

Joseph was the son of Jacob Hochstetler, the immigrant of 1738 (and my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather). He built this house and Summer house and root cellar in the late eighteenth century, having moved to the growing Mennonite settlement in then Mifflin County (now Juniata County). We were warmly and generously welcomed by Don and Loma Saners, who bought the property in 1999. It was amazing to leaf through the photo album of the loving restoration of the once-derelict property these folks performed (see above). 

Amazingly, when the Saners bought and restored these historic buildings, they did not know that they were descended from the people who once lived here. Daniel Hochstetler of the JHFA, having visited the site and learning of Don's parents' and grandparents' names, traced their genealogy back to the very two men who are known to be buried on the property! 

Over the years, the Saners have acquired many period furnishings for the home, and carefully decorated it with obvious love and respect.

After our tour of the historic home, Summer house, and root cellar, we followed the woodland path to the burial site.

LIke the homestead, the tiny cemetery had been neglected for many years. Hostetler relatives from the area erected a new monument and fence around the site in 1966. Loma shared with us that an octogenarian resident of the area told her with great confidence that in addition to Joseph and John being buried there, he believes a wife and child are also interred there. 

It is amazing to be part of a family with such great respect for and interest in history, and thus to visit a home where my great-great-great-great-great grandfather and his son and their families once lived, and to see the spot where one of the three captives taken by Delaware warriors in the 1757 "Hochstetler massacre"--and his son--is buried.

The JHFA Sixth North American Gathering

The lovely Robin and I met my brother Don and his wife, Arvilla, at the Sixth Quinquennial (that's a real thing, people) North American Gathering of the Jacob Hochstetler Family (Jacob, who
immigrated to North America in 1738, is my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather).

Our weekend started with dinner and a program last night (Friday) in the Locust Grove Mennonite Church in Belleville, PA.

The festivities (exhibits, seminars, plenary, etc.) continue today at Mifflin County High School in Lewistown, PA.

Among the exhibits is a 226-year-old German Bible (above) that once belonged to Joseph Hochstetler (the son of the migrant Jacob) and later, his son John.

I present a seminar this morning on Writing from Personal Experience and the keynote this afternoon: "A Goodly Heritage." I hope they are kinda sorta good.

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Five Sunsets

I didn't get to take sunset photos our last two evenings on Old Mission Peninsula. Pretty inconsolable about that. But here are the Saturday through Wednesday sunsets:

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Cherry Picking in Michigan

The lovely Robin and I had the sweet experience of taking our four grandchildren cherry picking on Old Mission Peninsula, in Michigan, while their parents toured an Old Mission Peninsula vineyard and winery.

The trees were laden with a couple varieties of cherries, and an ample supply was available on branches low enough for a three-year-old, four-year-old, and six-year-old to pick a whole lot.
We were told that we would be paying $2 a pound, and a minimum of five pounds. I wanted to make sure we got at least what we were gonna have to pay for. So, of course, we picked thirteen pounds of cherries.
And, of course, that's not counting the few that we sampled as we worked.
The eighty-degree heat tired us out after a while, or we may have picked twenty pounds or more.
What a wonderful way to spend part of our last afternoon on the peninsula. The kids were so proud of their hard work--and the fruits (get it?) of their labor. So were the lovely Robin and I.

National Cherry Festival, Traverse City, Michigan

Our family Fourth of July celebration included a visit to the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City.
The day was pleasantly warm and the place crowded but not unpleasantly so in either case.
The kids got to ride the Dizzy Dragon....
...and the Ferris wheel....
...and carousel, too.
A few of the grown ups indulged in Funnel Cakes, and the kids devoured big Sno Cones (I take no pleasure in the spelling).

As dark descended, we pulled out the sparklers.

And we enjoyed most of the thirty minute fireworks show before heading to our cars for the drive home.
Oh, and I almost forgot: we ate cherries, too.

Lighthouse Point

The lovely Robin and I visited Lighthouse Point on Old Mission Peninsula again, with our kids and grandkids.
Unlike our 2011 visit, the lighthouse was open for tours--which, because it is a small lighthouse, is pretty short. But we learned that when it was in operation the light could be seen at a distance of twelve miles.
The park features one of the most distinctive beaches, marked by a wide expanse of sand, stones, and shallow water.
And any time the grandkids are along, the opportunities for great pictures are practically endless.
We made two attempts (on the way in and the way out) to reenact a photo taken two years ago (before Ryder was born). The second time there was general cooperation, resulting in the photo above.

Miles Calling to the Seagulls

It's a lonely job but somebody's got to do it.

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The Jolly Pumpkin

The Jolly Pumpkin Restaurant, Brewery, and Distillery on Old Mission Peninsula, which the lovely Robin and I visited this evening, was recommended to us by friends. We will thank them when we get home.
I loved the "rustic atmosphere marked by fireside warmth and earthy woods in a comfortable cottage like setting" (that's from the website,
I fully intended to experience one of their impressive array of gourmet salads. Honest, I did. But Robin was tempted by the Farmhouse Ale Marinated Hanger Steak (below). And I wasn't going to eat a salad--not even a Cherry Pecan Salad--while she had steak. So I ordered the Crab Tater Tots appetizer (above)...
...and Hickory Smoked Baby Back Ribs and Ale Battered Great Lakes Perch with fries.
It was all good, good eating. Robin even enjoyed her locally grown asparagus, which was a surprise. After thirty-six-plus years of marriage, I guess she can still surprise me.

The Jolly Pumpkin is located at 13512 Peninsula Drive on Michigan's Old Mission Peninsula. And no, we didn't sample any of their signature brews or spirits; but the ice water flowed freely all night, I can assure you!

A Hike at The Point

The lovely Robin and I took a hike today along the 45th Parallel at Old Mission Point, the northernmost tip of Old Mission Peninsula.
It was a beautiful day for a hike and the trail--one of many in the park--was accommodating.
We differed in opinion as to whether the tree above is one tree or four or five. I took the right side, she took the wrong.
But despite her intransigence, the walk was relaxing, and the views just beautiful. A great way to enjoy the distinctive landscape around the historic lighthouse at this site.

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