To the Northeast! Andes, New York, the Catskills…..that’s where
By Dede Shelton
It was June of 2021; my husband Darryl finally retired from 22 years in the Air Force and 21 years with the United States Postal Service. I had retired from a successful stint as a lobbyist for AARP a few years before and it was time to decide where to spend our retirement years. We had just spent 23 years in the state of Idaho after moving around the country and Europe performing our military service to our country. The question was…. Do we stay in Idaho or try something new?
The positives were numerous: big mountains, white water rafting, kayaking, shopping, restaurants and, best of all, culture! The negatives were huge: everyone and their brother moving in from surrounding states, NO infrastructure to support the thousands of extra vehicles that also brought summer and winter inversion, smoke trapped in the valley every summer from the forest fires that occurred in our Idaho mountains as well as smoke from the fires in Oregon, Washington, California, and Utah. Red air alert days were frequent, making it dangerous to go outside and breathe the carcinogenic air that settled in the valley EVERY SUMMER! There are of course other negatives for leaving Idaho, but those I mentioned were around the top of the list. We had to make a tough decision: whether to leave our beautiful home that we designed and built, whether to leave the rivers and the mountains and whether to leave our family and friends.
Having been a military brat and military wife my whole life, I knew it would be easy to relocate since I have moved 33 times throughout my life. Darryl was open to leaving Idaho as well, which made the decision that much easier. We started looking and putting the word out to friends who lived around the country. Since my family lives in Florida, Darryl and I knew we wanted to be closer to Florida, but NOT move to Florida as it’s not the mountains and the heat is unbearable. One of my FB friends, Tricia Bard, whom I had never met in person and her husband Bill moved from North Florida to Hog Mountain near Fleischmanns a few years back to be closer to their children who live in New York City. Did I mention that I was born in Newburgh, New York, specifically on what was Stewart Air Force Base at that time? We then moved to Morocco, and I grew up in Germany, but that story is for another day.
Tricia was thrilled that we would consider New York and the Catskills and started to put “feelers” out on the local Facebook pages asking people if they knew of a home that was coming up for sale. Lo and behold, a lady in Andes was dreaming of moving to France and the possibility of selling her home easily was something she jumped on immediately. Pam S. contacted Tricia and asked for my phone number. Pam called me that day and we talked for 2 hours about the 1870s home on Delaware Avenue that she was just about finished renovating. She sent me pictures and walked me through her beautiful home while on the phone, describing every detail of the transformation she was accomplishing. She finished our phone conversation by saying, “I just want to take my artwork and my toothbrush” and move to France! She invited us to come out to see her home as soon as we could. So, we jumped on a plane arriving just before the 4th of July and stayed with our newfound friends, Tricia and Bill. We arrived to find the Catskills more breathtaking than we had seen during our on-line research: it was stunningly beautiful and green, everyone we met was welcoming and friendly, and we loved the small-town vibes! Our hosts drove us around the whole area pointing out all the quaint little villages, the rivers, the reservoir, and various businesses. We were hooked!
Pam’s home was stunning, she was almost finished renovating the interior and had plans to paint the exterior. She sealed the deal by asking us if we preferred a downstairs bedroom over a larger kitchen and what color did we want the exterior painted! What? Who does that? We were thrilled. We had input on a home we had not even purchased yet! We returned to Idaho and started selling ALL our furniture and just about everything else and found an attorney in Delhi to close the deal. We returned to the Catskills in November of 2021 to find the home finished and full of everything we could ever wish for: a full pantry of anything you would need to entertain guests, full cabinets with beautiful plates and glasses, all the linens and towels and a beautiful “She Shed” in the backyard with all the outdoor patio furniture you could want. We literally purchased everything down to all the lightbulbs we would ever need. We are forever indebted to Tricia and Bill and of course Pam S. for bringing us back home to New York!~