Monday, January 1, 2024

A Joyful Journey to an Adirondack Home


Sarah and Jeramie van Rijsewijk on the top of Mt. Marcy

When I was 15 years old, I realized that I loved being in the mountains. I was introduced to hiking, eventually attended college in southern New Hampshire, and would regularly snowboard with my partner during weekend trips to Vermont. One day on our way home, we started discussing where to live full time someday. I was happy to settle in the green mountains.

“Instead of Vermont, could we consider living in the Adirondacks?” my partner asked.

That hadn’t occurred to me.
I quietly realized he may be on to something. 

On Columbus Day weekend of 2011, approaching our first wedding anniversary, we set out to climb Mount Marcy with our Alaskan Malamute, Luna.

The morning of Oct.9 we made it to the summit, where we relit the unity candle I had made for our wedding the year before. He shielded the wind while I managed to get the candle lit briefly –honoring our hike to this high peak, our first married year, and the many years to come. 

That trip made me realize, if I wanted mountains and wilderness, I didn’t have to travel to another state to find them.


Not long after our hike, we learned we were expecting our first child. This news carried excitement, natural apprehension, and also the realization – we’d need a baby hiking pack so she could join us on our explorations!

When it came time for naming names however, we were stuck. 
We knew we were having a little girl, and we wanted a name with meaning to us.
Addie?  Like, the Adirondacks?
It felt too “nickname-y” we said.
So, we decided on Adelynn.


After Adelynn was born, a more authentic place to raise our family became the next priority.

A little A-frame house in Corinth found us one day, affectionately nicknamed “The Triangle House” by Adelynn when she grew older. This rental property was home for us for many years. We were inside the Blue Line, hiking, dog sledding and discovering that we loved to kayak, frequenting the serene waters of Lake Luzerne and the Hudson River. 


After four years and the birth of our second daughter, Felicity, we detoured. We spent almost a year in Norfolk, Va. raising our young family. That move was an important time, strengthening our partnership and learning to balance the never ending duties of growing careers and home life.

van Rijsewijks on the beach in Norfolk Va

But the mountains were calling. One day while feeling particularly homesick, we packed our car and drove 2.5 hours north to visit a small swimming hole and trail system in Charlottesville Va. 


It wasn’t the same as our beloved Adirondacks, but it soothed the ache – temporarily. 


And then, we found ourselves back in New York suddenly. For several years a constant question of “where do we want to plant roots?” was loud in our minds. We struggled during the pandemic, like so many. We lost the rental house we had been living in and moved our family into a small camper parked on my in-laws property. It was temporary, not glamorous, albeit economical as we tried to stash our pennies and find direction.


A literal dream helped me answer our question of where to live. In the dream, my husband’s recently deceased grandmother came to me with her husband. They were packing to go north. They wanted us to come. They told me, “we’re going hiking in Jay.”


We knew the next steps.
– Find jobs
– Find somewhere to live


Within two days of deciding on a direction (near Jay!), my husband and I both had job interviews – he for a small family business in Keene, and me for a nonprofit school in Lewis. 


It all took time and baby steps, not unlike hiking.


It was 2021 and the housing market was an intimidating mess. We got the precious pre-approval from the bank. But what to buy? There was barely anything in our price range for sale.


I believe our home found us. It was an old refurbished farm house on the outskirts of Lewis, ironically, overlooking the Jay Mountain range. The couple selling it described it as a labor of love. They wanted a young family to buy the property that came with a beautiful barn and stunning mountain sunsets. We walked the trails with the owner listening to his stories about the property. He and his neighbor had always wanted to raise sled dogs on the land.

bought and Adirondack home in Lewis, 2021
Thinking of our Malamutes, and the last decade we’d spent recreational dog sledding, my husband laughed saying “who do you think we’re going to use that big barn for?!”


Two days later the couple accepted our offer.
We were finally going home. 


Whenever I talk to people about our life in the Adirondacks, I tell them “it’s intentional.” Our wedding anniversary candle ceremony on Marcy, seems like a mystical event that would ground us to this place that we love so much.


As they say, the joy is in the journey.


Top: Jeramie and Sarah van Rijsewijk at the top of Mount Marcy (with Luna!) 10/9/11.
Middle: Beach life in Norfolk, VA.
Bottom: 11/10/21, the day we closed on our house in Lewis, NY.

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Sarah lives in the northern ADK's with her husband, 2 daughters, sled dogs and 15+ chickens. She is an aspiring children's book author, and professional Tarot advisor. She wears many hats working with The Adirondack Explorer, and she loves them all.

8 Responses

  1. Dan Way says:

    Your wonderful story perfectly exemplifies the effect the Adirondacks have on people who are receptive to the challenge and lure of the land within the Blue Line. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. Eric Hancock says:

    This is fantastic.

  3. Susan B Boykin says:

    Hi guys, So happy for all of you. I got to meet your girls when my husband and I were in Bend , Oregon. Your father in law is friends with my brother Bob. Bob told us your father in law and mother in law were in Oregon at the ocean .Bob asked me , Did I know I know something the kids could do for fun. So we all met in Corvallis , Or. In Corvallis they have a Carousel Museum. I knew the girls would love it and they did. We had the best time with everyone. Did the Carousel and went out to lunch—-great day. Love the mountains my self—- my husband and I go for rides in the Georgia mountains . Hate city life—nature is it for us. Have a great new year and say hi to the girls for us.

  4. What a lovely story about trusting the universe to lead us where we need to be…thank you for sharing it with us.:)

  5. Catherine Flinchum says:

    What a beautiful story Sarah! You have a beautiful family. You were meant to have this property to call your home. Enjoy the Adirondacks it’s beautiful there. I’m so happy for you and the family.♥️

  6. Barbara Joyce- Dobdon says:

    I grew up in the Adirondacks, and what was the village of Port Henry, which is not very far from Lewis. I get to go home to Lake Champlain every supper for a week or so. I look forward to this time all year long I’m 74 now and not sure how much longer I can make the trip. But as long as I can, I will because nothing soothes or renews my spirit more than being in the Champlain Valley. I I love to reading your story and it made me happy to know that there are people who love the Adirondacks much as I do.

  7. Marisa Muratori says:

    Welcome home.

  8. Terry Barber says:

    Heartwarming to the nth degree!!!

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