I love the smell of Pennsylvania! It's kind of an old smell, not as pure as dirt, but sort of like a rustic attic when you opened its windows after a rain. Yes, I'm bizzare. I smelt it in almost all the places I visited. It reminds me of Grandma's old, green house. Although Aunt Colleen's house smelled like beef jerky, since they just made some- I think I ate half that bag- so good. And then there was the food... My mouth waters thinking about it. All the relatives, throughout the week made their specialty dishes. YUM! I think my favorites were the tomatoe and onion pasta with poppyseed dressing, the strawberry salad, the cheesy sour creame potatoes, the ham sandwich with horseradish sauce, the chocolate balls, the roasts (turkey and pork) with mash potatoes and gravy, and the french toast with bacon and sausage. Yum!!!
We went for a week to Pennsylvania to visit my relatives, have some fun, and attend a family reunion. It was a much-needed, great vacation. In a nutshell, here's our itenerary- Day 1- we went by plane to PA and rented a car, then traveled to inner Pittsburg and saw many bridges, their open air market, a Singing Fountain which the girls had so much fun dancing and getting wet, Hard Rock Cafe, an incline that we unfortuately didn't get to ride (note to self- get out cash before next trip- not all places take Visa), then traveled to Monroeville and spent the night at Red Roof Inn eating at Golden Corale. Day 2- traveled to Fort Liggoner- the only fort never to be captured, where General Washington commanded at one time. Took its tour and also hiked a nearby trail that was part of the Appilation Mountaions. Then traveled to Ebensburg and spent night with Aunt Colleen, Uncle Mark, and cousins Steve and TJ- talked and talked and talked. Colleen made us a great diner of turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy, unfortunately, the girls were too excited to eat. Day 3- traveled 3+ hours to Gettysburg (stopped at yucky Long John Sivers for lunch- Jer's pick), and took a audio carride tour of the Civil War park- it was a 4 hour tour, but I was told only an hour and a half- needless to say, the kids were exhausted, but it was well worth it- I would recommend this to anyone. You could stop and get out of the car and look at the monuments. That night we traveled to Hershey and stayed at Motel Milton and ate at a restraunt beside the motel. Day 4- woke up and ate their complimentary breakfast and headed to Hershey park that opened at 10. What fun!!! This is a definate for anyone who has kids 5 and under. Victoria could ride 75% of all rides and Bella 50%. They loved it. Their favorite ride was the Leaping Frog Ride- it would take you up 20 feet then drop you 5 feet, then raise you 1 foot, then drop you 5 feet, then raise you 1 foot, then... you get the picture- they had smiles plastered on their face the whole time. We rode soooo many rides, saw indoor and outdoor shows, walked everywhere (didn't bring the stroller, which actually worked out quite good) and drank a ton of cold drinks- Icees, cokes, etc- we got hot even though it was only in the low 80s. We stayed until 9 o'clock (almost made it until the park closed at 10) and went back to our motel and crashed. Day 4- traveled back to Colleen's house and had supper at a pizza joint with a ton of family- Grandma Mary, Grandpa Joe, Jeff, Paul, Colleen, Mark, Aunt Mary Anne, Uncle Mike, cousins- Zack and Taylor. Victoria was quite shy in the begining and wanted to hide under the table. She warmed up fast and played with Taylor who quickly became her best friend. After pizza, we went over to Mary Anne and Mike's house for a beer and to check it out. They've done some neat upgrades, since last we saw it. Day 5- woke up late and had coffee talk with Colleen, while Jer took the girls to a park near her house with a real Merry Go Round, which I was told she fell off. They came back, and Jer went off to run some errands, while us girls got to play Beauty Palor with some makeup that she had bought for them. The girls had a blast putting makeup on each other and Colleen and I. Later that night we went over to Aunt Mary Kay and Uncle Doc's house for supper. Brain, his girlfreind Mary Beth, Jennifer, her new husband Ryan, their kids Dustin, JT, and McKayla were all there along with my parents and brothers. They had a neat backyard deck that we sat outside and let the kids play chase and hide and seek. Victoria developed a slight crush on JT and wanted to play with him nonstop, while Bella was mesmerized by baby McKayla. Day 6- traveled to Johnstown with Paul to ride an incline. At the top was a playground for the kids to clown around for a while, then went back to Ebensburg and visited my Grandparents old house and their graves. We went back to Colleen's house and napped. During the nap, Jer poked his head in and said he was traveling to the Reunion early with Mark and that we could meet him there with Colleen in an hour after our nap. When I woke up, I began to pack all our stuff. When I took it to the car, I realized that there was a problem. Jer had taken the car keys with him. Of coarse there was no cell phone signals out at the lodge, so after much fuss, we finally got ahold of him by calling the main reservation line. Mary Anne drove Jer back to Ebensburg and off we went to the reunion a half an hour away, but by the time we got there it was 8, instead of 4, and we chowed down on ham sandwiches. I have to admit that that 1st night at the reunion I was overwhelmed (sort of like Victoria) with all the people (~50 relatives) and newness, and what-do-I-do type feeling. I started to calm down and relax when we went down to the bonfire. I held Bella in a chair and just melted into the wilderness, enjoying the stories of cousins and relatives, and laughing at Mary Kay's solo round song of Row, Row, Row a Boat- too cute. Day 7- we woke up and went up to the main lodge where the adults were staying (cousins in the guesthouse half a block away) for some much needed coffee. The guys made a grand breakfast for us. We had a fun day of playing outdoor games, like holey board, kick the ball, and some other game I didn't get the name of which involved a foot sting with two rubber balls on the ends that you throw up in the air and try to get it to wrap around a target 20 feet away. We talked a ton and met so many relatives I hadn't seen in 10 years. We also went fishing- yes, all of us caught a fish, including Bella, Victoria, and I. We took a nature walk seeing buffalo, deer, and elk up close. The landscape was spectacular! And the weather was amazing. Later that night, we played Dirty Bingo, and I got a Lottery Ticket that won 4 dollars. We sat out at the bonfire and talked some more. Bella would not go to sleep, so once again, I held her out at the bonfire. I think she really liked it. Day 8- woke up early and went back to Pittsburg to travel by plane home. It was a wonderful trip. I wish I lived closer to all my cool relatives. We had so much fun.
Funny stories- When we woke up at 5 in the morning the first day to go to the airport I asked Victoria if she needed to pee, her response- "I can't. My pee's still sleeping."
Bella had an aweful time sleeping in hotel beds- she kept falling out of them, even with me and Jer sleeping next to her with tons of pillows. In Hershey, we got wise and pushed the bed against the wall, so that Bella was cornered and Victoria slept on the outside. It worked out beautifully the first night. On the second night, we heard a huge crash and crying. Jer grabbed the child and started saying- shhhh, you're alright Bella. I looked and said- no Jer, it's Victoria. Bella had kicked Victoria out of the bed.