Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Final trip of the summer: Pennsylvania

Last Tuesday, (the day after the wedding was over and the Dischers had gone) Matt and the kids and I flew off to Pittsburgh and then drove to Huntington, Pennsylvania. It's beautiful there.
We were going to Matt's mom's hometown. She grew up on the top of a mountain/ridge in a house that we all call the "Big Red House". Her dad, Grandpa Norton, lived there until a few years ago. Now he's in a retirement village, but the new owners turned it into a vacation rental home! So, of course, his mom rented it for a week and we all went. On our drive up the mountain we passed this bench at the "lookout" over Huntington. This bench is where Matt's mom and dad got engaged. Awwww.....
One tradition that Matt had as a kid was that after they had driven for 12 hours from Chicago to Pennsylvania, his parents would let him and his sister out of the car at the end of the long driveway and they would run like crazy to the Big Red House. So, of course, we had to do the same thing for Claire and Sam.
Grandma liked it. She had already been there for a few days waiting for us.
It's a really special house. I can see why she missed it so much when her father had to sell it. It's this great family home on a mountain with so much land and trees around it. The new owners made it really great (they even put in a hot tub on the back porch!) but they also kept a lot of the original character.
For instance, this door jam marks the heights of all the grandkids as they were growing up (including Matt and his brothers and sisters).
The kids loved looking at how tall daddy was when he was 4 like Sam. Sammy's just a little taller.
The kids also loved the bunk beds.
And the grown-ups played a lot of cards. This family has a serious love for pinochle. And sweet tea. And corn-on-the-cob, (which we got very fresh here from the Amish farms).
Sammy rode this great tractor all around. But he kept pretending it was the cart that takes luggage to the airplanes.
There was also a great swingset that the new owners put in. The kids loved that too of course.
On the second day all the men went golfing (poor Sam was left with the girls though). And the ladies went to an Amish market about 30 minutes away. It was the most beautiful drive. We got to see all kinds of cool farms where men were out there in their fields with actual plows pulled by horses and all that great stuff. Horse and buggies were everywhere. Sammy did buy a little Amish boy straw hat. He looked funny wearing it around with his power ranger shirt. The little amish boys kept snickering when they'd pass him.
Quick family picture on the front porch that night. The guys were tired from their long golf day.
The next day we went to a great water park/amusement park. Sammy loved all the wild slides he was allowed to go on. He was frustrated that Claire was allowed on more slides because of being taller. Of course, she did not want to go on them anyway. But she was pretty brave!
The second half of the day was at the adjoining amusement park. The kids rode a real rollercoaster with me! They didn't want to ride it twice though. Their favorite ride was bumper cars with daddy's younger cousin, Drew.
This sign was on a little convenience store in downtown Huntington. I got a kick out of it. You wouldn't find this convenience store in downtown Chicago!
On Saturday, we said goodbye to the Big Red House and to Matt's family and started our drive back to the Pittsburgh airport.
Before we left town, though, Matt had one more idea in mind...a little childhood memory he had of feeding these freakishly huge carp that swim in a marina near his grandpa's house. They grosed me out, but the kids loved it.
We also did a quick canoe trip across the lake and back. It took about 40 minutes and the kids complained most of the time...but we're making memories here people!
Finally, we touched down back in Chicago. We are glad to be home, but we miss the Big Red House and playing outside all day!

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