It is that time of year again. I get two weeks of vacation and we pack the car up Griswold style and head up North. Then I come home to cram a year’s worth of house projects into a 3 week period before everyone comes back home.
This year’s vacation will likely go down as the Summer of Nostalgia.
Last year we drove 21 hours straight through the night, but this year we decided to break it down over 3 days. In retrospect, I am not sure which is worse. The drive was easy, but by Day 3, I think everyone was sick of the inside of our car.
The next morning we got back in the car and made our way to D.C. to visit some friends and stop again. According to Google maps this would not be a bad drive, but it’s DC and there was a storm so it took forever.
We had a great time visiting with friends and besides a little difficulty getting Nolin to sleep it was a nice relaxing visit. (That’s what being removed from the situation does…allows you to creatively reconstruct the past because that night it seemed like an epic battle between an excited/exhausted 5-year old, exhausted parents and sleep).
The next morning we hopped back in the car and visited some of my college friends who lived about 45 minutes away. Breaking the trip up may have gotten a little cumbersome, but it makes it worth it to be able to catch up with friends.
We finally started making our way to the infamous “Bumpy Road House“. The kids were getting really excited to see Pap-Pap & Grammy, but I think also to get out of the car. As soon as we arrived they were in their happy place and immediately took off running to the garden and blue berry bushes.
The difference this year was that a few days prior to our arrival, the bumpy road house had been put on the market, so now Grammy had to balance keeping a a clean ready to show house, guests, and two kids.
We haven’t fully explained to the kids that this will be their last summer at the bumpy road house, and we will try to fill subsequent summers up with other fun travel adventures, but I do know that they will always have this unique affinity for Western Pennsylvania and the magic it brought to their lives.
Having prospective buyers look at the house doesn’t exactly mesh well with hosting a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old (and let’s be honest Jenn and I can come in like a hurricane too), so our days were filled with many adventures that didn’t involve being at the house.
Monday involved a major hike through Cook Forest State Park. We climbed up the fire tower to which Grace had no fear, and Nolin didn’t until we got to the top and then he was ready to come back down.
We saw the waterfalls, played hide-n-seek and Nolin found every bug that ever lived there. The next day was rainy, but Nolin helped Pap-Pap work on the house and we visited some friends and playgrounds when it was time for the house to be shown.
It was emotional, he cried a ton, but when I asked him if it hurt, he admitted it didn’t but he didn’t want anyone to see his tooth and was afraid he would never get another tooth. As we sat in the back yard on the swing, I quickly tried to divert his attention, by telling him that there were only a limited number of teeth in the world, and that now that he lost his tooth, the tooth fairy would come and collect it, so that a baby could get their first tooth.
It is times like these that I go back to my own childhood to try and dissect the stories my parents told me. Anyway it worked, and the tears then turned into excitement and him wanting to show everyone. In fact Grace jumped in on the action too, and for the next few days, she would tell people to look at Nolin’s tooth. That night he wrote a letter to the tooth fairy and she visited.
Knowing Nolin as well as the tooth fairy does, after some effort, she was able to scrounge up 4 quarters because that would be “way cooler” than a dollar bill. Now with one dollar and one tooth less in our arsenal, we spent the next day at one of Nolin’s favorite spots Bilger’s Rock.
This provided one of my favorite stories from the trip. On our way, Pap-Pap picked up two large Arizona Iced teas for me and him, and Jenn gave him grief because the second ingredient was High Fructose deliciousness. This made Grace interested and she asked if she could see the can, then she asked if she could smell it, then she asked if she could taste it. Jenn told Grace that it was bad for her, to which she replied (without missing a beat) Mom just close your eyes. Because we all know if your parents don’t see it, it can’t be bad…heaven help us when these kids become teenagers.
The rocks as always were awesome and gave the kids more freedom to run around. I strongly believe that Nolin will end up getting involved in rock climbing. He still has no fear jumping and crawling through spaces that often made me hold my breath, but between the 3 of us we were able to somewhat keep up with him.
The next day we took the kids to Idlewild a child oriented Theme Park. We got to visit Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and they had a ton of rides that the kids loved. We finished the day at the water park.
The water park was not Florida water and a bit cold, but Grace loved the different kids pools they had. Shortly after, I took Nolin on one of the tube slides. I was interested to see how he would like it…he loved it.
Next we did a tube ride that both of us could share an inner tube on. The entire ride was pitch black and fast. I couldn’t really hear Nolin at all, and immediately became aware that this may have been too much.
As soon as got to the bottom, he began racing up the stairs again. By our 3rd time down, we found Pap-Pap so I let the two of them ride and I went by myself.
You could hear Pap-Pap screaming/laughing the whole way down. We rode this ride several more times and then made our way over to the pirate ship to meet Jenn, Grace & Grammy.
I was finally able to convince Grace to go down one of the small slides with me. She had been hesitant, but after the first one we also began the hurried climb back to the top until the park closed and it was time to leave.
Our last big event was Fourth of July and we went over to Jenn’s brother’s place and had a nice relaxing day and dinner as we waited for the fireworks. Last year they seemed to go on and on, this year they seemed a little short, but none-the-less Nolin enjoyed it…Grace, on the other hand, slept through them again this year.
We did notice one thing though. Jenn and I were beginning to have more time where we could just sit and hang out with the adults and not have to always be “on“. This is the dream I guess, watching your kids start to become independent and feel ok with that.
All-in-all it was a great trip and we began to make our way on to the second leg of our journey back to Virginia to visit my family, my 20th High School Reunion and a Reunion show with my band from college.
We would find out a few days later that the bumpy road house sold and that this chapter would shortly be coming to an end.