Pennsylvania Vacation 2008

Last week, we packed our bags and bolted for Western Pennsylvania. It was our first extended visit to the area since 2004, and Benny's first visit ever. I believe that this is the longest that I have ever gone in my lifetime without setting foot on Pennsylvania soil. While we had dreary weather the entire trip, and we are all exhausted, it was wonderful to visit with old friends and relatives. I couldn't believe the week went by so quickly--the whole trip seems like some kind of a foggy and distant memory.

Friday, March 14
Scrambling to get to the airport at 6:20 AM for our 7:50 AM flight, we barely made our flight and were the last passengers on the plane. My miscalculation--Spring Break. We were in the baggage-check line for an hour, and the security line for nearly a half hour. As I was waiting to be patted down by a male TSA authority, I was making plans in my head of how to reschedule our flight for later in the day. Thankfully, we made it in the nick of time. The flight attendants were very helpful in getting people to switch seats so that Sharon could sit next to Benny and I could sit with Dominic. The rest of the trip was smooth and uneventful. Our layover in Chicago Midway was extremely short, and we landed in PA on time, where Mom, Dad and Granny were awaiting our arrival. In Chicago, Dominic was invited into the cockpit by the pilots as he awaited the bathroom.

Friday evening, Granny prepared a wonderful ham dinner and Uncle Rob and Aunt Barbara stopped by for a visit.

Saturday, March 15

Uncle Gene and Aunt Diane arrived in the late morning to visit. Uncle Rob and Aunt Barbara also came back over, and my Great Uncle Ernie (Pappy's last surviving sibling) and Great Aunt Becky stopped by in the evening on their way to an anniversary party. I was happy to see Aunt Diane, who had been stricken with a debilitating disease last Fall. Her recovery is progressing, and by her own account, she feels much better than she had in the recent past.

I took Benny outside for a little while, even though the weather was not too cooperative. He had fun throwing walnuts and running around, and I had fun following him around the land that I used to roam on my summer vacations. I don't think Dominic got out of his pajamas the entire day. He drew about 30 pictures, and hung out in the living room most of the day. Granny made wedding soup and while chili for supper. Good eats!

Sunday, March 16
We left Granny's to visit Sharon's Aunt Lynn sometime in the late morning. We were at Lynn's for most of the day and got to see Lynn, Wayne, Sharon's Aunt Dori, Cindy and we met one of Wayne's daughters. We had a wonderful crock-pot roast beef for a late lunch. The boys were able to go outside for a few minutes (it was windy and cold!) to see the chickens and the pet goats. Dominic and Benny loved the little stream that runs through Lynn's backyard. Sharon told us of how she used to play at the stream when she visited her grandparent's house. Benny had a meltdown when it was time to come back inside. Fortunately, he fell asleep on my lap and we were able to stay and visit until well into the evening.

Monday, March 17
Monday was our day to visit Cleveland. We left Granny's at about 7:00 AM. Benny barfed in the car about a third of the way into the trip. We were following the rest of our gang, so we had to call them to have them pull over so that we could clean up Ben. Fortunatley, he didn't seem to mind barfing all over himself, and he didn't get sick for the rest of the trip. It was probably due to my crazy driving over those PA hills!

We arrived at Aunt Kak's apartment at 10:00, surprising her with our promptness! She looked great, as she continues to recover from her broken leg suffered in early January. She seems to be getting along well, and has a positive attitude about her recovery. It was nice to see her "new" apartment (new to me). She lives in a nice area of Cleveland. We went to Liz's house for lunch where we were able to meet Liz's daughter Avalon for the first time! She is beautiful. We also were able to visit with Uncle Joe, Aunt Sue, Liz and Andy. Andy showed us some nice pictures that he had taken in Tionesta.

Tuesday, March 18
Sharon, Dominic, Mark, Lynae and I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in downtown Cleveland. We left Aunt Kak's at about 4:00 and arrived at Granny's well in time for American Idol. Gramma Judy bought Dominic a webkin at our stop on the way back to Granny's house.

Wednesday, March 19

I woke up with a horrible sore throat and aches. My Dad had been sick earlier in the week, and it seemed to be spreading. We went to Uncle Rob and Aunt Barbara's house, where Dominic was able to see his cousin Jake for the first time. We also saw Leslie and Gertie for the first time. Uncle Rob and Aunt Barbara made their famous lasagne. Dominic happily stayed over night, and the rest of us headed back over to Granny's at about 8:30.

Thursday, March 20

Sharon, Mark, Lynae and I went to Pittsburgh. We ate at Joe's Crab Shack at Station Square.

Friday, March 21

Our last day of vacation :( We ate dinner at a Chinese buffet at the Steubenville mall. Dominic, emulating Jake, ate crab legs! I couldn't believe it!

Saturday, March 22

We left Granny's house at about 8:15 AM EST and arrived at our house in Kansas City at about 2:45 CST. Not bad.


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