Wednesday, January 6, 2010


On December 25, having spent a lovely Christmas Eve at my sister Rachel's house and later at Market Square Church, we spent Christmas Day quietly at home. The next day, we filled the Box with Rachel’s and our Christmas and birthday presents for Sarah, Cole, and Chloe, and zipped over to Carlisle to get on the turnpike, headed west.

Although I was suffering from chest congestion and cough, I was looking forward to our overnight stay at the historic Bedford Springs Resort, just south of the turnpike at Bedford, and a four-day visit with the family. On the way through Bedford, we stopped at a cool little shop with a mix of antiques and folk art, and then had a hot cup of java at the coffee shop next door called "HeBrews."

I had heard a lot about Bedford Springs several years ago when the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission was working closely with a developer to rescue the old hotel from its dilapidated state. Omni Hotels spent millions to renovate what was basically an early-19th century resort for "taking the cure" in the magical waters of the surrounding springs.

It's been transformed into a world-class hotel, preserving much of the historic materials and atmosphere. There were many people staying at the hotel and enjoying the restaurants, public spaces, and the swimming pool. We had a nice conversation with a family from near Hunt Valley, Md., who loved historic places like we do. Like many others, they planned to go skiing in the morning.

We enjoyed the beautiful room, even though I had to sit up in a chair all night to avoid suffocating, and had fun exploring all of the "galleries" that front each of the buildings, added on as the hotel grew. After a buffet breakfast, we packed up, checked out, called the valet to bring the Box, and headed back to the turnpike, even though the Box kept drifting in the direction of nearby Gravity Hill, perhaps in an attempt to discover the mystery of that freakish place.

It was nice to have a shorter ride than usual, and we finally arrived in New Brighton. The kids had come home from their dad's place earlier than expected, so we were late! After hugs and kisses (and removing our shoes) we settled in for our visit.

I plopped into the "Papi chair," where I spent most of the next four days, watching the kids play when Sarah went to work, greeting visitors who came by, and spending the nights sitting up.

December 30 was Sarah's birthday, so we took her to a restaurant she had chosen. It turned out that everyone but the kids was pretty much disappointed in the meal, but we did have a nice time being together. When we got home, we sang "Happy Birthday" (press 'click' under 'play song') and enjoyed the cake we had made and decorated during the day. Sarah opened her presents with gusto.

On December 31, the kids went to spend New Year's with their cousins in McDonald, so we sent them off with Aunt Stacy (Sarah had gone to work), and started out for home, taking an alternative route, one which did not pass Oram's donut shop. Darn.

The Box endured day after day of snow showers in what looks like a black and white world.

Susanne enjoys the folk art shop in Bedford.


A cozy and comfortable room at Bedford Springs


 Christmas tree in the main lobby

The pool gallery

Restored swimming pool

Our favorite cozy nook near the elevator

Madame prepares herself for dinner.

In the morning, the Box arrives
as if by magic from the parking area.

We say farewell and head to the turnpike.

The Box attempts to dock with a coffee truck
in order to satisfy Susanne's mania for java.

A bright and cheery welcome at New Brighton!

Cole and Chloe work out a computer problem.

"Happy Birthday, dear Sarah..."

I bought Sarah this garden lantern
from a friend who is a potter.

The glow from the tree says, 
"Merry Christmas to all." 

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