Thursday, September 9, 2010


Over Labor Day weekend, we packed our stuff and then ourselves into the Box and drove due west to New Brighton, Beaver County, home to our daughter Sarah and her two kiddies. The trip was uneventful with only a stop or two, arriving around noon on Saturday. The weather was lovely, a little on the cool side.

Tea, anyone?
Upon arrival, we were greeted warmly by Cole and Chloe and invited in to lunch, prepared by Sarah. We handed over the gifts sent along by Aunt Rachel. For Chloe, a miniature china tea set and wooden dollhouse furniture that had been Rachel's when she was Chloe's age. (Apparently the Smithsonian did not want this for their collection.) Chloe quickly set the table for a tea party with two dolls as guests and filled the tiny sandwich plates and teacups with beads from her craft box. Later, she expressed (with some coaching) thanks for these fun gifts.
Ready for take-off

For Cole, there was a Legos set from which he could create three different things. He chose the airplane first. I wonder if his ability to create the things just by looking at simple line drawings means he might be some sort of engineer or craftsman when he grows up!

We had taken with us two chocolate shoofly pies from Root's Market (apparently Sarah has gotten the women she works with at FedEx addicted to this confection, and now they are her slaves) and a large pepperoni pizza from Lio's in Linglestown for Sarah's neighbors Moose and Melissa. Sarah delivered it right away, and it was not long before they arrived at the front door for a personal thank you. We had a nice time visiting with them and feel good that Sarah has such helpful and kind neighbors watching over her.

Melissa and Moose

Mid-afternoon, Sarah took off with a friend to a county fair in nearby Ohio. It sounded like it was the old -fashioned type of fair with all the midway food booths you'd expect. During the tractor pull, Sarah called us on the phone to let us hear the roar of the engines. I can only imagine what it sounded like on the spot.

Chloe and Cole spent the afternoon with their new toys, and then around 5:00 p.m. we headed south on Rt. 65 (Ohio River Blvd.) to Pizza Hut, where the kids enjoyed their own personal pan pizzas and Susanne and I shared a thin-crust pizza, although we had not ordered that type. We let it pass, mostly because the waitress had let us change tables three times to find the most comfortable.

Climbing near the falls
Following the Italian delight that is Pizza Hut, we drove north again to Rt. 18, called Delaware Avenue, to find a miniature golf course. It had an Old West theme, complete with mining shaft and a waterfall. As you can see from the videos, here and here, the kids had a good time and we oldsters had to make a real effort to keep up with them.

I got a huge kick out of Chloe's reckless number of strokes, and Cole proclaiming either, "I bogied that hole," or "I got a birdie this time!" after his ten or twelve strokes.

The evening was spent quietly, including a reading of Chloe's very first school library book, a story about Madeline, the little French girl who lives in a boarding school in Paris. Then quick baths and off to bed went the kids, while Susanne and I collapsed in front of HGTV.

Where's the ice cream?
On Sunday morning we set out in Sarah's new van for Station Square, along the Monongahela River on Pittsburgh's South Side. We passed the famous Duquesne Incline that carries passengers up and down the steep hill to Mt. Washington, and then pulled into the parking lot for the Gateway Clipper group of boats that offer river tours. It was so crowded that we had to park in a nearby garage.

Susanne had opted out of this adventure, because she cannot set foot on to a moving watercraft (with presumably retching or something). So Sarah and I and the kids descended the ramp, picked up our tickets, and boarded the Majestic, one of the paddle-wheeled boats. This special cruise included an ice cream social, dancing for the kiddies, and a magic show, all the while cruising up the Mon, back down the Mon, up the Allegheny, back down the Allegheny, down the Ohio and up back again, past the Point to the dock.
Pittsburgh's famous Point

The cruise gives you a great understanding of how important this geography was in the early days of our country, as the British and French fought for control of the three rivers, and later how this area became the launching pad for exploration and settlement of the West.

All that aside, certain children (ours) among the hundreds of whining, sniveling, and just plain annoying children (other peoples') were more interested in the ice cream and activities. Chloe especially liked the dancing, showing off her own particular style. Cole joined her for the magic show and even had a nice conversation with the magician after the show, getting to pet Maybelline, the rabbit that appears from a hat.

Brian and his goats
After something to eat, we drove up the hill to the house of Sarah's friend Brian to see his goats and his new "house" and yard for them. We also peeked at his newly-hatched pheasants, and tried to set off a rocket, but alas, there was an ignition failure and the launch was scuttled.

We decided to leave on Monday instead of Tuesday because a contractor was set for replacing our damaged house siding on Tuesday, and I was concerned about being there to make sure no errors were made.  You know, like the wrong color, or they apply it vertically instead of horizontally, that sort of thing.

Labor Day brunch was fun
Well, Cole was disappointed because we had planned a picnic for Labor Day evening. Being a genius, Susanne suggested a brunch picnic in the late morning before we left. She got up early and steered the Box in the direction of Rochester again to the Giant Eagle ("Gine Iggle"), where she bought sausage, cantaloupe, donuts, coffee cake, and chocolate milk. There were also cheese sticks and waffle fries. Something for everyone! We all enjoyed the beautiful weather on the deck as we talked and ate.

Once cleaned up, we said our farewells and headed home on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.


Oh, a little Box story from Baltimore. Our grandson Ian sometimes calls us from the car and chats away for awhile. During one of the calls, his dad told me that whenever Ian sees a Scion, he says "Papi's car!"

Ain't that cute? Everyone notices the Box!

 Cole and Meemaw work on a puzzle
while waiting for the pizza.

Chloe zones out.

Arriving in the Box, ready for a round of golf.

We work our way over to the Saloon at the
miniature golf course.

This is the new "tandem" style of golf.

Taking a breather at the golf course.

Cole, Chloe, and Sarah await 
the start of the cruise on the Majestic.

We pass another boat with the skyline in the distance.

Yum, ice cream sundaes -- with sprinkles!

Chloe is fascinated by the magician.

The goats were fun to see.

The Box could almost fit in Sarah's new van.

Cole and Chloe help to deflate the inflatable mattress.

Special seating for Ms. Chloe

For brunch there were donuts, not Oram's,
but pretty darned good!

Cole launches into one.

There were about a million onions on this truck
traveling east on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

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