Monday, August 31, 2009

Caves and Wild Animals

Our last couple of weekends have been busy with visiting the sites and attractions of Central Pennsylvania with Logan and Landen, our grandsons. They are now at the age where they enjoy doing these things and their attention spans are just a little bit longer. What is so much fun for My Bob and me is that we went on these same exact excursions with Austin and Brandon (our sons, L & L's father and uncle) about 22 or 23 years ago. In fact, I was going through some old picture albums and I have a few of these same exact pictures with Austin and Brandon at this same age.
Last Saturday we visited Indian Caverns. This is a walking cave tour with a guide. The boys felt like we were on a real Indiana Jones adventure and felt like Bobby (that's what they call Grandpa) should be carrying a gun just in case there were any bad guys or monsters. Fortunately we didn't come across either.

Outside the cave was this tee pee that little kids just love to go in. I didn't even remember this tee pee being there 23 years ago, but there in the old photo album was this exact same picture with my little boys peeking out the opening of this very same tee pee.

Also the same totem pole.

On the way back from Indian Caverns we stopped at a place that our boys loved to go to, even up into their teens, called Bilger's Rocks. This is like the best playground ever for little boys. It's a series of rocks and valleys and little caves and walkways deep inside the rocks that you can get lost in. It actually could be very dangerous because there are very sharp rocks and steep drop offs. The boys loved it. I complained that I was too old to be doing this until I saw an older woman than me just hiking and climbing along, so I shut up. Wasn't my idea of fun except for watching the boys have fun.

Yesterday, we decided to take a Sunday drive with Logan and Landen and also my parents to Penn's Cave. This is a boat tour through a cave and there is also a wildlife bus tour that we didn't go on. Their attention span (and mine and Mom's) wouldn't hold out.
This was a better cave tour for, shall we say, the older generation. No walking or climbing.
As we were driving up the entrance to the cave property this herd of Bison was off behind an electric fence. None of us had ever seen Bison, or Buffalo for that matter, up close or even far away in person before. They are huge.

Inside the cave and the back of My Bob's head with his little shadow, Landen, on his lap.

Took a little seat after coming out of the cave. It was a beautiful, autumn feeling day. Logan just couldn't sit still any longer, though.

So we were leaving the property to head back home and right in front of us, on the edge of the wildlife area was this huge elk. It was only there a minute and wouldn't turn it's head toward us, but we had never seen one of those in person before, either.

We stopped at this Harley Davidson store to show the boys some motorcycles but it was closed. So they got up on the rock carving and loved it just the same.

We had such a fun couple of weekends with our boys. And we should have just come straight home after the Harley shop, but thought we'd make one last stop in State College (Penn State) for ice cream cones at the Creamery. The ice cream was excellent, but we were sitting outside at a little table and Landen's cone was dripping all over his hand and table and a little bee thought the ice cream on his hand looked good. It landed on his hand and as Bob pushed it off with his own hand it stung both of them. Landen screamed. I felt so sorry for him. We got ice and wrapped his hand up and he was fine by the time we got home.
I just got a call from DIL and their Day Care subsidy is being cut off due to no budget for Pennsylvania. In order for them to keep both boys in Day Care from noon to 5 (after pre-school) five days a week it would cost $240.00. Isn't that awful? So DIL just put in her notice at work that she is quitting as soon as they can hire and train someone else. I'm very glad to hear that. So she asked if I would be able to keep the boys after pre-school for a few weeks. Of course I said yes. If it were not a temporary situation I wouldn't have agreed to that. It sounds like she and Austin are discussing a lot of possible adjustments and changes to their work and home issues. I'm much encouraged by this. Everything always works out eventually. Patience is the key.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rooster Party Time!

Hello everyone. I hope I'm not too late for the rooster party. This is the first party I've done and I'm so glad Barb at Bella Vista is hosting this. I started my love and collection of roosters about two years ago quite by happen-stance. My 91 and 92 year old grandparents were moving into an Assisted Living home and my son was buying their home of almost 50 years. So in the process of cleaning out Grandma's things, there were several items that I wanted just because they reminded me of her and the warm, cozy and inviting home that she had created. The first item I asked for was this ceramic rooster/cookie jar that she never used as a cookie jar, but sat up on a shelf above her stove and refrigerator. Every time you would walk into her kitchen you would see this rooster. This was the start for me. I placed this precious memory in the little corner nook behind my kitchen faucet and thought, "Well, isn't that cute, and the colors go with my already grape/fruit theme."

Then in going through her knick knacks, many of which were packed away and hidden in drawers and cupboards I found this rooster figurine. I snatched that up, too. This sits on my desk (where I'm sitting right now) in the corner of my kitchen. He looks right at home beside my fruit lamp, doesn't he?
In Grandma's kitchen drawer we found these cork hot pads. They look to be very 1950-ish. They now have a home in my towel and hot pad drawer. And I do use them.
Well, by now I'm on a roll. I found this kitchen floor mat at Lowe's and thought it was perfect. My kitchen and dining room and my house in general has a European/Tuscan theme to it, so now this mat ties the two themes together.

Then I found pot holders and dish towels at Wal-Mart.

My latest rooster find was this table runner for my kitchen table. I also have placemats that coordinate, but they don't have the roosters on them. And, again, the colors are perfect. I like the muted reds, greens, golds, and purples. Nothing too bright and shiny or in the primary color scheme.

I love my roosters, old and new. The old especially hold so many memories for me and that feeling is just like a warm hug from Grandma. So I will continue with my rooster collection, but it always has to "feel" right. Not just any old rooster will do.
I hope you enjoyed the little tour of my kitchen and memory lane. Thank you Brenda!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I Think There's a Ghost in My House!!

Sometimes I really worry about myself. I hope some of you can relate, because if I'm the only one that does things like this then my husband is right and I probably need to be committed.

I have a nightly routine before I go to bed of making sure all the doors and windows are locked, pulling the chains on the cuckoo clocks, letting the dogs out to pee, turning out all my cute little lamps that My Bob calls my "light show", and getting the coffee ready in my coffee maker so I can get up in the morning and just switch the button to "ON". O.K., so my OCD is showing, but if I don't go through this routine I wouldn't be able to sleep.

Here's the scary part. Either a ghost turned on my coffee pot for me sometime in the middle of the night, or I'm going nuts. Both scary thoughts. I got awake about 5:30 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep so I finally decided to just get up, turn on my coffee, watch the sun rise and do a little bit of knitting. I walked into the dark kitchen and there was the little red light on the coffee maker with a full pot of hot coffee. The good part of that was that I didn't have to wait for it to brew, but how did that get turned on?

It's a good thing I got up so early before My Bob or he'd be yelling that I could have burned the house down and then he would have made my reservation at the Assisted Living Home. So I never said a word. I have another thought, though, that he got up shortly before me and turned it on just to see if I would mention it. But I didn't want to fall for that, just in case. Besides, I don't think he would have done that so early. So that only leaves the other two scenarios: 1) there's a ghost in my house, or 2) I'm going nuts and can't remember things that I do. Either one is scaring me. I must have automatically turned it on after I got it all prepared last night. I DON'T REMEMBER!

So this is just my little secret that I'm sharing with you, but don't tell My Bob, or I'll be writing from my room at The Assisted Living Home. He's threatened this before and I just tell him to be sure I have my computer, sewing machine, and knitting and I'll be happy. And he tells me that's fine, he'll bring my 22 year old daughter in to visit. (I don't have a daughter). Oh, he thinks he's so funny!

In the meantime, I better start looking for a more high tech. coffee maker that has an automatic timer and automatic shut off.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Spokane, At Last

Are we there yet? Almost.

We're still on Tuesday and left Hill City. Went through Deadwood. Did you know this is known for the grave site of Wild Bill Hickok? Into Wyoming and the Big Horn Mountains. The only thing we saw at all in Wyoming were rolling hills, cattle and mountains. Pretty, but a little boring.
Then as we crossed into Montana, I remembered that a friend of mine, Vicki, and her husband, Mike, moved from three doors down from us in Pennsylvania to outside of Billings about four years ago. We were going to be outside of Billings real soon. So I called a friend back home that I knew would have their phone number and I called Vicki. (What did we do before cell phones? Try to find a phone booth, I guess) She said she was home and they lived in Hardin. We were about twenty minutes away. We got directions and said we would stop but that we couldn't stay long because we had some time to make up. It was about 6:00 p.m. We did a lot of sightseeing and stopping already that day, but I couldn't be this close and not visit. When would I ever be back this way again? Never is my guess.

We were so glad we stopped. Vicki and Mike had cheese, crackers, fruit and wine waiting for us. We talked and talked and so much enjoyed their home and company. It's funny that Bob never was in their house that was practically next door to us, but now that they live half way across the country, he find that he really enjoys them. The location and home are just beautiful. They built a log home on 60 acres with the Big Horn River as their back yard. They have 5 horses, 4 goats, 3 cats, 2 lamas, and 2 dogs. Their furniture was all handmade out of logs and wood and leather. It felt so peaceful and calm. They are actually on the edge of the Crowe Indian Reservation. They love it. Mike says he can't even get Vicki off the reservation. I wouldn't leave either!
Taken from Vicki and Mike's back deck

Well, you probably guessed already. We spent the night at their home. There was no way we could get back in that truck and keep going after the wine and the sun went down. Best night's sleep we've had.

Wednesday, July 22, and we're back on the road. This is it. We're going to make it to Brandon's by evening. I can't wait. We're getting numb butts by now. The U-Haul is not the smoothest ride.We cross the Continental Divide into Butte, and then finally into the panhandle of Idaho. We're finally into Pacific Time and it's 5:30 p.m. when we stop in a little town called Wallace. It's a historic old mining town and all the shopkeepers dress in old vintage costume from the mining boom years. We thought maybe there was a festival or a celebration of some sort, but we were told they dress like that every day.

We liked Idaho. The small panhandle area was very pretty. I told Bob that I knew there was a lake resort town called Couer d'Alene, right on the border of Idaho and Washington. I saw it listed in our RCI time share catalog. We were going to go right past it so I wanted to check it out. Oh my gosh, was it ever nice. The lake was beautiful and the resort condos sat right on the edge of it. I made a note to myself to check on the possibility of booking one of these condos some time. It would be a great place to stay when we visit Brandon. It's only about 20 miles from his small, two bedroom, apartment.

At 8:30 p.m., we pulled into Brandon't apartment complex. Brandon got home ten minutes after us. We were exhausted. And it was sooo good to see Brandon. The guys unloaded the mattresses from the U-Haul and we crashed.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual trip Cross Country. I know my descriptions and pictures don't do it justice. We live in a beautiful country with a fascinating history that means so much more when you see it for real. We said we would never drive this trip again, but we are so glad we did it once. Everyone should that has the chance.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cross Country Trip to Spokane, Part 3

Gotta keep movin', not there yet. Now - Tuesday, July 21

We woke up in our little campground in the Badlands to a beautiful morning. The owners of this little place cook up a pancake breakfast and the pancakes are made from a 100 year old starter sourdough. That's what they claimed, anyway. They were very good. I only had a bite. Too early for me to eat. It's now 7:00 am Mountain Time.

We continued the scenic drive through the Badlands back up to 90W, and into a small frontier little town of Wall, South Dakota. Now, we had been seeing signs clear across South Dakota for Wall Drug Store. Billboard after billboard advertising everything Wall Drug Store had to offer. So I told Bob that we just had to stop to see what the big deal is. And it was worth it. The Drug Store took up about the whole little town of Wall. It looked just like an old frontier village. Bob got a South Dakota T-shirt and I got moccasins.

It's only 10:00 am and we're now into Rapid City and Mount Rushmore. This was unbelievable. It was quite amazing that someone could carve that into a mountain. We didn't want to take the time to actually go into the park, but we had a wonderful view from the road.

I just happened to get the flag right in the middle. I didn't even know I did that. Pretty cool, huh?

Outside of Rapid City, on the other side of Mt. Rushmore was another darling little town called Hill City. We ate lunch at the cutest little German looking restaurant called the Alpine Inn. The food was delicious. For desert we had homemade creme brulee, our favoite. Then we ordered a piece of raspberry tort pie to go because it also looked good. (And it was, a few hours later)
This was carved and painted in the wall in the ladies room. I just thought it was neat and had to take a picture. I wanted to remember these words.

We walked around the little shops to use up some calories and Bob bought me a coral and silver ring. I just love him!

This horse was outside the jewelry story and was made out of all types of different metals. Isn't it pretty?


Monday, August 17, 2009

Bragging Rights

I have to brag a little about my kids. I do that a lot, but I won't apologize for it. When my boys were teenagers we went through some very rough and tough moments. They were good boys, we told them, but they were not always doing good things. Mostly teenage boy stuff, but stuff we didn't like. It didn't matter to us that "everyone else is doing it". We continued to talk, lecture, punish, love and encourage. Now, Austin and Brandon are 28 and almost 27 and we couldn't be more proud of the wonderful men they have become.

A few weeks ago, Austin had worked late and was on his way home from his office. He is an Air Force Recruiter. He goes to work most every day in his dress blue uniform. You know, the one that makes them look so handsome, with all the medals and stripes. This particular day there was a very hard rain and wind storm and he happened to be right behind a young girl that hydroplaned on the wet pavement and did two 360's and wrecked in front of him. He stopped to see what he could do to help her. She was very shaken, but seemed to be OK. He calmed her down, called the police and her grandparents that lived close by. He then stayed with her until all parties showed up and he knew she was in good hands. Then he continued on his way home.

In all the fright and confusion, the only thing that this girl and her grandparents knew about Austin was his last name, as it was on his uniform, where he was from, and that he was a Sergeant in the Air Force.

Well, yesterday, we received a phone call from a lady and my husband had answered the phone. Through the course of the initially confusing conversation, it became known that she was trying to track down Austin in order to thank him and send him a card. She then kept My Bob on the phone for quite a while praising us as his parents for the good job we had done in raising such a fine young man. She even started to cry on the phone.

I told Austin about the phone call and told him how proud we also are of him and how nice that was of him to stop in such a storm and late in the day. He said, "That wasn't being nice, anyone would have stopped for something like that". No, I don't think they would. I would like to think that most people would have stopped as he did, but I don't know. A lot of people don't want to get involved or be bothered and would have just wizzed on by.

Here is Austin and myself at his brother's wedding a year aog. I need to get a picture of Austin in his uniform because he really is so handsome.

Then I just needed to share this Cutey with everyone. This is Brandon's daughter, Riley. We haven't seen her now for three weeks, since we left Spokane. Even though she's bald, she's still beautiful. We hope she gets the strawberry blond hair back that she was born with. But I'll love her with or without hair, I don't care.

Thanks for letting me boast. I just had to.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cross Country Trip to Spokane, Part 2

O.K. Here we go - back on 90 W. bright and early at 7:00 am. on Monday, July 20. Now Central Time, so feels like 8:00 am. to us. Travelled into Wisconsin, through Madison, crossed the Wisconsin River and then crossed what is called the Wisconsin Dells. These are a series of lakes and looks to be a big vacation spot. There are waterparks and boat tours all over. It's a very pretty area. Also seems to be a big snow ski area in the winter. We then drove by LaCrosse, Wisconsin, which is right on the Mississippi River. To be honest, I thought it would be prettier than it was.

We got to Stewartville, Minnesota, about 12:30, so picked up a sandwich at Subway and then saw a Dairy Queen. I just had to have one. We got sundaes at Dairy Queen and of course had to eat these first. It's hot. We're on vacation, right? I wanted this to be a fun, easy, enjoyable trip, so eat dessert first. Vacations somehow give you permission to act like kids and let your hair down and do things you wouldn't normally do. We're such the risk takers!

Minnesota was a little boring at this point. All farm country. We then came across rows and rows of windmills. It was quite an amazing sight. This was about 13 miles east of a town called Austin, Minnesota. Then crossed into South Dakota and through a small town of Brandon. My sons' names are Austin and Brandon. This just seemed like a good omen for a good trip. I was getting tired about 4:00 and tried to arrange a small little bed for myself with my blanket and pillow on My Bob's leg. It was pretty comfortable, but I ended up spilling my sippy cup of coffee all over the floor. UCK! I cleaned up as best I could, but now the truck smells like coffee.

Forget the nap, it just wasn't working. A heavy rain and wind storm interrupted the beautiful summer weather and my nap.

Shortly after we crossed the Missouri River we saw the signs at Cactus Flat for Badlands Park. Brandon told us that this was a really interesting sight when he drove this trip, and since dusk is upon us we decided to start travelling into the Badlands to see if we could find a place to stay for the night.

This was one of the most amazing places to see. The rain had ended and the sky was a beautiful blue/orange/pink. We drove into Badlands Park and in the middle of the park was a tiny, little town called Interior.
I don't know if I can even describe the Badlands well enough to do it justice, but it is a series of sharp, steep, mountains. It's just one mountain (or big hill, I don't know what would define the difference) after another and they are not dirt. They are layers of clay and the layers are different shades of browns and oranges. This against the colorful sky, was just an amazing thing to see, although it could be quite dangerous. These large hills are steep and drop off quickly. Bob was making me very nervous while seeing how far out he could walk. And that's not to mention the snakes, coyotes, antelope, etc. We didn't see any of these animals, thank goodness.

The Badlands got it's name from the early settlers going west coming across this part of the country and trying to continue through with their horses and covered wagons. It was an area known by all who went there as very "Bad land" to get across.
Now it's getting dark and we notice there is a small campground in Interior that also has a Budget Host Motel. It was quite rustic, but the area and the experience was such a good memory.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cross Country Trip to Spokane, Part 1

We've been home for two weeks now, and it just seems like it's taken me this long to get all re-organized again.

Our son, Brandon, is in the Air Force and is stationed in Spokane. His wife, Dee, and 2 month old baby daughter, Riley, moved out with him finally on July 26.
My Bob and I volunteered to drive the loaded U-Haul cross country from Pennsylvania to Spokane. We had never seen that part of the country from the road and we wanted to see where Brandon and Dee would be living. We had a wonderful trip and loved every minute of it and we're so glad we drove it, but once was enough and from now on we'll fly.

Bob, David and Lori (Dee's mother, supervising)

Arrangements had been made for the dogs, the cat, the plants and flowers. On Saturday, July 18, Bob and Dee's dad, David, loaded the U-Haul and Sunday morning my Bob and I crawled into the cab of that 17 foot truck. I had my thermos of food and water, my pillow and afghan, my knitting bag, and my journal and camera. We were all set. I had my new summer sweat capri's from Wal-Mart and tank tops and T-shirts. That's the only way I can travel. I just can't sit that long in jeans or anything tight at the waist. Danskin capri's from Wal-Mart are the best.

Closing the door - no more room

We're off ---and the trip up to Chicago was very boring. Maybe partly because we had seen all that before, but mostly because it's just very boring. We stopped at several truck stops along the way. Now there's some entertainment if you just sit in the parking lot and look around. Some wild sights to be seen. We saw one trucker picking up a hooker (or so it looked like) and then they just made out next to the truck. I felt naughty for watching. I said to Bob, "maybe people are watching us and think I'm a hooker that you're picking up". We kind of had fun with that, making up different scenarios in our head. And I could have possibly made up that whole trucker/hooker thing I witnessed, but that's sure what it looked like. I'm just a very sheltered small town girl.

We had to stop quite often, actually, because the truck only got about 10 miles per gallon. But that was OK. I really did enjoy the truck stops and rest areas. Good people watching. I would make up all kinds of stories in my mind about people I saw. We continued on, I-80 W. through Indiana, past Notre Dame, I-90 W. into Illinois, then around Chicago. We hate Chicago (no offense to those that live there). It's just way too much traffic, congestion, toll booths, and too many people. Not our way of life. We were tired, but wanted to get to the other side of Chicago to spend the night or we knew we would have too much traffic to deal with on Monday morning. We made it to Rockford, IL, found a Super 8, day 1 done. So far, so good, except for Chicago.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Computer Frustration

Well, Sunday was going to be a great day to catch up on my blogging, downloading pictures, and finish setting up my Etsy site. And it was nothing but frustration now for two days. Due to storms, possibly an old laptop that probably needs a good cleaning out, and the humidity, my computer shuts down about every time I write something and right before I down load it. Don't you hate when that happens? I could just scream. In fact, I think I did scream a few times. So this morning, I thought, OK, I'll start all over this afternoon when I get a chance to sit down. I got a whole paragraph done and the computer completely turned itself off and I thought for a few minutes that I lost everything. Eventually it all came back and so I just shut the computer down myself until it cooled down. It's very humid today and now it's storming again, so we'll see how far I get again. Of course, this isn't what I was going to write about, but I'm so frustrated I can't think straight.

I was going to talk about my grandson's (Logan) 5th birthday party on Saturday. His birthday was actually yesterday, but we had the party on Saturday. Melissa's (DIL) whole family came for the weekend for the event. It was nice, but very hectic, since everyone's dogs came along on the weekend visit. The party was held outside at Austin and Melissa's house and as is normal for PA, it rained just as we started to eat. Thank goodness their patio has a roof, so it wasn't too bad. Logan was very excited, but way too many Transformer toys if you ask me, and from my experience, they break after about two days.

But he had fun, and I guess that's most important. His PaPa from New York had a birthday two weeks ago, so Melissa got him a Sponge Bob cake. Fun was had by all!

I was also going to talk about my Etsy site briefly. I finally got it all set up and running. I'll have more details on my other site. It took me a while because I'm not very computer savvy, and then all the computer glitches.

I finally did get all my pictures downloaded. So I think I'm finally on a roll.

So there. It's only taken me two whole days now to get this all done and written. I feel like I've wasted so much time.

Uh Oh, It's storming and thundering. I better Save and Publish.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Getting Back to Some Kind of Normal

I'm so sorry! I feel like I've abandoned everyone. Ever since we returrned from Spokane I've been re-nesting in a way. I've been cleaning and organizing and then at night I've been feeding my need to create. Take a look at my other blog to see what I've been doing,

I got the upstairs guest room and bath all cleaned out. Dee lived in these rooms for six months and after we moved all of her things out it needed a good deep clean. So I have the guest room all fixed up as a play room for the grandsons that visit quite often. They love the new big play space, but I am going to eventually be putting a bed in there. We haven't decided whether we want to move our queen bed in there and get a new king for us, or just get a new queen or maybe just a day bed. I also think I may want to strip off all the wallpaper that is rather dated and paint. So at least until I come to some decorating decisions, it's clean and the boys love it.

I've also had to catch up on real work for my husband's business. I don't mind, except it just leaves less time to do my fun stuff. Saturday we had another wedding to go to in Pittsburgh. It was beautiful. A very nice young man that wrestled for Penn State that we've known for 20 years and My Bob helped him train. I just did not feel like travelling any more or going anywhere, but I couldn't miss it.

Then Tuesday and Wednesday we kept the grandsons. We hadn't seen them since we left for Spokane and we missed them. After two days and a night, that itch has been scratched. Boy are they busy little guys. Wears me out. We had fun, though. We took them to our County Fair on Tuesday afternoon and we had such a good time. We were all so tired Tuesday night. Then they were up again about 6:30 Wednesday morning. Logan and I spent the day together and shopped for his birthday which is on Sunday. Five years old. Hard to believe. He's into Transformers right now. So we got a transformer toy, and transformer sheets, blanket and curtains. I would love to fix up the boys' bedroom in their new decor, but I guess Mommy and Daddy are going to do that.

I think as of today I'm starting to feel settled in to my nest again. And I still need to catch up on my blogging. I want to tell you all about our trip out west complete with pictures. Hopefully this weekend will give me some time.


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