Saturday, October 17, 2009

Our Cross Country Trip

We had quite an adventure traveling from Colorado to Florida via Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, back to Kansas, onto I-70 east through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, onto I-95 and south to Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and finally, Florida. Naturally, there we several stops along the way.

We spent the first night in Fredonia, middle-of-nowhere, Kansas. It was a nice clean small town and we wished we had more time to explore, but we needed to get on the road south to Miami, Oklahoma to visit Susan "Clare" Connell. We had a lovely visit. She took us on a tour of the historic Coleman Theatre ( It has quite a history!

Our next stop was Shell Knob, Missouri. Our good friends, Mike and Mel have a beautiful, welcoming home on Table Rock Lake. Mike took us out on his boat fishing and I caught a bass. I'm sure it was record size, but being a nature lover, I threw him back before the press showed up to document the occasion.

On the last night of our 3-day visit, the boys, Bill, Mike and neighbor Tom, cooked a fish-lovers feast. We had giant crab legs, two kinds of shrimp, catfish, salmon, baked potatoes with all the fancy toppings, salad and hot apple crisp with ice cream. There were also plenty of adult beverages. It was a fun night!

Mike, Melanie, Tom, Bill and Cathy. I am, of course, behind the camera. Mike and Mel have great neighbors and we enjoyed spending time with them.

We left the camaraderie of Shell Knob at o'dark thirty for a brunchtime rendezvous with a girlfriend from high school that I hadn't seen in over 35 years. Susan looked exactly the same - the years have been good to her. She has a beautiful home outside Kansas City but we had to eat a delicious homemade brunch and run - heading east to Pennsylvania. I so enjoyed getting together again - catching up on our lives - that I completely forgot to take any pictures!

We spent two days driving to Gilbertsville, Pa to visit daughter, Laura, her wife/partner/spouse (I never remember which they prefer) Cheryl and my eldest grandson, Zachary. The trees were just starting to change. We were there probably a week to 10 days too early for the full fall colors. This tree is in Valley Forge Park.

We saw some birds we don't usually see in Colorado or Florida. This is a Tufted Titmouse. We spotted it in Laura & Cheryl's backyard, a bird-lover's paradise. OK - I get the tufted part - but what in the world is a titmouse? According to Wikipedia, tit means small and mouse comes the Old English, 14th-century name for the bird - mase. The spelling was changed to mouse in the 16th-century - probably by Walt Disney.

This is a Mockingbird, another backyard visitor. Yes, we see them in both Colorado and Florida, but it is a good picture, so it's included. This guy was quite the singer.

Since our visit was short, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my grandson, so we kept him home from school to go on an educational field trip to the Daniel Boone Homestead.

The Daniel Boone Homestead, located near Reading, is a state historic site which preserves a number of historic structures, most moved from other locations and not part of the original Boone farm. Daniel Boone's parents first settled the site in 1730. Daniel was born in 1734 and spent his first 16 years here before his family migrated to North Carolina.

The original Boone house (what is left of it) is to the left. Later owners added on.

The barn where two horses, a gaggle of geese and one cat lived.

There is a nice walking trail through the 579 acres of open space. This Bluebird was enjoying the nice day too.

To the left is the Bertolet House. It was built in 1737 in the Oley Valley and relocated to the Daniel Boone Homestead in 1968. The Bertolet House is an excellent example of eighteenth-century Pennsylvania German log architecture. In typical Germanic fashion, the fireplace is centrally located and opens into the kitchen, or Kuche. Behind the fireplace are two rooms. The larger is the parlor, or Stube, and the smaller is a bedroom, or Kammer. Medieval architectural influence can be seen in the building's asymmetry, steeply pitched roof, flared eaves and casement windows.

To the right is the Bertolet smoke and bakehouse.

This water-powered, vertical-blade sawmill was built around 1810 and moved here from its original site. As you can see, it was a beautiful day for a leisurely walk.

Laura and Zachary.

My grandson, Zachary.

After touring the Boone Homestead, we headed towards Zachary's school so he could take a history test. We got waylaid at this old Gilbertsville schoolhouse that is currently being historically renovated.

These are the his and her bathrooms - single seaters. At the same location was a city-owned RC flying field - which is the real reason we stopped.

We never did get Zach to school. It was much more fun playing in the backyard. Cheryl has worked hard on the landscape. They have a natural pond with frogs and plants. Their four dogs have lots of space to run and play. Zachary let me take a picture of his new friend before he let it go in the flowers.

They have a fire pit in back of the house that Laura built and we spent the evening sitting around, enjoying the company and the warmth of the fire. We had a wonderful visit.

This is my oldest son Rick, wife Lisa and grandson Dylan's home in Birdsboro, Pa. Rick has been working to renovate it and has done a remarkable job. Lisa is artistic and her creativity shows on the inside as well as the outside.

Lisa grilled some steaks and we had a delightful dinner and lively conversation. Rick was commenting that his beard is growing in grey - so he shaves more often!

Lisa does not like to have her picture taken. She was cutting apples for apple crisp. It was delicious!

The three of them obviously get along well.

Dylan loves to ride his bike and posed for pictures while he showed me his tricks.

Dare-devil Dylan: he is his father's son!

Moving further down the coast, we stopped in Silver Spring, Maryland to visit daughter Pamela, husband Orlando and their two boys. This is my newest grandson, Sebastian. What a cutie. I can't believe how much he has changed in the three months since I last saw him. He's walking -- no, running -- everywhere and just learning to go down the stairs backwards. Please notice the Denver Broncos jacket he is wearing. His father probably took it off him as soon as we left.

Sebastian's big brother, Gabriel -- mesmerized by the TV. Gabriel will be 5-years old later this month.

We got the thumbs-up! Our visit was short - just a couple of days - but it was great seeing them again. Bill took over the kitchen - much to Pam's delight - so I'm sure that we will be invited back.

We left Maryland early Sunday morning on the last leg of our adventure and made it all the way to Florida, spending the night near Jacksonville, and arriving back in Fort Myers Tuesday morning. Our adventure did not end there as I wrote in my last entry.

Our home is now back to normal. Son, John was here for 3-days of eating, sleeping, swimming, sunning and relaxing - with a short visit to NGC and lunch with David Vagi, wife, Ana and beautiful baby daughter Sabina with a little work on his computer thrown in to round out the days. We sadly took him to the airport on Friday.

Today is cool - high temperatures only in the 70's. Bill is off with his buddies flying RC airplanes and as soon as I'm done here I will straightened up the house to get ready for company this evening. Life is good.

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