01 July 2008

back in philly

After I had attended the Barth conference last week, we promptly left Philly to head to north central Pennsylvania to celebrate Laurel's mother's 80th birthday in Williamsport, where she and my father-in-law (now deceased) had lived for many years. The Williamsport locale enabled various friends of hers from church and elsewhere to attend the party, which was held in the parish hall of a Lutheran church.

While my mother-in-law's actual birthday was a while ago, we hadn't yet had a chance to celebrate it properly as a gathered extended family. Laurel's siblings and their spouses were all in attendance, along with six out of ten nieces and nephews, along with some cousins. Many of us hadn't seen one another in quite some time, up to four years, so it was a good time to catch up with one another.

We went up a day early to visit Knoebels amusement park, the largest in America with free admission, nestled among the gentle mountains of Pennsylvania and featuring a couple of terrific, huge wooden roller coasters. We met up with Laurel's eldest brother and his family - Tom will be 60 this year and his older daughter is 30, making our niece closer to us in age than most of Laurel's siblings. Claire fell in love with her two cousins and enjoyed many, many rides at the park, a number of them receiving repeated enjoyment.

On the way back from Williamsport we took the scenic route, stopping in Lairdsville where Laurel had spent part of her early childhood living on a farm and attending the tiny local elementary school, to which she walked, passing the general store that doubled as the post office in the days before rural delivery. Claire was fascinated to see the small town where her Mommy had lived so many years ago.

From Lairdsville we headed home via Ricketts Glen State Park, with its series of beautiful waterfalls. Unfortunately, while stepping across some rocks to get a better view, I hit a slippery spot and took a tumble, pulling a muscle on my right side, which is still painful when I turn or bend. Fortunately, I didn't slam into the sharp pointy rock towards which I had fallen, but was able to reach out and break my fall. Unfortunately, the hand I reached out with was holding our digital camera full of pics from the party and trip. It didn't seem to take very kindly to being plunged in the stream and smashed against a rock with my full weight behind it. Fortunately, the pics are stored on a removable memory stick, so I should be able to retrieve them.

At any rate, we're back home now, trying to get back in the swing of things...and just in time for the 4th of July holiday weekend, which is always a big deal here in Philly.