After rolling the two kids and the camper all the way the Alaska and back, we couldn’t just stop and go home to the heat in Arizona. Instead, we continued to Pennsylvania to visit family and give the kids an opportunity to attend summer camp via Penn State University’s Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. Zoe went to a week of their camp a long time ago and has, ever summer, asked to do it again. Finally, this year, I was able to say yes. Continue reading “No Ticks = Success!”
Final week in PA! We’ve been busy with goodbyes to family, touring the local sites, and prepping for a Space-A adventure. Bethany joined the kids and I for a rainy day driving around to drop in on great-grandparents. It was nice to have one more day of quality time.
Wednesday I decided it would be fun to visit the local living history village called Bedford village, so Dad, Bethany, the kids and I drove 45 minutes south and found it to be closed on Wednesdays! ugh. Should’ve checked the website. We made the best of it and visited the Bedford fort instead, which was well worth the time… and got ice cream! Then, we occupied the rest of our afternoon at Lincoln caverns; a local tourist cave we’ve driven past a ton of times but never stopped. It was a blast, too! Grandpa Joe treated us and we all had fun on our tour. Zoe loves caves, of course, and even took over for the our guide a few times. Avi was a bit nervous halfway through as we found out the cave was discovered when a bulldozer fell into it. By the end he was enjoying himself and said, “this cave awesome”. At the end we all got a big bag of dirt to wash away in the sluice for hidden gems, and the kids found a ton!
Friday found us back in Bedford village when it was actually OPEN, which worked out better because Nan joined us all. I’m glad we went back, as it was really cool. Lots of old local homes restored historically to walk around and explore. Lots of neat old shops and workshops like a blacksmith and candlemaker to see. Zoe even made her own candle! There was a small farm with horses and chickens that Avi loved to feed, and a cool old octagonal schoolhouse. We spent hours at this place walking around and learning about life in the 1800s.
In the middle of all that I packed our bags, sent some packages, and found out there is a space-A flight straight to Osan after we arrive in Anchorage. I bought a super cheapo commercial flight to Alaska from where we can, hopefully Space A home. It would be awesome to catch that flight!
Saturday was our last day and the kids had a great time playing with PaJoe and Nan while I joined Bethany at a party. In the evening we had an awesome time with Bryans whole family for a special birthday party for Pappy Howdy. I am so very glad we were able to make it; I had a wonderful time catching up with cousins and aunts and uncles and I know the kids did too!
Now, off to Korea!
I love camping with my fam. We eat, sleep, make fire, bike around, walk the dog, get ice cream, go to the beach, and simply BE outside. It’s great. It feeds my soul and keeps my kids happy with the simple joys in life. No internet. And, this weekend – at Prince Gallitzen State Park – no cell service.
We got the camper ready and drove up to the park on Thursday. Zoe immediately wanted to go bike on the ‘bumps’ – a small easy BMX circuit at the other end of the campground. So, she and I (and Avi in the kid seat) biked off. She has grown into such a great biker, and amazed me with her ease on the track and instant comfortability with it. Avi also enjoyed riding along on my bike, but I think his favorite thing is hanging out with Teddy.
Avi really enjoys Teddy and tries to take him for walks all the time; something we have to monitor before he lets the dog go. He finds all kinds of other things interesting, too. Dead bugs are a favorite to bring and show us, but so are itty bitty tiny frogs, making tracks in the stones, and helping PaJoe with his tools.
On Friday the weather was amazing so we spent most of the day at the beach getting hot. The water was a bit chilly when the clouds would blow over, but otherwise it was quite pleasant. Bethany and Nan packed a special picnic lunch. The kids played. All was good with the world. In the evening we joined the campground activity folks for the Wreck-It Ralph movie at the amphitheater. Avi loves this flick, and thinks wrecking it is also something awesome he should do.
Saturday found us enduring a rainy day. The kids got some crafting in; Nan brought paint for some birdhouses and stamps. Avi really enjoyed the stamps – pounding things seems creative to him. This is also the day Zoe found a fairy house! No, really, a cute little detailed fairy house built into the exposed roots of a tree. It was adorable, and led to the two kids building another house, and then putting on a wonderful performance on top a nearby log. Avi is a showman. He claps and stomps his foot and sings in tune and on beat. Zoe likes to be on show; her skills involve interesting interpretive-style dance movements as her singing is not quite in tune or on beat. She is passionate about her shows, regardless.
In the evening I dropped them off at Nana and Pappy’s house for the night and all day Sunday. I was going to title this blog “the best nights sleep I’ve had in two months” because of it, but that name seemed long. Plus, our fun hike was awesome…Monday morning. They returned after dinner Sunday and Zoe immediately wanted to show Nana and Aunt Cindy her biking-on-the-bumps skills. I think they were impressed.
Sunday Mom and Dad were able to get in a kayak trip around the lake in the morning. Teddy had his first foray in the kayak with Nan! She just paddled him out a bit and back in, but I think he loved it and wants to go more. He will likely just lull to sleep, like the rest of us that afternoon. I love naps! While they were out, Bethany and I went on a hike along the “Poems Trail”. It was a trail, but there were no poems. Fun nonetheless, as we made up our own slightly inappropriate ones about Teddy who came along. Later, after some nice bike rides around camp, Dad and I took the kayaks out. We had a great time paddling up a creek, around the lillypads, and back around to the campground the long way. It was nice as the wind was at our back; we even tried to use our oars as sails after watching the local sailing club.
Monday morning found us preparing to pack up without Nan – she had to work. So, while Bethany and Dad putzed a bit I agreed to help Avi and Zoe take Teddy for a walk. Well, we took the little trail to the lake, and then wandered to the boardwalk over the end of the lake, and then wandered along the swampy land, and into the woods, and started up the hill noticing a sign for the water tower. Before I knew it these kids were super excited about finding the water tower so we pressed on up through the woods into a meadow and then further up the hill through a “tunnel” (the interpretation) of shrubs and out onto the hilltop with the water tower. Avi ran to the tower and up the tower and stomped around since it echoes and ran back down. It was great. He had no idea he had just hiked a bit over a mile uphill. The view was awesome, and the kids were so good and into it. Zoe kept talking about our route back down and how she would tell Aunt Beppy about it when we returned. I was a bit bummed I hadn’t grabbed the camera; it was only supposed to be a short dog walk, after all. Then I realized I actually enjoyed my time with the kids more since I wasn’t trying to get pictures. It was one of the best hours I’ve ever spent with the kids – they noticed the butterflies, the trail blazes, the queen ann’s lace, the rocks, and almost ran the whole way back noting the four ecosystems on the way.
Of course, Bethany and Dad were concerned since we were gone so long, but it worked out as they got a lot packed up without the kids messing around. Bethany and I took them to the beach for another hour while Dad finished and then we came home. What a great time! Bittersweet, though, as it’s our last camping weekend in PA. Now, … it’s time to start thinking of final prep for heading back to Korea.
This week Zoe attended outdoor summer camp at Shavers Creek. It’s an environmental education center affiliated with Penn State. She started at 9am and then I picked her up at 3pm, so it was a long day and she loved it! They went on hikes, they did nature crafts, they learned songs and skits, and had a day of stream explorations. Her final day included a hike to Whipple Dam for swimming at the beach. That was also the day we were all invited to come along and camp out.
Aunt Beppy, Avi and I joined Zoe for the camp out. Nan and PaJoe came for the fun evening entertainment, too! We brought dinner, pitched our tent, enjoyed ice cream, and then got to watch a fun skit show. Zoe’s class (the Light up Lightening Bugs) did a skit where the kids helped the camp counselor get to a party using their lightning bug bum lights. It was cute, as were the others and the sing-a-longs, and goofy songs the counselors made up. After that the kids and I joined in on a night walk – we played some games in the dark, hiked down to the meadow, and listened to the silence. Stars! Not a lot of those in Korea.
In the morning the counselors made pancakes for everyone who camped out. Then the kids took some turns at the rock climbing wall before we packed the car and came home. … for a nap …
Bryan and I spent all day Friday hanging out with our friend John hiking and rock climbing. We started at Greenwood Furnace and hiked up to the fire tower, but we stopped along the way to eat and eat and eat the wild blueberries! yum. After a real meal at Sheetz we ventured out to Donation rocks for an arm-burning afternoon of over-hangy climbs. It was great, but my forearms are killing me, Bryans foot hurts and John busted his knee. We all swung a bit more than usual…. blaming it on the damp rocks. =)
Sunday and Monday Bryan and I packed a few things into a dry bag and Dad dropped us and two kayaks along the Little Juniata river. We floated, splashed in the rapids, got a bit sunburned, watched the frequent trains go by, and ended up near Alexandria where we were booked at a B&B. They picked us up along the river and we enjoyed an evening to ourselves. In the morning we put in at the Frankstown branch at the B&B and continued our float all the way into Huntingdon. Along the way we had to portage around a sizeable hydro dam.
It’s been a great summer vacation in PA. You never realize how much there is to do here until you live elsewhere. Tomorrow he heads home to Korea. We will join him again after a few more weeks.
The big family outing to Hershey Park proved super exciting! Both Zoe and Uncle Tyler tried their first upside down coasters. Avi discovered his love for the log flume with Nan and PaJoe. Bryan and I actually got to ride a few coasters together. Bethany and Kate realized that the jet-start coaster was amazing at night. AND we got our free Hershey bar at the Hershey experience just before it closed at 11. The weather held out all day, the lines were short, and we all had fun!
Bryan’s parents’ new house up on “the land” is finally finished and we got to stay there this past week. The kids had a ton of crazy fun with their 3 girl cousins for the weekend, and then loved the quality time with Nana and Pappy. We went swimming at the Glendale beach, ate berries from the bush, fished in the pond, and rode the gator around the woods. On the day it seemed rain was inevitable we ventured to State College for the kids museum and children’s day at the Arts Fest, and it turned sunny and nice.
So, Zoe had a birthday party at our house in Korea with her friends and then she celebrated on her birthday with a cake at Chik-fil-A.. Well since Avi’s birthday is coming up next month we decided he deserved a party, too, and the fam wanted a chance to give gifts to them both. Thus, the BIG JOINT BIRTHDAY PARTY was created. Mostly I let Avi choose the décor and especially the cake … a pink cake with a colorful train with a dino in the boxcar, of course. Plus Zoe wanted it to have a bunny. That was a fun one to decorate!
I reserved a pavilion at Patton Park and hoped the weird weather would cooperate, and it DID for the first half of our time. The torrential downpour in the middle of the party luckily started after everyone (who wanted too) rode the train around. Patton Park has a great shaded playground, nice pavilions with electric, and this cool train ride that operates in nice weather. This was the selling point for Avi my little train obsessed boy. The whole fam showed up for a great potluck lunch, fun times playing, and the train (of course).
When the rain began to dump we retreated to the pavilion for singing, cake time, and opening gifts. We did have to forgo the piñata, but it was just as fun the next day out with the cousins at the lake.