This year we spent Thanksgiving with our PA family, the Webber side. I was very opposed to traveling via car to PA, but Doug felt it would be best considering delays that often happen when traveling via plane during the busy holiday season. Also, the fact that he’s always on a plane, and the girls are older now and they’ve never been on a road trip, he had a stronger case. After much convincing, I caved. It was great actually.
We were on the road by 3:30 a.m. on Saturday morning Nov. 21st. The girls slept for several hours before we stopped for breakfast. They snuggled up in their warm sweat suits, blankets and pillows in the back seat. We drove until 4pm. The girls watched a Harry Potter movie on the iPad, enjoyed snacks, and listened to Christmas music while taking in different scenery other then beach and palm trees. At 4pm we stopped at a nice hotel in North Carolina.
After dinner at a nearby restaurant, the girls found the heated indoor pool at the hotel. Since we hadn’t thought to pack swim suits for our travels to see snow, we drove to Walmart for the $1 swimsuits that hung mismatched on the forgotten summer clearance rack. It worked out perfectly for us.
Swim suits and boots went on before we ran downstairs to swim for the evening. It was a sort of mini vacation before vacation.
On Sunday morning we were up and back on the road at 6am. This was the fun part of our trip as we drove through the mountains of West Virginia and right into the middle of the mountains via the long dark, but lit tunnels. Sara spent most of her time admiring the beauty, and because the beauty of the mountains isn’t new to me, I forgot about the aww one feels when seeing mountains for the first time, until Sara kept commenting on the beauty. Doug found the story of the first Thanksgiving done by The Magic Tree House Series, and we listened to the story as we drove through 38* weather. Then we switched our audio to Christmas music and talked about Christmas wish lists as we finished our long journey. We pulled in the driveway of Nona and Grandpa Webber’s house around 2pm. The girls jumped out, said their hello’s and ran outside to play.
Denny and Kathy came around 4pm and we had dinner together, and spent time catching up for the evening .
On Monday morning we drove to town to visit Kranyak’s, the Christmas store and winter wonderland that displays a Christmas walk through wonderland. It’s a tradition to visit whenever we’re in PA. We walked through thousands of lights and viewed various Christmas scenes, including a the Nutcracker, Frozen and an all white Christmas. The girls walked through the toy aisles and prayed to Santa for certain items. Doug and I looked for more Christmas decor. It was a nice morning and after we finished we drove to the original Quaker Steak and Lube for lunch, the best place in PA for wings.
Later that afternoon we took the girls for a drive to the spillway where the fish pile on top of one another by the hundreds waiting for bread crumbs that tourists throw. They never win the bread because the seagulls swoop in and almost literally steal the bread right out of the hands of the givers. It was cold and windy, and we discovered Sara’s fear of bird, so we continued our tour about 20 minutes later.
We continued our tour of the places where Daddy used to visit as a child, while listening to him reminisce about the good ol’ days. Conneaut Lake Park was a big deal for Doug, his brothers and their friends growing up. It was huge in their eyes with rides, games and fair food. It was the place to hang. We drove through the little bit of the theme park that still remained after a fire, and it was eerie in a way. I felt like I was in the scene of National Lampoon’s Vacation. Abandoned and old, only memories that Doug spoke of through the stories he told helped us understand how maybe at some point it was a fun place.
That evening we landed at Denny and Kathy’s, where the girls played with the loads of toys in the den while we had dinner and watched a fun movie together.
Tuesday was spent relaxing at mom and dad’s in the morning and the rest of the day cooking for the family get together we had planned. Doug prepared fish taco’s and chicken fajitas, and Denny made quesadillas, and of course there were sides of guacamole and salsa. Doug’s brother Jeff and his family came in the early evening. The girls got to spend the evening with their older 2nd cousins Stephanie and Christina, and they loved that!
On Wednesday, after breakfast and more turkey prep, we decided to run off and explore for a bit. We drove to a nearby park that Doug visited often as a child. For a good hour, we hiked the park trail that runs along a river and is somewhat overgrown. Then we played on the playground before we watched the girls perform a dance on the stage in the park’s ampitheater.
The sun was starting to go down and the weather dropped, we had our playtime together as a family, so we decided to wrap up. We drove to Denny and Kathy’s for dinner and at that point our neice Chelsea and her family had arrived for the holiday. The girls were very excited to see their 2nd cousins, Chloe and Brenna. We enjoyed a nice dinner together, a lovely meal and the kids played into the evening. Oh, and Chelsea made her famous pumpkin rolls too! We got to enjoy an early Thanksgiving treat that night.
Thanksgiving Day was all about food and cooking. Everyone in the Webber family gets involved. We were up early finishing last minute details on the turkey and sides. Dinner was served at 2 pm. Our menu was as follows:
- Deviled Eggs
- Cheese and cracker tray
- 2 turkeys
- Meatballs and sausage
- Doug’s stuffing
- Mashed Potatoes
- Sweet potatoes
- Creamed Corn
- Green Bean Casserole
- Cranberry Sauce
- Pumpkin pie
- Pumkin rolls
The dinner was heavenly and the company and conversation even better.
After Thanksgiving meal, we rested, sipped wine and napped from the satisfied feelings of comfort food. In the early evening, Doug and I ran off for a bit to visit our friend Andy who was also in town visiting family for Thanksgiving. Andy and Doug were good friends growing up and have maintained their friendship into adulthood. It was great to see Andy and meet his family. When we arrived back, we enjoyed dessert and the kids played for the evening. The girls had a slumber party with their cousins at Denny and Kathy’s that night, and Aunt Kathy even hung sheets for a fort to sleep under. The girls were thrilled about it.
On Friday morning, I was sent to Starbuck’s for a little time alone on my birthday, and to finish up Spanish homework that loomed over my head. That day we played with cousins, ate more food, and later I was surprised with a birthday cake. Mom Webber makes the best angel food cake with Grandma Trozzi’s famous icing. The Ohio Webber’s made it back to visit again, and we spent the evening laughing harder then I’ve laughed in a long time while playing Cards Against Humanity with Doug’s parents. It was an interesting night to say the least.
On Saturday, we made our way to Meadville to spend the day with our friends, the Thomases. Doug, Ross and Rhonda were high school friends, and later Ross and Rhonda got married. Several years ago we reconnected with them, and our kids are the same ages, and get along really well. They visit us in sunshiny Florida once a year and we visit them in snowy PA, once a year. We always have so much fun together. We arrived at their house in the late morning. After catching up, Ross made grilled pizza’s for everyone and then we spent the afternoon talking and hanging out, while the girls played with their friends Maggie and Sadie. That afternoon, they took us to town for some Christmas shopping before we all headed to dinner. After dinner we dropped the kids off at the house and went to Sprague Farm and Brew Works, a Farm Brewery for great entertainment, greet beer and great company! It was an awesome night. On our way back in, the music in the mini van shook the windows as we rapped to the music of V.I.C. and eventually went off roading in the big field by the Thomas’s house. Ross took us through the trails they snowmobile through, except were minivanning it. At one point the phone in the mini van rang, and instantly the rapping and dancing stopped……”Mom, someone’s driving through the field and I hear Wobble Baby playing very loudly”, Rhonda’s response, “Oh, ok. Well we were just giving Doug and Lorena a tour of the land. We will be home soon.” B.U.S.T.E.D.
When our fun was thwarted, we pulled into the driveway and decided to continue the fun at the house. Doug and Ross ran to the barn for the karaoke equipment and speakers, and Rhonda and I set up a dance floor in the basement. They sang their hearts out to Rhonda and I, as we danced and cheered like high school fans. Then we found a disco light and a flashing hula hoop in the corner of the room, and decided to set up a light show to add to the vibe. We danced for a long time, before we found ourselves slow dancing to Faithfully by Journey. Surrounded by Barbie dolls, a treadmill and kids toys, we were transported back to the high school dance, and even more so when I caught Ross and Doug exchange the look of “we scored!”. It was one of the best nights of our stay. It was prob. 1 am, when Rhonda and I decided it was time to call it a night. We had already planned on staying the night, so I went to the guest room to get ready for bed, and Rhonda retired in her room. The boys still had more playing to do, and it wasn’t until the next day, that I found out about their middle of the night adventures as they spent an hour driving around the field on the ATV’s.
On Sunday, Ross an Rhonda prepared a lovely breakfast, and then we said our goodbye’s. It was such a great weekend with them!! Thanks Ross and Rhonda for showing us a wonderful time, once again!
We headed back to mom and dad’s, for our last day in PA. When we arrived back, we took naps, did laundry and recovered from the day before. Mom made a delicious roast, mashed potatoes, corn and rolls for an early dinner before we made our way back to Denny and Kathy’s. The girls wanted a few more hours of play with Chloe and Brenna, so we stayed for the evening.
We were up early on Monday morning, packing the car and saying our goodbyes. As we pulled on our boots, Doug said, “This is always the hardest part…saying goodbye”, and with those words his mother broke down crying and his father’s eyes welled with tears, which sent me into crying. It’s so hard to live so far away, and our time together was great. Doug’s parents enjoyed every second with the girls, and we enjoyed our time with them.
By 8 am we were on the road. The girls slept, and we drove and listened to a great audio book. We stopped in South Carolina for the night, close to where our niece Megan and her new husband live. It was so nice to meet up with them and enjoy a night catching up over dinner. When we were done, we went back to the hotel and watched the girls swim in the heated indoor pool, before we said our goodbyes. We arrived home on Tuesday by 2pm, and there is nothing quite like home sweet home after being on the road for hours and in a different bed for 10 days. Driving across the causeway with the beautiful blue bay on either side, lined with palm trees and sunshine, we were welcomed home in the best way possible. The kitties were happy to see us too.