Can you believe we basically made up the cost of this great little Corolla just in the savings in fuel compared to our Forester? Yeah baby!! Comfortable, quite, reliable and working air conditioning. Totally the right call.
Thanks to the MASSIVE truck, we had plenty of room to pack our own lunches.
Our first overnight was in Missouri, a good bit west of St. Louis. Check out what we found for dinner!!
Had a beer at the bar while waiting for our takeout BBQ order. Took it back to our little motel and ate on our front stoop. SO GOOD.
Yes, of course we brought good beer with us.
Beautiful full moon that night.
Found a population sign for the "city" we stayed in the next morning, ha!
Does everyone remember the trips I used to take in April to Illinois for a hamburger? A little place called The Moonshine Store? Well, guess where we went next!! I couldn't pass up the opportunity to show Karla the place, and have a burger.
Showed her some of the fantastic farm roads in the area, a total hoot on two wheels but not too bad in a Corolla either.
Huh... What are these?
Soybeans we assumed
First time I've parked a car here....
Burgers! Karla said they were incredible and worth the trip.
Made it safe and sound to my gram's house outside Pittsburgh. Alli, Sammy and my parents were already there waiting for us!
Hanging out chatting with my uncle Pete and mom on the front porch later that evening
Had a wonderful time at my gram's
That afternoon headed over to my auntie Barb and uncle George's house to celebrate. They had set out such a spread, with such thoughtful decorations, Karla's and my jaw was completely on the floor. It was so much more than we ever expected. We are so thankful for all the work they and my cousins put into the party!
Uncle George made a fantastic toast, thank you!
Wonderful notes everyone left for us on this little "tree" :)
Thanks to aunt Patty and uncle John for this awesome sign!
These three were running all over the backyard....
What a great night.
Thanks everyone! And thanks Christie for taking the picture
BIG thank you to my auntie Barb and uncle George. Everything was wonderful.
Sometimes there's nothing better than a lazy day at your gram's house with plenty of card playing and lots and lots of fresh PA corn with dinner (man I miss that stuff).
Plenty of Yuengling and Martin's potato chips to go around too. Yum.
Topped off the GREAT day with another round of cards. I don't think Karla's winning....
Breakfast on the back deck with gram before our drive to Philadelphia!
What a great lady. Thank you gram!
Now you know Karla and I never take a direct route.... We had all day to get to Philly to visit friends, so I had a few stops planned along the way! It's literally impossible to get lost too far from the turnpike, not with signs like these everywhere. Big enough??
Look, a blimp.
Just want to slide this in here... You know what's awesome? Sheetz!!! Haha we had so much fun every time we stopped at one. Ok, moving on to our first stop, the Quecreek mine rescue site.
The site was literally in the backyard of this farmer's very large storage shed/house/buidling (couldn't quite figure it out). Here's a picture I stole from google:
Not only was it right in his backyard, but we got to meet him!! He rolled up on his gator and told us the whole story. I could have listened for hours. He was a young guy too! He was very proud of the efforts of his community and bashfully admitted he was the first to start moving earth with his backhoe. The story of getting the gas line maps was fantastic. What an experience!
Beautiful walkway with custom bricks lead down to the site
This was amazing, sign says: "Air lock - part of plan "B" to be used to maintain the "air pocket" if the water couldn't be pumped out. Designed with the help of the U.S. Navy."
Found this brick on our walk back up
Our next stop is a critical one. A place we've both wanted to visit. Unfortunately we were a few weeks early for the opening of the permanent memorial, but it was literally breath-taking nonetheless.
My thoughts and emotions were everywhere. Only two words stuck with me, from the moment we passed through the entrance til days after, "let's roll."
Wall of names of the passengers and crew
Breath. Taking. Crash site just through this gate. This hit me like a ton of bricks. My hat's off to the designer(s). I have never visited a memorial more powerful.
This is my favorite picture. The one that will likely never leave my memory.
Someone left this trinket along the low wall flanking the walkway. The crash site is just in the distance.
I know it's just a little plastic thing. Probably cost $4. Brought me to tears, again.
Right, now that we were both a mess, we headed out and continued on our way to Philly.
Look what we found!!
Can you see us? That barn was MASSIVE! Best story of the day? I was over by the barn helping Karla frame this photo a semi rolled past.... And blew his airhorn just as he was next to me. I came completely out of my skin and did my best Michael Jordan slam dunk impersonation. HAHAHAHA I think Karla wet herself laughing. What an amazing release of all the emotions from our last stop. Thank you trucker!! I hope he was laughing as hard as we were!!
Back on the turnpike... I had to wake Karla from her nap when I pulled off into this parking lot... Then I had to drag her back OUT of this place 30 minutes later....
Due to our detours, we were a bit late getting to the Lancaster Central Market. Stunning 120 year old building housing the oldest farmer's market in the country (est. 1730). We picked up some gifts for friends and something for ourselves. I've put this place on our list to visit again, with more time and not right before closing.
Made it to our friends Meredith and Sheri's house in Philly!! At which point I promptly stuffed my face with cheesesteak and Yuengling. With wiz. From Jim's on South Street. Of course! No pictures, I was too busy. Google can help though:
(no line for us)
The next day was a hoot, we got the full tour guide experience! Meredith started us off, Sheri joined us later. Did you know Sheri's a total history buff?? I had no idea! Beautiful day, perfect weather, excellent company. Thank you ladies!
Started out the morning with a donut food truck at the LOVE sculpture :)
Being a tourist was great fun
Our lovely guide for the morning
Check this out! Just southeast of the PMA (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
Milk crate couches.
Washington Monument, PMA in the background
What a beautiful day. The city has really changed from my memory, for the better.
Karla found some sidewalk chalk
It was August in Philly. Yes. It was hot.
But oh so beautiful
Favorite picture of the day
Sheri joined us and her history knowledge really brightened up the afternoon
Sheri should be getting paid!
Required stop, always hampered by too many children...
Hahahahaha, Karla's "get me outta here" face. Sorry honey, can't help but share that one! LOL!
Meredith was spared the children as she babysat our stuff...
What is the best remedy for annoying school trip group overload? BEER. Hahaha, judging by Sheri's face I think she was past due....
Specifically Spruce Harbor Park, right on the Delaware.
Sheri and I passed on this one...
I'm such a lucky guy!
How to get security's attention....
Yes, we paid for the ride. Yes, they still got kicked off. LOL
I really have no idea what they're doing, besides we're waiting for an Uber.
Back at their place, we discovered yoga is not my thing. I know, who's surprised??
We spent that evening playing Telestrations at phs pop up garden, east passyunk. Man I wish I had some photos. That was so much fun!!
Up early the next morning, said goodbye to Meredith and Sheri and headed out to meet up with some more friends. I finally got to cross off a bucket list item! Yes, I've been here before but they were closed. This time they were open and I had reserved tour spots for our whole group. YES.
Our friends Todd from Laurel, MD (tall guy, which really is relative, cause the rest of us are short, LOL), Jeff and Michele (married, from Philly) met up with us. Been friends with these guys a long time. They've both hosted me on motorcycle trips, and I've done the same for them. This was great.
Yuengling is the oldest brewery in America (est. 1829). The building is spectacular. I might have been a little star struck. This was the first beer I really enjoyed and drank a lot of when I was out east.
Oh, before I get started, Karla found this in the gift store.... WTF? They're made in Pottsville too.
The original machine they used to fill the kegs
Built way into the side of the hill to help keep things cool.
"Hey guys, lets go!" That's Jeff and Michele way down there. They've both done the tour before, and Michele actually from this area!
Can you guess what this wall is from? Prohibition!
The original water source was up there. Their production far outpaced it and now they use city water. Hey, don't judge, this isn't a microbrew!
Murals of workers
"Government cellar" Hmmmmmmm
Yuengling's name was originally "Eagle Brewery," changed in 1873 but they retained their eagle emblem. You can still barely make out their original name here
Old building, new machinery
Coors makes their own cans on their brewery site near our house, check out where Yuengling's can tops come from! Yep, that'd be Coors, they're the only ones in Golden, Colorado. Neat.
Check out the workshop
Finished up at the tasting room!
After a fun lunch with our friends and Michele's parents (who gracefully paid for our meal, thanks!) we said our "til next times" and headed northwest to Karla's family in Bradford. Karla was at the wheel and showed me some of her favorite local tiny roads. Man, we have GOT to get the bikes out here!!
So much weeeeeeee
We were pining for 2 wheels in the worst way!
Arrived safe and sound at her mom's house. Up the next morning I was excited to see an icon of Karla's childhood: the Kinzua (pronounced Kinzu) bridge. She has told me story after story of playing on it, hiking under it, getting in trouble around it... This bridge is massive, it was built in 1882 and at the time was the tallest railroad bridge in the world. It was used until about 1960 when it became a state park. They were refurbishing it when it was decimated in 2003 when it was hit broadside by an F1 tornado. When you look at the pictures imagine the power of that storm and watching it roll through the terrain. Incredible.
Lunch first! That's her mom Janet, brother Reuben and his son Elijah.
When I think of tornadoes I think of Kansas or Oklahoma. Can you imagine one roaring through here?
Once back at Karla's mom's house we gathered our things and headed to her aunt Vicki's place. She lives at the bottom of "the hill" as they call it, a fantastic bit of land their family owns. This would be the site of our party the following day. And guess what? We would get to camp! I was so excited. We set up our tent that evening. Check it out!
What a place!! I've never been camping with my family, in fact I think most of my family might be allergic to it. ;) This was fantastic.
The little Corolla that could. Impressive, walked right up all this stuff without overheating or having any transmission issues. Certainly some careful tire placement...
See it in the background?
After we got setup we walked back down to Vicki's house for dinner.
This is their rooster. I think his name is Frank. I love chickens.
Sign on the door. LOL!!
The following day was party day! First thing was to head back to Karla's mom's house to pick up a few things. Karla's brother Ethan really wanted his disco ball.... This thing has some great stories... And was interesting to try and fetch from the ceiling! Easy once we found a ladder...
Back to aunt Vicki's!
Weeeeee! Not much in the way of brakes though, LOL.
Yes, that is the loo. Awesome.
Her uncle Larry lives with aunt Vicki, he splits his time between the house and this little cabin he built.
Karla's friends and family came from as far as Pittsburgh, bearing food and gifts. What a loving group. I felt completely a part of the family without hesitation or question.
Aunt Vicki manning the grill, thank you!
Oh man, the stories told between Karla and her friends were unparalleled. Even better with Karla's mom there to hear them, and tell her own! We were in stitches.... The best one involved a covert operation in the middle of the night to, ahem, borrow a garden gnome. Which light a bight light bulb above Karla's mom's head when she realized she found it years and years later in their house!! On our way home we stopped by the garden gnome home, there are still plenty there!
I somehow managed to not get any photos on the trip home.