Thursday, June 26, 2008

And We're Back!

View from the front porch
Barn doorway Our vacation to Pa was wonderful. You know it’s a good trip when you don’t want to come home at the end. Our beloved old farmhouse was the same crumbling, creaky, time encrusted place we’ve grown to love as our home away from home. The fields around us abounded with wildflowers more beautiful and fragrant than any hothouse could produce. The long grasses rustled with perky little chipmunks, rotund, waddling groundhogs, and songbirds of every kind.Wildflowers
The weather was a welcome respite from the 100 degree days we were having at home. I think it hit close to 80 a couple of days, but the evenings were downright chilly, and we all huddled appreciatively under our fuzzy blankets. In the morning, we sat up on the back porch, warming our hands with mugs of hot coffee as we looked out at the hillside swathed in ribands of mist.One morning as we rumbled and bounced along one of the myriad dirt roads, looking for old houses and little family cemeteries, we chanced upon a flock of wild turkeys grazing in a field. Our arrival caused them to part-fly, part-trot down towards the woods, and a flock of little goldfinches swirled up out of the bushes by our cars; black winged bolts of sunshine startled into mass exodus.My eldest nephew rode up with my dad this year, and as it was his first trip up we gave him the tour. In spite of my dad’s protestations that he can’t remember anything about family history, while we were up at Cherrytree (oldest church in Venango County, with a cemetery to match) I caught him showing my nephew the graves of Henry Ross and Susannah Baney, and explaining that they were the grandparents of Minnie Gahring Toy, his grandmother. I know that somewhere, maybe in the air all around us, his grandmother was happy to see a tradition of hers perpetuated.Oh, and those stories about Grandpa Jake that I said we would be hearing while we were up here? I laughed to myself all Sunday night as my dad told those very stories to his grandchildren.On Tuesday, we took a day trip down to Kittanning, to meet up with the Velveeta Wingnut, my long-lost cousin and evil twin, and show her around the ancestral stomping grounds. I was really glad I’d gotten lost a few times there before; the main road across the river was under construction and traffic was being shunted in several convoluted directions. We figured it was our karmic debt for getting around Pittsburgh with minimal construction delays.We found a bunch of different old cemeteries that held family members from several of the seven branches we’re researching, and it was really gratifying to see everyone get caught up in finding the headstones of family members. We broke for lunch and ate at the Allegheny Mariner, which is just about the nicest place in Kittanning, with an awesome view of the river from its dining room. I guess we could have been working instead of having a sit-down luncheon, but I thought it would be nice for us to take the time to get to know each other and break bread, as it were, with fellow family members.
Back up in Oil City and Franklin, there's so much to see. This is a place that peaked in the Victorian period and it shows in the architecture. We spent a couple of days just walking around and taking in the sights.


Detail of stairway in the old Transit Building
One of our favorite places, the Yellow Dog Lantern. This is one of two places that have been in business continually for over a hundred years

Interior of the Yellow Dog Lantern

The neck grip helps calm the little critter

The most amazing antique mall/auction house ever

In Franklin, there's an antique mall/auction house housed in the old armory building that's like no other antique place I've ever been to. The owner has one of the most incredible collections of Wild West Show memorabilia, Pennsylvania long rifles, Civil War artifacts, Native American artifacts, flintlock and black powder guns I've ever seen. The regular antiques he has for sale are pretty amazing as well, but we were all blown away by his "museum" upstairs, where he housed his personal collection. I've never seen this many artifacts in one place, not even in a real museum. My dad, who usually doesn't go in for antiquing, was hard pressed to leave this place!

This next week, we're off to the Outer Banks, so I'm up to my ass in packing again. Because Murphy's Law is never more apparent than when you're pressed for time, the washing machine died first thing this week. I've been hoofing it up to Bea's to wash clothes for the upcoming journey until the new washer gets here, so needless to say, I've been a bit busy, hence absent from the blogosphere. I'm totally out of the loop with all of you, but after this week, when the summer doldrums set in, I know I'll be doing a prodigous amount of back reading and catching up with everyone.

Summer night on the porch

9 comments:

thailandchani said...

Wow. .that was a wonderful read... and those pictures! It would be great to spend some time in a location like that. It gave me a needed break from urbania.

FairiesNest said...

It looks like such fun, definitely my turn next year! I can't wait to see the "ribands of mist!" Yeah, only your sister :P

Jennifer H said...

Amazing pictures to go along with your narrative! Sounds like a wonderful trip.

I love the stair detail! Beautiful. We don't make things like that anymore.

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

I love the picture of the giant "ash" cloud. I would have totally peed my britches watching that come over the hill. You know how I love a thunderstorm.

Lovely bit of writing this was:
"The long grasses rustled with perky little chipmunks, rotund, waddling groundhogs, and songbirds of every kind.".... rotund, waddling ground hogs, Love it!


The trip sounded like a blast, maybe one day I'll come with you too!

Your American Idol! said...

Welcome back! And, I guess, goodbye again....

Looks like a very cool trip.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is absolutely gorgeous! I love Pennsylvania! (and your blog)

Heather Ghost...

Julie Pippert said...

Oh how beautiful and fun it looks and sounds. Thanks for sharing it with us.

bandick said...

That does it. I'm getting a hat like your dad's and heading out today.

tysdaddy said...

Hey there,

Sounds like you and yours had an amazing time! The pictures alone speak volumes, and your recollections are powerful as well. Welcome home . . .

And thanks for all your kind words and patience as of late. Your heart is large . . .