In July, during my daughter’s summer vacation, we left Houston’s IAH for Philadelphia. Upon arriving in that historic city, we obtained our rental car and drove to West Chester proper. We spent a lovely night in a 19th century bed and breakfast. The breakfast was superb, a good start for a long day. We met my sister, my aunt, and numerous other cousins at the church. The short service was a lovely memorial to my mom, with my sister and I doing eulogies. There was no sermon; we didn’t think it necessary since my mom had not been a member of the congregation. The organist, though, did supplement the service with some beautiful hymns which were my mom’s favorites. After the service, my sister, daughter and I drove around the area and revisited my grandmother’s last home in Marshallton, PA. I was, at that time, very happy to see that the countryside hadn’t changed a great deal since my childhood. After an emotional brief stop in that village, the three of us set out for Lancaster County, PA. Since we were planning to separate after visiting Lancaster County, my sister drove her car and my daughter and I continued in our hot red rental and made our way to St. Joy, Pennsylvania. A few wrong turns and we finally made it to our destination. We stayed at a modest bed and breakfast in that town for two nights and enjoyed two wonderful country breakfasts provided by the hosts. (Although the World Wide Web was five years old, travel websites were just beginning to proliferate – Yahoo was a good source. Books, though, were still fabulous resources, and there were plenty of great guides on B&B’s – thus, two very nice places were discovered and enjoyed. Reservations and confirmations were still done snail mail and telephone.)
We had one day to visit the countryside and were definitely impressed by the cleanliness and the neat farm land, not to mention that they were situated in lush green and rolling hills. The Pennsylvania Dutch were (and still are) apparently conscientious and organized folk who cared deeply for their land and heritage, which dates back to 1683. There are many tourist spots along the main highways, but when driving away from these, we often shared the road with the traditional horse drawn cart. We were also able to view a few terrific covered bridges. After our second night in Mt. Joy, my sister returned to New Jersey due to work responsibilities, and my daughter and I set out for Kentucky. The intention was to visit with my brother, who wasn’t able to attend the memorial service, and also to see my mother’s grave. So, we traversed the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which has long enthralled me – I’m not sure why, perhaps I liked the way the rest stops were situated, in the middle servicing both sides of the highway. Since it has been fourteen years, I’m hoping the roads and rest stops are still as good as they were then. Ten hours and 569 miles later, through Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio we arrived at our motel in Carollton, KY near Owenton.
We would have stayed with my brother, but since he had been renovating an old farm house for years, he wasn’t ready for guests. We did visit my mother’s grave site – in a quiet hillside cemetery overlooking a little brook near my brother’s home. I was satisfied – my brother had chosen well. There wasn’t much sightseeing done, but we did get to see some lovely horse farms in between Frankfort and Lexington, and more importantly, my daughter got to know her uncle. We were certainly impressed with the farms, though – the horse barns are huge and elegant – the grounds spectacular. One can actually understand why Kentucky is nick-named the “blue grass” state. It was a nice visit; however we had to get back on the road. So, we reversed our route, made an overnight stay in Triadelphia, PA and ended up back in Philadelphia on a Thursday. We stayed near the airport and took off for Houston the next day. I need to retrace these steps, I miss PA.
February 19, 2014