Brian here again:
It has been a fun and busy week! We had a nice, restful visit at my mother's place. That was a good thing, because we were about to have a wonderful invasion! Kim flew up on Thursday, so Kris and I drove to Pittsburgh to pick her up. She was able to spend time with her Grandmother and us before the Luther Reunion on Saturday. My mother's side of the family has an every-two-year get together here in Johnstown. My grandfather had nine brothers and sisters, so there are a lot of cousins and second cousins to see. Many of them (like us) live in other states, so the number of attendees has dwindled. This year we had 50 people.
Mark and Joel flew into Pittsburgh on Saturday with Logan and Caleb. They missed the reunion, but were able to spend some time with my cousins at the motel pool.
We went to Church with my mother and got to hear my Uncle Roger Luther's family sing "I'll Fly Away".
Church nursery with cousin Zachary
The family at Church
Monday was our tour of Johnstown day. We rode the Inclined Plane - the world's steepest funicular - which was a hit with Logan, because he likes trains, and this one is quite unusual. It was built to help people get up the steep hill from Johnstown to Westmont, where the 'people of means' lived. Today it is a tourist attraction. It carries one car at a time so Logan was able to watch GrandDad ride up with the other car.
After that we visited my GrandDad Kissell's grave in Grandview Cemetery. There is a field of unnamed graves there for those that died in the Great Flood of 1889. We noticed that there wasn't a maker for his service in WWI, so we stopped by the cemetery office. They don't get many requests for them, but they had one, and we were able to place it and a flag at his gravesite.
Great-Great-GrandDad Kissell's grave
Placing a flag on WWI Vet's grave
Mark wanted to take a drive in the country to enjoy the beautiful Pennsylvania scenery, and I suggested that we could hike to Wolf Rocks - an area that I went to often when visiting on vacation. It is a great 4.5 mile round trip hike, and it was warm ( a sweltering 84 degrees). I don't often get the chance to do things with them, so it was a treat for me. I don't know how much they got out of it, but they say that it was a good hike. Unfortunately, people have spray-painted graffiti on most of the rocks, which is hard to ignore. It was still a great day, and the ladies didn't mind looking after Logan and Caleb.
Wolf Rocks hike
Fireflies are always a hit, so we bent the bedtime rules a bit to let the boys enjoy them. The little boys took a while to understand what was going on, then got into the excitement and had fun chasing them. Not many fireflies were harmed in the activity.
Logan and Caleb were already dressed for bed, so Kris and I went to the motel with them to sleep. This gave the adult Grandchildren time to spend with Grandma, and gave us some time with our Grandboys before heading out on the rest of our adventure.
Breakfast with Grandma and GrandDad
Logan had a hard time saying "Grandma Great" which my mother prefers because that is what our kids called her mother, so it came out "Grandma Grape". She kind of likes that, too. There isn't much room at her place, and not many toys, but the boys managed to find a place to have fun.
Playing at Grandma Great's
We visited the cemetery that my father and Luther Grandparents are buried in on Tuesday before everyone left for the airport. I placed a geocache there called "Family History". The cemetery is on land that used to be the Luther family farm. Before I moved from Johnstown, I lived on Bob Street - named after my Great Grandfather Robert Luther. My back yard was the cemetery, and I learned to ride my bike there.
Everyone is here! [Except Phillip]
Grandpa Great's grave
View at Richland Cemetery
On Tuesday the weather was pleasant, so we were able to play on the grass and blow bubbles. As is to be expected, the boys finally warmed up to Grandma Grape, and sat in her lap... just in time for them to leave.
Grandma Great has a nice lap.
One of the highlights of visiting Johnstown is buying corn from a truck in a parking lot. They pick it in the morning and bring it into town. There is nothing like fresh-picked sweet corn!
The family got back to Houston safely last night, and today we went for a ride in the country with my mother. It was different than a road trip, and gee, what are a few more miles? We had a great lunch at a family owned restaurant that has antiques displayed on the wall. Kris was there for about 30 seconds when she saw an old thermometer on the wall from Kissell Concrete Company. We have one at home, but would love another one. This one is bigger and in better shape, but the owner wasn't available to tell us if he would sell it to us. I left my name and number, and I hope he will get back to me.
On the way back to Johnstown, we stopped at a few more covered bridges. There was a cache near a folk art display. A man builds small buildings and has them furnished with antiques. He saw us and gave us a short guided tour of his place. We didn't find the geocache, but the interaction with him was MUCH better than finding a film can.
Tomorrow we will be leaving for Canada. We contacted my second cousin in upstate New York to see if we could stop to see him. He couldn't come to the reunion, because he has a newborn daughter, Nora. He said OK, so we'll visit before going to New Brunswick for an August 1 Geocaching event.
A roller-coaster week for sure! Anticipation of the arrival of three of our children and the two grandsons. Then 3 days of fun, talk, tantrums, decisions about who is sleeping where, exploring, learning family history, relating memories and making new ones, visiting graves of family members . . . chaos surrounded by love. Through it all, missing Phillip and being sorry that he couldn't be here. Krystal, too. I feel so very blessed to have thoughtful, caring children and extremely thankful to have had this time with them. Saying good-bye is always hard. We won't see our kids and grandkids for about three months as we continue on our grand adventure.
Shirley's house has been too quiet today. The weather cooled off again and the windows are open. So nice to hear the birds.