Sunday, September 18, 2016

Homemade Fun ...

We can't help but see interesting things along our way.  We love small towns and the beauty of the countryside and we marvel at God's Creation.  We can't help but smile at the things humans have created to have fun, too.

A creative worker at a campground made a train for the kids out of plastic barrels, hand trucks and an old lawn tractor.

A train has to have a bell.

This blue train looks happy!

Seasonal campers put together homemade things for parties. 


Sensing the change already ...

We were heading south this week, out of the Pocono Mountains to Winchester, Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley where we met up with this big guy. I don't think I have ever met such a big caterpillar.  I wonder if it bodes well or no for the coming winter? 
We could see some of the trees giving it up for the summer already.  It has been a hard, hot, dry summer in the Northeast this year and nature is ready to throw in the towel.
Family Fun ...

Last weekend we had some fun with my sisters and nephew and nieces.  Bowling, of all things!  I broke a hundred, once.

Joanie, my sister Marcie, my sister Betsy, Betsy's husband Mike, my sister Denise, me, our niece Cynthia Hazel holding Kaelynn, our nephew Nick and his wife Randi.

Our Nephew, Big Nick Kaldrovics and his lovely wife Randi and their daughter Kaelynn.

Our niece, Cynthia Hazel Stem
Kaelynn and her grandpa waitin' for her turn.

Marcie, Betsy, Denise and Cynthia Hazel with little Kaelynn.
 Later that day we went out to eat with Denise and her husband Vinnie, Betsy and her husband Mike and Marcie.  Vinnie took us to a truly Italian restaurant near Stewartsville, NJ.  Enjoyed a great meal with great company!  Thanks, Vinnie!
Love them all!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Life in small town America ...
You don't have to go back many generations to discover that once upon a time most people lived in small towns rather than the big cities.  The physical evidence of this migration is in almost every small town in America.  There are lots of reasons why it happened but I find it sad that it did.  
Joanie with her cousins Bernie and Ann in front of Ann's house in Coaldale, Pennsylvania. Coaldale is one of many little communities in Carbon County, PA.  Anthracite Street will let you know what was once important here.  Joanie's, Bernie's and Ann' ancestors were miners. 

While we were staying in the area, I needed a hair cut.  In small town America you won't find the Great Clips and Hair Cuttery franchises.  But if you look hard (no, this one was closed up) ... will find an old barber still cutting hair and dispensing the verbal history of the town you happen to be in.

Except for when school gets out, the streets are quiet most of the day.

Citizens of small town America have not lost their sense of humor.

In small towns you will find neighborhood social gathering places.  Before the invention of the automobile, these places were all within walking distance which was a good thing.

Churches were also within walking distance once upon a time, too.

In small town America, often called "fly-over America" , you still can find the values that made this country the greatest country in the world.

But the jobs in small town America are leaving and so are the young people, following them to the big cities.  Left behind are the drug addicts and the old people.
When these houses were built, the automobile had yet to be invented so there are very few garages in which to park your car.  The wealthy people in town once lived on the top of the hill but the continuous digging of the coal undermined the foundations of the big houses; some even fell into a sink hole.  Today if you see steps or sidewalks leading to empty space, it is because the house fell into the earth.
It is sad to see the charm of small town America drying...

... and crumbling.

From a street in Coaldale you can see a small strip mine still operating. Once upon a time coal was king here.  It was the fuel on which the country ran providing jobs to many; dangerous jobs.

Immigrants came from Russia, Poland, Wales, Ireland and brought some of their culture to the neighborhoods.

The wealth that those miners produced is now gone.

Churches are closing as are schools.  The few children left are bussed out of town to regional schools.

Now the so-called "progressive" people in government want to shut down what remains of the coal business and take away more jobs.  They pat themselves on the back for their righteousness all the time forgetting the people in small town America who now suffer from what the government has done.

Life in this part of America has never been easy and it remains so today.  Not far from Coaldale is Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.  They have a museum there dedicated to the Molly Maguires who fought for justice for the coal miners a hundred years ago.  The museum is the prison in which the Molly Maguires were executed.  A dismal tourist attraction for sure.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ancestry Research ...

Joanie has been trying to research her father's side of the family and it has been a bit of a struggle.  Last year she found where her grandfather was buried ( and now we are near where he was born.  Using Joanie has come in contact with several distant cousins and that has been fun.  The traipsing around cemeteries during the dog days of summer cannot be called pleasant, however. I much preferred sitting in the air conditioned church rectories digging through old parish registries translating Latin.

Joanie is related to Gallagher's, McHugh's, Kennedy's and Carlin's.  Joanie's great, great, great grandmother had the beautiful, old country name of Una McHugh and was married to James Gallagher.

Cemeteries in our culture are not joyful places especially when you come across markers like this. 


Two Gallagher cousins, Bernie and Ann look at family photos with Joanie.  Both Bernie and Ann still live in the family hometown of Coaldale.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Driving Pennsylvania...

Phaeth (our motor home) is 37 feet long.  With Hope (our Jeep Wrangler toad) and the tow bar connected, we are close to 47 feet long.  Phaeth is 101 inches wide (8.4 feet), not counting side view mirrors and other attachments. A lot of Pennsylvania's roads are barely two lanes wide.  We have had problems with roads in the Keystone State before (see and they are not the kind of excitement I appreciate.

Well, we did it again a week or so ago going through Jim Thorpe, PA.  The stills I grabbed from my dash cam look quite tame compared to the moving picture and they do not show my white knuckles especially as I drove by the police station.

We were maneuvering into the left turn lane ...

...waiting to make a left hand turn and hoping Hope will clear the traffic unscathed.

 We got a few glances from the folks in Jim Thorpe when they saw the big motorhome cruising through their town.


Needless to say, we asked at the campground office if there was an alternative way to arrive or leave the campground.  There was a large stack of Xeroxed instructions on the counter and they gladly gave us one and we gladly accepted it.  RVers have to be able to navigate using paper rather than electrons.