Monday, August 31, 2015

Pizza, da Burgh,Bucs and More

We only had one doctor's appointment this week so our days were filled with fun things.  Of course we are enjoying our favorites restaurants and meeting up with friends.
Always high on our to do list while in WashPA is to have John's wonderful homemade wood-fired pizza.  He had his golf league over after their weekly outing and invited us to stop by for pizza since the oven would still be hot.  Here is the master at work.
I totally stuffed myself with four different pizzas including a Greek, veggie, all cheese and all meat.  The man is a master cook and he loves sharing his talents with friends.
The retired teachers lunch bunch celebrated the beginning of the new school year with a road trip to the Strip District in da Burgh (Pittsburgh).  The mural shows off the area with its many restaurants and stores.
We went to a new place, Kaya, that specializes in great Caribbean food.  Nanc, Ron, John, Patrice, Becky and Gail all have those big smiles because they are loving retirement and those two hour lunches.  Sure a big change from when we were working and had 23 minutes to eat.
Sandy, Tom, Georgie, Joy, Pat and Reggie all had a fun time.  It's hard to believe how wonderful retirement has been so far.  Here's hoping the good times continue.
After lunch we did a bit of shopping of the kind I don't mind.  We went to 4 different stores specializing in spices, meats, cheese, macaroni and just about any kind of food you can imagine.   
Another week and more music with the Dan Baker Trio and Al'an Rubens.  We love checking out the local music scene.
Mike is doing a bit better with the broken leg so I took him to lunch and a bit of fishing.  The fishing was great, but as you can see the catching left a bit to be desired.  Check out Mike's wheelchair, he got one with small wheels so he has to be pushed everywhere he goes.  After pushing him around for the day I understand why Sherri has been complaining about what a PITA he has become:)
Why is this woman smiling?  We ended the week with another trip to Pittsburgh to take in a Pirate's game and because Nanc has her Medicare card she gets to ride the T for free.  There are advantages to getting old and we love using all the senior perks we can. 
Wow, the Pirates are for real again after all those years when they set a major sports record for losing seasons.  With a winning team the crowds are bigger than they have been since the opening of PNC park 15 years ago.  Even the pregame festivities outside the park draws many fans.
Inside they were honoring the 1960 team that won the World Series over the heavily favored Yankees.  Many of the players are deceased but 12 attended the celebration including Maz (Bill Mazeroski) who is still the only player to win a World Series with a walk-off homer.  It was great seeing these old timers who where the first players I remember as a kid.
No doubt PNC Park has one of the best views of any ballpark in the country.  The views of the river and the skyline are fantastic.
Having a winning team makes it hard to get great seats.  We were in the left field third level but other than being further away than we have been before, the view is still great.
The Buccos celebrating another victory to move 30 games over .500.  They are still chasing the Cards but Pittsburgh fans are once again looking forward to October and maybe even November baseball this year.  
LET'S GO BUCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Back in WashPA - Century Inn

We are back in WashPA for a two month stay to get caught up with family and friends and take care of all our doctor stuff.  We have been real busy with all that and doing our annual thorough inside and outside cleaning of Opus.  We have been doing our best to keep all our favorite restaurants open by dining out almost every day and checking out the local music scene.   
Our first stop in Western PA was the Corps of Engineers Outflow Campground in Confluence.  The campground is on the Great Allegheny Passage -GAP Trail.  The trail is part of an all off road rails to trails bike trail that starts in Pittsburgh and goes the Cumberland, Maryland.  From there you can use the C & O Canal National Historical Park trail all the way to Washington, DC.
This is one of our favorite bike trails and we have ridden parts of it many times, including doing the C & O Canal trail all the way to DC twice.  Much of the trail is tree covered so it is a comfortable ride even on a hot day.
Most of the trail is along the Youghiogheny and Casselman Rivers.  This area was explored by George Washington in the 1750's as a possible route west over the Allegheny Mountains.
At the end of the bridge is Pinkerton Tunnel, the last tunnel on the trail to be completed.  We still had to use the bypass, but the tunnel will be open soon.  Doing the whole 335 miles from the Point in Pittsburgh to Washington, DC is still on our bucket list.
When we bought Opus in 2006 our second trip was to Confluence where we had dinner at the River's Edge, a wonderful restaurant and B&B.  We realized the picture we have on the blog was taken there so we took a new one at the same spot.  Guess we have not aged too badly.
One of our first stops was to see our friend Mike who had an accident while cutting the grass on a steep bank and broke his leg.  He had a rod put in his leg and is well on his way to recovery and driving Sherri crazy. 
We had a picnic with a few of Nanc's family, many of whom we had not seen for years.  Here is cousin John, niece Sherri and her husband Chuckie with Nanc.
Right is Nanc's sister Judy and her son Scott.  Left t Scott's daughter Haley and Chuckie's mom.  It was great getting caught up with all of them.
Many of the retired teachers that I worked stay up to date by getting together every Wednesday for lunch.  We always look forward to seeing them each week when we are in the area.  Bottom are Becky, Ron, Ann Marie, Joyce and Tish.  Top are Joy, Charlie, Tom, Georgie and Sandy.
Bottom are Pat, Nanc, Dave and Jackie. Top are Kim, Bill John and Reggie.  All but Ann Marie and Kim are retired so sometimes these lunches can last for two or three hours.  A fun time. 
We love the local music scene.  This is the second year we attended jam sessions at the Century Inn.  It is just several local pickers who get together and play a big variety of music.
You never know how many musicians will show up, but you are sure to hear some great music.

The jam is at the gazebo behind the inn which has been in operation since 1794. Over the years many famous people, including Andrew Jackson, Marquis de LaFayette, Henry Clay, James Polk and Mexican general Santa Anna, have stayed there. For the last fifty years it has been a restaurant, B&B and the site of many weddings.
Unfortunately, this may have been the last event at the inn.  On Monday it caught on fire and only the old stone walls were left standing.  It was closed that night so there were no guests at the B&B. The owner, who lived on the top floor, escaped but most of the antiques were lost in the fire.  She was able to save the historic Whiskey Rebellion flag that hung on the wall of the tavern.  
As you can see most of the wooden part of the building is gone.  They are looking at the possibility of rebuilding the part with the stone walls.  It sure is sad to see this old historic structure that we have been to and driven by so many times over the years destroyed.  It would be great if they could bring it back to life.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Amish Life and the Wyeth Family

We stayed at Roamers Retreat in Kinzer, PA, a campground that is surrounded by Amish farms. Being in Lancaster county I had to take Bird-in-Hand as I passed through Paradise on my way to Intercourse.  No it's not what you think, these are all small Amish communities that seem to have become must see stops for thousands of tourist.  There are a few Amish businesses in these town but there are also many more "English" stores selling the same Chinese junk we find at tourist traps all over the country.  If you get off the main roads you do see a lot of Amish farms and small businesses. 
The main means of transportation is still the horse drawn buggy so as you can see the berms are well fertilized.  They really are taking their lives in their hands when they travel on busy Route 30.
While the Amish follow cultural practices of the 1800's and have no electricity in their homes you see these Amish phone booths in many places.  This one is by a small school were the kids attend through eighth grade.  More modern technology does seem to be creeping into the culture.  We saw an Amish teen walking down the road talking on her cell phone.
The main crop is corn and I was surprised to see they are also growing tobacco.  There was a cigar store in Intercourse advertising that their cigars are made with locally grown tobacco.
An Amish family in their buggy on a small rural road.  There are many one lane farm roads so they can move equipment to the fields and not have to worry about traffic.  If you are in Lancaster and want to see how the Amish live you need to get off the main roads and check out life along the small country roads.  The farms and countryside are quite beautiful.
We did a day trip to Chadds Ford, PA  to visit the Brandywine River Museum. The museum has an extensive collection of works by the Wyeth family artists, N.C., Andrew and Jamie as well as the Heritage collection of American art.  The Heritage collection includes several works by Howard Pyle who N.C. trained under. 
These neat outdoor animal sculptures are scattered throughout the grounds.
The museum is located among the trees along the Brandywine River.  There is a neat park and trail along the water that is a popular kayaking spot.  In addition to the museum, there are three tours available of the N.C. Wyeth House and Studio, the Andrew Wyeth Studio and the Kuerner Farm that is shown in many of Andrew's paintings.  We did two of the tours.
There was a special exhibit of 25 Moravian Pottery tiles that show events of the New World.  The tiles were originally commissioned for a home in Langhorne where they were for over 70 years.
The N.C. Wyeth gallery has a collection of several paintings that were the illustrations he painted for books by Robert Louis Stevenson.  This one was for Treasure Island. 
This is a painting from Kidnapped.  The sale of the illustrations made N.C. enough money that he was able to purchase land in Chadds Ford that is still in the family.
We toured the old school house that was the home and studio of Andrew.  He painted many of his most famous works here from 1940 to 2008 just a few months before his death in January 2009.  The house was also used as a studio by Andrew's son Jamie the third generation of Wyeth family artists.
Don't think they wanted to be bothered when working.  They even let the trees and shrubs grow up in front of the house to hide it from view.
This is Jamie's studio in what had been the family living room of the house.  These are several sketches he did when he was painting one of his most famous works, a portrait of John F. Kennedy. 
The Andrew Wyeth studio.  When he bought the old school house he had the huge window installed so he could paint with natural light.
It was so neat to see all the sketches he used to create the final product.  You get the feeling that Andrew could walk into the room at any time and pick up a brush and continue with the painting on the easel.
Look closely and you can see a couple of possible subjects for a future work.  This is an old fashion selfie.
The setting of the Kuerner Farm inspired Andrew's paintings from the beginning when he did some of his earliest works there at the age of fifteen.  It was also the site of the 247 Helga paintings that Andrew painted from 1971 to 1985.  Those paintings were not discussed on the tour as there is much speculation that Andrew and Helga were having an affair at the time.  
The tour showed the places on the farm that inspired the paintings along with the finished works, very neat.  You could also see the artistic license he took, leaving things out to focus the viewers attention on the part of the work he considered the most important.
The home has been restored to the way it was when Andrew was doing so much of his work there.  The rooms have been set up using his paintings to see how they looked.
This picture of the watering trough in the barn was very interesting and shows the realistic style he used.  The Brandywine River Museum is a worthwhile stop in Eastern PA.  Here is a link to the blog post about our 2010 visit to the Farnsworth Art Museum and the site of Andrew's Christina paintings in Maine. 
We added the Lancaster Brewing Company brewpub to our list.  I agree with the sign, the beer was very good with food to match.

This is the last post on our time in the eastern half of Pennsylvania.  We had a great time there and look forward to going back some time.  As I write this we have been back in Western PA for a couple weeks visiting with friends and family and taking care of our annual doctor visits.  Hopefully, all the must do stuff will be done soon and we can kick back and enjoy our time here.