Prepare to be inundated with vacation pictures.
We haven't been to Pennsylvania in about 8 years. We had a terrific time again, though as usual, we scheduled a little too much to do with not enough time to do it in. We didn't make it to the zoo, spent one short afternoon at the beach, and we only went swimming at our hotel twice. But it was still nice to get away from work and to see new sights. We stayed at the same hotel as last time - the Hampton Inn - but we vowed to eat at places we'd never been to before. Even though we ended up at a couple of chains - Chipotle (oh my gosh, so good!) and Chick-fil-A (excellent chicken nuggets) - they were new to us.
Tom's favourite thing about the entire vacation? The bathtub. Yes, he would have stayed in the hotel room the entire time if I'd let him. That thing was huge though. The first night we were there the pool was freezing so we came back to the room and hung out in our "hot tub". In our bathtub at home you can barely stretch your legs out so we felt like we were living in luxury.
We decided to get the serious shopping out of the way on the first full day. We headed off to Grove City outlet mall early in the morning - with a small detour into Ohio to hit HomeGoods. I think we were there for over 2 hours. Tom was excited to find some pots and pans he loved, and he wouldn't stop squeezing a hedgehog dog toy. I thought we were going to get kicked out of the store.
My big find? This painting of a dog. That looks exactly like Sasha. Do you see it? She even has the little Hitler moustache. I almost put it back but Tom said I was crazy if I didn't buy it.
The one thing he wouldn't let me buy was this armchair for the living room.
I thought it was perfect. Navy & tan with a deep comfortable seat. But he said it was too big for the car. I'm still sad. I loved that chair. Anyone coming to Ontario and want to drop it off on the way? Hello? Hello?
We drove through Volant Mills on the way to Grove City. I had planned the route so that we would. The main street of Volant Mills is lined with antique and gift shops. Heaven, right? What's funny is that as soon as we drove into town we both said, "We've been here before." We had visited the last time we were in Pennsylvania and completely forgotten. It was still fun to look around.
In the centre of town is the old grist mill that they are in the process of getting back in working order.
We chatted with the owner a bit and he told us that once the mill is up and running they are hoping to be able to grind local rye and sell small bags of it. They'd also like to be able to generate enough electricity to be self-sufficient.
I took some pictures of the old bagging apparatus - but you know I was mostly interested in the huge roll of twine!
No pictures of Grove City - you've seen one outlet mall, you've seen them all - but we did see this along the way (cover your children's eyes):
Okay, moving right along.
Presque Isle State Park is a peninsula that juts into Lake Erie from the town of Erie. There are 11 beaches (I think) and miles of walking/biking trails. We went late in the afternoon and the beach we chose was almost completely deserted.
What a gorgeous day. I thought the water was too cold but Tom jumped right in. For a guy who can't swim he sure loves the water.
We threw a pretzel to a seagull and instantly we were surrounded. Suddenly we were feeding a dozen. This guy kept calling his friends over. Mouthy little twerp.
It was fun to watch them and discover the different personalities. It didn't take us long to be able to tell them apart even though they were moving around all the time.
I think this guy was my favourite. I love his brown markings. (I say "his" but it could have been a girl.)
This is the money shot though. How awesome is that? It's like I know what I'm doing or something.
After we went to the beach we drove around playing, "Imagine if we lived there?" Some of these places back right onto the water and have windows all along the lake side.
(This one is in the country, which makes it even better.)
We wandered around downtown and stumbled upon the Celebrate Erie festival. It's a 4 day street party for all ages with music, games, food, and craft booths. Phil Vassar was playing that night. Phil Vassar! But we didn't stay to hear him play.
We did check out the chalk drawing competition. I'm not sure if you can see it here, but the wine cellar and the bird drawings are in 3-D if you stand in the right spot. They were my choices to win.
I sneakily took a picture of this tiny lady and her huge bag of popcorn. Do you think she ate the whole thing?
The smells coming from all of the food vendors were making us hungry so we headed over to Pufferbelly - one of the restaurants on our list of places to try.
It is an old converted firehall and they kept as many of the original items and building materials as they could when they were doing the renovation. "Pufferbelly" is the nickname given to the old steam pumpers from the 1800's. The woman working the door had been there for over 20 years and her father and uncle had been firemen at that station before it was converted.
Hook and Ladder:
The food was fantastic and our waitress was hilarious. She didn't even mind that I kept running off to take pictures. If you're ever in Erie you have to go there.
And that's how we ended our Pennsylvania vacation. Well, there was one more trip to the pet store, but I already told you about that.
We've decided that we need to go back more often - we're going to aim for once a year. Last time we went for a week and had time to travel all over the state. I'd like to do that again.
Have you vacationed in Pennsylvania? Do you live there? What's your favourite thing to do?