Category Archives: Places

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads….”


I love this.  I have never been able to reach so far by doing so little.  It’s an amazing feeling.

The Internet knows no limits

As far as the eye can see….

Can You Say That Again, Please? (NOT!)

Can You Say That Again, Please? (NOT!)

Just spent a weekend at my parents’ house where it is the norm to repeat the same things over and over and over again.  For one thing, half of us are half deaf.  For another, the other half of us are half whacked.  Between the two halves, there is considerable overlap.  My mother is squarely in the overlap.

Please…let me demonstrate.

Vacation planning somewhere around 1988 – my mother wanted to take a trip to a lovely peninsula on Lake Erie called “Presque Isle“.  (Let me interject that due to our Pittsburgh accent, this does not sound like the lovely “Presque Isle”.  It sounds like “Pressed Cow”, which is what everyone to whom I’ve ever told this story thinks I’m saying.  Henceforth, you shall hear “pressed cow” in your head when reading this story.)

Now once my mother gets an idea, she runs it into the ground.  So all we heard for literally months was this trip to Presque Isle.

Presque Isle.  Presque Isle. Presque Isle.  Presque Isle.  Presque Isle. Presque Isle.  Presque Isle.  Presque Isle. Presque Isle.  Presque Isle.  Presque Isle. Presque Isle.  Presque Isle.  Presque Isle.

Annoying isn’t it?

Right around the same time, my mother discovered a wonderful, miraculous liniment called Unker’s.  She called it “salve”.  (Now again, due to our Pittsburgh accent, this is said with a very nasaly sound, kind of like sheep baaa-ing with a slight lilt.  Henceforth you shall hear this word pronounced “saaaaav”.)

Let me demonstrate:

Me: “Wow, my back is sore.”

Mom: “Want some saaaav?”

Me: “I have a cold.”

Mom, “You should put saaaav on your chest.”

Me: “I fear the apocalypse is coming”

Mom: “At least we’ll have the saaaaav.”

Saaaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav …saaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav… saaaav…saaaav…saaaav…saaaav!!!

This phenomenon with my mother led me to create the Banned Word List.  Guess which two words were the first on the list!

You got it on the first try!  Imagine that!

So, after the introduction of the list, it was going pretty well and I almost had my mother trained to say “The Peninsula” and “liniment” instead of the banned words.

Then came “bales of hay”.

As in 6 people stuffed into a Buick Dodge Aries (and not even the K-car kind!), driving from Pittsburgh to Colorado, and while crossing Kansas all my mother can say is “bales of hay…as faaaaaaar as the eye can seee…” in a wistful voice.

Do you know how far it is across the state of Kansas??  424 miles.  FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY FOUR MILES OF BALES OF HAY!!

I never did find a suitable substitute for the bales of hay.  In any case, it was better than the musical interlude every time we crossed a state line.  It’s kinda like that commercial where the couple is on a road trip and have a song for every state?  Yeah.  Like that.  Only trapped in a car with your parents, two sisters and grandmother who has her knees tied together as a remedy for a bad back and she insists on saving the toast from every meal, and your mother is singing “Gary, Indiana”.

Shit.  That’s a whole blog entry unto itself.  It’s a wonder I’m still sane, no?

But I digress.

Banned words.

This weekend, I added two new words to my list:  “sleep” and “seat”.  Very innocuous words when USED ONLY ONCE!  But hell….that’s just crazy talk!  Why say them once when you can say (before we’re even up the front steps)….

Hi guys!  Have you figured out where you’re going to sleep?  Because I thought if you sleep in this room and they sleep in that room then everyone will have a place to sleep.  But if you can’t sleep where you’re sleeping you can go sleep in the living room and then she can sleep in your room and then she’ll be able to sleep later.  If that doesn’t work, then I can’t imagine where everyone will sleep because I thought we’d all sleep like that.

(Close second here is the word “sheets”…because of course, you can’t sleep without sheets….right? Oddly enough, this whole thing starts again at bedtime, as if it wasn’t settled the first time around.)

Add fricken “sleep” to the banned word list.  Oh and eff it.  Throw “sheets” in there too.  What the hell.

And now, we have “seats”, thanks to a baseball game, where we had 10 seats in two rows behind one another.  You know what this means, right?  Yep! We had repeat numbers in different rows.

You know what?  I’m not going to do it.  Just imagine 10 people shuffling around between two rows saying the numbers and “seat” while trying to figure out where to park their butts, even though it was really irrelevant since we were all together and IT DIDN’T REALLY MATTER WHICH SEATS WE HAD BECAUSE THEY WERE ALL OURS ANYWAY!!!

:pant, pant, pant:  I need a Tylenol.

So, in case you weren’t keeping score, here’s the banned word list as of today, August 5, 2012:

Presque Isle, bales of hay, salve, sheets, seat and sleep.

And now my mother will comment and use all of them in one sentence just to drive me to drink.  More.  Again.  And then she’ll give me salve for the hangover.

Love you, Mom.  ❤  At least you’re never boring.  🙂

You can’t see the bales of hay, but trust me. They’re there.

A Place to Remember and the Road Less Traveled

A Place to Remember and the Road Less Traveled

Have you ever passed something many, many times and each time, you say, “I need to stop there someday”?  Well, every time I travel to my parents’ house in PA, I pass the turn-off for the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, PA and I say to myself exactly that.

This morning, I was driving home from dropping off my kids for a week, had nowhere in particular to be and extra time on my hands.  So when I passed that exit on the PA Turnpike, I just impulsively turned.  It wasn’t far, though I did have to ask for directions and was pleased to find it was only about 10 miles out of my way.  So…off I went on my little adventure and I am so very, very glad I did.

If you haven’t been there and are in the vicinity you should definitely go. The memorial site is about three miles off the highway and the park road twists and turns through meadows back to the crash site.  I cruised this road with a group of bikers from the Blue Knights, which was totally cool.   Upon arrival, the parking lot was pretty full; not surprising considering it was a Saturday afternoon during vacation season.  However, I quickly found a spot and hopped out of the car, already getting teary-eyed.

From the parking lot, you can see the Visitor’s Center where you can get more information about the crash, investigation and memorial.  Then from there, a paved walkway lined by a black granite wall leads you back to the memorial site.  The path follows the line of the fence the coroner’s office erected during the investigation to protect evidence.  Walking along that path, you can see the woods and the stark contrast of what was once the original forest tree line,  now sheared away from the crash and explosion and the new growth of trees  just in front of it – ten years of new growth unintentionally symbolize ten years of healing and remembrance.  The memorial itself is beautiful – a marble wall with each victim’s name inscribed upon individual slabs.  One thing that is utterly amazing is how peaceful and calm the place is.  Visitors even speak in hushed voices.  You could probably hear a pin drop amidst about a hundred visitors when I was there.   It was awe inspiring. I took a seat there and cried…a lot.  The architect designed the entire memorial  to eventually blend seamlessly into the environment.  They’re doing some reforesting out near the roadway and replanting in the meadows surrounding the memorial site.  It will be even more beautiful and serene in years to come.

Then, on the way home, I took Rte. 30, skipped the rest of the Turnpike and enjoyed driving over the Allegheny Mountains.  I stopped at a lookout point to admire the view, then cruised my way back down the mountain, finding lots of “next time” stopping spots.  What a fantastic day of “me” time.

Here are a few links for you to enjoy regarding the memorial.  I urge you to stop by if you’re in PA.  If you’re not, take a moment to hop off the highway and visit someplace you’ve always wanted to go.  It’s totally worth it.

National Park Service – Flight 93 Memorial 

Flight 93 Memorial Visual Tour

The white marble Wall of Names positioned on the flight path

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia