Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Big July Adventure: Part 2b; The Rest of the Week

Thursday. I actually went in to GSK's Upper Merion site to work with GSK's Pennsylvania version of me, Bill. I'd never met him before, but coinciendtally, he's a long time friend of my uncles Roger and Bernie, and married to a distant cousin. Jennifer and the kids went to meet Tricia, a friend from PSU. In the afternoon, we met up with Dan Flickinger and his daughters Emma and Grace at the REI in Conshohocken. We hadn't seen them in a year and a half, and my, how they'd grown. The weather had finally gotten nice after all the rain and humidity earlier in the week.

After picking up a snack at Genaurdi's in Conshohocken, we went to Tee's, a mini-golf, batting cages and driving range in Plymouth Meeting. I think Tristan and Zoe had played mini-golf maybe once before, but on this very nice course, they were like old pros, or a foursome of elementary school students at least. The air was cool and dry. The summer breeze was light, and the evening sunlight was just perfect, but you'll have to take my word for it because somebody left our only functional camera back at the folks' house. When we finished there, Jean met us and we proceeded to Pizzeria Uno.

Jennifer and the kids had never been to Uno's, so I made Jennifer get Chicago-style pizza, which we shared with Jean. It was filling. Between the three of us we ate four of the six pieces. They have cool kids stuff for the kids to play with while they wait for their food, and the "make your own pizza" menu item for them was pretty cool too. I'd bet we go back just for that.

For dessert we headed down the road to Rita's [Water] Ice. This is a pretty popular chain in those parts, but we had never been. At Dan's encouragement (which is what Dan does, in case you don't know Dan), I got their "Gelati", which is not to be confused in any way with gelato. (Gelati would be the plural, in Italian, as in Due gelati, por favore. ("Two gelatos please") a phrase I could speak like a native in Italy.) Their "Gelati" was a big cup with a layer of frozen custard on the bottom, a layer of Italian ice in the middle, and then another layer of frozen custard on top. For the ice part, I chose wild black cherry. It was really good. The kids used the walkway as a playground where they created their own entertainment, that I think would've eventually evolved into "make the cars entering the parking lot think we're going to run out in front of them. " I mentioned to Dan, Jean, and Jennifer that our four kids could eventually really be a handful, owing to their superior intellect and well-developed sense of mischief.

Friday. Back to GSK Upper Merion for me. Jennifer was finishing up her packing. At lunchtime, I insisted that my coworkers and I go to The Boathouse on Fayette Street in Conshohocken. This was my favorite restaurant in town when I worked for Quaker Chemical Corporation - my first "real" job after college, in 1993-1994. Jennifer got sick after eating there once, so short of going solo, I almost never get to go back. I won't go into a lot of detail about the lunch, but I got my favorite: Cajun Tuna Steak Sandwich. Highly recommended.

By the time I got home, Jennifer had left for New Jersey to meet up with a fellow student to share the ride to Vermont. In case I hadn't mentioned it, Jennifer's in grad school at Bennington College. She's pursuing a Masters of Arts in Teaching of a Second Language (MATSL). She spent three weeks up there last July, and took probably four courses during the school year. She does the same again this year, and then has a one-week residency there next July, and then Graduates. It's a really tough program, and pretty unique, as there aren't too many programs for elementary school foreign language teachers. Jennifer is nailing it though.

We had hoagies from The Ice House for dinner. These were our first for this trip (unless you count the Grinder Jennifer and I split on Monday). I'm proud to say that Tristan and Zoe are both fans of the true Hoagie, and can differentiate it from a "sub", which is about all we can find in the south. Subs are inferior.

On Saturday, Tristan's #6 tooth (upper right side central incisor) was really loose, so after some very conscientious work on Tristan's part with a piece of celery, it finally came out! Tristan was extremely excited as this was his first baby tooth to fall out, which is somewhat rare for a kid his age. Later in the morning, Andy, Alex, and Ella arrived. The kids were ecstatic to see their cousins. We all went to the pool at French Creek State Park for a day of swimming. They have a really nice setup there. The pool is huge with a big lawn, a good sized shallow area, plus space outside the gate with picnic tables and grills. It overlooks the lake, where we were able to swim when we were kids, until the Canada geese ruined that. The pool's much better anyway.

After a couple of hours of that, we headed to Matt and Dawn Lambert's, more friends from Owen J., and their kids Anne, Peter, Jane, and Laura, stopping first at what used to be Farmer Browns for some cookout stuff to bring. It's always fun to go to the Lamberts. They are excellent hosts, and all the kids get along great. The kids wore themselves out playing everything imaginable.

(Tristan, Ella, Anne, Peter, Alex, Zoe, Jane)

Sunday. We went to Sunday School and church at Coventryville United Methodist Church, on what would be the last summer day in the church's 232 year history without air conditioning in the sanctuary. Dad and I were wearing shorts anyway, even though it was actually comfortable in there for a change. I couldn't imagine what would happen at Mebane Presbyterian Church if the air conditioning wasn't working. I doubt anyone would come, because as a largely suit-wearing congregation (save myself) it would be unbearable in there. But I digress. Dad cooked some burgers and hotdogs on the grill for lunch, then Andy, Alex, and Ella left for Maryland, while Rabin and I left for Mebane. We departed around 2pm, stopped once around the I-85/I-95 merge south of Richmond, and made it home around 10 pm. The lawn was reasonably high, but there were no huge mold patches on the living room ceiling like last year.

Now it's back to the normal routine for Rabin and me, three weeks of grad school in Vermont for Jennifer, and two weeks of day camp, followed by a week at the beach with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for Tristan and Zoe.


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