Sunday, August 24, 2008

We left Kentucky on Thursday morning, driving North into Ohio.

We planned to meet up with a blogger along the way and maybe check out the Air Force Museum in Dayton. I'd been there in 1977 with my folks and wanted to see it again. I guess my plans turned out to be bigger than our schedule, because there was no way we could make all that fun stuff happen and still make it to my cousin's house in Pennsylvania by dinner time.

As it was, spending about an hour and a half in Dayton with Pat Houseworth left us getting to Williamsport late, rolling in there at about 11 PM. Of course, I wouldn't change anything about that lunch. It was a blast to finally meet this guy who's been impressing me with his life story and his opinions for a year or so.

Denise and I met Pat at the Ruby Tuesday just north of town. He'd told us that there were lots of places to eat at that exit and left it to us to decide where to meet. We got there a little early (Denise was drivin' like a bat out of hell, keepin' up with the truckers on I-71 and 75), and called him to tell him to meet us at RTs. We don't have those restaurants around here, so it's fun to try them out on these road trips.

The food, beer and conversation were all wonderful (Denise and pat drank wine), and after that we all stood in the parking lot and took pictures.

What can I say. We gotta do what we gotta do. You should have seen his camera, the one he's holding there. It's a HUGE beast, big enough to take a floppy disc to hold all his shots. Cool, but I need somethin' I can put in my pocket. It did make me feel better about my own camera, which I've always thought was ridiculously big.

We've made plans to do all this again next year, and we hope to be able to get together and walk through the Air Force museum. That would be a huge blast.

After the dinner and parting with Pat we drove off to Columbus on I-70, experiencing the worst traffic of the trip so far as we headed east through that town. When we got to eastern Ohio we got on I-77 and headed north through increasingly beautiful scenery till we got to Canton and Akron. Then we headed east again on I-77 till it turned into I-80 and we headed into Pennsylvania.

As soon as we got to Pennsylvania the weather turned shitty on us, with rain pouring down and the temperatures dropping by about 20 degrees. Don't get me wrong. The cool temps were wonderful, but driving at night in the rain was a pain in the ass. We found ourselves feeling sorry for a few older bikers who got drenched when the rain started, before they could take refuge under an overpass.

We drove on along I-80 till we got to 220 and headed northeast towards Williamsport. We got to my cousin's house by about 11 PM, finding Bob sitting up, waiting for us, while his wife Linda had already hit the sack. She had to go to work early in the morning, but Bob had taken Friday off so we could hang out together. Denise and I took our stuff down into their basement, which is decked out with a full bathroom, bar and big screen TV, and hit the sack ourselves. It felt good to sleep in the next morning.

We found out when we got there that Bob's step-daughter was gonna bring his grandson over Friday morning so that he and Linda could babysit till Saturday afternoon. His son-in-law would come by Saturday afternoon to get the kid, which meant I had another day to put the finishing touches on that knife I was gonna give him. You remember that? Well, I'd finished the bead work on the sheath while Denise drove us up to Dayton, but I was still wanting to soak the leather sheath and dry it out to harden it. I managed to get all that done with time to spare.

This is Gabriel, my cousin Bob's grandson. His first grandson. Maybe you can't tell from these shots, but Bob is as happy as he can be with this little wiggler. Linda's smitten too, as you can imagine.

We spent all day Friday and part of the morning Saturday playin' with Gabe and hangin' out, relaxing from our drive. Friday afternoon Linda and Bob put together a huge feed for us and we all gathered on their porch for grilled chicken, corn-on-the-cob and a great tomato casserole.

You can see that Gabe took part in the carnage and we all got full to capacity.

On Saturday afternoon, Bob's son-in-law Scott showed up to get the kid and I handed over the knife. Sorry about the fuzzy shot, but there was a lot of emotion in that moment. I told him "This is for your son, but you can play with it till he gets old enough to." He thanked me and I told him it was nothing. He's given my cousin Bob a much greater gift in that little boy.

I can see the joy in him, determined now to try to live long enough to take Gabe fishing and duck hunting, wanting the boy to remember him. Anything that keeps Bob going and giving him a reason to stay healthy is cool with me. I love him like a brother. I grew up without one and wanting one bad, and now I have two. Ain't that cool as hell? I can't wait to go on those fishing trips myself. It'll be fun to watch Bob and Scott show the boy a thing or two.

See, Bob's a real man's man, whatever that means. He was a big football star at Penn State in the late 1960s, and has built a very successful life for himself there in Pennsylvania since then, but he's never had a son to romp and play with, and to share his love of the outdoors with. His first marriage ended in divorce after the two adopted a daughter, and his second marriage to Linda gave him another daughter. Those little girls both grew up to be beautiful, smart women, but they don't share the love of the outdoors that Bob revels in.

His new son-in-law Scott is a huge hunter and fisherman, so Bob's had a great time getting to know him, and I know he's enjoyed the growing sibling relationship that the two of us have built in the last decade or so. Scott now joins us on our annual fishing trips to Canada, where I've gotten to know and like him too. It's like I've got a great, fun extended family up there that I get to hang with once or twice a year. It's wonderful.

I saw how much Bob and Linda loved that baby last year when I did this road trip on my own. Gabe was brand new then, and I could see the joy in Bob when he cradled the kid in his lap and walked with him in the yard. When Bob flew down for my Dad's funeral earlier this year the plan to build the knife crystallized in my mind. It was my way of paying all of them back a bit, and maybe showing Bob how much I love him.

Anyway, it was fun, and it worked out well. Everyone is happy, and we're all looking forward to getting together again next year. Next I'll show you shots of our boating trip on the Susquehanna and going out to eat and four-wheeling with Bob and Linda. Y'all relax and we'll talk again in the later. Cheers.


Mushy said...

Loved the 3 shot of you, Pat, and Denise...great shot man!

pat houseworth said...

Hey Bud, can you imagine trying to take blog shots with the old Poloroid or those damn old cameras that take a tri-pod?

Had a great time, and hopefully we can do it again next year...or maybe I can sneak down to Mushy land.