Christmas in Pittsburgh 2011
Bushnell, FL - Events of Friday, Dec. 16 to Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011
We made our trek from Florida to Pittsburgh for Christmas again this year. We go in the car and stay with our daughter, Lora, and "son," J. Michael, since the weather this time of year is too unpredictable to take the motor home north. As we have done in the past, we drove straight through, a trip that takes 15 to 16 hours. We drive straight through because we're spoiled by having an RV and don't like motels. It's a looong drive, and we're not sure how many more years we'll be able to do it, but it works for now.
The weather was fairly warm most of the way this year. We left Florida at 3:00 AM with the temperature around 60º. It dropped to the lower 50s as we drove north, but then began to climb again as the sun came up. It was 69º by the time we got to Charlotte. The temperature began to drop again after we hit clouds around Charlotte, especially after it started to rain a little north of there. The temperature was down to the upper 30s by the time we drove through the western part of virginia. Fortunately, it didn't get any colder so we didn't get any snow. The reason we leave so early is so we can arrive in Pittsburgh in the early evening to have time to visit before we both fall into bed.
Our trip to Pittsburgh usually doesn't take place until around December 20th or 21st, but Margery wanted to attend the wedding of the daughter of a former coworker the weekend before Christmas, so we left a few days earlier than usual so we would be there in time for the Saturday wedding. Fortunately for Paul, Lora also knows Margery's co-worker, so she went in Paul's place giving Paul a chance to stay home to relax and read. Margery and Lora had a wonderful time visiting with friends from the church where Margery worked. Here are the three beautiful Reamer 'girls' with the groom.
On Monday, Paul met some of his former coworkers for lunch, and on Tuesday and Wednesday evening, Margery did the same. On Wednesday afternoon, we took Paul's step mom to lunch at Bella Frutetto, which is an upscale, Italian restaurant located in a strip mall in Pittsburgh's North Hills area. Lunches range from $8 to $13 for paninis and sandwiches to $12 to $15 for entrées. We had a nice visit and a delicious lunch.
Having lunch out several times and the temptations of special treats of the holiday season made it hard to stick to our diet. We have had occasional cheat days in the past, but this is going to be a cheat week. Fortunately, Lora and J. Michael are following the same diet, and we are continuing to watch our carbs at least part of the time.
We spent the rest of the week cooking, wrapping, and preparing for Christmas. Then we went to church on Christmas Eve eve. The church Lora and J. Michael attend has grown so large, they can't accommodate everyone on Christmas Eve even though they have several services. They have a new building under construction, but it is not expected to be ready until early next summer. In the meantime, they have added a couple of services the evening before Christmas Eve (Friday). We decided to attend church on Friday hoping it would be less crowded. The service was filled, but not to overflowing.
J. Michael's family gathers at his brother's house on Christmas Eve. They are a great bunch, and we are so blessed to be included in the festivities. There is always plenty of good food (more temptations) and lots of laughter.
On Christmas morning, we opened gifts with Lora and J. Michael. The next photo shows J. Michael with his Christmas hat and their new, 7-month old boxer puppy, Fiona.
Fiona and Gunnar, Lora and J. Michael's two-year old male boxer, get along very well. We enjoyed watching them open and play with their gifts. The next photo shows them anxiously awaiting their first gift...
...and they had a great time with it.
J. Michael got Lora a Kindle Fire...
...and, among other things, a very cute set of PJs with a boxer that looks just like Fiona.
Lora got J. Michael a golf bag. He loved it so much, he just had to give it a big hug.
We got the puppies "bully sticks," which are dog treats recommended by Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer. They are supposed to be easy to digest and less messy than rawhide bones. J. Michael was shocked to find out that they are made from the part of the bull that makes it a bull.
On the day after Christmas (Monday), we went to J. Michael's mom's house for the family gift exchange. Rather than get everyone a small gift, they each draw a name and buy gifts only for that one person. Of course, the names are all kept secret, and they have a lot of fun guessing who has what name. There was a lot more good food and fun. The next photo shows us with Lora and J. Michael and J. Michael's mom.
And here is a photo of the whole gang sans J. Michael's brother-in-law who was the one taking the picture and having a great time with his new camera.
J. Michael had to go back to work on Tuesday. Margery and Lora went shopping to pick up some post-Christmas bargains and to re-stock the pantry. We went to see "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" in the early evening after J. Michael got off work. It's been quite a while since any of us had been to the movies, and we really enjoyed seeing an action movie on the big screen. Nothing like movie popcorn for our last off-diet dinner!
On Wednesday, we were on our way back to Florida. We left Pittsburgh a little before 8:00 AM and got into Bushnell shortly after 11:00 PM . Traffic on the way south after Christmas is always worse than on the way north because many Florida residents are trying to get back home before New Years, and a good many snowbirds start to head south right after Christmas is over. However, this year was the lightest traffic we have seen in the 4 years we have been going back to Pittsburgh for Christmas. There was one tie-up in South Carolina on I-26 right before it meets I-95, and a few slow-downs on I-95, but it only took us about 15 minutes longer going south than it did going north. We're not sure what the reason was, but we're not complaining.
We'll take a few days to relax, but we'll have another report on our activities soon, so stay tuned.