Heading North for Christmas
Pittsburgh, PA - Events of Monday, December 19 to Friday, December 23, 2016
On Monday morning (December 19th), we headed to Pittsburgh to spend Christmas with Lora, J. Michael and Lydia. As usual, we left the rig in Florida. As we started doing a couple of years ago, we again stopped overnight at the Hampton Inn in Rock Hill, South Carolina, which is just south of Charlotte. We used to drive straight through to Pittsburgh, but we found spreading the drive over two days is much less hectic.
Since Wauchula is a about two hours farther south than Bushnell where we used to spend our winters, the first day's drive was longer. Not only that, but our route now takes us through busy Orlando so we made sure we got on the road bright and early so we would get to Orlando prior to the height of the morning rush. There were a couple of slow-downs, but no major delays. We got to Rock Hill around 4 p.m.
We pulled out of Rock Hill around 7:30 Tuesday morning and took the bypass around Charlotte to avoid morning traffic. We pulled into Lora and J. Michael's driveway mid-afternoon during Lydia's nap. In actuality, Lydia rarely naps anymore; but she does go to her crib to play quietly for a while in the afternoon. It provides Lora with some much-needed down time.
Lora got Lydia up shortly after we arrived. We notice big changes in Lydia every time we see her. She now chatters like a magpie. Although we sometimes have a little trouble understanding her, we did get a lot better at it by the end of our stay. Lydia is also starting to learn to count, and she is learning to recognize both numbers and letters.
On Wednesday morning, Lora and Margery headed to Walmart with Lydia in tow to do holiday grocery shopping. They also made stops at Sam's Club and Aldi's. Later in the morning, Paul drove north of Pittsburgh to Cranberry to meet some of his former MSA co-workers for lunch. The guys had a good time catching up.
After dinner on Wednesday, Lora whipped up a batch of molasses cookies. Lydia was eager to help.
Coloussy Chevrolet, where J. Michael works, had their Christmas party on Wednesday, so he was home from work early. We had an early dinner of pizza and hoagies from Hunner's Pizza, then headed to Phipps Conservatory located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh for their Winter Flower Show and Light Garden.
The gardens were a gift to the City of Pittsburgh by real estate magnate Henry Phipps in 1893. Paul has fond memories of Phipps because he went there many times as a kid with his maternal grandfather. We took Lora to Phipps numerous times when she was a kid, and we have gone to the Winter Flower Show several times with Lora and J. Michael when we have been in Pittsburgh for Christmas.
The conservatory is dressed up with Christmas trees, poinsettias and other holiday decorations.
There are also vignettes with attractive holiday scenes.
Lydia is at the age where she is wanting to do things on her own. She wanted to take her own pictures, so Lora supervised her use of the family camera.
In the photo above, Lydia was photographing a Christmas tree with the figure of an ice-skating reindeer in front of it.
Santa visits the conservatory during the day on selected days. His chair is a favorite spot for photos at other times.
In addition to having the conservatory all dressed up for Christmas, Phipps also has an impressive outdoor light display.
The camera continued to hold Lydia's interest, and she snapped more photos while we were outside. Looks like we have a budding photographer in the making.
The outdoor light display includes lighted orbs.
New for this year are groups of lighted plastic rods lining one of the outdoor paths.
Back inside, we warmed up as we finished our tour of the conservatory. We stopped for a couple of family photos on our way out.
The Christmas Eve services at the church Lora and J. Michael sometimes attend are so crowded they have four of them - two on Christmas Eve, and two on the day before Christmas Eve (we call it Christmas Eve Eve). Since we always go to J. Michael's brother's house for buffet supper on Christmas Eve, we went to church on Christmas Eve Eve. Lydia wore a new Christmas outfit we bought her a while back while we were in Florida.
It was a nice Christmas Eve Eve service with many of the usual carols including the traditional "Silent Night" sung by candle light. We went back to the house for supper and an evening of relaxation. We'll tell you more about our Christmas trip to Pittsburgh in our next post.