From Snowy Pittsburgh to Sunny Florida
Bushnell, FL - Events of Wednesday, December 26 to Monday, December 31, 2012
Another snow storm went through the Pittsburgh area the day after Christmas, and we got hit with 4 or 5 inches of wet snow over a just a few hours in the late morning and early afternoon.
We had a little snow on the grass the Friday before Christmas, but the snow the day after Christmas was Freeway's first experience with a significant amount of snow. We put a baby gate up to block the steps and just let Freeway run around the deck and romp in the snow.
Since J. Michael had to go to work the day after Christmas, Paul helped Lora get their brand new snow blower up and running later in the afternoon and gave her some tips on to use it - like don't aim the discharge chute into the wind.
Paul would have done the snow blowing himself; but he only had tennis shoes and loafers, neither of which had very good traction in the snow. This is the first year Paul didn't take his boots to Pittsburgh. He has never needed them before and he usually just left them in the car. Since we were trading the old car in, he figured they would just be in the way so he left them behind. Lora was fully equipped with boots, hat and gloves, and she got the job done in no time.
During the afternoon, Paul also put up J. Michael's new electronic dart board in the family room. Paul had previously made a vinyl-covered back board to help protect the wall from errant darts. Even though the electronic darts have blunt, plastic points and won't actually penetrate the wall, it's possible they could chip the paint.
In the evening, we went downstairs and played a few games of darts. The board has 28 different games with several variations of each game. Scoring for some of the games is somewhat complicated, but the good news is the electronic board does the scoring for you.
Freeway waited below the board ready to pounce on errant darts that bounced off the dart board and fell to the floor. We didn't think the darts would fly very straight with tooth marks on them, so we eventually put Freeway in his crate because we had a lot of darts that missed their mark.
The board has a trash talk feature, which is a hoot. If you miss the target or hit a low score, the dart board will heckle you. Of course, the heckling can be turned off if you don't want to hear it.
We had originally planned to leave Pittsburgh on Thursday, but because of the snow on Wednesday and with more snow, sleet and freezing rain predicted for Wednesday night and Thursday morning all the way down through West Virginia, we decided to stay in Pittsburgh an extra day and wait until Friday to leave.
Since we had an extra day and since we were all hungry for Chinese, we decided to have lupper with Lora and J. Michael at Sesame Inn on Thursday afternoon. Sesame Inn has four locations in and around Pittsburgh, and there is a location close to where Lora and J. Michael live. Although J. Michael had to work, he was able to take a late lunch and meet us there.
Lunch specials, which are available until 3:00 p.m., are $8 to $10 and include an entrée and your choice of soup or egg roll and your choice of steamed or fried rice. Lora, Margery and Paul had General Tso's Chicken with an egg roll and fried rice. Since it was a cold, snowy day, we also decided to have a cup of hot and sour soup for an extra $2.50. J. Michael had Amazing Chicken, which is similar to General Tso's except it is all white meat and has a lighter batter. J. Michael also had an egg roll, fried rice and a cup of won ton soup. Everything was delish!
After our lupper at Sesame Inn, J. Michael went back to work for a few more hours and the rest of us headed back to the house. Staying in Pittsburgh an extra day also gave the dogs more time to play. It was amazing to see how well they all got along despite the difference in size. Gunnar, who weighs 80 pounds, seemed to be especially gentle with Freeway. When they were both going for the same toy, Gunnar usually just let Freeway take it. Sometimes they played with the same toy at the same time.
Later on Thursday evening, we played a few more games of darts, then went to bed early in preparation for our long drive the next day.
We hit the road a little before 8:00 a.m. Friday morning. The weather was gray most of the way. Some of the roads in the West Virginia mountains were wet, but there was no snow or sleet. Except for a few traffic slow-downs on I-77 north of Charlotte and again south of Charlotte, traffic was about the lightest we have seen in the 5 years we have been going north for Christmas. Even I-95, which is notorious for heavy traffic, was moving well all the way through South Carolina and Georgia. Margery read on Facebook the tie-ups on I-95 were occurring in construction zones north of where we joined on in South Carolina, so that was the probable reason traffic was light farther south.
In spite of relatively light traffic, it took us a couple of hours longer to get back to Florida than it did going to Pittsburgh, and we didn't pull into Blueberry Hill until almost 1:00 a.m. Although there was no formal break-in period for the new car, we took it easy on our return trip because for the first 500 or 600 miles GM recommends not driving any one speed, fast or slow, for extended periods of time; and they recommend not exceeding 68 mph. We also made a few additional rest stops on the way back.
Speaking of the new car, it is a joy to drive. It is quiet and the seats are very comfortable. The steering wheel not only adjusts up and down, but it also can be adjusted to be closer to the driver. That helped relieve some of the stress Paul used to feel in his shoulders when driving the old car.
We got over 24 mpg on the way back to Florida in the Equinox. Although we were taking it easy on speed, which undoubtedly helped improve mileage, 24 mpg isn't bad for a 301 hp, 6 cylinder engine. We only got about 17 mpg on the way north with the old car.
We had a great time in Pittsburgh. We always enjoy spending time with Lora and J. Michael and with J. Michael's family, and it is especially nice to do so around the holidays.
We relaxed over the weekend. Blueberry Hill had a New Year's Eve party, but we spent a quiet evening at the rig with a couple of rented movies. We would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone an happy, healthy and safe New Year.
We'll probably be taking it easy for a few more days, but we usually don't sit still for long. Stay tuned to see what we got into next.