Friday, October 25, 2013

Spider, Shadows, and Bears! Oh my! By Janet Lee

Michael and I recently went to Greensburg, PA (near Pittsburg) so I could check several items off my bucket list before we sail away.   1) I wanted my extended family to meet My Michael.   2) I have always wanted to take my mom to see my daughter, Erica, race (mom is 85 and has never seen her race),  3) I wanted to spend some time with my cousin Teddy, in the mountains.  And 4) I wanted to see and smell a real autumn again!   And trust me, it's only coincidence that the world's largest Steeler fan store in Station Square along the Monongahela River, at Liberty Bridge, happens to be not too far from where we were to land.   
        



                          
 
The first morning, after arriving in PA, we traveled across the state to the Reading area to surprise my daughter on her 30th birthday.  She and her husband, Richie, were racing in an NHRA event there.   When she saw me walk into her race car trailer, her jaw dropped and she said, and I quote, "What the heck are you doing here??  You are crazy, momma!!!!"  
                               
My mom, yours truly, and Erica 


First time a husband and wife
 have run against each other in pro stock.


Mom & My Michael watching Erica & Richie race
 
My cousin Teddy and his wife have been living totally off the grid for over 40 years, and leave behind a zero carbon footprint.  Teddy has written a book about living carbon free called Off on Our Own  and you can find a copy of it here.  It is truly an inspiring book full of encouraging ways to become better stewards of the planet.  If you think you know how to re-cycle; read this book and learn from the ultimate re-cycle pros.  (Teddy has even figured out how to capture methane gas from his compost to heat his sauna and hot tub.) Teddy and Kathy call their home Stone Camp and it is located on Laurel Mountain just outside Ligonier, PA.  For power, they rely totally on wind and solar, everything else is wood fired.  Spending a few days at their home is always a memorable experience.  They live in a 12 volt world, which is where Michael and I are headed! 
The road to Stone Camp
 I snapped a picture of this handsome buck
              hiding in the fall colors.               
Stone Camp
                                                       
The fist thing Teddy told us upon our arrival was to get up to the guest cabin and build a fire since it was predicted to get down into the low 40's that night.  He told us where we could find some dry wood and a hatchet.  The little guest cabin in the woods is not wired to Stone Camp, has no electricity, and occupants must rely on candle power or a flashlight for sight, and the wood stove for heat.  Any water that is needed throughout the night must be carried in and out.   After chiseling some of the wood into slivers, we accomplished our first job by making a fire without paper!  

The little cabin in the woods

                                                       
After a wonderful dinner of soup, assorted cheeses, and bread, we visited with Kathy and Teddy over some wine.  Before long Uncle Sneezy  (Teddy's dad) and Aunt Janet (my name sake) showed up with Timmy, Teddy's brother, his son, Casey along with his wife and two kids.  Yep, we had ourselves an Appalachian Mountain, homegrown, backwoods social, complete with triple distilled 90 proof moonshine.   Teddy, being a flamboyant story teller, entertained us with stories about a 750 pound black bear, and other stories of unrecognizable cries in the night that he could not identify.  (Note to self... such stories are not conducive to a restful night's sleep.)  A black bear has actually broken into the breezeway between the house and garage at my uncle Sneezy's house (he lives a half mile down the mountain from Teddy) and vandalized his triple locked freezer to get to his stash of ice cream.  Hearing how the bear ripped the lid off the freezer and sat eating the ice cream was comical until I compared the door at the little cabin in the woods to the heavy metal locked door on the breezeway at uncle Sneezy's house.  
 


The impromptu family gathering began to wind down so we grabbed a flash light and several candles and headed up to the little cabin in the woods. Once in the cabin, I opened the trunk to find clean sheets for our bunks.  With no moon to cast any light, the dimly lit room gave way to a spooky scene that nearly chilled my bones.  When I opened the first sheet and saw movement on Michael's bunk I said:  "Michael, flashlight please!"  I'm not one to scream because of critters, but after Teddy's stories of unidentified wales in the night, if Michael had not creamed a certain unwelcomed bed buddy, Teddy may have heard yet another unidentifiable blood curdling scream!


Mr. Spider, who was about the size of a quarter, was making his way across the center of the bunk when from out of nowhere, with lightening quick reflexes, My Michael pulled off his cowboy boot and brandishing it as his weapon of choice, ended the spider's life.  If I didn't know better, I would think that spiders make Michael squeamish because he moved with such stealth, agility, and quickness that the poor spider didn't see it coming.  RIP Mr. Spider.  As you would expect, I thoroughly inspected the whole area for any friends or relatives of Mr. Spider and continued to make our beds. 
If you remember my post on things I will not miss, you know I have a lack of love for 'the bra', but on this night I was sleeping in everything I owned.  I removed my cowboy boots, but kept my socks on, and slipped into my PJ  bottoms.  Bra, shirt, and hoodie stayed on.  I was so inspired by Michael's skillful dispatch of our unwanted bunk mate that I put my hood up and tied the strings so that nothing was exposed but my eyes; like a Ninja.  Now dressed confidently in my spider fighting Ninja attire I was prepared to kick, wrestle, chop, brawl, or squash any friends or relatives of Mr. Spider making their way onto, or into, any part of my body.  If they are seeking revenge for Michael's actions; I'm ready.
The silence surrounding the little cabin in the woods, combined with the moonshine, and  blackness of the cool October night, permitted me to fall asleep quickly but, with rigid shoulders.  At one point in the night, Michael got up to stoke the fire, leaving the stove door cracked open when he returned to his bunk.  Uh oh.  Big mistake.  The flickering flames created dancing silhouettes that jumped all around in the little cabin in the woods.  My mind went on a journey filled with big man eating rats morphing into gigantic blood sucking spiders, mean grizzled black bears, and an assortment of zombies for good measure.  Yea, I was a little freaked out when the dawn started to show the next day.  


 

Now that we are safely back in Texas, at sea level, I can say our trip to PA was a complete success, and I got to cross items off my bucket list.
 
                    1)          Family got to meet My Michael (and we got to meet my
                                 moms new boyfriend, Fred).
                    2)         Surprised Erica for her 30th birthday.
                    3)         Mom got to see Erica race.
                    4)         Spent time at Stone Camp with Teddy and the Family.
                    5)         Got to taste, smell, and see a real mountain autumn.
                    6)         Stocked up on Steeler gear (just in case).


Happy Halloween!