I drove the two hours to Parker Dam yesterday in the mountains of the Allegheny. The foothills are rolling and mesmerizing. The hazy sun played no shadows on the wide expanse of my view on I-80. I played with the radio stations, just to hear what was out there. I find I appreciate the music of classic rock and roll, if not always the words. When the strongest narrowed down to country, I flipped onto a CD.
The long road to the park, after the climb up the mountain, past Rosebud Mining Company, sheltered on either side with tall trees, drew me nearer to the family and memories. We're the older generation now, three down the tree. I think of my first one thirty two years ago, Leon, Clark and Lyle were in their fifties. Twila, probably still in her forties or young fifties, like I am now. So this is what we look like to the kids running around, the children of the ones not even born, yet, then.
I walk Harrison around the camper's circle, now with electric and dogs, with five inch paw prints painted around the legal sites for dogs. I say, "There...there...there," as I pass each campsite that I stayed at with my in-laws. The old Airstream, where Katie spent her first camping and reunion trip fills my mind. I see the picture of my two month old laying on the back couch, in a pink outfit. I see the rocks where she played Little Mermaid when she was three, my blond head girl with the Little Mermaid shoes, pink, of course.
I spend most of my time visiting with Sue, a cousin's wife. We have clicked a few years back and she even saw a book that reminded her of me. I look forward to reading it, having finished Bonhoeffer and Wesley this week. The title, Write Your Heart Out, by Rebecca McClanahan, the introduction resonating with my soul.
I don't like driving in the dark, especially with the New Jersey barriers on all the bridges across the high valleys of the Clarion and Allegheny Rivers. That part unsettled me. I descend the mountain, deciding at Penfield to continue on that road instead of the grind of I-80. The clouds hold moisture, sometimes hiding the sun. The forests, deep and dark, surround the two lane road. I'm now listening to old Christian rock of Audio Adrenaline. What great songs to sing as roaring over these roads. Oh, hello, Mr. State Trooper. Thank you, for staying in your hiding spot on top of the mountain.
I soak in these little Pennsylvania towns. The old buildings crowded around their main street. Brockway, I stay on St. Rt. 28 and go past the Presbyterian church that held the funeral of two children and their dad killed in a fire on Palm Sunday in 1971, I think. The older son rented a room in our house while he taught at W. Middlesex. Funny, how I remember it being up on a hill and it really isn't. But it did have several steps to the front door of the old red brick church with the white wood door. I can see the little white casket of the girl, who was about my age at the time. The funerals were on Good Friday.
I continue on I-80 before Brookville, then retreat through the river town of Elmenton to avoid the barriers on the high bridge over the Allegheny. Oh, so many shops and interesting eateries. Why don't we explore this some time?
I pass through Scrubgrass township, glancing down the road to Westminster Highlands. Oh, if it were earlier, I'd make the detour and take a picture of the entrance. I see a road trip to Elmenton, soon!
I'm not far from Kenerdall, but I don't sidetrack that way, either. My niece is at birthday celebration there at someone's camp. My great grandparents, Peter and Rebecca Thompson, eked out a living there before settling in Shenango Valley.
After Clintonville(no, not named after our president as another niece's husband teased her a few years back), I finish on I-80, an unremarkable dusk journey. I do wonder if the Highland cattle are still on Scrubgrass road west of Barkeyville. But not this evening, I'm ready to be home. My faithful traveling companion, curls up on the front seat and I'm low on gas, but I make it home.