On Saturday, June 24, Dave, Phoebe, and Benjamin were driven to the airport in Cherry Blaze by our good friends Brenda and Michael. On the way, Brenda learned that Phoebe has exploding hiccups—something Dave and I didn’t know and still don’t understand. Team Gribble flew from Denver to Cleveland, where Grandma and Grandpa picked them up, took them home, and fed them hot dogs. The kids got to run around a bit; then they piled into the Ottmobile (which Phoebe named, but I can’t for the life of me remember what) and drove to Pittsburgh, where they spent the night with Grandma and Grandpa Gribble. We had shipped a few items there in advance, so Benjamin, who’s potty training, had a nice new potty seat and a very fancy potty watch. Phoebe, our little reader, had a new reading timer. Because I was in Chicago, all of these events are hearsay, but I’m led to understand that after some time at the park and lunch, Team Gribble got back into the Ottmobile and drove to Ephrata, PA, the longest driving leg of the trip. I’m sure the kids played there, too, and went to bed. On Monday, I was still at my conference, but Dave and the kids got to go to the Strasburg Rail Road and ride the train to Paradise and back. After that they went to the creamery for ice cream! After the kids went to bed, Don and Dave drove to the Harrisburg airport to pick me up; I’d flown directly from Chicago.
On Tuesday, we all got up at a reasonable time, ate breakfast, and drove about an hour and a half to Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. We met Erika, Heidi, Genevieve, and Cordelia there; Phoebe and Genevieve were holding hands within about two minutes of laying eyes on each other. Lake Tobias is a fascinating place; its basically domesticated animals come up to the open-air buses you can tour in and eat snacks from your hand. Our tour guide was so enthusiastic about the animals, in particular Emma, an elk who came up the steps of the bus to get a corncob!
As we were leaving Lake Tobias, we realized that Benjamin was missing his new potty watch. We even went back to the fast-food restaurant where we’d made a potty stop, but it was nowhere to be found. We assumed we’d hear it playing its song if it were in the car, but no one heard anything. Finally, as we were pulling into Grammie and Pappy’s street, Dave said “isn’t that the potty watch?” You’d think it would have been easy to find, but after an extensive search, I finally found it WAY under the driver’s seat. Phoebe stuck her skinny little arm down there and fished it out. Adaptive technology: only adaptive if it stays on the body!
Wednesday, June 28
Wednesday morning, Don, Dave, and I drove to a terrific trail about 30 minutes from Ephrata in Mount Gretna. Don and Dave went on a bike ride (Dave had shipped out his pedals and helmet ahead of time), and I went on a run. Instead of being sweltering and muggy, it was an extremely pleasant morning. It was fun to run in the trees at sea level. So much oxygen!
When we got back, we found that the ladies and Benjamin had had a nice morning.
The kids spent the day playing, including a fun trip to the next-door neighbors’ above-ground pool, which was freezing. The kids could barely take it! Still, they loved being in the water with their cousins. The girls spent some time teaching Pappy about Monster High; he was a great sport.
It turned out that neighbor Mike loves Spider Man, so he put on his outfit and came over to surprise Benjamin, who was terrified. After twenty minutes of hiding, Benjamin did manage to peek out the sliding glass door to see if Spidey was still around.
By bedtime, everyone was worn out and ready to crash. The girls were sharing a room, which was a fiasco the first night and no problem at all after that.
Thursday, June 29
On Thursday morning, I wanted to check out a running path just .7 miles from Grammie and Pappy’s house, so I went out around 7 a.m., which wasn’t early enough at all. I ran four miles in the sweltering, muggy heat and felt like I’d gone fourteen. At least there was a neat floral display along the path to take my mind off the run for a few minutes!
More playing for the cousins, and that evening, Don, Erika, Heidi, Dave and I got to go to a brew pub in Ephrata called Saint Boniface Craft Brewing Company. We owe Grammie big-time for that field trip, since she had to watch four kids and still managed to make dinner and do a bunch of packing for their Labor Day trip to Rehoboth Beach. Of course, we were sorry to have our time with everyone end, but we were ready to move on to the next round of visits.