A Spring Vacation, Only Not

Firstly, thanks to HeartlandCustomHomes.com, who somehow discovered RocketCityDigs and featured us as one of the best DIY/Home Improvement Blogs in Pittsburgh. Pretty sweet, eh?

I joked for years that Pittsburgh’s not safe until after St. Patrick’s Day. That is: it is not springtime until the big St. Patrick’s Day Parade, after which, the snows will stay at bay and spring will finally arrive. No one listens to local boy Punxsutawney Phil. It’s St. Patrick you trust.

Until this year, of course. It’s been a long, long winter. Cold and gray, and when I woke up this past Monday morning to see more snow on the ground, I nearly cried. Granted, part of the reason I moved back here was because I missed the seasons. But even the long-timers have admitted this has been an unusually long, gray winter, and a few weeks ago, we decided to celebrate the dawn of spring by skipping town.

We could’ve hit the Laurel Highlands, our ski region; only 45 minutes away and in the heart of the Laurel Mountains, the Appalachians’ kid sister. But it’s still ski season, so we figured we’d save some dough by heading up to North East, an aptly named little town on Lake Erie. After all, water is water and a beach is a beach. Even in late March, if the weather’s 45 degrees, it’s still marginally sunny, and you still have a view, right? Plus: Pennsylvania grape country. Which means Welch’s, and also wine!

So we booked our house, packed up the kids, and headed north. That’s right: north. From Pittsburgh. In March. We’re our own worst enemies.

Here was the view somewhere past Edinboro:

Balmy, no?

The snow kept falling for twelve or so hours. Sometime around 6 PM, as the snow continued accumulating outside our beach house window, I decided to pour some bourbon in my tea and pretend it was December. Snow’s glorious in December, after all. Happy New Year!

Two days later, and I’m accepting, again, that with small people in tow, a vacation won’t be a vacation for a long time. Eliza couldn’t sleep the first night; Gillian ended up in bed with us last night. They haven’t yet hidden in the hallway, waiting to ask me to come play with them, but it’s in the mail.

Gillian's the one on the right.

I know, I know: we can afford to take two days off work and go on a mini-vacation, so who am I to complain? But the thing is that paying money to go away from home raises one’s expectation of fun and relaxation… but being out of your comfort zone is just a little more challenging in every way. So you while you’re relishing the change of scenery, you’re eyeballing the definitely-not-child-safe glass media center and wondering if your toddler will split open her forehead or poke her eye out on it. In one moment, you’re drinking mimosas on a Friday morning; in the next, running to the wide-open front door because the locks are well-oiled, and reachable. Which brings me to our original logic in choosing an off-season location: we didn’t want to shell out big dollars and still have to deal with the toddler factor.

Now is the winter of her discontent.

On the upside, the town of North East is lovely, if deserted this time of year. We visited a storefront wine seller, had an excellent sandwich at Rizzo’s (which, in Pennsylvania, is like saying “I had especially good french fries” in Belgium), and we’ll be hitting the Erie Children’s Museum a bit later. It’s the kind of town that peppers the California coast: small, tourist-driven economy, with coffee shops and toy stores and a well-appointed grocery store. And even the locals were caught unawares by the early spring storm, so we’re not complete idiots.

We had pancakes and bacon for breakfast, and watched “Clifford” on premium cable. Things are looking up.

So we’ve decided we’re coming back this summer. Preferably to the house we’re renting now, actually, which is well-appointed and only five homes from the beach. I’m looking forward to seeing it green.

So close. So cold.

Actually, I’m looking forward to seeing anything green, as long as it’s not a shamrock. Damn you, St. Patrick. Damn you.

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