Over the week of July fourth, we braved three airplanes and several hours in a car to get to one of my most favorite places on Earth, a 100+ year old train station dragged up the mountain and converted into a hunting cabin on 3000 acres of Pennsylvania wilderness.  Flatrock is a super special place for us.  It holds hundreds of family stories across several generations.

Jacob has been to Flatrock three times so far— once when he was a few months old and still small enough to be bathed in a turkey roaster, once when he was three and picked-up a live mouse by the tail with his fingers, and now when he was eight and can catch tarantulas in jars.  Nate’s first trip to Flatrock was when he was about sixteen months old and busy spending hours toddling over the edge of various decks straight into the depths of countless rattlesnake dens… I didn’t get to pee for three days.

This summer’s trip was so much fun.  Shelley, Kashava and Shaddai came all the way from Michigan and the Pittsboro Birds came up from North Carolina.  We really missed the Wilsons but they were certainly there in spirit, as we enjoyed slice after slice of Honey Baked ham.  It was a reunion of cousins and aunts and uncles and recently befriended locals.  Only James would be strolling through two different towns in Central Pennsylvania and run across two people he knows.  I mean really, the Camp Cook as he’s leaving the Bellefonte YMCA, and then his new buddy Buck, in a sub sandwich shop?  I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t been there…

We fished in the stream and the pond.  Nate was especially determined— catching ten fish at the pond.  I did in fact win the “Bass Fishing Competition” and was the only one to pull a big brookie out of the stream, but, I mean, I have a reputation to maintain.  The little pack of boys spent hours chasing each other around the second story, starting water fights at the spring, and harassing salamanders by the dock.  Two-year-old Bry Bry was hilarious.  He spent most of the trip doing “‘neak attacks” which involved sneaking up on you and pinching your knee.  If you do it back he declares, “I’m.  Not.  Happy ’bout.  Dat!”  And stomps his little square foot.  He’s also laid claim to “his Jacup.”  I can get him good and riled up about “my Jacup.”  I love pushing a two-year-olds buttons… and don’t worry, Bryan can hold his own.

James put on another memorable fireworks show but despite all the talk, the dock remained standing.  We adventured to both the Bear Cave and the Indian Cave.  The boys uncovered two arrows and an old campfire full of arrow heads at the Indian Cave.  Granddad almost rode a stone toboggan over the side of a wooded mountain but fortunately, disembarked from the stone age seesaw just in time.  A lighthouse puzzle was completed.  Several gallons of Penn State Peanut Butter Swirl mysteriously evaporated.  And we basked in the luxury of a real shower.  Flatrock has gone from the 1800’s witch’s kitchen to Chateau Flatrock to Mar-a-Lago.  The Sutz has never been nicer.

We enjoyed all of our normal haunts– time in Selins Grove with the beloved Ruds.  The boys had stars in their eyes at 11PM when they gazed out at the lighted pool with a diving board and a water slide.  I think they slept in their bathing suits.  We spent hours in an indoor basement pool at the State College Days Inn.  We walked miles around campus, attempting to hike-off the ice cream cones we ate that were the size of our heads.  And then the boys put me on a train in Harrisburg to a long girls weekend in NYC.  They ended the week like kings, swimming all evening and topping it off with a “kids all-you-can-eat rib feast.”  The Red Lion Inn had no idea how unprofitable that promotion would be.

Flatrock List

Hmmm… I wonder who added “A Xbox” to my travel list?

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