I’ve been everywhere, man!

Next, I packed my bags to head to my daughter’s home near Philadelphia. This is my firstborn, Joy.  There I experienced Christmas number two. I spent hours playing with Hot Wheels and construction vehicles. Trust me, I am not complaining, I may have tested all 97 of their Hot Wheels to see which were the fastest on the track!  There were lots of snuggles, book reading, and I was even brave enough to take them shopping by myself (they are three and five-years-old).  Have you ever been to a Philadelphia Target the day after Christmas?  Trust me, you don’t want to. The shelves resembled our grocery store ones just before a big snowstorm; they were ravished!

It was then time to get back in the car as my daughter, the boys and I headed for Longwood Gardens.  There we met the Mechanicsburg crew so all the cousins could explore together.  To say Longwood was beautiful would be a cataclysmic understatement. It was over-the-top amazing.  There were giant Moravian stars strewn across one field, each of the three tree houses were whimsically decorated, and the trees outside were adorned with thousands of lights in a kaleidoscope of colors.

Inside, how do I even begin to describe the inside displays? If you could close your eyes and imagine what a perfect winter wonderland would look like, this would be even more beautiful. There were too many decorated trees to count, many of them towering far above our heads, adorned with glistening ornaments.  Oh, and the poinsettias, there were thousands of them sitting in pretty rows of pink, white, red, and even candy cane striped.  The kids were enthralled by the sight of it all as they craned their necks and stood mesmerized by the sound of the cascading water in the many fountains and inhaled the aromatic warm, moist air.  As is the case with all good things, this magical day ended as we piled back into the car and made our way back to Philadelphia.

It was now time for the next leg of my trip, which was back to Lewistown to repack and pick up my husband to travel to the next destination on my holiday journey, which was Lake Paupack in the Poconos.  This third round of Christmas was spent with my son David who was vacationing there for the holidays, and I was going to see my seventh and last grandchild, 16-month-old, Luca.  As if just for us, we woke up to a picturesque winter scene as we looked through the bank of windows facing Lake Paupack to see snow drifting down from the heavens dressing everything in glistening white.  It was truly magical.

While still in the Poconos, it was now time for us to pull on our snow gear and head to Blue Mountain Resort for some adventure time at their snow tubing park.  Fun fact, Blue Mountain is the home of the largest snow tubing park in the United States.  Of course, we chose to book our tickets in the evening so that we could be there for the super deluxe Sonic Snow Tubing experience complete with laser lights and music.  I must admit, it was so much fun!  I think we all need to get in touch with our inner child once in a while and just enjoy life.  I may have awoken with a bit of a stiff neck the next day from all the jostling, but it was worth every pang of pain.

At last, we were ready to begin our trek home.  I may have been a bit road-weary, and my car may have looked like I lived in it, but my heart was full.  To experience adventures and to love and be loved, isn’t that the most fulfilling thing we can hope to experience?  As we look forward to this new year, let’s make time to prioritize and do more of just that.

Rhonda S. Kelley, Executive Director, Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce