Monday, December 16, 2013

Pennsylvania and Homemade Pumpkin Pie

We left Washington DC late on Tuesday evening headed for "Pennsylvania and some homemade pumpkin pie" just like the song "Home for the Holidays".  Neal's mom lives on the family farm in rural western Pennsylvania, which was our Thanksgiving destination.  It was raining like crazy and the temperature was hovering right around freezing as we eased our rental car into the miles-long backup on the GW Parkway awaiting our turn to join the traffic jam known as the Capitol Beltway.  It was 7:30 pm and just like old times.  Too much so, as we remembered the last time we made this drive in the rain it took about nine hours to go 275 miles.  We decided the best option was to stay south of the snow line and headed west across the top of Maryland on I-68.  (Sorry Texas, California, Florida, but Maryland wins hands down for the oddest shaped state.  Look it up.)  We drove through an ice storm at Sideling Hill while cheering for the salt trucks which were doing a great job keeping the roads passable.  Just north of Morgantown, West Virginia, the rain turned to snow and began piling up on the hillsides.  More than six hours after we started out Neal's brother met us at the Pittsburgh Airport where we dropped off the rental car and headed north another half hour to Harmony.  We finally arrived at Neal's mom's house at around 2 am.  It had taken planes, trains, and automobiles to get us to the family homestead for Thanksgiving.

We awoke to a snowy Wednesday morning.  I've been here for Thanksgiving many times and have never seen more than a few flurries.  It was very cold but we just had to go for a walk while there was still a bit of snow falling and I had never seen the farm in snow.  It was incredible.

The camera was not set to monochrome--these are the colors of a gray, snowy day.  The now-empty pasture used to hold a small herd of cattle.  There is a creek at the far end of the pasture beyond the barn.

The property extends across the creek almost to the top of the ridge.

A low wetlands area near the creek.

Looks like a row of flocked Christmas trees

Down in the old pasture grasses show a shot of green through the snow

Rosa multiflora was brought to the U.S. in the 19th Century as rootstock for commercial rose growers.  It escaped cultivation and has become invasive creating huge runs of brambles like this one.

The white flowers are small and uninteresting.

The hips add dots of color to the scene

We weren't the only ones making tracks in the snow.

Deer tracks

Our tracks

Barberry in the woods, I don't know whether this is the native or invasive variety

The neighbor's fence appears through the woods

This "run" or small stream flows from a spring up the hill behind the house.  Water from the spring irrigates the garden in summer.

Thanksgiving day was sunny and bright so another walk was in order.  Now this looks more like a winter wonderland.  What a difference the sun and blue skies bring to the scene!

The bird feeder casts a long shadow

Sedum growing in the rock wall by the garage.

I didn't find any agaves but the neighbors have very hardy yuccas growing in front of their fence.

Then we went "over the river and through the woods" with our homemade pumpkin pie to Neal's brother's house.  Actually we crossed several creeks which are bigger than most rivers in South Texas.

While there are plenty of woods along the way my favorite part is winding through this Christmas tree farm--a fun sight in any weather but especially nice covered in pristine snow.

The trees stretch up and over the hills on both sides of the curving sweep of road we just drove through.

They will be very busy on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving but for now it's very peaceful.

We had a wonderful dinner with the family and that pie was sure good.

I'm linking to Foliage Follow-up at Digging today.  Join Pam and other bloggers to see more foliage posts.

In my next post I'll share photos of the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh.


  1. Gorgeous! Scenes like these are what I picture when we sing the song "Over the River and Through the Woods." Snow makes everything seem so bright and fresh. I sure don't miss shoveling it though! Sounds like you had a marvelous Thanksgiving with family.

    1. It certainly was a Christmas Card week! Neal got in a year's worth of shoveling the first day.

  2. Oh, how my kids would love to see snow like that. Born and raised in Austin, they are seriously snow-deprived. I think I might even enjoy it -- for a day or two. ;-)

    1. I'm sure they would enjoy the fun of fresh snow especially if they could come back home to Austin after a few days!

  3. Your long drive in an ice storm sounds like my worst nightmare. I did enjoy seeing your pictures of snow, especially once the sun came out. But I'm so very glad I no longer live where it snows like this. Looking at pictures is enough.

    1. It was indeed as you describe, I actually downplayed it as you can imagine. We chose to retire to my home state instead of his for just this reason.

  4. I'm loving this series about your visit back east.

  5. Heading up to Colorado on the 22nd to see my brand new grandson. Hope to see a white Christmas ! Nice pictures, Shirley.

    1. Have fun Randy and be careful, I hear there's another storm coming in.

  6. What breathtaking snowy shots! We haven't had snow so far in Japan, but they say we might have in a few days. As you mentioned, the sun and blue skies together with snow look more like a winter wonderland! You seemed to have a great Thanksgiving !!!

    1. This snow was unusually early for the region. Clouds and gray are the norm with this weather in Pennsylvania so we were glad for the sun.

  7. What a beautiful place for a family dinner and getaway


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