Monday, August 2, 2010

Yard work, family reunions and the blues!

Well, it was another busy weekend. (Aren’t they all?) It seems we’re running out of time and we need to rush to squeeze it all in. Before what? I’m not sure. Maybe we just hate to lose the longer days of summer although a little cooler temps might be welcome.

The Big Guy was plum worn out!

We followed Friday’s concert with a bit of car, yard and home maintenance on Saturday during the day. Yep, we’re prepping for another trip, gang. The yard and housework were routine and those that stay behind will need to keep that up anyway, while we’re gone. The car bit was definitely a form of vacation prep.

Starting with a fairly early dinner at a nearby restaurant, we met up with about 40 or so of my husband’s cousins and their offspring for a casual family reunion in the evening. The restaurant is a microbrewery. We hadn’t been in for a while (It used to be a regular haunt for us.) and the Brew Master made a point of coming over and spending some time chatting and catching up with The Big Guy and I since he hadn’t seen us in so long. So I guess it was also an “old friend” reunion for us, too. Once we had all milked dinner for all it was worth and felt the restaurant really wanted their space back, we migrated to one of the cousins’ homes nearby and spent another few hours just “catching up” with everyone.

My only regret is I never remembered to pull my camera out - not even when we were passing a bunch of photos around for all to see!! You would have thought those pictures from the last reunion would have triggered the thought, but, no, they didn’t. I’m not sure anyone took pics this time. We were all too busy talking!!

If your family doesn’t hold big formal reunions, I highly recommend this approach if there are still a number of you in the area. Just book space at a local restaurant and invite everyone to join you. Make it clear they are financially responsible for their own food and beverages. We purposely pick a place that offers everything form sandwiches right up to fancy formal dinners and the orders throughout the crowd reflected that variety.

After such a late night, we were still up bright and early on Sunday so we could get on the road for a trek to the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania for a little blues festival in the tiny borough of Fleetwood. For a small little town, these folks throw a terrific event to benefit the Recreation Council and, specifically, to maintain and improve the great city park (where they hold the event) and the pool there.

They charge no admission and ask only for a parking donation as you enter the park. The fire department provides great traffic and parking assistance throughout the day. The Rec Council runs a food stand for additional money making and they hold guitar raffles throughout the day.

This year there were 8 instruments raffled off in addition to a grand prize raffle at the end of the day. Where else can you take a chance on a Les Paul guitar for only $1 and have a chance of 1 in 300 or so of winning? (Um, we didn’t, incidentally, win anything. But we did try.) Last year, they raised $8,000 for the Rec Council at this little event.

They feature 7 or 8 bands each year and every one is excellent. We can never stay until the end (the last band takes the stage at 7 p.m.) as we have quite a long journey to get home and The Big Guy does get up early on Monday for work. By the time we left this year, the crowd had swelled to about 1500 folks.

One word of caution should you attempt to attend this one in the future. When planning your trip, Mapquest nor your GPS will make time allowances for you ending up behind Amish buggies on little one lane windy roads that don’t allow much room to pass. Be sure to allow LOTS of extra travel time!!

You will, however, travel through some beautiful countryside to get there. Despite all it’s bad qualities, a field of healthy tobacco plants is a beautiful thing to behold. At one time, you saw such fields throughout Maryland but there are only a few tobacco farmers (almost exclusively Amish farmers) left growing the product here anymore. You can find a few fields in Cecil County (MD) and just across the Pennsylvania line (the ones we passed this week) and a few in Southern Maryland in St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties. Unfortunately, I was driving and couldn’t photograph the countryside at the same time. You’ll have to drive through and see it for yourself.

*** Pictured bands:
Blues Factor
Blues City Blues Band
Friars Point
James Supra Blues Band

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