I was sad to have to leave the Hershey/Lancaster area. We had just enough time there to realize we were missing out on a lot. (In fact, we did look into trying to extend our time there – but we couldn’t cancel our next night’s bookings over near Pittsburgh, so we continued on.)
Our drive towards Keystone State Park (just east of Pittsburgh) was beautiful. We crossed through the Appalachian Mountain range. Or, in more accurate terms – we passed under it:
We had 3 nights booked at Keystone. Our first full day there was our middle son’s birthday, and we had planned to go to the Idlewild and Soak Zone for the day. We definitely didn’t see or do all there was to do in this park, but we sort of let our son lead us to the things he wanted to do. We started in the Jumping Jungle (a large rope course/jungle gym), then worked our way through some of the kid sized rides. I was the official toddler and bag watcher. Unfair? Nope – I do not like rides, and this suited me just fine! (And provided the perfect excuse…..what will I do when the kids are all grown??!?!)
After a quick lunch, our ultimate destination in the park was the Soak Zone (ie – water park!) The boys had been pouring over the park map for the last 2 days and had been insisting that the first stop was the wave pool. In spring 2016 our family had visited the West Edmonton Mall Waterpark, and the boys had discovered a deep love for the wave pool!
We crowded into a family change room (or as it would more accurately be described: a closet with a toilet – NOT made for a family of 7), donned our bathing suits, and set out! The 2 older boys are pretty good swimmers (we sign them up for swimming lessons continuously throughout the year), but we made the younger 3 all put on life jackets. Well, the waves started – the boys thrilled, and the younger ones hovered in the shallows with me. When the waves ended Dale came back to where I was standing and told me he had to rescue our birthday boy. He’d been diving under the waves, but when he came up for air and the next wave was already there he got himself in a bit of trouble. He had apparently tried to make his way to the side ladders, but the waves were too much and he was flailing against the wall. There are so many lifeguards on duty around this pool….but there are also so many people in the water. Dale rushed over and was by the ladder, trying to push our son up it, and the life guard was shouting towards him that he (Dale) couldn’t be on there. They had no idea what was really happening. It just goes to show (and we DID know this) – you should ALWAYs be aware of where your kids are, despite swimming ability! Dale ignored the guard and chose rather to save our kid. He was totally okay in the end, just a bit shaken up – and he refused to go back in the pool, choosing to curl up on the side instead.
At this point the Herrera’s caught up to us. Well, let me tell you – as soon as his BFF (Herrera’s oldest daughter) showed up, he was up and ready to jump in the waves again. Talk about motivation! We spent the rest of the afternoon trying various water slides and water playgrounds. (Not all of them were open – apparently the park is winding down for the end of the season. I’d kind of like to know why we still had to pay full admission though!!?!?!?!?!?)
After a day full of heat and sun (and one poor girl getting a double wasp bite), it was time to head out. We changed back out of our suits, made one final stop at the carousel, and headed into town to see if we could find some pizza for supper.
In the end, we did take-out from Carasellas Pizzeria and headed back to the campground for dinner and cheesecake. Our family has at least one birthday each month from April through August – and this concluded the last one of 2017. What a day!
The next day our families were all going to the baseball game in Pittsburgh. The St. Louis Cardinals were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates, and we’d gotten cheap enough tickets for everyone to go. (While I don’t consider myself a big sports fan, a live game of any kind is fairly exciting!)
Remember that muggy weather we were leaving behind on the east coast? Yeah, wishful thinking. Our game started just after 7:00 pm, but we decided to go into the city a bit early to do a little exploring, have dinner, and make the game. No Uber this time. Instead, we drove right into downtown and parked across the river from the PNC Park in a parking garage. It was a tight fit – our Yukon was almost too high, and in fact – Herrera’s Nissan Armada bumped the “height sign” going in. (At which point they got permission from the ‘parking garage boss’ to just park in the first stall.) Herrera’s headed to a nearby Starbucks, and our family walked across the bridge to the ball park. It was miserably hot/muggy out, not to mention it started drizzling. It really was too bad because I would have loved to explore the area a bit more and take more pictures of all the different bridges!
Both families met back up again in time to go into the park and grab some pizza before the game started.
Our seats were off the 3rd base foul line, and our oldest was really hoping he might catch a foul ball. (No such luck!)
Around the top of the 5th inning the rain really started coming down. They played out the inning, and we sat there like troopers (okay – some of the kids complained…but we ignored them) until they called a rain delay at the end of the inning. It was 9:30 at this point, with the weather not calling for the rain to let up for a while. Knowing we had an early morning and a really long drive to Chicago the next day, we opted to call it a night and head back to the campground. In the nearly 5 weeks we’d been on the road, this was the first time rain had really affected our plans for the day – in fact, I think we’d only seen rain a handful of times the whole trip (usually overnight) – so we really couldn’t complain a whole lot. We’ve been amazingly blessed!
On to Chicago!