I remember driving around one of the many “gravity hills” around Bucks County as a teenager. We’d do all kinds of dumb things like drive out to a country road, put our cars in neutral, and wait for the car to lurch forward up the incline. I don’t recall any of the gravity hill experiments ever working, we tried turning off the headlights, turning off the radio, and summoning the gravity spirits to haul us forward. Despite the gravity always prevailing, the real fun of it was being nowhere, moon providing bits of light, the collective anxiety of teens desperate for some sort of signal, for me those signals were never in abundance.
One signal does stand out. There’s a place growing up that always did stir my heart with an inappropriate amount of fear. I had heard many stories and while none seemed at all rational or plausible, it still spooked me good and I treated the spot with a bit of caution. If you’re ever driving down 263, past Buckingham towards New Hope, you can make a right onto Holicong Road. That road takes you up Buckingham Mountain and its a narrow road with a couple twists that require two hands on the steering wheel, near the summit, there’s a tiny building that resembles a small church.
Growing up, I remember hearing it was a place where Satanic rituals took place, heard it was a stopping point for the Underground Railroad, and maybe out of irony, I heard it was a gathering place for the Ku Klutz Klan (I am not sure if that’s spelled right, but don’t feel like Googling them). I had a friend growing up named Jesse who said one night on a dare he walked up to the front door of the church and knocked, he said I light turned on and he saw an evil man and ran for his life. While the story is probably untrue, to this day, I would never have the guts to take the dare.
So I grew up fearing this crazy little place and to this date get nervous stealing a glimpse of it when I drive by, but I never really had a real reason to justify the concern, until now. The Intelligencer is running a series of articles (you can find them on PhillyBurbs.com, they started on Sunday, June 24) on a grisly murder that took place right outside the church. The woman was stabbed and gutted, left for dead, and found by a father and son in a pickup truck a day or two later, this was in 1977 and the case was never solved. It is really a chilling article and I have to tip my hat to the Intel, they’ve apparently been working on it for a year and it shows. As I read the article, I wonder if parents of kids who were born in the years after 1977, told their kids crazy stories about the place to discourage them from hanging out there without telling them the horrible event that actually happened. I wonder if there’s just a miasma about the place where you can just sense that a tragedy occurred there. Or maybe, it is just the perfect scene for a little haunted high jinx.
Whatever the case, I dare you to read the articles and I double dog dare you to knock on the church door at midnight.
Jac & I have returned from Palm Beach, Florida. Did you miss us?
We stayed at a hotel called The Breakers, it isn’t a bad place to spend a week. The hotel has been on that piece of land for nearly 100 years and was built in a time when places actually had character, tons of painted ceilings and ornate details throughout, regardless of where we were, a view from the ocean seemed to be within site. The temperature was in the 80s and so was the water, it was a nice time to be in Florida.
In addition to walks on the beach and an occassional dip in the pool or ocean, we did a couple of interesting activities on our trip. We strolled down Worth Avenue where we saw numerous Bentleys, Masaratis, and Ferraris. I took Jaclyn canoing down a river and we literally paddled over an alligator.. We attempted to do some deep sea fishing, but Jaclyn ended up getting pretty sick so we headed in early. When we got back to marina, we saw a massive school or Amberjacks and little reef fish, we purchased some frozen prawns for $3 and fed them for about a half an hour, it was magnificent to watch the 10 pound Amberjacks come rushing out of the water and snap the shrimp from the surface. The amazing thing about the Amberjacks is that when you tossed the prawn about 10 feet off the dock, the fish would track the prawn fly through the air, like a wide receiver catching a bomb from Brett Farve, they’d always catch it the moment it hit the water.
The canoeing trip was incredible, it was like we were in a jungle. As we paddled along, I spotted what I thought to be an alligator, but I was in the way back of the canoe and Jaclyn was at the very front, I asked if she could see it, but she couldn’t. I told her I’d paddle her closer to get a better look. Long story short, I paddled us into a six foot gator and right before the canoe hit it, it sunk down a couple inches, allowed the canoe to pass over it, and then took off, causing the muddy bottom of the river to explode into a murky mess. Jaclyn screamed that the gator swam right under the boat, she grabbed the sides of the canoe for dear life and expressed her dissatisfaction in the proximity between us and the alligator. Another one of those moments in my life when I immediately regretted my previous actions (that book is starting to fill up!).
On the canoeing trip I saw an alligator gar, its a fish that resembles an alligator, it was probably four to five feet long and didn’t seemed at all concerned with our canoe.
It was great coming home and seeing the kids, they seem to expand their vocabulary every time I leave, their brains are growing at such a rapid pace.
Saturday was The Edman’s bachelor party, celebrated with the gang of friends who have known each other for over 20 years. Funny how many people you meet in life and how few you really get close to over time, it’s also funny to think how little we’ve changed, we’re the same as we were in third grade, and for that, it is amazing that any of us are either married or about to be.
On Sunday, I played softball and recovered until I mustered the strength to do a very easy activity, carp fishing in the Neshaminy Creek. I took the kids to one of my all time favorite spots, the peeing rock. It was a little cliff that California Dave and I would occassionally urinate from, it was about 30 feet from the water and below it, the water was pretty deep by Neshaminy Creek standards and it was typically occupied by carp. I took my family to the spot (no we didn’t pee off it), but I did manage to catch a 7 or 8 pound carp that fought furiously. The kids & Jaclyn were all impressed, felt like a pretty cool Dad (like a cat that brings a dead mouse to its owners doorstep).
I am sitting in the Greensboro, North Carolina airport right now, me
and about 3 other people. The security people were literally excited
to see someone. They were running a guys wallet through the x-ray
machine over and over, eventually they gave him his wallet back, I
think they were all just bored.
I stayed at the nicest hotel I’ve stayed in all year, the O’Henry
Hotel. I think I’ve stayed in about 40 hotels this year and this was
easily the nicest, the hotel was so nice I contemplated taking Jaclyn
there some time…until I asked the staff what there was to do in
Greensboro, which he replied, “basically nothing, I guess you could
watch the grasshoppers.”. Fortunately, I knew from the local paper that
the grasshoppers are the minor league baseball team of Greensboro,
otherwise, he would have made it sound like the most boring place on
earth. That should be Greensboro’s motto, The Most Boring Place On
Earth, people would come.
The hotel gives occupants a free breakfast, not some scrappy
continental breakfast, but a buffet of scrambled eggs, biscuits and
gravy, bacon, oatmeal, and fresh homemade pastries that were
incredible. The whole thing was free and their was a delightful
waitress who cleared the table and brought more water, but since the
breakfast was free and I didn’t use my credit card to pay for it, I had
to use the cash in pocket for tip, unfortunately, I only had $1, which
made me feel like a cheap bastard.
Otherwise, it was a good trip, but I think hotels need to offer little
ATM machine type things that dispense $1s and $5s, so you can have easy
access to tip money.
The hotel also offers free transportation to the airport, which I took
advantage of, but again, no cash! I doubt the folks at O’Henry want me
I have begun the search for a new car for Jaclyn. I reallylucked out with Jaclyn, she’s smart, kind, and beautiful, she constantly worksout (she may be stronger than me now, yesterday she put a hutch on the top ofher car all by herself to take it to Goodwill), and she drives around in an oldHyundai that rattles like crazy, the AM radio doesn’t work, the screen to seethe time or radio station doesn’t work, it also has a big dent in theside. She’s never complained once about the car, in fact, she’s nevercomplained about anything and I am sure I give her plenty to complain about.She finally acknowledges that fact that the car has fallen on hard times (it’sover 10 years old) and we think its time to move on to a new vehicle.
I remember when Winston was born, we left the hospital in Flemington, NJ inJaclyn’s very tiny Hyundai Accent with Winston in a child seat in theback. The car was so small that I had the driver seat pushed as far backas it could go so it rested on the back seat and Jaclyn was in the passengerseat with the seat as far up as it could go so the car seat could fit behindit. We all looked fairly uncomfortable, riding 15 MPH back to our home inFrenchtown (I never drove so carefully in my life as I did with my child in thecar for the first time). About a week later we bought the Hyundai SantaFe and it continues to serve us well after 5 years and the addition of Dalia toour crew. I don’t think I thought much about why we bought the car orwhat we planned to do over the next 5 years when we purchased the Santa Fe, wejust needed something bigger so we could fit in it.
Jaclyn thinks we need a car that can fit the 4 of us (Jac, me, Win, and DD),plus room for a couple other kids that need a ride to and from school. Ithink it would be nice to have a trailer hitch, just in case, we someday get alittle boat for the river or Nockamixon. Over the next 5 years, Winstonand Dalia will be Elementary School students and I will reach the ripe age of38. These are my aspirations for the next 5 years:
1. Be able to eat at a restaurant and not worrying about mykids screaming, climbing over the booth divider into someone else’sbooth, food being thrown, screaming, or me ordering something that they donot eat.
2. A trip to Disney World/Florida Keys with the family.
3. To own a 17′ Carolina Skiff fishing boat
4. To get a promotion, maybe 2
5. Coach one of my kids in some sport
6. Visit New Orleans with Jaclyn
7. Win another championship in slow pitch softball
8. Take the kids hiking up Mount Minsi
9. See a Red Sox game at Fenway
10. Get a new back door for our house, new garage door, new shed,new refridgerator, bathroom updated
I think we’ll get about 6 of these, the first one will be the mostgratifying!
What kind of car should we look at?
Left work early Wednesday, haven’t been feeling my best and really wanted to see my family before I left for another work trip (maybe I ate too many hot dogs over Memorial Day). We left for Stockon, NJ and took the tow path into the woods. The kids chased butterflies and drew maps into the gravel with sticks, Winston scared a fawn and it hopped through the woods and leaped across the path and disappeared. Dalia moseys and Winston sprints ahead, Jac & I walk peacefully with one child 100 yards ahead and the other 100 yards behind. After walking down the path for a bit, we circled back, crossed the river on Centre Bridge and had dinner at Dilly’s. The kids topped it all off with swirl ice cream cones, Winston finished the entire thing.
The kids are starting to separate on a lot of issues now, Winston wants to watch Pokemon and Dalia wants to watch Barbie Fairy Princess, Dalia wants to catch frogs and Winston wants to play with the iPad, Winston wants peace and Dalia loves to roar. In the grand scheme, it is getting easier, we can now leave the kids unattended for 10 minutes without getting too concerned, they stay in our yard and don’t injure themselves as often.
I have been traveling way too much this year and despite sitting in a hotel room overlooking the turquoise Atlantic ocean in Palm Beach, Florida, it really sucks being away from the wife and kids so much. I think travel would be much nicer when the kids are in college and Jaclyn can join me everywhere, just 15 years away! I have to give Steve Jobs some props though, last night we were able to use a couple of our iPads to Facetime each other. Since iPads have built in cameras & microphones, Jaclyn and I were able to talk to each while looking at each other too. It isn’t perfect technology, the screen freezes every once in awhile due to intermittent internet disruptions, but it sure beats talking on the phone. In fact, I had several things to tell Jaclyn and the moment I saw her, my brain went to mush and I forgot what I wanted to say, she is a gorgeous woman. I piloted FaceTime at the house with Winston, he took an iPad to his room and I went downstairs and it was like modern day walkie talkies where you could see each other as you talked, after 7 seconds of excellent conversation with Winston, he ended the conversation by switching over to his favorite game Dragonvale.