Warning: this post is pretty much entirely SFW. My apologies. I know that some of you have begun to accuse me of wholesomeness, and, let me just say: it stings, people. Anyway, if you want smut, just page down to the next post. Also, I promise more smut soon. I only go on vacation two or three times a year. Smut happens all the time. Mmmmmm, smut.
When I'm up in the wilds of southwestern, Pennsylvania, sitting on the front porch, staring off into the mountains, and pondering the ways of the Amish might be enough of a vacation for me, but the progeny frequently require additional diversion, and, difficult though it may be to believe, the search for windmill exhibits is not always enough. Fortunately, when you're up in the mountains, the driving is pleasant, and driving for forty-five minutes or an hour (or maybe more) doesn't seem like all that much, especially if there's ice cream along the way. Over the last few years, we've come up with a small list of activities that we try to hit on every vacation. Chief among these is the alpine slides at the Seven Springs resort. Seven Springs appears to be mainly a ski resort, so I'm guessing the bulk of their business happens in the winter. During the summer, there are usually some families there. There might be some business retreats happening, too. I'm not sure. They have pools and tennis courts and water slides and restaurants and all that. We sometimes grab a meal when we're over there, but mostly we just go for the alpine slides. I like zooming down the mountain on the slides, but mostly I enjoy the chairlift ride up the mountain and then hanging around up top. Because of the way the tickets are priced, we usually by them in books of five, which means that EFU and YFU can each go up and down the mountain twice for each time I go once. The trip up takes about ten minutes, and affords you the opportunity to check out the track, make fun of the people who are coming down too slowly, and look for chipmunks. We saw a few chipmunks, but they're usually in motion, and I can never get a good picture of them. Chipmunks are cute. They don't really sing in high squeaky voices like Simon, Alvin, and Theodore, though. Theodore is my favorite, obviously. I identify with him because he's such a top. Most people arrive at the top of the chair lift and head immediately down the hill to grab a slide and wait their turn to race down the mountain. EFU and YFU did that, but since they had two tickets each to my one, I told them to go down and come back up without me. I'd walk around for a while and then take a slide down with them on their second go-round. It's very nice up there, especially if you ignore the construction sites. They're always building new condos up there, but you can walk in the other direction and look out over the valley below. Or just wander around. I figured I had about twenty-five minutes to meander, so I set off towards one of the ski trails. It was a very clear day, and pretty soon I was over underneath another lift, which wasn't operating because it was summer. The snowmaking equipment was similarly idle. There was a relatively cute, late thirty-something or early forty-something guy out walking a small dog, and he said hello to me. He asked me how far it was to the other lift, and I said that I'd just come from there and that it was only five minutes or so away. He remarked how nice and peaceful it was on the top of the mountain. I concurred. I wondered briefly whether he was gay (it was a very frou frou dog) and cruising me, but I decided that I was just feeling the effects of several days without any male companionship. I'm sure he's just like the cute married guy who often gets on the elevator at the same time as me in the morning at work. He smiles so much because he's a friendly person. On the one hand, it's a good thing that I still work in and visit places where strangers can smile at and talk to each other. On the other hand, a world where not every man I meet wants me to take him back to his mountaintop condo and have my way with him is a bad world.
Still, at least there are wildflowers. Even on the mountaintop. After EFU and YFU had each gone up and down the mountain four times (meaning I'd gotten to ride the slide twice; "ride the slide" is not a euphemism, at least not this time), they were satisfied, and we headed back towards my parents' place. Naturally, they wanted ice cream, so we stopped in Rockwood. Rockwood is a small town that, apparently, once had an opera house. I suppose they still have an opera house, but it's been converted to retail space. I didn't spot any divas there, but I wasn't looking too hard. The ice cream place has a flavor called Rockwood. It's maple flavored, with pretzel sticks and chocolate balls. That part of Pennsylvania has a small maple syrup industry. (I have it on good authority, however, that some of the local vendors buy truckloads of maple syrup from Vermont and repackage it locally. Oh, the humanity.) The chocolate balls represent rocks, and the pretzel sticks represent wood. Personally, I found the interpretation a bit too literal, so I had a cone of creamsicle ice cream instead. I did get a taste of the Rockwood, and it was pretty good, but the creamsicle was better. There is also a bakery in the same store. They were selling several varieties of a regional specialty: the whoopie pie. The whoopie pie is a good example of the sort of baked good that could, and perhaps sometime is, be made very well but is usually uninspired. Most of the whoopie pies that I've encountered have been downright bad, but they are undeniably popular. After our ice cream, we headed back to the car and drove back to my folks' place. Not, however, before seeing something shocking. All those apples, rotting by the side of the parking lot. You hear all the time about how people in small towns are frugal and waste nothing, but now you know the truth. You could feed a hundred children on the applesauce that could have been made from those apples.
At least I can take comfort in knowing that I ate every last bit of my ice cream cone.