Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pennsylvania Part 3: Confluence

Matt and I spent Friday, August 6th through Monday, August 9th with 14 of his extended family members in Confluence, PA. A sign in the town bore the slogan, "Where mountains meet rivers." It's a quaint town situated on the Great Allegheny Passage, a bike trail connecting Cumberland, MD (which is connected to DC by the C & O Canal) with Pittsburgh. It's a beautiful area, although we did pass a beer distributor with a Confederate flag on the porch and a resident near where we stayed had a "He's not my president" sign. So, not a place I'd settle down in, but great for a weekend trip.

Our first stop on arriving in Confluence was Confluence Cyclery, where Matt and I rented a couple of hybrid bikes since we couldn't exactly bring ours from California. Then we headed to our accommodations at the Parker House, which Matt's mom had reserved in its entirety. There, I met Matt's cousins and their families, and Matt's aunt and her husband. It was a little overwhelming because there were several new people but everyone was very nice to me, which may seem like a trite thing to say but nice is really the right word here, and niceness is sometimes underrated. Also, the family had organized a birthday celebration for him (his birthday was a little more than a week prior) including two beautiful tarts made by his mom's husband, some poems, and a couple of photo albums. Even though the event was all about Matt, it illuminated the personalities of those involved for me.

The only thing better than their looks is their taste.

I am not an athlete but I did enjoy the bike rides we took. I rode over 20 miles (Matt rode about 50), which is probably not much for some people but it was a lot for me. The trail is a beautiful one, and reasonably easy as well. It's mostly shady glimpses and occasional good views of the surrounding rivers.

I didn't even need training wheels!

We also checked out two Frank Lloyd Wright houses in the area: Kentuck Knob and the legendary Fallingwater. Maybe it's because we went to Kentuck Knob first, but I enjoyed it more than its more famous predecessor. While Fallingwater is bigger and perhaps prettier, the experience felt more corporate. Additionally, Kentuck Knob has a sculpture garden, and we had a really fantastic tour guide there (Matt's cousin concisely described her as perky without being annoying).

This makes Fallingwater appear
deceptively quiet.

Our whole Pennsylvania trip was really fabulous but our stay in Confluence pleasantly punctuated our vacation.