This weekend we made the trip north to visit with family and refresh our perspectives on a few things near the cottages. It was a raging success! Here's a little rundown.
We knew we'd consume about 2,000 calories too many on Saturday, so the first thing CJ and I did that day was run Woodcock Dam. It's the best, flat two-mile stretch around. If you follow me on Instagram, then you know why this spot holds some special memories. On top of being the place where I got physically and mentally prepped for my wedding day, it's the place we used to go every night after dinner when we lived in that old apartment way back when. We'd take my dog, Lola. She was always so excited for the walk! But she was little. So she had all sorts of energy and needed to be on her leash for mile one (that's to the end of the dam). But for mile two back to the car, I would take Lola off her leash and she would trot with her head down all the way back. She didn't care about anyone or anything, including other dogs, that would pass by. She just wanted to go lay down. I can still see her velvety little ears bouncing all the way back to the car. It's one of those memories we talk about every time Woodcock Dam comes up. CJ was the third wheel in my relationship with Lola for about 13 years so she's just as much a part of us as anything I can think of.
My birthday is coming soon. Knowing I’m on a spending lock down, my mom and MIL combined forces to give me some pocket change for a trip to The Woolen Mill. Guyzzzzzz. I had some fun. Cannot wait to show off the goods. My favorite might be the empire waist navy jumpsuit with a white square-neck bodice and POCKETS. Needs tailoring but it is incredible. I’m so into The Woolen Mill to satisfy my preppy aesthetic, which will come in handy when we start hanging out at the lake next year. Their summer sweaters are seriously perfection.
Food & Drink
CJ and I hit three spots on Saturday while Stella went to Waldameer with Grammy.
- TimberCreek Tap & Table - We were struggling to think of a place for lunch that could offer a decent meal for me that wasn’t a plate of pasta. CJ suggested TimberCreek. It had been a hot minute since we’d been there and they do have the appeal of their own handcrafted beer. Turns out, they had several options that I could easily adapt to vegan and the sandwich I got was GOOD. (Freaky Greek, no cucumber sauce and add tofu, btw. I don’t substitute naan even though I know it’s almost never vegan. I’m a human with human desires and naan happens to be it.) The flight of beer was fun. And at one point, we laughed so hard about a 90s music reference we had literal tears in our eyes.
- Firehouse Tap & Grille - My mom and I met CJ here after our little excursion to The Woolen Mill. He was watching “the Super Bowl of Soccer” with a few strangers. When we got there, it was clear CJ had made friends, and he’s not even a really big soccer fan. But does it really matter when it's "the Super Bowl of Soccer?"
- Voodoo Brewery - Mom went home while CJ and I made one more stop here. Voodoo has a cult following in western PA but a lot of people I know don't seem to realize Voodoo's roots are in Meadville. The owners of Voodoo had a vision loooooong before the craft beer movement was underway. I've always admired that they continue to invest in Meadville even when I'm certain they are being approached to go elsewhere. In fact, they recently purchased the old 84 Lumber building, quadrupling their brewing capacity. And believe me... their brews are legendary.
- Bonus: Roff School Tavern - After Voodoo, I went home to take a nap. Yeah, seriously. I'm old and it was a big day. But when I woke up (ok, CJ had to wake me up after 2 hours), I was refreshed and ready to go. So I slapped on a fresh top and some heels and off we went to Roff School. This was the old Northgate Inn and let's just say it had a whole different vibe back then. CJ used to tend bar at the old joint so he had lots of stories to share. The owners of Roff School have invested in the place, opening up the walls, adding some light (Northgate was very dark) and sprucing up the outdoor space where you can play cornhole under twinkly lights. They have more than 200 craft beers (!!) available in bottles including our summer fav Kona Big Wave. There aren't many places in western PA where you can enjoy a great Hawaiian beer. It was nice to get out one last time. After Roff School, we headed back to my parents' place, put in a fire and finished up the night.
Let me be honest with you.
I wanted to leave Meadville by the time I was 15 years old so badly it hurt. It's a small town and I'm more comfortable cloaked in the anonymity of a larger city. When we first moved to Pittsburgh, I considered it temporary because I thought I needed to be someplace bigger. So the fact that we're circling back to Meadville is rich with irony to me. But now that my temper tantrum over returning is complete and I'm actually looking around, I'm seeing the beauty in my connections with the area. Sometimes I'm sad because many familiar corners of the city are like haunted houses, empty and echoing with loss. But then we have a day like we did last weekend and I'm heartened by the bits of progress taking root.
The curtain is about to go up for Act Two of Meadville's story. And I'm finally realizing how privileged I am to have a front row seat!
All photos taken with my phone.