A Gibbons Family Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania
November 28, 2018: One of our goals heading towards the end of 2018 was to be able to spend some time with family during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Everything seemed to fall into place with our year-long workamping job in Port Lavaca, TX ending on November 15, and our next planned work opportunity scheduled for some training in mid-December, with an official start date the first week of January. That left us with an open window around Thanksgiving, as well as some time around Christmas. Sometimes we surprise even ourselves with our planning efficiency and skills!
Knowing that getting from Texas to Pennsylvania would require a flight (or way too much driving!) we began scouring our favorite flight search sites a couple of months beforehand. Betsy has very strict limits as to what she’ll spend on a flight, so it normally requires several hours of both of us searching to find the right combination of flight times, days and price. One evening while sitting in the recliner I said, “Hey, I don’t think it’s gonna get any lower than this.” I had found two direct, roundtrip flights from the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW) to Philadelphia (PHL) for under $350! Yep, during Thanksgiving week. Being somewhat flexible with our travel dates definitely helped in our search. We realize that most travelers that want to fly over the Thanksgiving holiday have a very small window in which they are required to get somewhere and get back. It would definitely be a lengthy visit from November 18th - 28th, but after confirming availability at our favorite B&B in Phoenixville, PA (OK, it’s the Kapusta House, my sister and her family!) we quickly booked the flights. Ten days would be a long time away from Charlie (home!), but would also be a welcomed break after working for 12 months in Texas.
The timing allowed us to complete our 12-month work commitment at Texas Lakeside RV Resort, move our truck and camper to the DFW area and head to PA for an extended visit. We even made reservations at an RV park in Denton, TX where Charlie and the Big Tow’er could hang out while we were away. OK, I can tell you now that the Big Tow’er had other plans, and we never did get our rig to Denton. More details on that little problem in a later post though.
After closing up Charlie and leaving him on our site at Texas Lakeside RV Resort, we headed out with our packed suitcases, in our Honda Pilot, for DFW and our early Sunday morning flight to PHL. And when I say early morning flight, I mean early! Scheduled departure from DFW was 5:45 AM. When you factor in getting to the airport early, security lines and boarding 30 minutes before departure, it was going to be an early morning. Since the drive from Port Lavaca to DFW would take about 5 1/2 hours, we had no choice but to drive to the Dallas area the day before and stay in a hotel. Staying in hotels is not our preference. In fact, one of the many reasons we chose our home to be an RV is to always have our bed with us. Hotel beds not required. Well, sometimes circumstances require a hotel stay, and this was one of those times.
In order to break up our almost six hour drive, we decided to find something interesting between Port Lavaca and DFW. Well, what do you know, a little more than half way between the two is Waco, TX. It had been almost exactly a year ago when we stopped for a visit to Waco on our way down to Port Lavaca. We enjoyed our brief visit to Waco and we especially enjoyed the chance to visit Chip and Joanna Gaines’ latest venture, The Silos Marketplace and Bakery. Since our visit in 2017, Chip and Jo had opened another business venture in Waco, Magnolia Table. If you are a fan of their HGTV show, Fixer Upper, you’ve already seen the story of their renovation of the Elite Cafe in Waco into their interpretation of a modern-day diner, Magnolia Table. And always remember, at Magnolia Table “Everyone has a seat at our table.”
We were definitely expecting a crowd as our ETA at Magnolia Table was going to be around 1:00 PM on a Saturday afternoon. We already knew they were open until 3:00 PM, so we decided we would be ok. Well, we were definitely wrong! After having trouble finding a parking space, we approached the front door of the building to find out they had already stopped allowing people in for the day. It’s not that they were closing early, but rather, based on their calculations they had to stop taking names for a table to allow the restaurant to close at a reasonable time. Bad news for us, but great news for them. Business was booming, always a good problem to have. On to plan B, which involved finding a good burger spot in Waco. Betsy to the rescue again. The Find Me Gluten Free app directed us to Twisted Root Burger Co. And what a great plan B it turned out to be. After a couple of tasty burgers and fries, and watching the end of the Ohio St. OT win over Maryland 52 - 51, we were back on the road, happy, our bellies satisfied and ready to get some rest. In a couple of hours we arrived at the Sheraton South hotel, thanks Priceline and Ebates, just off the grounds of the DFW Airport.
Although an early start, our travel day was on time and painless. We landed at PHL a little early and our UBER (That’s Understanding Brother-in-law’s Exceptional Ride) driver was right on time picking us up and taking us to our B&B, I mean his house, in Phoenixville. Thanks Kris for getting up earlier than normal on a Sunday morning and picking us up. We felt like we already had a full day in, but arrived in time for a late breakfast at the Kapusta house! One of our first tasks, and one of the reasons for our visit to Phoenixville besides Thanksgiving, was to visit my Dad, who currently also lives in Phoenixville. Although he turns 87 in December, my Dad is still in pretty good health and spirits, so we always try to see him as often as we can when we are in the area. So in addition to seeing him on Thanksgiving Day for the family festivities, we saw him an additional five or six times during our visit, which was enjoyable and well worth our time.
Leading up to Thanksgiving we had heard rumors of upwards of 20 people staying at the Kapusta B&B for at least a night or two! With these kinds of rumors floating around we were glad we were able to arrive the Sunday before Thanksgiving and get our bedroom secured. Kind of “Squatters Rights”! Someone was going to have to remove us from our bedroom in order to take our bed! Heck, we were there early enough that we had our choice of two nicely furnished guest rooms. We chose our old standby, where we had spent many nights in the past during our transition from house to RV in 2016.
To prepare for the arrival of 23 people for a Thanksgiving meal at your house the Kapusta’s were more than happy to have Betsy and I there to assist. And we, of course, were more than willing to help with any task or errand that needed done. I mean we were commandeering a bedroom in their house for ten days, it was the least we could do! So anything that needed picked up, prepared in advance, cleaned up or completed in any way, we were their guys. We were fortunate enough to be intimately involved in more than one shopping trip to Costco and a couple of grocery stores. Ok, full disclosure here, in case you didn’t already know Betsy is actually way better than me at organizing and completing these types of tasks. Just like during our time as owners of ICED by Betsy, I am more logistics, transportation and moral support!
When the big day finally arrived on Thursday, we (Betsy and the Kapustas!) had things under control. With the turkey and ham in broilers, the number of side dishes needed to feed 23 people required the use of the neighbors oven. It’s a good thing they were away for the Holiday! By the time we all sat down (in the dining room AND the living room!) to eat, we already knew it was a success. The guest list included: all five of my siblings and their spouses (sorry you were under the weather Judy!), my niece Nicole and her family, my cousin Bonnie, my niece Brittany and her family, Grammy DeWald (Mike’s mom) and of course mi Padre! The food was delicious (thanks everyone who contributed to the feast!), conversation was lively, but most of all it was awesome to spend the day with Family!
The interesting part was the fact that several of them weren’t leaving, but had also booked rooms at the Kapusta B&B. (As I said before, it’s not REALLY a B&B, just a cool place to stay that happens to offer great breakfast options!) So just like most hotels, the Kapusta B&B had been overbooked, but it definitely could have been worse. Some drove home that day, some chose to stay at a real hotel, but when it was time to turn out the lights, five of the six Gibbons kids were sleeping under one roof again. Denny chose to drive home or we would have been six for six! It’s a good thing too, because that probably would have caused some sort of black hole to open up in the universe, or something more serious in an interstellar way. Every bed, couch and air mattress was spoken for. Just like old times. We’re just older and bigger than we used to be!
As Thanksgiving Day 2018 disappeared in the rearview mirror, the crowd started to thin out. Some left on Friday, a couple left on Saturday and when Rick and Karen left on Sunday the house was almost empty again. Well, almost empty, Betsy and I were still there. First in, last out! Isn’t that some type of inventory system, LIFO. Call it what you want, but we were hanging out till Wednesday. The Kapusta family exhaled and started to relax a little on Sunday evening. To allow them to relax even more, Betsy and I took the opportunity to head out and meet some friends for dinner. We hadn’t seen my college roommate, Marvin, his wife, Michelle, and their three beautiful daughters in a couple of years, so we were way overdue. The evening was not short on conversation as we spent a couple of hours catching up on what has been going on in all of their lives. The girls have grown up way too fast, as their oldest is a junior in high school and already planning her college commitment. (Insert your favorite U of Florida Gator cheer, here!) All in all a fun evening and we look forward to seeing more of the Kolessar’s next summer when we are working in New Jersey.
When Monday rolled around and the Kapusta’s headed back to work and school Betsy and I planned a field trip. We decided to take advantage of being in the area and visit a couple of places across the river in South Jersey. Our first stop was the South Philadelphia KOA. We wanted to stop in and introduce ourselves to the campground managers and take a look around. Why you might ask? Well, you see, we have already been offered and accepted our next workamping job for the Summer of 2019. Yep, a summer in the Philadelphia area to work, sightsee, enjoy the weather and catch up with friends and family. But most of all, my Dad will be less than an hour away, so we will have an opportunity to spend some time with him. This is one of the advantages of being a full-time RV’er, planning our travel around people we want to see and things we want to do.
After leaving the South Philadelphia KOA, we had one more stop to make in South Jersey. And selfishly it was all about me. You see, we have been following a bakery on Instagram for a while whose products always look incredible. From cakes and pies, to cinnamon rolls and monkey bread. From cookies and brownies to cupcakes and donuts. Oh, and did I mention that everything in the store was gluten free! Yep, a completely gluten free facility. So off we went to Posh Pop Bake Shop in Haddonfield, NJ. A tiny little storefront on a cute Main Street. We parked and enjoyed a walk down the cold, blustery street, then we ducked into the sweet-smelling bakery and started planning our attack . . . I mean purchase! We showed some restraint since we were leaving in a day or two but we got enough to come to the conclusion that this was one good bakery. The fact that it is only about 20 minutes from where we will spend next summer is both good and bad. Good that we will always be a short drive from a tasty treat. Bad for our waist lines, being so close to such an awesome place. What’s the saying? “I’ll take the good with the bad!”
Even though ten days was a long time to be away from Charlie, our home, the Kapusta’s always make us feel so welcome, it feels like home. We wouldn’t trade the time we had to spend with family over the Thanksgiving weekend for anything in the world. The laughter, conversation and time to just catch up with each other was definitely worth the time and effort to get there. So back we went to Dallas to reunite with Charlie and get an update on the Big Tow’er. And last but not least, on our drive back to Port Lavaca we made another attempt to visit Magnolia Table in Waco. A Thursday afternoon visit worked out much better and after a brief wait, we were able to enjoy a brunch at the Gaines’ Table. Thanks for welcoming us, we love what you’re about! We were back to the Lone Star State and thankful for the warming hospitality the Keystone State provided of the Thanksgiving holiday.