Choo Choo. These were the familiar words among the "grandkids" this weekend as our friends the Martsolfs and their kids traveled to California for a weekend of catching up. My mom and Donna Martsolf were best friends from college at University of Michigan (we won't tell how long ago.) They both got married, had two kids (a girl, then a boy) and now are still enjoying happy marriages and life as grandmas. When I was younger, we would see the Martsolfs at least once a year and we grew up with LeeAnn and Grant. For this trip, Paul and Michelle drove up from L.A. so we could all hang out together. Our first stop on the Central California tour for our Pennsylvania friends was the Sugar Pine Railroad in Oakhurst.
This was actually all of our first time on the Sugar Pine Railroad near Tenaya Lodge right outside Yosemite. It's an hour-long ride through the beautiful big trees with a stunning view of the mountains beyond. Our train conductor/guide gave lots of history about the area and the wildlife and our group of 15 ate a picnic, sunbathed and chatted while riding the open air train. Donna and Rob Martsolf are my brother Paul's godparents.
While the adults were getting acquainted and reacqainted, the kiddos were just getting comfortable. Meilani was in a tickle contest with 4-year-old Brady. Meilani and Ally, who is 1 1/2, had fun chasing each other around and "sharing" baby dolls. The grandmas found lots of great photo ops.
I really had a chance to connect with Grant's wife, Christy. Even though we just met, we found loads to discuss. She's a fellow healthy food lover-creative spirit- traveler friend. It was as if we knew each other for years. We bonded over strawberry-rhubarb desserts and an interest in organic gardening. Grant and Christy recently returned from a mission trip to Haiti so Ericlee and I found lots to talk about with them in that regard as well.
After the train ride, we took the whole clan to Yosemite to see the breathtaking panorama we're so proud to live nearby. We finished up Saturday with one of Mama Maria's famous Italian meals, including salad, ravioli with two sauces, garlic bread and Dorina's Chocolate Pizza for dessert. On Sunday, we all went to church together at The Bridge and then we headed for the Wine Trail in Madera. (It's all about the journey - not the destination.) We drank in a few local wineries and some fabulous weather. We rounded out the day with a California bistro-style barbeque at our house on the deck and then sent our dear friends on their way.