Saturday, June 21, 2014

Finding A Family Feeling In Erie

One of the things that greeted my in the lobby of the Sheraton... I guess I'm in the right place.  
The day began with a scramble to get everything in the car after making a large mug of coffee. While this is not much different than my usual Friday routine when I am rushing out the door to get to the office, this Friday morning was different… it was going to take me a little longer to get to my destination. With everything finally packed, I kissed my wife good bye, got in the car, and punched in the address into my iPhone. Estimated drive time approximately seven hours.

The actually driving started off with the usual traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway and the flow easing up as I headed north on the Blue Route. Where I would normally get off to head east however is where my route took a drastic change and I continued north toward Scranton. I was making good time and was slowly climbing further into the mountains when the mandatory coffee refill rest stop beckoned me to come inside. Fresh coffee in hand I resumed traveling and was turning onto I-80 shortly thereafter.

I will say that hearing the GPS say ‘continue on this route for 176 miles’ is a little disconcerting when it first echoes in the car but I had little choice in the matter, I was taking the most direct route. After many miles of cruise control travel winding back and forth between the endless streams of mountains, it was time to make another stop. Fortunately, this highway (no tolls by the way) had plenty of places to pull over and stretch. This is how I wound up in Snow Shoe.

As I had a meeting set up for shortly after my arrival, it made the stop a quick one and pushed through to the end of I-80 before turning north for the final stretch of my journey on I-79. Somehow, despite leaving the apartment later than I would have liked, I arrived in Erie with enough time to check in, put my bags in the room (I lucked out on Thursday night by booking the last available room at the Sheraton), and head down to the patio for the work meeting. During this get together, arranged back in March when we were all in Atlanta, we went over a lot of point, took some additional steps regarding working together moving forward, and also got to know a little bit more about each other beyond work. It was a great meeting that I am glad that we arranged while I happened to be in town.

Obviously, that meeting wasn’t the impetus for the trip. The reason I traveled all the way across the commonwealth was for the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania which would be happening the following morning. These are the kind of meetings that I highly recommend brothers attend if they are able, especially when they are held a bit further from where they live. Within a few minutes of my meeting coming to an end and while I was on the phone with my wife, the District Deputy Grand Master noticed that I was sitting outside and invited me to join him and the other Grand Lodge officers and their families for dinner upstairs.

Here was the view I had out the back of the hotel before heading to dinner.
Well, I wasn’t about to turn down such an excellent offer so as soon as I signed the check and finished the conversation with my wife, I made my was upstairs and joined him for an excellent meal. This was only the beginning of the evening as, after an excellent discussion about all that is going on in the district and at my lodge (as well as answering a plethora of questions I have been meaning to ask) I was invited across the hall to the cocktail reception. So that is where our discussion continued and eventually concluded later in the evening.

While I had planned on simply making the trip to attend the meeting on Saturday morning, the day turned out to be much more than that. This entire evening was as welcoming and friendly as any meeting I have been to since becoming a mason. It truly was a family celebration during which all brothers joined together to enjoy a great weekend of fellowship and freemasonry. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience and one that I look forward to having again next year (hopefully with my wife).