Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lancaster County, PA

After four months in one spot, we got back on the road again the day after Labor Day. It was great. And without realizing it, our course was much the same as it had been one year ago when we traveled between the Finger Lakes of New York and Rehoboth Bay, DE.

We didn’t realize it until driving through Tamaqua, PA. We were talking about how similar the town looked, reminding us of that drive. As luck would have it, I had saved the route information and discovered that it was the same. What a coincidence!

Within a few miles of our campground, we started to see signs of the Amish lifestyle. We saw several young boys presumably walking home from school. A few yards behind them was a small group of girls. Not much later, we saw a horse and buggy on the road. It was so interesting.

After driving through lots of farmland, we started back into the hills and soon got to the campground. Driving to our site was like being back in the Poconos: trees everywhere. This is one of the most rustic campgrounds we’ve been to, and VERY pretty.

We headed out Wednesday morning to check out the towns of Intercourse and Bird-In-Hand. We’d picked up pamphlets and found places we wanted to check out. We had sun at the start of the day and took these pics of the farmlands on the way.

It amazed me how close to the road the corn was growing. It made it hard to see around the corners, sometimes.

We started out at the Information center and watched a couple of movies about the Amish and their background. By then, we were ready for lunch and decided to go to Good & Plenty. OMG! Both words were totally descriptive. The food was very good and there was plenty of it. We agreed it was one of the best non-Italian meals we’d had since leaving home in May. Good, old-fashioned home cookin’.

From there we headed to the Bird-In-Hand Farmers Market. We found all kinds of wonderful things there. I saw home-made iced raisin bread which I haven’t seen since I was a kid. We found fried peas which we haven’t found since leaving Florida. We bought all sorts of good stuff.

We had dinner at Plain & Fancy. This proved to be yet another wonderful meal. Everything tasted home made, including the bread. You could taste the butter in that bread, too. Totally delicious foods!

We had desserts that we brought home from lunch, which included them. We were just too full to eat them then, so we got them to go. One was shoo-fly pie, which I don’t think either of us had ever had before. I could feel the pounds increasing with every bite, but – OH – it was good!

The next day we headed back to the same area, hoping to get more photos of the Amish lifestyle. We started out in Intercourse again, and then decided to go up to New Holland where there was a Farmers Market. We went past this school on the way up there. The kids were playing softball and looked like they were having a great time.

This was a common sight wherever we went. There are no clothes driers in Amish homes. So the movable clothesline runs between the house and the barn, or some other post high enough to keep them off the ground. We even saw several houses with the clothes hung out on the front porch.

Once we got to New Holland, we discovered that the Farmers Market only ran on Saturdays. Bummer! So we took a different road back south to Intercourse. Here’s another good look at the farmland.

While stopped to take the farmland photos, this horse and buggy came up the road.

After that we had other opportunities to snap more pictures. This couple was just leaving the shop next to one we’d stopped at.

Aside from the great food, quilting is a big thing in the area. We peeked into this shop after our last dinner and found some truly beautiful work. Made me think very fondly of my mom.

Speaking of that last dinner: we went to Miller’s Smorgasbord in East Ronks. WOW! We picked the “no soup or salad and no dessert” option, and we still waddled out of that place, stuffed and happy. And the best part for me was that they had iced raisin bread on the buffet! I had to have two pieces – one served as dessert!

This visit to Lancaster County turned out to be so wonderful for us. We both enjoyed it a ton. Of course, now we’ll have to diet BIG time once we get home! But, OH, it was worth it!

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Final Month

By the beginning of August and after our friends left, we felt like we'd done most of what northeast PA had to offer - from a tourist's standpoint anyway. We had traveled to most of the State Parks in the area and seen most of the major attractions. So it became a challenge to find stuff to do. We kept busy, though some of it wasn't very interesting. You know, grocery shopping, and so on.

One day in early August we took a drive to the north. We really hadn't gone that direction much. The drive was very pretty and we ended up crossing into New York state. This was yet another small town with not much to offer. We would have had lunch there if we could have found a restaurant that wasn't fast food. No such luck, however. The drive was worth the time and it was beautiful terrain.

The following week, we went to the Wayne County Fair. (I can't remember the last time I had been to a county fair. Butler County?) The weather was its usual overcast, rain-threatening self. But you go when you can in light of working over the weekend days.

We walked up and down the fair grounds, seeing all the ribbon winners in a variety of categories. We had overpriced, mediocre food.

We listened to an entertainer for a bit. She wasn't too bad, either.

We stayed away from the livestock, but otherwise saw most all of it in a couple of hours. We did enjoy it - something very different for us to do.

We discovered a great 18-hole mini-golf course only a few miles from the campground. We played earlier in the season (I won), but when we were waiting to pick up Heidi after a grooming, we went back for a second round. (This time Julian kicked my butt!) It's beautiful, with mountain views from most of the holes.

Our next photo-op trip was to Dingman's Falls, to the south in the Poconos. This area is within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. We were lucky enough to get there just about the time that a tour was heading out, narrated by a Nat'l Park Ranger. Our first stop was at Silver Thread Falls. This is a natural falls in spite of the very straight edges on the rocks.

After a little more walking and information about the area, we arrived at Dingman's Falls.

We were told that this was a great time to view the falls. The rains all summer had the water high and the falls to be very full. He said that it is often a mere trickle compared to what we were seeing. So the rains were good for something!

Proof that we were there:

One of our friends here at the park is a 10-year old named Adam. He lives with his grandparents and spent most weekdays here. Julian would play pool with him from time to time and went fishing with him several times. Here's one of Adam's prize catches.

The last state park that we visited was Archbald Pothole, also probably the closest to us. We drove past it several times over the summer, usually when it was rainy. We always said we'd do it on a sunny day for better enjoyment. What we didn't realize was how small it was. There is a 3-sided marker with lots of details about the pothole, how it was discovered, how it was formed. And then there's the pothole itself.

That's it. I think a person into geology would find it more interesting than we did. After perhaps a total of 15 minutes there, we just kind of chuckled and then went to lunch at one of our favorite places in town.

After nearly four months here we finally got out onto the lake. With all the rain, it just never fit in. But last week, we took one of the rowboats out and tried fishing Lake Henry. I had two "for sure" bites and a couple others that could have been moss or grasses (the lake is fairly shallow). I know they were bites because I actually saw the fish, I just couldn't hook them.

This picture is taken from the rowboat, looking back towards Clayton Park. As you can see, we had a terrific weather day.

As any of you know from reading this blog, Julian and I have been playing quite a lot of Wii Sports games. Yeah, just about every night before dinner we have some kind of competition. After both of us achieved one frame short of a perfect game at bowling, we've taken up golf. I finally got a hole-in-one this past week. It's a par 3 hole, but hey - a hole-in-one is a hole-in-one!

So as I write this, we have completed our work commitment and have started preparing for the departure for home. Tomorrow we will take the jacks up and hit the road for the first time in nearly four months. We've done a lot of the prep work today and will be heading to our next destination by 11 or so in the morning. We're ready and very excited to be moving into something new and different. I'll write about it - I promise.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Good Friends, Good Times

Our good friends and neighbors, Barbara & Larry Demaline, came to Clayton Park to spend a week with us. They arrived on Friday, July 24, late in the afternoon. I can't tell you how good it was to see them when they got here! They were a much needed ray of sunshine for us.

We all had a great dinner together after I got off work. Julian grilled brats that were so yummy. And being able to talk with our friends was SO terrific.

I worked my normal 11-6 shift in the store on Saturday. They spent the morning getting their campsite set up and comfortable. We had dinner together at their site, sharing steaks and all the trimmings.

The four of us went to Kay's Restaurant in Lake Ariel for Sunday buffet. I've mentioned it before - this is where you'll find the best French toast anywhere. I, for one, overdid it and ate way too much. No lunch was necessary.

Barb and Larry went to Bushkill Falls (see previous post for photos) for the afternoon. They loved it as much as we did. When they got back, we played cards and had dinner together.

With all our work commitments behind us, we all (including the dogs) went to Promised Land State Park on Monday. The weather was very cooperative - we had a great, warm day to enjoy the outdoors.

Julian and I tried to fish, but didn't have any luck (as always). Barb and Panda enjoyed the lake, as seen in this photo.

Heidi was just happy to be with us. She HATES water!

And here's everyone but Larry, who took the photo.

After enjoying our picnic lunch, we headed back home. We all really enjoyed the day out... with NO rain.

We had been talking to our friends about how much we enjoyed the Wii and played it nearly every evening. Barbara was skeptical, but we talked them into bowling that evening. They both REALLY enjoyed it and we played every evening after that. And both of them did really well at it. Julian and I are taking bets as to how long it will be until they have their own Wii system.

On Tuesday, the four of us went west to the Delaware River for a river rafting trip. We had tried last year in North Carolina, but the drought prevented rafting altogether. But that's not the case here this year, so we were psyched. We stopped in Matamoras for deli sandwiches, which turned out to be so delicious. Then it was out to the loading area to be bussed to the launch site.

We were in the water by about 11:30 for out six-mile adventure. Well, maybe not adventure as the water was very lazy. But it was something Julian and I had never done, so we were ready for anything.

The girls were in the front of the raft and the guys were in the back.

This was definitely NOT a white-water trip.

We found some good rocks and pulled over to dock the raft. The water was 72 degrees, which is very chilly at first. But having been in the sun working our way down the river, it felt great very quickly.

Here's Julian and Donna cooling off with Barbara in the background.

We ate our terrific sandwiches and then had another quick dip. Then it was back in the raft. It was a beautiful trip, in spite of our having to paddle so much in the VERY calm waters.

OK, we did have a few little rapids to deal with and lots of rocks to avoid. But believe me, it wasn't "Deliverance" by any stretch.

On Wednesday, we went into Scranton for lunch at a Thai restaurant. We were not disappointed - the food was great. From there we went to the Houdini Museum and Show. Calling it a museum might be an overstatement. They had lots of Houdini memorabilia stuffed into two rooms. The "tour" went through these two rooms pointing out various highlights, but left no time to just browse. Then we went into the theater area where the two owners put on a very good show.

A new restaurant opened in Scranton which touted authentic Philly cheese steaks on a TV promo that Barb saw one morning. So on Thursday, we headed to Cosmos to find out for ourselves how good they were. Yes, very good! Each couple shared one sandwich and it was plenty for all of us. I'm not a connoisseur, but it was a great sandwich.

From there it was time for shopping before our friends left on Friday. After a little rest period, we got together for our last bowling match. And then it was off to Cooper's Seafood House for a great dinner.

Friday dawned cloudy and muggy. Our friends finished packing up and were on the road (to Niagara Falls) by about 10. And then the rains came - yet again. Julian had to finish his mowing in the rain. I had finished the laundry just as the first drops were falling. Talk about a depressing day! Our friends leaving was bad enough, but the weather on top of that was just wrong!

It was a great week of fun with good friends. It just flew by. We were sad to see them go, but SO happy that we had the week together. We'll look forward to hearing about the rest of their summer RV trip when we are all back home in September.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


We've put some miles on the car traveling all around northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA). We've enjoyed it all - there are beautiful sights to drink in up here.

On this day we drove southwest of Lake Henry. We took I-80 west to the Lehigh River. Once off the interstate, we drove though parts of Hickory Run State Park. This park was just as well kept as the other state parks and was really pretty. We walked around the lake area some and snapped these pics.

As you can see there is a lot of natural beauty in this area. (Julian took that last photo, could you guess?)

We more or less followed the river south into Lehigh Gorge State Park. Our GPS led us astray so we never really got close to the river until we arrived in Jim Thorpe. Along the way, we stopped at a couple of rafting companies in hopes of finding an activity to share with our neighbors when they are here next week. (We got lots of information but made no decisions.)

We finally did get access to the river, but weren't overly impressed. They run a train trip up the gorge and I'm guessing that's the best way to see the beauty of the river gorge. Here's a look at the Lehigh River.

We went into the town of Jim Thorpe and walked around the shopping area. It has a very Mediterranean feel.

On another day, we headed west to Tunkhannock. The drive there and back was beautiful. This was billed as the "Gateway to the Endless Mountains". Online, the 3-mile scenic highway information said to allow two days for the visit. After missing whatever we were supposed to see on the road, we stopped in town and talked to the lady at the tourist information station. She told us how to get to the park along the Susquehanna River. It was a nice park, but not outstanding. I can't for the life of me figure out how to spend two days here. But that's just me.

So we drove back down into Scranton (also a beautiful drive) and had lunch at a favorite Mexican restaurant we found with the help of our boss's son. We had a good day, even though the target destination wasn't what we expected.

Last weekend, we had two people from a local animal sanctuary bring out some animals for everyone to see and learn about. Look at this owl!

And who would really want to get this close to a skunk. He had been rescued AND de-scented.

And then we learned that possums don't "play" dead when faced with danger. They litterally pass out for about 10 minutes. I did not know that.

There was a pretty good turn out for this activity, kids and adults alike. The handlers were very good and explained the best policies when confronted with any wildlife. It was very interesting.

Then on Monday we took another drive and made a large loop to the southeast and the Delaware Water Gap. The Delaware River serves as the dividing line between PA and New Jersey and also between PA and New York.

We stopped at a couple of rafting companies looking for more information about trips on this river. After talking to the last people, we drove across the river into Port Jervis, NY... mostly just to say we did.

We didn't take any pictures. We found it difficult to actually get access to the river in spite of the large amount of land that is designated as National Recreation Area. But again, the drive was all very beautiful.

As I write this, our friends are in Gettysburg, PA, probably touring the battle grounds. They will arrive here tomorrow and we are SO looking forward to familiar faces. Julian should have his work out of the way before they arrive, but I'll be doing store duty pretty much as usual, which is fine. We'll send our friends to Bushkill Falls (see earlier post) on the day I work seven hours. Then we'll be able to enjoy the week together. Check back to see what all we do together!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Claws 'n' Paws

We went to Claws 'n' Paws Wild Animal Park the other day. It's only about 10 miles from here which made it a really easy trip on a day with questionable weather. We didn't get rained on, but felt like it could have happened at any time.

It's a small venue, but is really packed with animals. Our first stop was the lion den. All "cages" are out in nature with very little concrete anywhere. We were able to get fairly close to this guy.

We walked quickly past the giraffe area - they stink big time!

This tiger seemed to be posing for us.

I can't for the life of me remember what these little deer-like creatures were called, but they really seemed to like Julian.

We saw a black panther who was pacing so much that we couldn't get a good photo of him. The same was true with a cheetah-like cat who wouldn't sit still. We saw foxes and a black bear. The meerkats were really cute. So were the river otters. They had an Australian dog-type animal that had an ear-splitting howl which was fairly constant, you could hear them all over the park. We passed by the snakes pretty quickly, but did enjoy some of the cool birds, including this owl. (Sorry the picture isn't very good.)

It was a fairly small "zoo in the woods" (as they called it), but we did really enjoy it. I would really recommend it to others who are spending time in NE PA.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bushkill Falls

We had one of the best weather days since we arrived in Pennsylvania on Monday, July 6. So we were ready to take advantage of it - big time!

We drove south to Bushkill Falls which is billed as the Niagara of Pennsylvania. Having been to Niagara Falls last summer, that may be an overstatement. However, it is one of the nicest falls we have been to anywhere and it was worth every penny of the $10 entry fee.

On the drive to the Falls, we spotted a turkey at the side of the road. We soon discovered she had several chicks with her. We snapped a few pictures, but she was herding her brood into the tall grass, so be sure to enlarge this photo to see the little birds, too.

There are actually two water falls at the location. To see them both, would involve a 2.5 mile hike and untold numbers of steps. We opted for the shorter route and the fewest steps, still about a 45 minute walk.

We started out and our first stop was the lookout over the Main Falls. Way cool!

Going down from there to the Bottom of the Main Falls wasn't too strenuous. And the walk was beautiful. They have tried hard to keep the paths and stairways as natural as possible and we think they've succeeded. This shot looks back up the path after we were at the bottom.

This is Lower Gorge Falls which was the lowest elevation of our hike.

A nice lady took our picture while down there.

And then we had to head back UP.

That was just the first batch of steps. We had to stop a couple times on the way up to rest. We are not used to hills let alone steps. (Do your stair master before hiking in this place!) But the walk up was so beautiful, we didn't really mind that much. The trees were so tall and beautiful.

Once at the top, we crossed a footbridge over the top of the falls. This is taken from that bridge looking down.

We continued walking upstream, enjoying nature's beauty.

I found myself wondering how this little creek could feed that fabulous waterfall.

It was absolutely fabulous in this park. If you ever get up to the Pocono Mountains, this is one attraction you CANNOT miss. As I mentioned, it was worth every penny we paid to get inside. I was wishing I had the leg strength to do the longer trail, but that's just not the case.

The weather was great all day. We had sun all day. It couldn't have been any better.

We're hoping for more fun days just like this before we leave the area.