Sunday, June 28, 2009

Catching Up - Part 1

Yes, it has been a while since I've posted. So I'm going to start catching up with what's been going on in our lives.

I first have to tell a story. One Sunday afternoon, I was sitting at our picnic table getting the letters ready for the next update to the marquee out front. (Pictures later.) Two 10-year old girls who I've gotten to know from working in the store came walking by. Erica noticed our license plates were from Florida, so she asked if that's where we were from. I told her it was. She asked me "isn't it annoying to drive up here from Florida ever weekend?" I nearly fell off the bench, but tried to stay composed. I explained to her that we stayed up here all the time and wouldn't go back to Florida until October. It was a logical question from her - just about everyone at this park comes up for the weekend and then goes back home during the week. It still tickles me. She was so cute. "Out of the mouths of babes."

We are earning our keep. Most of my time is still spent in the store. We've got a schedule of 12 hours on the weekends. I work most of that, Julian spells me for lunch and potty breaks. He does several hours of mowing, too. We also keep the marquee up to date at the entrance to the park. I get the letters ready on Sunday, then we post the new info on Monday on our way to take our walk. Here's a picture of me "at work" a couple weeks ago.

On that same morning walk, we stopped to get a picture of some awesome rhododendron bushes. I tried to get Julian to stand by them for perspective, but he wouldn't have it. So I did the job so that you can see how huge they were.

Up until last Monday (6/22) we've had rain nearly every day. We took one of the "partly sunny" days to drive out east to just explore. We took PA-590 all the way to Lackawaxen on the Delaware River which separates Pennsylvania from New York. We circled around and came back to Hawley where we had lunch. We drove around Lake Wallenpaupak after talking to the Information guy. The lake is good for fishing, but you pretty much have to have a boat. (That lets us out!)

From there we went south to Promised Land State Park. The lake here was much smaller than Wallenpaupak and had a really nice picnic area and access to shore fishing.

This next picture was also taken at Promised Land and demonstrates how huge the trees are around here. At the base of that tree is a pavilion with a bunch of picnic tables inside. It looks so tiny next to those trees.

We haven't returned to Promised Land, but we will I'm sure. We could take Heidi and a picnic lunch and spend some quality fishing time there.

A couple days later, we had a day that wasn't too bad, weather-wise. So we went into Scranton and took the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour. Most coal mines are now closed, this one shut down in 1966. They've been running tours almost ever since. And it was a really interesting tour. It was an incredibly dangerous place to work, especially in the early days. Lots of men and boys died in those caverns. This is the shaft that took us 300 feet underground for the tour.

I've mentioned we brought our Wii on the trip. We've gotten to where we'll bowl a few games just about every evening before dinner. On the same day as our mine tour, we bowled for a bit as usual. Julian was HOT! He bowled this nearly perfect game.

At the time, that was my highest game as well. I've since gotten a 266 as my high. It's funny that now we can't be satisfied if we don't get over 200 on a game. In real life, I'm happy to hit 130.

And it's almost time for today's "sports hour", so I'll stop here for today. We are doing fine. The sunnier days of the past week have helped a bunch. I'll be working on Catching Up, Part 2 very soon.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

This 'n' That (or Maybe Just Rambling)

The weather here continues to be less than what I would call perfect. We've only had a handful of sunny days since we got here and most of those seemed to be on the cool to chilly side. It's gloomy and raining again today. Will Summer ever come?

While there was a little sun this morning, Julian and Heidi went fishing on the lake. Julian said all he caught were the little ones, but he did have a good time. And so did Heidi - and here's proof.

One thing we have both enjoyed tremendously is the proliferation of flowers here. OMG, it's been SO beautiful. We've enjoyed the tulips and the lilacs which were everywhere. Now the peonies and irises are blooming out. I haven't seen any of those flowers since we left Colorado seven years ago. The rhododendrons have come into full bloom over the past week or so. They are everywhere and totally gorgeous, as you can see.

Since living so far south for the past seven years, I'd forgotten how early the sun comes up in the northern areas. By 5:30 am the sun is streaming into our bedroom window and it's not even the peak of the summer season. It's still light out at 9 pm. It makes for long days - especially when it gets so cloudy during so much of the day!

The Pocono mountains are quite different from other mountain ranges we are familiar with. The Rockies, of course, are very rocky and full of evergreen trees and aspens. The Smokies (where we've stayed the last couple of summers) are not rocky, but are filled with very tall lodge pole pine forests. What we've seen so far of the Poconos is filled with deciduous trees and only a few evergreens. The trees here are so thick that you never seem to get to see that mountain vista that you do in other places. I think the best of the Poconos are south of here where we haven't had a chance to explore yet (crappy weather!).

This picture is on our walking route. This is a two lane road and it shows how tall the trees are.

We have been keeping up with our walking pretty well. I've pulled a groin muscle, probably from walking up these nasty hills around here. So I'm taking a break. Julian gets some of his exercise behind a lawn mower. He tries not to walk on days that he will be mowing and trimming.

Any of you who live(d) in Nebraska are familiar with the squared off road system. Even the dirt country roads are one mile square and run true north/south and east/west. Well, Pennsylvania just doesn't do anything like that. (I imagine the terrain has something to do with that, but it's still annoying.) I'm telling you, without our GPS in the car we would have been lost forever within a day of arriving here. We have finally figured out how to get to US6, but not how to navigate through Archbald to get to the main drag where we do our shopping. We did find our post office yesterday without GPS help. But we've been here nearly three weeks and that's the best I can say!

Along that same theme, we drove into downtown Scranton for the first time the other day. I swear, these people don't know where North is. The streets there are pretty much square but at 45 degrees off true north. Again, we're glad we have a GPS. The best part of that trip was finding a really good Thai restaurant (with the help of our boss's son). We'll be eating there again!

After our lunch, we drove out to Frances Slocum State Park, west of Scranton. It was very pretty out there, with lots of picnic tables throughout the park. We stopped at the lake and walked around for a bit, taking in the green. One of these guys caught a bluegill while we were there.

Lest you think we aren't earning our keep, one of our assignments is to keep up the marquee at the entrance of our campground. Julian snapped this picture the other day after we got it all set up for the weekend.

This is a similar view looking down into Clayton Park. You can get a sense of how hilly it is and how thick the trees are across the lake. The coach farthest to the right is ours.

I've been working in the store on the weekends. So far, there are few people here during the week. My first day was a bit rocky, but I've got four days under my belt and now I'm not making as many mistakes.

We bought ourselves a Wii before leaving home. We have TOTALLY enjoyed having it. We bowled 4 or 5 games yesterday and Julian was over 200 on all but one. He even pulled out a 230 on one game. My best so far is only 203, BUT yesterday I picked up a 7-10 split which is nearly impossible to do. So I feel REALLY good about that!

OK, I guess I really did get into a rambling mode here. But until we can start playing tourist (which requires better weather), I don't have much else to report than the day-to-day miscellanea. So help me pray for sunny, warm weather during the weekdays. Then you'll see more photos and get (hopefully) more interesting commentary.