It has been about a year since I last posted on this blog! In the past, I have blogged extensively about our vacations, but I did not post last year, or this year until now. Last year we went to Niagara Falls for a few days and had a great time. Perhaps I will write about that someday. This year, we traded our timeshare for a week in the Poconos. When we decided that we would go away the last week in August, we knew that we needed to stay somewhat close to home. In the past, Golda Och Academy, Noam’s and Shayna’s school had a ninth grade orientation one morning or afternoon during the last week in August. We figured we could drive back for that. So this year, they decide to have it in the evening. We did not want to drive back to NJ and then back to the Poconos at night, so we just skipped it! As I have said in the past, דער מענטש טראַכט און גאָט לאַכט, “Man plans, God laughs”.
We go away the last week in August, because Hagalil USY has their week long Encampment on the second to last week. The kids would come home on Sunday, and we would do a quick laundry and then take off for vacation. However, this year, Encampment began and ended on a Monday. More laughter from above! Since Encampment was in the Poconos, we decided that we would just go on Sunday with Avi and then pick Noam and Shayna up from camp on Monday. Of course, they were on the opposite side of the Poconos, but it was not a real issue.
In the morning on Monday, Marsha, Avi, and I took a quick trip to Hickory Run State Park, which is very close to where we are staying. This state park is more like a National Park. Very large with all of the feeling of a National Park. We took a short hike to see a beautiful waterfall called Hawk Falls, and then took a very bumpy drive to Boulder Field. This is a giant field of boulders, which occurred there naturally. It is quite awesome to see. After a quick lunch, we drove to camp and picked up the kids. Then after a trip to the laundromat, we were back in our timeshare unit.
The resort at which we are staying is called Mountain Laurel Resort. It is clearly an old place and in a lot of ways it reminds me of Kutchers. New owners acquired the resort recently, and they are trying to update the whole place. Our unit is a basic two bedroom unit with a small kitchen and a living room. Pretty standard, but in the end, we had to go through some hoops to get here. As we observe Shabbat, we always take timeshare weeks that begin and end on Sunday. A week ago or so I happened to see that the trading company gave us a Saturday start. OY! This had happened to us in the past and I have yet to figure out how. I called the resort and was told to email Christine who would be in the next day. She got back to me and said they did not have a Sunday start for a two bedroom, but did have a one bedroom (with a pull out couch in the living room) and they would provide an extra bed. We reluctantly took it and left it with her that if a 2 BR were to open up, we would get it.
We arrived at the resort on Sunday only to find that not only did they not have a one bedroom for us, they did not even have our reservation in the system! Thank God for Matthew who was at the front desk. He not only got us in the system, he put us into a two bedroom. The room is clean, but you can tell from the hallways and other public areas, that things have not been kept up by the previous owners. If the new owners can really update the place, it can be very nice.
On Tuesday, after a stop at a pretzel factory and Chocolate Candy kitchen (Yum!) we made our way (via lots of back roads with Avi driving) to Bushkill Falls. If you have not been here, it is a lot of fun, and it can be done as a day trip from central NJ. There are four different trails that take you around this private park to see eight waterfalls (I only counted six, but who is counting?) We chose to take the red trail which is the longest and takes you to all of the falls. If you go, and choose to take the red trail, go to the right when going in the park, it is much easier in the middle!
On Wednesday, we went to the town of Jim Thorpe. The town was originally two towns called Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk. They combined to make Jim Thorpe as a tribute to one of the greatest sportsmen in history. He is buried in town and there is a memorial park dedicated to his memory. There are many wonderful little shops in Jim Thorpe, but we came to take a ride on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railroad. This is a 70 minute train ride around the Lehigh River and you get some beautiful views of the area. After the ride and a picnic lunch, we went to the town of Lansford to do a tour of the Number 9 coal mine. This was a very interesting tour. You take mine cars about a half mile into a mine, learn all about the history of this mine, and coal mines in general. This mine closed in 1972, but there is still tons of coal left. The guide said that if there ever was an uptick in coal production (not likely), they might even open this mine again.
That brings us to today. Today we drove to Philadelphia. In the morning, we went to the Museum of the American Revolution. I highly recommend this newer museum. It lays out the story of the revolution from the early 1700’s until the writing of the Constitution. Very informative, but perhaps TOO much information! Marsha’s mom Sue met us for lunch. We went to this place called “The Bourse” which has a big food court with upscale little fast food places. The food was great (albeit a bit expensive). After lunch we walked to the National Constitution Center. I also highly recommend this museum. After at 20-minute presentation about the Constitution, you exit to view the main gallery. You can spend hours here, so plan accordingly!
Avi went home with Sue after the Constitution Center as he had to get some things done at Middlesex County College tomorrow, and he would rather stay home for Shabbat. So the rest of us got a pizza dinner and then back to the resort. Tomorrow should be a very slow day. We might go out to see another two waterfalls, or maybe just stay in and go to the pool. We are looking forward to a very peaceful Shabbat and then we will be home on Sunday. Thank God I don’t have work on Monday! I’ll need the day to recover from vacation!
Two of the Falls at Bushkill Falls
Chillin’ on the Lehigh Gorge Train
An old mine car in the Number 9 Mine
In Philadelphia City… From what movie is this line?