"We cannot swing up on a rope that is attached only to our own belt."
– William Ernest Hocking
I love this quote. Think about it -- who are you placing all your hopes and dreams on? Yourself? I know who all my trust resides in!
Anyway, let me tell you about Pennsylvania. What a week! We began with a visit from Terry, Jill, and Rooney. During their stay, we visited the highest point in New Jersey. New Jersey, you say? Well, yes. New Jersey and New York are both very close to the part of Pennsylvania that we were staying in (the Delaware Water Gap) and, despite the fact that Steve and I had such a bad time in that state and vowed to never go back, the kids were in New Jersey when we picked them up so we had no choice. High Point State Park was a cool place and we had a nice hike up to the High Point Monument. Here's some interesting facts about the monument: 1) It's the highest point in New Jersey (1804 feet); 2) there are 291 steps to the top; 3) the monument is 220 feet tall and made of New Hampshire granite; and 4) it was built with private funds from the Kuser family to honor all war veterans from the United States. Yes, that's right, I said private money. Can you imagine? Also interesting to note is that the landscape architects that designed this park were the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, himself a landscape architect and best known for his work designing Central Park and the landscaping around the Biltmore Estate. It was rather a lovely place to hang out, I must say.
Sadly, however, our dearest Rooney developed a limp on his front left paw. It didn't appear that he had broken it and there wasn't any indication that it was cut, so Jill and Terry were rather perplexed by the whole situation. They took him to a vet the next morning and, after several x-rays and bloodwork, it was determined that he had a form of lyme disease. This disease was picked up from a tick and is the type of lyme that affects the joints, which is why he was limping. The vet prescribed some serious antibioticks (get it, "antibioticks") and pain killers, and put the dog's leg in a splint, which was not a big hit for our dearest pooch. He is very much on the mend and, as I write, is free of his splint, walking normally and back to his old self. Hooray!!!
After Terry and Jill left, Steve and I visited a place called Bushkill Falls. It was billed as "The Niagara of Pennsylvania" and that moniker was very much deserving. We embarked upon the red trail (which has 1,267 steps along the way) and were very much amazed at the beauty of this area. The water falls we saw were absolutely breathtaking and the trail was a nice piece of exercise. Despite the heat (90 degrees) and the intense humidity we finished the trail but we were absolutely soaking wet. My hair looked as though I had gone swimming and everything I had on was soaked in sweat and sticking to me. Not a pleasant sight and it was oddly uncomfortable. You can buy T-shirts in the gift shop that say "I Survived the Red Trail", and we should have purchased one since it was no small feat for two out of shape 50-year-olds, I must say.
Before I go on, let me just say that this area of Pennsylvania is just gorgeous. There is a ton of stuff to do if you like outdoor activities - - hiking, white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking, and the Lehigh Bike path is supposed to be an out of this world trail, but we didn't make it there. Indoor activities abound as well since this area was settled very early on and has many historic sights to see. One of the museums that we visited was the Pocono Indian Museum where we learned all about the Delaware Indians who were living in the area some 10,000 years back. Did you know that tomahawks were not an Indian tool, but one used by early settlers instead? It was attributed to the Indians through out western movies and all, but that is not really the case. Also, we were sad to learn that the only remaining full-blooded Delaware Indian left in the United States had recently passed away. That tribe is now lost forever. Sad.
Steve and I did something totally cool, once again in New Jersey (I guess we are going to have to rethink our position on this state after all). We attended the Warren County Farmer's Fair and had a blast. The high point of our visit was the hot air balloon festival that they have every year. What an amazing sight that was to behold - - thirty hot air balloons all taking off and floating away. Each balloon had a different color scheme and pattern to it - - one was even a monster's face. The point of the whole thing was something called a "hare and hounds" game that the balloonists play. Apparently, the first balloon to take off (the "hare" was the monster's face) throws out an X somewhere along a prescribed path that the rest of the balloons follow (the "hounds"). The chasing balloons then have to throw a bean bag from their basket and try to get the closest to the X as possible. The winner gets a prize. We didn't stick around to see who won or anything, because hey, the Olympics were on and we had to go and watch. Besides, it was 8:30 and it was still 90 degrees and we were sick of the heat! Needless to say, we very much enjoyed that experience and are looking forward to seeing the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque in April next year.
The last thing I am going to write about is our adventures at the Nascar race - - the very reason we ventured into Pennsylvania in the first place. Apparently, the Pocono race is delayed almost every year because of rain and this year was no exception. Only the rains we had at this race were monsoon in nature. I am not sure how many inches of rain hit us just before the race was to begin, but the 2-inch-deep river that developed around Steve and I was flowing downhill at a huge rate of speed and headed directly for the track. I have never seen so much water come from a rain storm in my life. It was rather amazing. And it happened not only once while we were there, but twice. The second time, the race was called and Jeff Gordon was officially named the winner. Due to the lightning that this storm produced, the track officials sent everyone back to their cars for safety reasons. Sadly, however, one of the spectators was struck by lightning and died and 9 others were hospitalized. Yes, it was that fierce a storm! Steve and I made it to the truck safely and watched all the other people walk passed us with their rain ponchos that looked more like kites than foul weather gear. We had a good time scoping out all the rednecks around us too. For example, there was a tree about 20 feet in front of our truck that apparently had a sign on it that was visible only to men that read - - PEE HERE! I mean really people. It's pouring rain, like a monsoon kind of rain, and you believed that particular tree was going to provide you enough shelter for peeing? Really? Any NASCAR fan can tell you about Junior Nation but we got to experience Urine Nation! Lots of odd ducks out there folks, trust me. If you ever want some seriously good entertainment while people watching, visit a Nascar race. I mean, there were guys wearing kilts. Nuff said!
Alrighty, we are now residing in Campbell, New York which is in the Finger Lakes district. The ride from Pennsylvania up here was just delightful so we are looking forward to some beautiful scenery this week as well as an excellent race at Watkins Glen International. Until next time peeps - - - - - LOVE YOU ALL!