4th of July in Pennsylvania Mountains

We’re trying to take at least one short trip a month, more when time allows.  This time we were able to get an extended weekend with the July 4th, Steve’s Birthday, holiday falling on a Tuesday.  One of our goals besides getting away was to rent a smaller, class B RV to see how comfortable we were and more importantly if I could get comfortable driving it, which I didn’t want to do with the larger ones.  We rented in Pennsylvania, at Frentz RV.  They are a dealership for RV’s where we had explored models before, but they also rent a small number of them. 

We picked up the RV Saturday morning and got a tour of its many features.  It was ultra-modern with all types of features that make driving it easier and safer, along with a fancy TV system, not something we needed or used.  It had plenty of space for storing items, though not laid out in a great way, but we made it work for this short trip.  The couch rolled into a bed, and we would have preferred to just make up the bed and leave it, we really couldn’t to be able to store and move things.  But enough about the RV, more about our adventures.

After loading up and finding a parking lot for my first driving lesson along the way, we decided it was time for lunch.  We found a cute Mexican restaurant in a shopping center in Cooperstown, Pennsylvania, “Casa Toro”.  The wait staff was super friendly, they were helpful in making choices we could eat and the food was yummy.  

The next goal after lunch and some more driving was to find a reasonable hike.  The choice I made was not the best, we started out on the poorly marked trail and found it was a bit steep for the hot day, so a bit in we turned back.  But as so often happens when adventuring we figured we had to check out the winery that shared a driveway with the hiking area. The Sorrenti Family Estate more than made up for the mediocre trail as we got to sit outside by their lovely pond and taste four of their wines.  Of course by the end, we bought a bottle of our favorite wine.  


Our ultimate destination was a campground in the Delaware Water Gap area.  With the holiday our options were a little more limited when we made reservations, so we settled on a KOA campground.  It was a little bigger and more commercial than a lot of the campgrounds we have been to but worked well enough.  Our campsite backed up to a horse farm, which meant a view of several horses during the day and deer every morning and sometimes in the evening.  There was a nice pool, good for the heat wave that was going on.  The showers were decent and clean, ours in the RV was too small for much more than a quick rinse and we only used it once while we were between stops.  The firewood was overpriced, and we would have bought extra off-site, but the weather was so unpredictable we weren’t sure how much we would use, they did deliver right to the campsite, a nice perk.

We had made a reservation to go white water rafting on Sunday near Jim Thorpe.  There are several outfitters.  We chose White Water Rafting Adventures. They were organized, safety-conscious, and helpful.   When we looked at the forecast before we left home, they were predicting thunderstorms for Sunday afternoon and the trip was rain or shine.  They said they even go out when it’s thundering, which we weren’t sure about, but the storm held off until about an hour after our return.   There wasn’t a lot of white water, which they only get after scheduled dam releases, but there was enough for our first-time trying rafting.  It was like canoeing for much of the trip, something we have done often.  The group stays together, with three guides helping and making sure no one goes off.  It was an enjoyable afternoon.  We even saw a beautiful eagle glide over the river at two points. 

Once we got back to the rafting outfitters and cleaned up, we wanted to go into the town of Jim Thorpe for dinner.  There was a large municipal parking area on the edge of town.  Please know that this is not the place to park unless you are visiting town for many hours, especially in an RV. They have only a 12-hour rate and it’s $25 if you have an RV.  If we had known that we were stuck with that option we would have gone elsewhere for dinner, but since Steve had paid for it, we stayed.  I later called the parking office, who referred me to the Commissioner’s office when I wasn’t satisfied with the first person’s answers.  I sent an email and one of the commissioners got back to me.  He told me they were waiting for new signs with the policies and refunded us for the car rate, since I assured him, we fit in one space.  He said there is some hourly parking in town but not a lot, so beware.

Despite the parking rate, we had a very enjoyable dinner at the Inn at Jim Thorpe.  It wasn’t our first choice, but the other places weren’t open, or unable to seat us outside due to the weather.  When we found the Inn, we realized we had stayed there on a previous trip and found it very nice.  We sat outside undercover on one of their porches and they were very helpful in choosing foods that met our dietary needs.  We shared some fish and salad and french fries, all very tasty.  They have an extensive drink menu, with all kinds of interesting wines, ales, ciders, and more. I had a delicious cider, called “Black Widow”, which despite its name was mild and refreshing.  There was live music coming from the bar below, which was a little loud but added to the fun of dining out, something we do so rarely these days.

On our way back to the campground we of course had to look for some vegan ice cream.  East Stroudsburg has two spots called “Jimmy’s Ice Cream” which are connected but the first one we stopped at only had vanilla for vegan flavors.  The women there assured us the downtown branch had some other vegan flavors and a lot of water ice flavors.  It wasn’t the best ice cream, but not the worst. I wasn’t hopeful after reading the ingredients but enjoyed it when we took it back to eat at the campground.  We couldn’t do our usual ice cream by the fire due to the rain, but we had it inside while we played some games.

The next morning, we made breakfast over the fire as the rain had stopped and took our time before heading out to explore.  If you are not familiar with the Delaware Water Gap, it’s an area spanning both New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River flows between a set of mountains.  It is very scenic, but due to construction, which is a long-term project, we couldn’t get to the most scenic Gap area, at least on the Pennsylvania side.  We instead went to the Pocono Environmental Education Center, where we went on the “Scenic Gorge Trial“.  There were several trails, but this was the one I found on All Trails.  There were some ups and downs, but it was mostly an easy trail.  The center section followed a lovely creek, with small waterfalls and of course the sound of flowing water.  In the middle, we stopped to talk to two women who were sitting on a bench, and they suggested when we got back to stop in the visitor’s center for a great map of the area and other trails.

Using the map and some suggestions from the woman at the visitor’s center we explored the area by car and a little on foot.  The weather was very changeable so we would have liked to get out and walk around the town of Milford, but as we drove through the weather was at its worse.  There was an area with a path to a waterfall and sometimes they run shuttles, but not only wasn’t the shuttle running but they told us there was no room in either of their lots for a bigger vehicle at that point.  Instead, we found several nice spots to stop near the Delaware River and walk a little and enjoy while the weather held.  By the time we got back to camp, we had good enough weather to cook over the fire and enjoy a lovely dinner after visiting a little with the campers next door. That night was a lot quieter as many of the groups had left after the weekend.

July 4th,  Steve’s Birthday, dawned clear and we had a lovely breakfast outside with gluten-free bagels, vegan cream cheese, lox, and the trimmings.  Since it was a Holiday, we didn’t have to return the van by a certain time, just leave it in the lot and drop the keys.

We decided to drive up to Lake Wallenpaupack, to see the area, but also because I wanted to come back through some of the towns I used to visit on vacations when I was young.  After passing part of the lake, we realized that there is limited public access to the lake in most areas and that eventually we would have to make our way back to where we first arrived to walk along the water.  But first, we realized we were low on gas, and gas stations were not easy to find in the area.  We eventually made it to one and filled back up before heading back to the north end of the lake, where there was a nice walking trail over a dike and some parts through the woods.  We had brought our umbrellas, but the rain was getting heavy again, so we cut our exploration a little short and started driving South again. 

We went through a number of the towns whose names were familiar from my travels with my mother, but the only landmark I remembered was Calle’s Candy Kitchen. I know the small resort that we used to go to is no longer in operation, but I couldn’t even find out where it had been.

On the way back I survived my first highway experience driving the van.  We returned the vehicle and although we would have liked to have picked up dinner for after unpacking at home, we found almost every place was closed for the Tuesday holiday. So, home we went.  Having had a nice getaway, some more adventures, and more learning on what makes a good RV for us.

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