Monday, October 4, 2010

Bushkill Falls, Pennsylvania

I've been wanting to go to the Poconos all summer long, but since most Pocono attractions are about an hour and a half away from Bayonne, it was difficult getting T excited about driving there. Then came October and the lovely excuse of my birthday. I’d been telling T that I wanted to spend my birthday there, and we’d considered spending a weekend in a cabin in the Delaware Water Gap, but the logistics of dog and cat and arranging someone at work to cover my Saturday shift were just too much. So on Sunday, we three piled into the car and took a day trip to Bushkill Falls, Pennsylvania.

Bushkill Falls is really eight waterfalls, the highest of which is 100 feet. It’s nicknamed the Niagara of Pennsylvania. We didn’t get lost on the way there like most of road trips, and driving through Northern NJ was spectacular. We passed miles and miles of farmland and drove alongside the Delaware River for a bit. And then we hit Pennsylvania and the Delaware Water Gap. Breathtaking!

The Bushkill Falls area reminded us a little of Gatlinburg, though much less touristy and crowded. Still there were bumper boats, flea markets and putt-putt courses. Then we reached the little road to Bushkill Falls Park, which took us further up the mountain and through lush deciduous forest. Through a great portion of NJ and all of PA, we saw lots of vultures and hawks circling above the tree line; we saw even more at Bushkill Falls.

Before hitting the trail we stopped in the park's ticket office to look at a collection of stuffed critters. We had a hard time getting Mr. S to leave. He knew all the animals and would have stayed there all day if we'd let him.

There were three trails around the Falls, and we took the middle-of-the-road trail. Not too short, not too long and perfect for a three-year-old. This trail took us to all the falls and their tops, bottoms and middles. We probably snapped hundreds of photos of the Main Falls from every conceivable angle.

This was Mr. S’s first time seeing a waterfall, and he was totally in awe. (In fact he’s been talking about it ever since, wanting to go back because “it’s so pretty there.”) We hiked all over the Falls and up into the woods a little, passing mushrooms and mosses and beautiful rock formations along the way.

Of course we had to turn over a few logs looking for salamanders. We found a couple of Redbacks.

Mr. S found a walking stick and some Rhododendron leaves, which all very quickly became swords for him.

I was a lucky lady; all day long Mr. S gave me birthday kisses and then later that night at dinner he said, “Mama, I gave you lots of smooches because I love you really bad.”

After our hike we had lunch at the Bushkill Falls Café, and then we ate the yummiest fudge at the Wagon Wheel Sweet Shop. I had classic peanut butter and chocolate, while T and S had apple pie fudge.

On the way out we stopped to throw rocks into the twin ponds at the entrance of the park, and then decided to take a paddleboat ride. This was another first for Mr. S. We kept a lookout for frogs and turtles but saw only minnows in the water. However, while we were peddling around the pond a Great Blue Heron flew over us.

Bushkill Falls was so beautiful and such a great time. We can’t wait to go back, but next time we’re thinking of going later in October when the leaves have changed. Maybe we'll spend a long weekend there.

On the way home we stopped by one of the Poconos flea markets. Flea markets hold a special place in our hearts since T and I spend many of our first dates scouring them for old records, and every time we travelled in our early dating years, we’d always be sure to check out the local flea markets. Alabama and Mississippi have the best we’ve seen so far, though Tennessee has some great ones as well. This PA flea market was fairly nice. Lots of farmers there with pumpkins and apples, someone selling homemade organic soap, the usual incense and sterling silver jewelry. We came away with a pint of homemade garlic pickles from Peter Piper’s Pickles. These were the most amazing pickles we’ve ever had. And now I’m wishing we’d purchased some of their other twenty or so varieties, including garlic-pickled green tomatoes. Yum!

It wouldn’t have been a Gwyn Family road trip if we didn’t get lost on the way home (stupid Google Maps!) and end up in downtown Newark. We finally found a sign for I-78, but it was a lie. We ended up on the Pulaski Skyway, which gives a great view of the NYC skyline.

...but the Pulaski Skyway spits you out right here:

The Holland Tunnel—which we’ve begun referring to as the Gate to Hell.

Despite the turn-around, we had a lovely Sunday. The best birthday I could have asked for. I can't wait to get back out and explore some more. I’m already planning which Pennsylvania or New Jersey corn maze we’ll visit in a couple of weeks.

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