Doesn’t Memorial Day always take on an alarm clock function? You’re aware summer’s coming, you try to remember and plan for it, you know you can’t miss it, but you’re so busy and distracted you need an obnoxious reminder anyway. And even though you anticipate the alarm, it surprises you every time.
I am terrible at making long weekend plans. When I don’t have friends’ Bar-BQs or pool days to rely on, I wait too long to book anything or go anywhere and then I get stressed trying to force a stay-cation at the last minute. This usually results in a one-day activity (like a crowded, dirty beach last year) completely wasting the holiday-themed extension. And I hate wasting anything, especially whole days.
My favorite travel buddy Katie was a victim of the dirty, crowded beach mistake last year and for weeks we’ve been trying to peer pressure her brother and his roommate (who happen to also be my coworkers) to make plans with us. Katie’s been itching for a lake trip, and although my distaste for roughing it is common knowledge, I’m always itching for any trip. Plans just weren’t coming together though with upstate campsites booked, tight budgets, and an untimely truck towing.
Finally, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend we called a group chat while we were all four on Gmail. This may not sound like extreme measures, but two talkative, OCD girls with two sarcastic, unenthused guys can make for a frustrating four-way brainstorm session. This first attempt to combine forces was a relieving success though and after an hour or two of attempts Katie booked a site in the Poconos in PA and we were on our way.
As with any haphazard road trip there were inevitably speed bumps. The boys nearly threatened us with a pick-up time then didn’t show for another hour and a kleptomaniac raided our luggage while we waited. We let off steam from the loss in an hour and a half worth of traffic going into the Holland Tunnel only to then be ticketed for blocking an intersection on the last block.
Fortunately, the beautifully scenic drive and reluctant return to nature eased our frustrations and after picking up swimsuits, a tent, a sleeping bag and food, we were introduced to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania (which we quickly Wikipedia-d). The town demands a “charming and quaint” description with B&Bs that resembled Minnie Mouse’s cottage in Disney and cute little ma and pa eats all along one main road. We wound through the surreal scene only two and a half hours outside of the big city and landed at Mauch Chunk Lake.
I’ve technically camped on an annual sorority-fraternity whitewater rafting trip in college, but for the first time ever I pitched a tent, which Katie and I now awkwardly own. We “set up camp” if you will, then hiked on out to explore the park before sunset. Mauch Chunk Lake turned out to be two and a half serene miles of lake perfectly nestled between two green, picturesque mountains. You could sit at one end of the lake and take the scene in for hours without feeling any time pass. And I guess that’s what we did, because we got quite a few pictures out of it.
That night we fought to keep a fire burning on damp wood to cook up burgers, bratwurst, and veggies, followed by roasting marshmallows of course. We stayed up hours after all the other sites were silent and dark just talking and laughing, fighting fatigue to savor that time in the woods. The next morning we’d arrive early to our 10 am kayak booking and wade out into the breathtaking view we’d been hooked on.
Kayaking never ceases to overwhelm my feeble arms, and although it was strenuous the tour of the lake was oddly fulfilling. We strode down one shore peacefully then powered our way back when our two hour allotment was drying up. Katie and I hooked kayaks and drifted for a while beneath the hesitant sun then hoisted ourselves back toward the dock when the wind fought against our return trip. The slight pain and panic were eased by two giant, yellow butterflies gingerly floating around all of us along the way. The one bit of wonderment not caught on camera.
The culmination of our getaway was a stop at Glen Onoko falls, images of which we’d seen online. Dylan had woken up with the declaration that he wanted to climb something that day, and he undoubtedly got what he wished for. Determined to see every facet of this creek, we climbed, jumped, and edged all the way to the top. Over hours we saw all of the falls and the loud, rushing water in between each. We got dirty, scratched, scraped, and winded, but every one of us adored that hike. We ventured into caves, through the ripping water, off the path, and over treacherous rocks, and completely consumed all of the mountain that we could.
The hike satisfied our mutual hunger for adventure and hope to maximize that extra bit of weekend, and we rode home as re-energized as we were exhausted because of it.