Having just returned from our family adventures in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC, Mr Pict and I immediately headed out on another trip. My in-laws generously offered to look after the children while my husband and I had a break away. We felt a bit bad to be leaving the kids on Easter Sunday, which ought to be family time but, by the same token, it has been an utterly exhausting almost two years since Mr Pict first suggested we emigrate and we have not been away together without kids since March 2012 and we felt it would be beneficial to have some time as a couple so that we can recharge our batteries as parents too. Am I justifying my abandonment of my children too much here?
I have always wanted to stay in a cabin in the woods. W did not quite find a log cabin, which would have been my dream, but we did find a cottage in the Poconos, a mountainous area not too far from home but far enough into the countryside to function as a nice break from the hustle and bustle of modern life too.
We arrived in the area and went to Hickory Run State Park. We went to see the massive field of huge boulders that formed there during the last Ice Age. A pattern of freezing and thawing had broken the rock down into huge chunks that then accumulated at the bottoms of the mountains. Then the melted ice would, in the summer months, carry these chunks of rock and other debris across the valley, depositing them at their present location. Over thousands of years, the field of boulders grew and grew. We hopped from boulder to boulder to get from one edge of the circumference to the other. The occasional wobble freaked me out a bit because of the height but I could imagine my boys entirely loving it as they appear to be like mountain goats and to not have inherited my vertigo. This is apparently a geographically unique landscape and certainly I have never seen anything even remotely similar.
We tried to find the start of a trail in the adjacent woods but without luck. We also hoped to see more wildlife but all we saw was one chipmunk, some spiders basking in the sun and birds. We did hear a very loud woodpecker but did not catch a glimpse of it. Ironically we saw dozens of deer on our drives around the area but did not catch sight of one in the actual woods.
Having given up on finding the trail at the Boulder Field end because of time constraints, we drove to the beginning of another trail. This one took us down to Hawk’s Falls, a fairly small but very loud waterfall. It was a nice, gentle walk through the woods to reach it. We saw the waterfall from the top by standing on a rocky outcrop and then from the bottom.
We decided it was time to go and find our cottage. Thankfully we had been given very clear directions from the owners so it was actually pretty easy to find. It would have been a challenge otherwise. The cottage was lovely: dark wood and a stone fireplace gave it the feel of a hunting lodge and a large comfy sofa, beaten copper sink and cases of old books added to the snug charm of the place. It also had a wonderful porch that would be great to sit out on on really hot days. There were a few other houses around but otherwise the cabin was located in the middle of nowhere. As darkness fell, it was absolutely pitch black outside. We loved the remoteness.
We headed out to find food and decided that Stroudsburg was the best bet. The town looked rather sad and even moribund but the main street was actually rather appealing looking and the town centre was clean and attractive. Unfortunately it seemed like all the restaurants in the main street were closed because of it being Easter Sunday and, as we travelled in ever wider circles, we found that several places were permanently closed. So we grabbed some food essentials in Walmart before undertaking a final circuit of town to make a definitive decision. In doing so, we passed a flaming car in the road and a man waving a flare to warn other motorists and then we passed a fire engine slowly going out to deal with it a good few moments later. We gave up on the idea of being fed in Stroudsburg so we had to rely on the roadside chain eateries instead.
As such we ended up in Red Lobster. I have not eaten in one since 1995 when I had a coupon for a great deal at Red Lobster so we decided to take the Metro and give it a try. Only when we alighted at East Falls Church did we learn that the restaurant was still a fair hike so we walked for ages in the humid air to get there. I remembered the trek to get there and the fact I had then glugged my way through a large glass of ice tea within seconds of being seated but I could not remember anything of the food. That was a troubling sign since I have a good memory for great dining experiences and we also knew that the company had gone bankrupt which was another red flag. However, options being slim, we decided to give Red Lobster another go and actually it was surprisingly good. The restaurant had a pleasant ambience, the waitress was cheerful and very efficient and the food was well cooked and tasty. We decided to do a four course special. I had New England clam chowder with a garden salad, followed by wood grilled tilapia with wild rice and broccoli and then finished with key lime pie. The waitress also brought us endless cheese biscuits (meaning the scone type) which were delicious and addictive. She even made us take a doggy bag of them home which was great as they became breakfast for the next morning. It is always nice to be pleasantly surprised out of cynicism.