Monday, July 7, 2014

Day Tripping

Philadelphia was busy, I feel as though we were on the run every weekend; exhausted all three of us, but so worth all the experiences and memories we've had and created here. Besides running around the city itself, we have had the opportunity to take off out of town for a few day trips to the outskirts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, stretching ourselves out over these states and developing a feel for the area. Our day trips have all been remarkable in their own way and I am looking forward to sharing them with you.

New Hope:

We rode into this town and we thought maybe we had taken a wrong turn in ended up in Sturgis; motorcycles lined the street and the entire city was booming with bikers and although it added a bad ass feel to the city the charm still oozed out of it. The main road was lined with outdoor dining venues, shops and then mix in grassy water canals and you have a town challenging the Netherlands for beauty. Not to mention its twin, Lambertville, NJ sits on the other side of the Delaware River and it rivals New Hope for its allure; one could easily spend an entire weekend in this area and forget about the cares of the world and lose yourself in all the beauty of what both these cities have to offer.

Now I mentioned the Delaware River and New Hope is most famous for being that place that Washington crossed a river  on one bitter cold Christmas in 1776; so of course we had to take a quick pit stop to the National Monument and check out this pivotal spot in American history. The monument sits on a lovely grass hill, next to the river and while we were there the sun was shining and the river looked rather inviting, but instead of going for a dip we opted to quench our thirst with wine. I've told you I have this second sense when it comes to wine and I can virtually find a vineyard anywhere. We stumbled upon the pet friendly Crossing Vineyards, a mile down the road from Washington’s Crossing and sat for a tasting. The grounds were beautiful, the owners were friendly, the wines were divine and they even let Miss Ethel come hang out in the tasting room with us.

Crossing Vineyards
This is definitely a town and an area I would have loved to have spent more time, but we were running late that day because first and foremost we had a Philly original to try; Tom needed a cheesesteak, so a stop at Dalessandro’s was a must, one bite and Tom was in love! Over all, a pretty perfect day!

Tom Enjoying His First Official Philly Cheesesteak

Jim Thorpe:

The town of Jim Thorpe is often called the Switzerland of the Americas and derives its namesake from the great American athlete, Jim Thorpe, whose remains actually reside in the city. Driving into this town is like driving onto the movie set of a fairy-tale, it is that cute and although I don’t know if I would call it Switzerland like, it seemed more to me like a darling little town right out of England. I promise if you ever have a chance to visit, it is like you are walking out of the pages of a book that begins with “Once Upon a Time!”

So what brought us to Jim Thorpe besides our regular desire to explore? Well I had done a bit of research searching for pet friendly fun in the area and one of the activities that popped up was the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, so I got us tickets and I am ever so glad we did. Taking in the hills and the river via train was a relaxing and fun filled family day, even Ethel enjoyed it, and we all know that girl can be hard to please sometimes.  Once we hopped off the train, the streets of Jim Thorpe were at our disposal. Now this is where the town becomes even more fairy-tale like, there were not one, not two, but three weddings happening at chapels in this town; men running around in tuxes, brides in gorgeous wedding gowns and guests dressed to the nine, so mix this with cobblestone streets, beautiful historic architecture and lush green mountains; yeah, Sleeping Beauty has nothing on this place! The inner queen in me was begging to move here, now about finding work for Tom and I might pose a bit of issue, but seriously, it is so tempting!

Ethel watching all the passengers board

Cape May:

Ethel and I wanted to do something special for Tom for Fathers Day, so we headed out towards the Atlantic for a day of whale watching, dinner and exploring the beach side town of Cape May, NJ.

Once the three of us were comfortably on a boat, we headed out to sea, to see what Mother Nature and the Atlantic Ocean had for our viewing pleasure. Dolphins, we saw a lot of dolphins that day and although we didn't glimpse any whales, the frenzy of dolphins more than made up for it. Plus we were on the Atlantic on a clear, sunny and beautiful day; what more could two humans and one dog ask for!

Right off the beach, lies the city center of Cape May, a boardwalk of shops, restaurants and bars. This is where we landed for dinner, at a cute place called Tisha’s, the food was phenomenal and they even have dog bowls with the restaurant name on them for the four legged critters that come to dine with their owners! When you think quaint little beach town, Cape May is everything and more that comes to mind! The location, the lighthouses and the homes all scream beach living at its finest!

Side Street Leading to the Beach

Amish Country:

A trip to Pennsylvania wouldn't be complete without a visit to Dutch Country, there are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it, it is a must! And lucky for us, we have some Pennsylvania friends that opted to be our tour guides to the Dutch area. So not only did we see the beautiful landscape, but the best part is we were able to enjoy the company of Volkmar and Michelle Nitz; old friends from Utah, and Tom’s old boss at OC Tanner.

Michelle, Volkmar, Ethel and Tom
Volkmar and Michelle were a plethora of information about the Amish and the Mennonites, information we wouldn't have gotten on our own and in all reality I was refusing to do a bus tour, so it worked out perfectly for us. Why no bus tour, well the idea of it made me uncomfortable and felt like I was going to the zoo and the Amish were the animals out in the wilderness for me to stare at, you know in their natural habitat as Volkmar jokingly put it. This way we got to meander at our pace, driving around and the Nitz’s pointing out things to us: the one room school houses, the metal wheels, and the differences between the Amish and the Mennonites. Not to mention this way I got to stop for the best soft pretzel I've ever eaten and homemade ice-cream along the way. Of course the best part of the trip was sitting in the town of Intercourse under the shade of a tree, chatting for hours with our own acoustic guitar player around the corner. You couldn't ask for a better atmosphere to sit, chat, and catch up on life with some old friends.

Dutch Country Side
Beautiful Dutch Garden
So Amish country, what did we think, WOW!! I think they should offer Amish camps, seriously, you sign up, and you learn to appreciate the simpler things life has to offer. The idea of shutting off technology, learning that life might actually be better that way or make one appreciate the luxuries we have now. One of my favorite moments while in Intercourse was watching a couple of Amish families playing volleyball together, not just popping down in front of a TV or a computer, but taking time to enjoy life and each other; it is these moments I think people are forgetting in life as we become so cyber connected. I mean we talk about social networks, but does Facebook count as real contact? Who remembers that one day on Facebook? Nobody!  It is the getting out and living, and I bet these families will have stories from that one day they got together to play volleyball!

Horse and Amish Buggy
Also, a giggle moment, watching a Mennonite, horse and buggy, pull up through the ATM at a bank. Seriously, I think about it and I still smile. Or admiring the gardens, I have never seen gardens like they have; they are stunning and perfect. If they cheat and decide to use technology out of a moment of weakness and see my blog post about Amish Camp, I hope they decide to offer a gardening one, because I would sign up for that in a heartbeat!

Mennonite Buggy and Horse at the ATM
The only day trip we didn't get to which I would have loved to of added, would have been a day in Pittsburgh, but unfortunately we didn't have the time to make that one happen. Overall, though our Philly stay was phenomenal and I can't wait to share all our city excitement with you!


  1. Ah! I spent three summers in the Cape May area. Loved it, and loved the people there. BTW, when you find the registration info for Amish Camp, please forward it to me.

    1. Cape May was amazing, I wish I could spend three summers there!!! Oh and on the Amish Camp, I'll keep you posted, wouldn't that be amazing!!!