Family Birthday Adventures At Kalahari

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We love to do birthday adventures with our nieces and nephew. Our littlest niece turned 4 in March, so we packed up and drove to Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos. It’s about 3 1/2 hours from Rochester and a pretty simple drive.

For this trip we opted to rent a family suite and the whole family came along! I’ll be perfectly honest, it was nice to have 6 adults to 2 kids in the waterpark. It’s busy in there and it takes a lot of attention to keep watch on the kids. My 4 year old niece loved the slides in the kiddie section. She went down the slides over and over again and was happy to take any of the 6 of us down the slide with her! She had a bright smile and loved every minute.  Her 6 year old sister loved the wave pool. She didn’t want to get out. She also loved the indoor/outdoor hot tub. It was cool to duck under the door and be outside with the snow and cold.

The adults loved the Paxton Grotto swim up hot tub bar that was also indoor / outdoor. Since there were 6 adults we took turns with the kids while the “big kids” did some of the bigger slides. I vowed that I would try any slide that Frank did. He’s more of an adventurer/risk taker than me. You know you have to try it when your almost 60 year old dad is also doing all the big slides! My sister and I along with Frank and my dad also did some of the big 4 person slides! There was a little bit of screaming, a lot of eye closing, lots of laughter! The cheetah race was one of our favorites. We did that one over and over again trying to get better times and racing each other. At first I was a little concerned that I had to go head first down a slide, but it is so much fun! The Tanzanian Twister was fun. I think I now know what it feels like to get flushed! I wasn’t sure where the bottom of the slide would come out, but till you get into the funnel at the bottom you realize there is just a hole that you drop out of. It’s slow, but 2 out of 3 of us came out head first! It was very entertaining to plop head first into a deep pool at the end.  There were so many big and little slides at the park it is fun for everyone. If your not a ride or slide adult there are plenty of chairs and tables to sit at, hot tubs to dip in, and a few bars to grab a drink.

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The family suite is probably good for 6, it was a little tight for 8. Someone has to sleep on the pull out couch in the living room. The downside is that you have to be the last one to bed and the first one up. We had plenty of counter top space for food and snacks and a mini fridge for cold stuff. If you’re all coffee drinkers, I would request more coffee for 8 people or bring your own filters and coffee. There is 1 chair, one couch and 3 chairs at the table. It’s a little tight for everyone to have a seat when you’re hanging out, but there was plenty of room to camp out on the floor if the bed is folded up.

We had dinner at Sortino’s Italian Kitchen, where it was easy to find something that everyone liked. We had pizza at the waterpark the first night for dinner. I was surprised, but the other restaurants in the water park didn’t appear to be open for dinner. We grabbed lunch the second day at Zulu Grille, which was a burgers and fries type of lunch spot right in the waterpark. Frank and I had lunch at B-Lux (the burger joint) before heading home on Sunday. The Italian place was good, but we would highly recommend a visit to B-Lux. The burgers were great and they had all kinds of tasty alcoholic and non-alcoholic milkshake desserts.

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Overall, our stay at Kalahari was a lot of fun! We know it’s a successful birthday trip when they keep saying they want to go back, do it again, or they ask if you remember when they did “xyz” with you. I would highly recommend Kalahari. I recommend watching for middle of the week or special day discounts. You can also reach out to some travel agents that might have deals for specific weekends. I recommend having at least one adult per child. And lastly, I recommend bringing some of your own food and snacks to help cut down on the costs of eating on site. (there really isn’t anything nearby).

 

Fall at the Cabin 2017

So here it is, months after we returned from Spain and we haven’t filled in any of the gaps, written more about our trip, or the various other places we have been since then.  The spring turned into summer which bled into fall. Hard to believe with the 80 degree temperatures, but it’s October! Three quarters of this year is already over. So while it’s fresh in my mind, and because I want to document it, I’m going to write about our recent trip to Pennsylvania.

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For as long as I can remember, my (Emily’s) family has been going to the cabin for weekends in the summer and fall. Our family loves to go there for my dad’s birthday in October! The crew: Emily’s parents, her sister and her husband, their two kids, their dog Quincey, us and our two dogs.  This year the boys (our dogs) stayed in NY while we threw a little 50cc four wheeler in the back of our Mazda for my niece to try out. A big shout out to Frank’s mom and her husband for letting us borrow it! She was too scared to ride it. I think a few more days with it, and she would have been racing around the yard, but a weekend wasn’t long enough for her to get comfortable and no one was going to push her to do it. She loves to ride and I definitely see one of these in her future. Pretty soon my dad won’t be able to see over her head riding together.

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But the weekend in the mountains isn’t just about riding four-wheelers, it’s about family time. For the last three years, we have taken family photos. I love to play with my camera and it’s fun to see the kids grow. And it’s usually pretty entertaining! This year, I forgot my tripod, so we had to use the back of the four-wheeler to prop up the camera, while I set the self timer and try to run to get into place before it snaps the picture. I have a wireless remote, but it’s unreliable. Might have to do some more research before next years photos. But then there may not be as much joy and laughter as they all watch me rush to make it into the photo without falling flat on my face. Like the photo below where I nearly slipped on the rocks as I rushed into place!

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Or them being crazy while I take a test shot to see how the lighting is:

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The best part about getting away for a weekend in the mountains, is the cabin has zero reception! All electronics get left in the car or turned on airplane mode and used as glorified cameras. We have a tv, but it never gets turned on. If we are inside, there is usually a rousing card game or board game going on. It’s possible that someone is napping on one of the 5 couches. But most of the time, we are outside. We ride, we walk, we play in the driveway/yard, we target shoot, or we just sit on the porch and enjoy the silence. It’s the best kind of weekend with some of my favorite people in the whole world.

Eagles Mere, PA a hidden gem

Every other year my mom, sister, and I try to do a girls get-a-way. My sister has two young kids and it can be tough to get out of town. Two years ago we got on a plane and all met in St. Pete Beach. Maybe I’ll write about that sometime.  This year we decided to meet halfway between my home in NY and their home in PA. As you might guess, there isn’t a lot between here and there besides forest, small coal towns, and the home of the Little League World Series. Our first mistake was trying to go away over Mom’s birthday weekend, which happened to fall on Memorial Day Weekend this year. Everything was booked, or the prices were so high that it wasn’t even worth thinking about. None of us wanted to cook, clean, or do dishes. That meant that a cabin was probably out. We were thinking somewhere with a pool might be fun, but after the weather we had, I’m glad we passed on that requirement. After a few days and a lot of digging I came across a little gem in the middle of the Pennsylvania wilderness called Eagles Mere.

Eagles Mere was a popular mountain resort in the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s when resort vacations started to become unpopular and not economical. I love history so it looked like the perfect place to spend a couple days with my mom and sister. It was roughly halfway between us and it wouldn’t take me any longer to get to Maine from Eagles Mere as it does from home in NY. So we booked with the Crestmont, which I thought was a historic inn based on the history of the town, and we made our way to PA for a long and hopefully relaxing weekend.

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Sadly, what remains of Eagles Mere is lacking in both character and entertainment. The museum is wonderful and detailed the life of the town in the early 1900’s with 5 beautiful hotels that overlooked the lake and downtown. It had a rail train that brought people to the lake and then up to the Crestmont which, at one time, sat towering over the lake from atop the hill. After the popularity in the 20’s wained, the hotels struggled to stay open, changed hands many times, and were either destroyed by fire or dismantled, moved or demolished. Sadly, the Crestmont, was lost and now condos sit on the old hotel foundation and what is left of the Crestmont Inn lacks the view, charm, and character it once had.  Weather has prevented them from doing the ice slide for many years, and there is actually no restaurant in the downtown.  Our first night we ate at the Crestmont. The food really was good, but we had reservations for 7:30pm, per their request at check in that we make reservations. We sat for an hour and a half before we were served our dinner at 9pm.  We were in no hurry, and we had we ordered a bottle of wine, so we sat and talked till our meals arrived. However, since the service at the Crestmont was so incredibly slow, we decided to try somewhere else the next evening. Slightly outside of town there is “The Barn” which, although listed on placemats in the sweet shop, was not the easiest place to find. The food was good, no complaints there, but if you’re expecting anything more then a family diner/bar, you’ll be disappointed. On our third night in town we opted to go the opposite direction out of town and found a different restaurant/taphouse to have dinner. The food here was also good, service was not quite as slow, and again it had a family diner/bar atmosphere. I don’t know if the town of Eagles Mere could support a restaurant, I fear the people who own the beautiful estates around the lake don’t really go out for dinner. But after visiting the museum I was really wishing for some of that old world charm that used to exist in this tiny little town in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania.

To their credit, they no longer could afford to run the train around the lake and opted to change it into a 6 mile hiking trail. I would have loved to explore this trail. I understand there are some beautiful waterfalls along the trail, however, the weather did not cooperate and my poor mom fell right before coming on our little trip so she had a bum knee and ankle making hiking in the less then optimal weather a no go.

We did enjoy the sweet shop and the book store. If you like to read, the book store is a little treasure cove. We spent more time in the bookshop then anywhere else in Eagles Mere. Old and new books, history, fiction or pretty much anything else you could think of. A couple of couches in there an I might never have left! The sweet shop, being the only place in town that seemed to serve anything, was a nice little throw back. You could have lunch, coffee, and ice cream. We had coffee and ice cream and there was even a little arcade in the back if you were traveling with children.  Other than that, there was really nothing in downtown Eagles Mere.  The shops that are “suggested” when you read about Eagles Mere are all no bigger than my kitchen and I am hard pressed to understand how they stay open. One was touristy, one was artsy, and one was second hand goods. I think the “camp store” as that is what the tiny little grocery store reminded me of, must supply the lake goers and the people who own the beautiful cottages must stop at a grocery store outside of town. We saw plenty of people walking around the lake, but otherwise the “downtown” was empty.

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We attempted to find a couple of wineries while we were in town. It sounded like this would be a thing to do in Eagles Mere. We were successful in finding only one winery that was open. The other two wineries, with signs by the road, were closed. One appeared closed for good, the other was difficult to tell if it was simply closed the day we tried to visit or also closed for good. Our little driving adventure took us past most of the beautiful old homes that remain from the towns heyday and out into the surrounding countryside. Although I do believe that Eagles Mere was a beautiful place to visit in it’s day, it’s missing the charm it once had. That being said, I do think if you owned a home in this area that you vacationed with your family on the lake and enjoyed the classic charm, it might have a completely different view. However, for someone visiting Eagles Mere, it was disappointing.

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We spent most of our time in the car exploring the countryside and in our room playing Phase 10, Ticket to Ride, and Forbidden Island. It was lucky that my mom thought to mention bringing games along, as we may have found it difficult to entertain ourselves otherwise. Had the weather been nice, we may have spent a day at the lake or hiking. Had we found more wineries would would have done a wine tour. And had any of the previous hotels still remained, as an architect, I would have enjoyed exploring their hidden treasures.

As you can see above, still 3 happy faces to be away on an adventure together. I would tell people to go and visit the museum in Eagles Mere, it’s quick and well done. The train model of the town is fascinating, and a drive through town to see what’s left of the beautiful cottages is quite a nice ride. If you’re hikers, then I would definitely recommend visiting Eagles Mere. In the summer I am sure the lake is lovely. The trail around the old railroad bed would be nice and it’s close to Rickets Glenn State Park and Worlds End. If you like the wilderness, this very well might be your place. But if you’re looking for the history and a cute downtown, I have to say, I personally think they no longer exist.

Until our next adventure! ~ Cheers, Emily