Sunday, October 16, 2011

Vacation Part II - Hiking @ Hawk Mountain

So after some time in Amish country and visiting with my bro, it was time to head out for some hiking. We stopped at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. It is a non-profit, large (2500+acres) mountaintop preserve for raptors and other birds of prey. I can remember visiting there as a kid with my family and wanted to show Paul the great views.

We stopped at the visitor center to pay our trail fees. We stopped at the South Lookout, where a large group of birders were enjoying the views. We then took the Lookout Trail and stopped at the various lookouts to check out the scenery and the birds. After checking the map and the trail head (first picture below), we decided to tackle the Escarpment Trail. It was an amazing, rocky trail that reminded us of our backpacking trip to Isle Royale, but at the top of a mountain instead.

River of Rocks overlook
The Escarpment Trail

View from the north lookout

Hawk at Kettle View lookout
We completed that trail, stopped at the various lookouts, tested out the panorama function on my phone camera, enjoyed the view at the North Lookout, and took the much more leisurely Lookout Trail back to the car. More pictures (including the panoramas) are posted at our gallery webpage.

After changing shoes it was time to jump in the car and head to Tuscarora State Park for some yurt camping - or "glamping" as my neighbors called it :P

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Vacation post #1

I actually got a vacation that didn't involve staying home and cleaning while my husband worked! We were able to finally get time off simultaneously and put it to good use! We have the craziest vacation request process at work and since I have hardly any seniority compared with my department co-workers, I'm usually stuck with the leftover weeks that no one else wants (so no summer vacations for me until some people retire!)

Anyway, I have always loved the fall and since the vacation week fell so close to our anniversary, we decided to hit the road and get some camping, hiking, and wining in. I grew up in the Pocono Mountains and we were married at the Harry Packer mansion in Jim Thorpe. So we headed back that way, since I don't get home very often. We were able to do some outdoorsy stuff, hit a wine trail, visit with family, and enjoy some downtime.

First, we headed to Amish country in the Lancaster area, where my brother lives. We decided to try out a bed and breakfast, since we've never done that before. We quickly learned that we aren't B&B people (not early risers, not big breakfast eaters, I'm not good at small talk, etc.) The couple that owns the house we stayed at was very nice and friendly, but it was just awkward - I felt like I was staying at a distant relative's house and couldn't really get comfortable. My hubs felt the same - lesson learned: don't book for more than one night if you aren't really sure about it. We had reserved for three days and it was 2 days too long.

So after visiting with the bro and checking out some great breweries - Lancaster Brewing Company makes a great Milk Stout and their Amish Four Grain is awesome! I also had a Shoo-Fly Porter that was to die for - wanted to bring some home, but only available in growlers and we still had almost a week left - it wouldn't survive the trip home. They had great food and the sampler beer tray was great to share and enjoy with the boys.