In early September, our route took us out of Vermont and through New York, alongside the beautiful Catskill Mountains. Every so often, there’d be a hint of fall colors in the landscape, but just a hint. We thought we’d be following the colors as they peaked from north to south, but the season was late this year due to the very warm summer. You don’t have to tell us twice about the very warm summer! We didn’t stop anywhere in New York on this trip, but we checked it off our list since we spent a few hours driving through (that criteria won’t cut it when we head west–Tom says at the very least we need to stop, breathe the air, and have a beer or something in order to check it off). But as for NY, I was born there and we have been there many other times!
Our destination was Mt. Bethel, PA at the southern end of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. We were visiting our friends, Torrey and Sue, and stayed just around the corner from their house at the lovely Driftstone Campground on the Delaware River. Torrey hired Tom into the Florida Park Service 35 years ago and was his boss twice, for about half of Tom’s career. Torrey and Sue are still our valued mentors and friends, and we love any time we can spend with them. They toured us around their new home and beautiful neck of the woods. Well, new to us, they’ve been there over 10 years.
They live in the rolling countryside of the Pocono Mountains–beautiful farmland, mostly corn and soybeans. We finally learned about the “barn star” that we started seeing earlier in our trip in the farmland of Kentucky and beyond and now saw even more of in Pennsylvania. We’d see these large, dimensional five-point metal or wood stars on barns, houses, garages and other buildings and wonder what/if they meant. They originated in PA as a builder’s distinguishing mark on barns, but soon became more of a decorative element or symbol of good luck, like a horseshoe. So, now we know, and you do, too. 🙂
Torrey and Sue are incredible hosts; they wined and dined us royally! Every day a different fabulous restaurant or two(!), all their favorites and now we know why. First, Saen Thai cuisine where the delightful owner, Boon, knows his regular customers by name and gives newcomers the same special attention, like you’re old friends! We don’t have a lot of experience with Thai food, but of the places we’ve been, this is the absolute best! Great Thai beer and the freshest food made exactly to order on the spicy scale. Next was the Red Wolf Inn, in nearby Belvidere, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River via the historic Riverton-Belvidere Bridge, circa 1904. The Red Wolf has the look of a hole in the wall dive, but has the food of a five-star steakhouse! The steaks are seriously amazing, which is why the place is always packed even though it’s in the middle of nowhere! The steaks are big, cooked to perfection, and come adorned with whatever you love—garlic butter, bleu cheese, mushrooms and onions, etc, or all of the above! Yes, please! Another day, Torrey and Sue took us to tour an historic building in Belvidere, circa 1825, that their son-in-law had renovated into office space. What beautiful work he did to maintain the historic integrity but also completely modernize it from top to bottom! They took us for lunch just a couple doors down at Thisilldous Eatery, a lively main street diner where we had delicious soup and Cuban sandwiches. We have found that not all Cuban sandwiches are equal, but these were outstanding! Dinner was undecided until their long-time friend, Olav (who owns the renovated historic building) suggested Flood’s Bar in Stroudsburg, PA for wings and beer. You don’t have to ask us twice for wings and beer! What another great, main street favorite! They have over a hundred choices of beer and Olav highly recommended the McHale’s wings (spicy BBQ, but not too spicy) which were delish! Olav oh-so-generously treated all of us to this fantastic meal, sadly our last, as we were heading back on the road the next morning. Happily though, we made plans to see Torrey and Sue again with mutual friends in Murphy, North Carolina the following month. 🙂