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Poconos Paradise

Last weekend I traveled the short hour and 30 minutes from New York to the Poconos to enjoy a bit of rustic relaxation and get out of the city for a few days. This was not my first visit to the Poconos so I was excited for some relaxation but not really prepared to be impressed. I was totally mistaken.

Picture Perfect afternoon in Stokes State Forrest

Picture Perfect afternoon in Stokes State Forrest

Somehow, we timed our trip perfectly to get the best of the autumn leaves without the frigid temperatures. Though we lit a fire in the fireplace every night and even attended a bonfire, we were able to eat dinner al fresco and spend most of our days outdoors.

In Brooklyn we build furniture out of pallets. In the Poconos they are used for bonfires

In Brooklyn we build furniture out of pallets. In the Poconos they are used for bonfires

On the first day, I spent four hours solo kayaking a distance of about 15 miles  through the Delaware Water Gap. The views were spectacular! In those four hours I saw only five other people using the river, and you couldn’t even hear cars near by. In my alone time I glimpsed turtles, fish, hawks and a majestic bald eagle gliding over the water.

The prettiest moment in my kayak

The prettiest moment captured from my kayak

We quickly learned that taking the back roads were the best way to see the leaves and absorb the beauty and peacefulness of the area. Personally, I love to drive the small winding roads (the faster the better), but the views and wildlife, made it worth slowing down.

River Road

Single lane road through Worthington State Forrect

Its now a week later and serious thunderstorms  in the area have taken down most of the leaves. Right before I left to catch my bus back to NY, I was driving down River Road for probably the 6th time in two days and happened upon this little bear.  Sometimes, you just get lucky I suppose. It seems like we were just in the right place at the right time in so many ways.

Visiting with a bear

Visiting with a bear

Getting directions from the locals

Getting directions from the locals

Tree House Throwback

In honor of Throwback Thursday today, I want to write about one of the most unique places that my wanderings have taken me… In 2012 I took my mom on a road trip through Tennessee and Mississippi to celebrate her 50th birthday. As this meant LOTs of time in the car, I researched attractions that we might be interested along the way. I had hoped to find quick and interesting places to stretch our legs, but I struck obscure attraction gold. The world’s largest tree house, located just outside Crossville, TN!

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A view of a portion of the tree house

My research taught me that Minister Horace Burgess started to build the tree house in 1993. He got the idea through prayer and was inspired by what he calls a vision of God. In this vision, God told the minister that if he “built a tree house, I’ll see that you never run out of material”. Thirty years later, the tree house stands over 90 feet tall with five stories and 80 rooms.

A view looking down from one of the middle levels

A view looking down from one of the middle levels

It is hard to tell, but there are indeed trees under all of the construction. At the base is a 80 foot tall white oak with a 12 foot diameter. Six other trees are used for support of the structure. As you wander through the tree house, you’ll find a chapel complete with a basketball hoop and class room like areas. Throughout the building there are religious wood carvings mixed with graffiti and people leaving their marks.

Chapel/Basketball court

Chapel/Basketball court

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Classroom like area

For many years, there were very few rules to the tree house, but as time went on kids started to use the tree house for purposes contrary to the Minister’s vision. Signs on the property suggest that at one time, everything was tolerated, but liability issues made the owner stiffen the rules.

New rules

New rules

For those that work their up way through the house to the top bell tower, they are rewarded with a view of Minister Horace Burgess’s garden in tribute to his inspiration for the tree house. Its no small trek to see the house in its entirety but if your ever in the area I would definitely recommend a visit.

Minister Horace Burgess's garden view

Minister Horace Burgess’s garden view

To start with a look back…

I took these photos on March 22, 2012, my 30th birthday. It was an unseasonably warm day for March in NY, with highs in upper 70s. Its so rare that I have a warm birthday, that at the last minute I took the day off and decided to have a NYC beach adventure. I hoped to put my toes in the water, walk on the sand and enjoy a little sun.

When I arrived in Brighton Beach I was disappointed to find that it was shrouded in a thick fog. I thought that I would quickly put my toes in the water since I had come all that way, but as I started to walk on the beach I began to enjoy the magical other worldliness of the fog. It was so thick that when I was at the waterfront, I couldn’t see the boardwalk or any of its landmarks.
Through the gloom, I walked from Brighton Beach to Coney Island and discovered an eerie wonderland in the mist.  Enjoy!
Scuba diver emerging from the water

Scuba diver emerging from the water

boardwalk

Nearly Empty Coney Island Boardwalk

Foggy ferris

Ferris Wheel in the dissipating fog

Beach flags in the fog