Monday, June 29, 2009


My wonderful-in-every-other-way husband loves the beach. Me--not so much. I can't really blame him, though, as he grew up in Ocean City, New Jersey, just a block from the ocean. So every year, we spend a week there, soaking up the salt air and enjoying Mack and Manco's pizza, Curly's fries, and fresh seafood. I must say I've come to love the Jersey shore in my own anti-sand way. There is also a certain charm in the ritual of vacationing in the same spot every summer. However, our youngest declared last year that he would like to see someplace new. Not being willing to completely abandon our traditions, we decided to split our week between the old and the new. We spent half our time in Ocean City and half in Kutztown, Pennsylvania. It worked out great and we had a lot of fun (even our teenager, who was grumpy over having forgotten to pack his laptop).

First stop: our traditional ride across the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. This is what parked next to us:

I have to admit, even I was impressed, though prudishly less so with the pierced-lipped, pants-below-his-butt teenaged driver. (Insert eyeroll here.)

Ocean City was great. Though it rained every day, it never shed a drop on us while we were outside. It would always clear up just as we were arriving somewhere, then begin again as we were leaving. It was as perfect as beach weather can get--warm enough to be comfortable, but cloudy enough to not cook us. However, the new Pennsylvania sights we got to enjoy stole the show this year. First, we went to Crystal Cave.

It was the hottest day of our trip and we welcomed the natural air-conditioning. This view below is the point at which they turned out the lights. I'm proud to say we all coped very well, even after the tour guide had shown us the fault line that will someday cause the entire cave to collapse.

This is known as the prairie dog formation.

This was the best picture I could get of the crystals that line the walls of the cave.

Our next adventure was a hike up Hawk Mountain. I had some trepidation about the hike, since hauling a pregnant body with swollen feet up a mountain didn't necessarily seem like a great plan. But I'm not always the most sensible person around and I've been known to be a bit stubborn, so I decided to try it anyway.

We made it just at the end of the blooming season for mountain laurel. I took these flowers to be a good omen. They lined the entire first 100 yards of the trail which was a little steep, but pretty easy going.

This was our first view of the valley below at the Southern Lookout. Only one mile from here to our ultimate destination--the Northern Lookout. No problem.

From that point on, this was the "path". They had to periodically mark the trees and rocks, because you really couldn't tell where the path was.

This was the stone "staircase". I have to say, just because you put a railing next to something, does not make it stairs.

This is the view down from the top of the staircase.

At the peak at last. There was just one thing missing from this awesome view: hawks! We climbed Hawk Mountain and saw a turkey vulture and a cedar waxwing. Since the waxwing was one for my lifelist, I decided to call it a success.

The hike down was probably more difficult than up. I'm pretty sure my roundness had something to do with that. One stunningly humorous trail volunteer there pointed out that, if I fell, I would probably bounce right back up. You know, you usually have to pay top dollar for that amount of laughter. Anyway, we saw many chipmunks and a garter snake, but still no hawks. I was disappointed to discover that the gift shop did not have a t-shirt saying, "I hiked Hawk Mountain at 32 weeks." I guess it would appeal to a somewhat limited market.

So, home again and glad to be at sea level.