Even though I spent almost the entire summer and Fall in New York City, I ventured into Pennsylvania a couple times to catch up with friends outdoors and get a break from the city. I didn't initially plan to turn this into a photo journal, but it turned into a fun trip and a couple of the photos even turned out pretty nice by my standards.
In early October, my wife and I drove out to Easton, Pennsylvania, the smallest and easternmost of the trio of cities that make up Lehigh Valley. Like most cities in the area, it developed significantly in the canal/early railroad era in the early 1800s due to the prevalence of anthracite coal, and Lafayette College and the city's proximity to NYC likely helped keep the city going after the manufacturing industries cooled off.
Just outside the city is a beautiful trail along the old Delaware Canal, with Norfolk Southern's Lehigh Line just accross the canal. While Wikipedia says there hasn't been any passenger service along the line since 1961, we wound up walking by the old Easton Lehigh Valley Railroad Passenger Station. It was clear that the station was abandoned and hadn't been in use for a long time, but the size of the station and the ornate brickwork give the feeling that it was once quite busy.
The street facing side of the station had some pretty murals painted on the plywood entryway barriers, although I have to imagine the paintings are not a great replacement for what the station would have been like when it was actively serving passengers.
Today the station is pretty tightly locked up, but if you want to see more of the inside of the station, you can check out this YouTube video from someone a looser interpretation of property rights.
Old industrial cities in the U.S. that developed before the auto era often have small walkable grids since they were centrally planned and workers did not have cars to get to work. Thankfully Easton hadn't seemed to ruin it with wide roads for cars, and it was very pleasantly walkable. A top down view of the city shows relatively few parking lots, and Easton's website seems to strongly encourage visitors to park in either of the two city-owned garages and then walk to their final destination. Even though we spend too much time in town walking around, it was quite pretty, and the beer at Two Rivers Brewing Company was pretty solid.
Overall, it made for a really nice day trip from NYC, and I would gladly make the trip over again, although I would bring a bike this time to take advantage of the trails.
Delaware Valley Water Gap
Later in the Fall I took a trip out to a friend's cabin in Eastern Pennsylvania. The cabin was part of an old club that wealthier New Yorkers would go to during the summer back in the 50s. While the clubhouse was closed for COVID, the club was the type of place where you were required to eat breakfast each day at the main building while socializing with the other members. Back in the day, visitors had to eat all of their meals there, and I personally chose to imagine it was a slightly more low-key version of the camp that Marvelous Mrs. Maisel went to in Season 2.
The cabin itself was absolutely gorgeous with beautiful views of the lake, and we cooked most of our meals outside on firepits right next to the water. Since the firepits were on club grounds, there were several niceties waiting for us, including dry-ish wood, newspaper, starter logs, and matches. As someone who can be a bit lazy, this would have been nice on its own, but it also made it feasible for us to take a canoe over to a different fire pit and make dinner without hauling all of our wood too.
Hiking in the area is fairly nice by Northeastern U.S. standards, even if the views often ended up including a highway. The first hike we tried to go on was way too busy, and instead we hiked up Mount Minsi via the Appalachian Trail. It was somewhat busy, although we could actually park at the trailhead instead of walking on the side of the highway as folks were doing a the first spot. AllTrails had it listed as 'moderate', and I think I would agree with that assessment.
Every now and then you got a hint of a view going up the trail, but it was more or less a summit hike. The "main" view close to the top where we stopped for lunch was quite pretty.
The trail itself was pretty busy, although the proximity to NYC may have helped mask compliance somewhat. At the top of the trail, there was a fire road running along the top of the mountain which was far less busy than the rest of the trail. Even though leaves obstructed the view, this was probably my favorite part of the hike, since it was pretty empty, you couldn't hear the highway anymore, and the Fall foliage made for a nice photo.
Our last day was pretty damp (it was October after all), so instead of hiking we went up to an old dam which they had reinforced with concrete. The original dam had been around for about 100 years, although it had apparently started to fail. Having worked with a lot of concrete in college, it was fun checking out the new construction work, although I chose to grab a photo of the dock instead, since photos of plain concrete aren't quite as fun to go back and look at afterwards..
I think it comes through in the above photo some, but the water was so heavy in the air that every single little spine on the moss growing in the quarry had little droplets of dew on it, something I don't get to see too often living in the city.
In the end, both of the trips were pleasant ways to get out of the city and catch up with some friends safely. They provided a nice distraction from everything else going on, even if all the extra precautions we took gave it a bit of an 'uncanny valley' feeling compared to hanging out in the before times. I've enjoyed getting to edit photos instead of writing more code for one of these posts, but if you are one of my few readers, my next post will probably be technical instead.