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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wine, Nature and the Poconos

Friday after work, Josh and I left the hustle and bustle of the city for a weekend in the Poconos.  The Poconos are an area of mountains, lakes, rivers and forest in Northwestern Pennsylvania, and they are beautiful!  The drive there unfortunately was not so nice, as the Friday afternoon traffic was horrible the whole way.  But, eventually we made it, and arrived at our home for the weekend in Delaware Water Gap, PA, the Deer Head Inn.  It is a gorgeous old building, built in 1869.  It is also the oldest continuous jazz club in the entire USA.  

Once we checked in, we drove a few miles, to the Gem and Keystone Pub, another cute place next to the Shawnee Inn and Golf course were we enjoyed a fabulous dinner.  We were pretty tired from a long day, so we went back to the Inn and had a drink and just relaxed before falling asleep with the crisp mountain air coming through the window.

We were yup bright and early in the morning to get out and enjoy some hiking before it got really hot.  It did get really hot, but thankfully, it was more like a heat from at home, not the NYC heat with unbearable humidity.

We started the morning at Dingman's Falls, the Second largest waterfall in Pennsylvania.  It was a short, and pretty easy hike (except the couple hundred stairs to get to the top) so it was just what I was looking for as I was feeling a bit lazy. First on the trail, we came across Silver Thread Falls, a smaller, but also very beautiful fall.  The Pools at the bottom of the falls and the streams connecting them made for some lovely photos as well.

Here are a few at Dingman's falls

Our next stop was just a bit up the road at a trailhead that had several different options.  We chose a moderate one, Ridgeline Trail, again because I was still feeling a bit on the lazy side, but it was a lovely 3 mile hike through the woods.  There were a lot of spiderwebs though, so I made Josh go first.  

By the time we were done, we were fairly ravenous, so we started the trek to one of 3 wineries that we made it to that day, the Sorrenti Cherry Valley Vineyards.  It was quite a drive to get there from where we were so we were ready for the delicious looking Italian menu.

We got far too much food, of course... an order of breadsticks, a caprese salad, a brick oven wrap and ravioli.  

Stuffed, we waddled over to the tasting room.  We each got 6 samples, so we shared and got to try a large portion of them.  So good!  I'm amazed that I don't think I have tried any Pennsylvanian wine before.

There also happened to be a wedding there that day.  The grounds are gorgeous and it would be there perfect place to get married.  Wine, great food and an amazing view.

The next place, was Josh's favorite, the Franklin Hill Vineyard.  This one was really cute and informal and all the wines were fabulous.  We were really surprised at one called Carnival which was supposed to be a cotton candy flavor.  I am not a cotton candy fan but this wine is just delish!  Had to get a bottle (well a few, but one of the Carnival).  These wines, you can order online, and I highly recommend it.  If you are interested, take a look here.

We had just barely enough time to fit in one more quickly before they closed, so we picked the closest one, the Tolino Vineyards.  By this time, I was getting a headache from all the wine we had already drank and we were getting tired, but the wines were still great!

Although it seemed like we had just eaten, we headed back to Delaware Water Gap to a restaurant that we had been eyeing since we got to town, the Sycamore Grill.  The menu looked great online, and they did not disappoint. we both got New York strip steaks with horseradish cream sauce and garlic mashed potatoes.  It didn't matter that we were still stuff, it was totally worth it, and we finished it all.

We ran into this squirrel enjoying some ice cream on the way back to the Deer Head.

We had made reservations for that evening to a jazz show at the Inn.  The performer was Jerry Harris, who currently lives in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands but is from New Jersey.  He was in a band in the 70s called Sunshine Asparagus and is amazingly talented, and a really cool guy.  He performed some classics and some songs I had never heard.  There was a huge crowd and everyone there loves him.  He apparently got his start at the Deer Head, then got famous, but still comes back every now and then for a show.  I was able to watch most of the show but had to go back up to the room a bit early as I was having a hard time getting rid of my stupid wine headache.  

We were up pretty early again, and went down to enjoy the Morning Cure (to die for breakfast at the Inn) and decided to take a bit of a hike down the Appalachian Trail that was located right outside the Deer Head.  For anyone who doesn't know, the Appalachian Trail runs through the Appalachian Mountain Range from Georgia to Mt. Katahdin, a couple hours south of were Josh is from in Maine.  Someday we would like to get the chance to back pack the whole trail, but it would take a couple months.  Anyway, we stumbled upon this cute little lake filled with lilypads and frogs. Cute!

We got back to the Inn, checked out and I decided to go get a geocache that was located down the street.  I hadn't noticed while driving, but the town has lots of cute little parks and so much character!

We made a couple stops for a souvenir shot glass, and a couple other things.  Outside one of the places, we found this 24 hour Bait and Tackle Vending Machine.  Too funny!

I had been wanting to find a beach just to relax and read on for a bit, but we got to the actual State Park and found out we had to pay just to sit on the grass of the riverbank, so we drove a couple miles down the road to where there was a trail, and just chilled out on the river bank there.  So nice and so relaxing and the  water was really warm!

We still had two more stops to make, so we didn't stay long before we made our way to the Mountainview Winery and Distillery.  Nestled up in the hills it was another super lovely one, owned by a former teacher and pharmaceutical rep.  The place was packed, but there was a tour starting right away, so once that cleared out we had the place to ourselves.  Josh decided to try the items from the Distillery, and I chose the wines, so we could share.  Again, just fantastic wines, some of which we came home with.  The goat is on all the logos, so I love that too.  Josh also got a bottle of the Apple Pie Moonshine.  I can't say I'm a huge moonshine fan, but this stuff is 80 proof and still tastes just like apple pie with a kick.  And it comes in a Mason jar etched with the goat.

Once we were finished the tasting, we went upstairs for a Cherry Chocolate wine slushy. Yum!  There was also a guy doing an acoustic set, so we sat outside and enjoyed our slushys and some music.  They have chickens as well, and as usual the roosters were attracted to me. Luckily, the owners German Shepard swooped in to save the day.

Our final (and probably the stop Josh was most excited for) was the Poconos Wing Off. A chicken wing competition featuring several local restaurants and over 40 different flavors of wings.  It was held at the Shawnee ski hill and is on pavement so it was SWELTERING.  We did try some really yummy wings, but we didn't stick around to steel in the 30 minute lines too long.  

There was a stream beside the ski hill filled with turtles and fish.  I love turtles!

Okay, so we had one more stop to make, I am obsessed with Kernels Popcorn in Canada, and I have never seen anything comparable to it in the US, so when I found Popcorn Buddha, I had to stop and stock up.  I hate to say it, but I think it is even better than Kernels!  I got dill pickle and hot wing flavors and Josh got the Buddha mix with nuts, caramel and chocolate (yes it is as delicious and fattening as it sounds) and the appalachian mix (like a Chicago mix).  I am pretty much in heaven now and am trying to savor it haha.

Our trip home was a lot quicker than the trip there, so that was actually really nice.  We made out pretty well (14 bottles of wine and 4 bags of popcorn) and really had a fantastic weekend.  We are hoping to head back to the area in the fall when the leaves start to turn, and maybe in the winter for some skiing and I can't wait!

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