Today I made my third trip to the Poconos this summer. The focus of this trip was the small town of Delaware Water Gap which is located in the vicinity of Stroudsburg. To reach Delaware Water Gap I had to drive along Interstate 80 clear to the border with New Jersey. It is worthwhile to note a few landmarks along the way. There is a hideous apartment complex near Bloomsburg called the Lions Gate Luxury Apartments. It seems quite strange to build a huge apartment complex out in the middle of nowhere. According to their web site this is luxury campus housing for Bloomsburg University. Another useful landmark is the huge mountain that looms into view around mile 250. I think that is the Sugarloaf Mountain. I saw a Susquehanna Trailways bus on Interstate 80 which followed me a little ways. It was probably heading to New York City as part of their regular service and not a tour.
Once I reached Delaware Water Gap, I parked at the Water Gap Trolley parking lot. I wanted to take the trolley tour at 10:00 a.m. But since I arrived in town at 9:00 a.m. I had time to walk around and take some photos. I walked uphill and took photos of various establishments all the way to Deer Head Inn. That only took a half hour so I walked to the Water Gap Diner and ordered breakfast. I saw a few Appalachian Trail hikers at the diner. I’ve recently finished reading Bill Bryson’s book about the Appalachian Trail, A Walk In The Woods, so it was cool to see some actual Appalachian Trail hikers. Bill Bryson does mention the Delaware Water Gap in his book. I ordered pancakes, a coke, orange juice, and coffee. I ate and drank really fast because I wanted to catch the 10:00 a.m. trolley tour.
After breakfast I walked back to the Water Gap Trolley and bought a ticket for the 10:00 a.m. tour. A few senior citizens also showed up for the tour. The trolley first took us up Broad Street pass the Pennsylvania Welcome Center and into Shawnee on Delaware, another small community in the vicinity. This was very useful because it showed me the route to Shawnee from Delaware Water Gap. In Shawnee I saw the Stony Brook Inn, the Shawnee General Store, and the Shawnee Playhouse. I was particularly interested in the Shawnee Playhouse because while driving along Interstate 80 I had the brilliant idea to submit one of my plays to this theater. Their web site has a submission form for playwrights.
The driver of the trolley kept up a running narration of the sights we were passing. I took keen notice of significant details. For example, we passed some Shawnee time shares which looked very luxurious. The wealthy still flock to the Poconos for outdoor recreation. And it was interesting to see where the Pennsylvania Welcome Center was located in relation to the Delaware Water Gap town. I saw where the Inti Peruvian Cuisine restaurant is located in Shawnee.
The trolley went back through town and then followed PA 611 to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area overlooks. This was also very useful since it showed me how to reach the three overlooks; the Resort Point Overlook, the Point of Gap Overlook, and the Arrow Island Overlook. Unfortunately the Resort Point Overlook was closed. We even went to the Cold Air Cave but we only saw it from the road. The trolley only stopped at the Point of Gap Overlook where I got off to take some photos of Mount Tammany.
When we arrived back at the Water Gap Trolley, I drove up Main Street to park in the spacious parking lot of Sycamore Grille. My next goal was to do some shopping since the stores were open by then. First I visited Edge of the Woods Outfitters which sells hiking gear to the Appalachian Trail hikers and offers bike rentals and kayak trips. The store did not have as much merchandise as I had expected. I bought a $40.00 Transit Sun Hat by Outdoor Research. I’m not a hiker but I’ve been doing a lot of hiking this summer. I only intend to do casual hiking but you shouldn’t even do that without some proper gear. At the very least you should be packing a water bottle. There are some hiking trails in Lycoming County which I plan to investigate.
The next store I visited was Castle Inn which is similar to the Street of Shops in Lewisburg, a sort of craft mall. Castle Inn has a Victorian ice cream parlor called Zoe’s Ice Cream Emporium. I had an ice cream cone there with two scoops for $4.00. I was the only customer because they had just opened but its hard to see how a town as small as Delaware Water Gap supports these establishments. I think I saw more hikers than tourists. I did buy something from the craft stores in Castle Inn, a polished stone for $1.00. I felt I had to buy something.
I wanted to visit the Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery but it did not open until 1:00 p.m. so I had some time to kill. There really isn’t a lot to do in Delaware Water Gap. I drove up PA 611 and revisited the overlooks that I had seen from the trolley. The Resort Point Overlook was blocked off but I did go to the Point of Gap Overlook and the Arrow Island Overlook where I took many more photos at my leisure. I even went to the Cold Air Cave. I could feel the cold air emanating from this cave as soon as I walked up to it. There were many cars parked in front of the cave but I did not see anyone inside. I peered into the cave but I didn’t really go inside because it was dark and creepy in there.
When I drove back to Main Street it still was not 1:00 p.m. so I parked at the museum and had brunch at Zen Fusion which was clearly open now. Zen Fusion is a pretty fancy restaurant for such a small town. It must cater to sophisticated tourists from New York City and Philadelphia. I had Breakfast Chilaqules; corn chips with scrambled eggs, tomatillo sauce and feta cheese. I guess corn chips with scrambled eggs is a fusion dish! It wasn’t bad but this was the second breakfast I had that day. Fortunately that took some time and I found the museum open by then. The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery is located just behind Zen Fusion so I did not have to walk far.
The Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery features an art gallery downstairs and a two room historical museum upstairs. I was tempted to buy some small art prints I found in the museum. Some of the art prints were paintings of Stroudsburg establishments on Main Street and there were also Times Square paintings which I really liked. One of the rooms upstairs was an old fashioned schoolroom which was very charming. I watched a slide show on Delaware Water Gap. I was left alone up there so I felt free to take some photos.
The most interesting thing about the history of Delaware Water Gap is that it used to have hundreds of luxury hotels. The Delaware Water Gap was considered one of the greatest scenic wonders of the world back at the turn of the century. It is very impressive but hardly one of the greatest scenic wonders of the world. Nevertheless many grand hotels were built to provide vacationers with a great view of Mount Tammany. Equally surprising is how little remains of these palatial hotels. Only two small hotels remain; the Deer Head Inn and the Castle Inn. In this, the town of Delaware Water Gap is similar to the town of Eagles Mere which also had many resort hotels for vacationers from New York City and Philadelphia. Now Eagles Mere is just a tiny hamlet with a fancy little museum documenting some bygone era of grand hotels. I did see some very old photos of a very young Fred Astaire who used to vacation at Delaware Water Gap in its glory days.
When I left the museum I retraced the route of the trolley to return to Shawnee on Delaware. I parked at the Shawnee General Store and walked to the Shawnee Playhouse to take lots of photos of this theater. I also took photos of the bed and breakfast, Stony Brook Inn. I have considered staying there because it is tedious to drive two hours along Interstate 80. Unfortunately I don’t have the money to do anything except day trips. Eventually I may stay overnight in the Poconos since I intend to do some really extensive research into the area that may be my future home. The Shawnee General Store was kind of a dump without much merchandise but I bought a photo of the Delaware Water Gap anyway. It did seem like a genuine general store and not a tourist trap.
I needed to find a restroom after that brunch at Zen Fusion started to disagree with me so I stopped at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center. During the trolley ride I heard that the place had flooded up to its roof and cost millions of dollars to construct. I was alarmed by the accounts of flooding since I don’t want to move to a flood prone area. I have been in this fancy Pennsylvania Welcome Center before because the Susquehanna Trailways bus sometimes makes a comfort stop there. I picked up a few more brochures there.
My final stop was the Crossings Premium Outlets. I always see this place from Interstate 80 during bus trips to New York City. I remember we did stop there once and I visited a bookstore. Unfortunately there are no bookstores there now. Crossings Premium Outlets has many stores but they are all clothing stores. In this respect, it is similar to the King of Prussia Mall. All those stores and there is absolutely nothing I would want to buy! I picked up a shopping guide and went into a Timberland store and a Hot Topic store but I bought nothing. I will never go to Crossings Premium Outlets again. The parking lot was completely full so I had to park behind one of the buildings.
Before I went home I did stop at the Lycoming Mall again. I wanted to stop in at Gander Mountain to buy some hiking supplies. Gander Mountain was not where I thought it would be. I must have misread the Google Map satellite view. Gander Mountain is located in one of the huge box stores around the mall, but not on the side where I thought it was. I almost didn’t bother to stop in because they were doing a lot of construction on the entrance and I wasn’t sure if they were open. I bought a compass and a medical kit at the camping section. I probably don’t need that for casual hiking but some of the hiking trails in Lycoming County are deep in the woods, in the mountains of the northern part of the county. This part of Pennsylvania is advertised to tourists as “The Wilds” with hunting and fishing as the big attractions. There does seem to be a whole culture of outdoor adventuring that I know nothing about. I’m not up for anything really strenuous, but I might as well try some hiking closer to home.