I began my Labor Day weekend with a road trip through the northern Pocono mountains. I visited three towns along Route 6; Honesdale, Hawley, and Milford. There aren’t many large cities or towns in the Pocono region so I’ve completed my tour of the major towns. Future trips will have to focus on state parks or individual attractions.
My driving directions to Honesdale were a bit complicated and called for me to head directly east to Wilkes-Barre. Unfortunately I missed the exit for 220 North to Hughesville so I took the usual route to Interstate 80 instead. From Interstate 80 you take exit 260B to Interstate 81 North. I’m familiar with this highway from my trips to Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. The Scranton / Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area is huge and a major influence on the entire north east region of the state so I should spend more time exploring that area. I drove further north than Scranton to reach Route 6 and passed Carbondale. I used my GPS to navigate the rat’s nest of highways in the Scranton area. These details may be boring, but it is always a challenge to drive around Pennsylvania so it is worthwhile to note the details.
My first destination was Honesdale, home of Dwight Schrute’s Beet Farm and Bed and Breakfast. Honesdale was the largest town on my trip. Honesdale is not particularly interesting but there are many summer camps in the area. Between Carbondale and Honesdale I passed Waymart in Wayne County and Keen Lake. My research for this trip was very preliminary so I didn’t have any information on the surrounding area. I tried to be very observant and I will mention many little details for future reference.
Once I reached Honesdale I found a parking area near the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center did not appear to be open but I didn’t try the door. The Visitor Center is also were you board the Stourbridge excursion train. Unfortunately, the trains are no longer running. I saw some passenger train cars but no train engines. I parked behind some passenger train cars labeled Copper King Express. I immediately located the Wayne County Historical Society museum located in the Torrey Land Office of the former Delaware and Hudson Canal company. The museum was open so I made that my first stop. I saw a replica of the first steam locomotive in the United States, the Stourbridge Lion. There was also a Delaware and Hudson passenger gravity car, the Eclipse, which you could enter. A TV with a VCR was in the passenger car. I watched a short film on how the canal system and later trains were used to transport coal from Carbondale and Scranton to New York City. There were several other interesting exhibits; photos of some Lackawaxen River flooding in winter with large icebergs in the city streets, an exhibit of things you might find in your grandmother’s attic, Indian relics and arrowheads, and glass display cases filled with cut glass, etched glass, and fine crystal. The museum had a bathroom upstairs which I used. After a long road trip it is important to know where to find a bathroom. Before I left I picked up a few brochures. A booklet entitled “Navigate the Northern Pocono Mountains” looks like it will be particularly helpful for future trips to this area.
After leaving the museum I began to wander around Honesdale photographing everything in sight because I need photos to complete my custom travel guide. I did spend some time gathering photos of Honesdale from Flickr so I had some idea of what to look for. I found the headquarters of Highlights for Children Inc, publishers of children books and a well known magazine for children. I remember those magazines from Elementary School. This company does have an IT department but most of their IT positions are based in Ohio. Only their editorial department is based in Honesdale.
I also found Central Park and the Wayne County Courthouse. I took lots of photos in the park which has a fountain and a small civil war monument. There were three churches north of Central Park with exceptionally tall steeples so I took photos of that too.
Eventually I found Main Street Books, an used book store on Main Street. I found an interesting book, Wise Men Fish Here: The Story of Frances Steloff and the Gotham Book Mart by W. G. Rogers. Although that New York City book store is long gone, I thought it would be interesting to read about the literary history.
I also found the Music & Video Express store which sells home electronics, appliances, cell phones, CDs, and DVDs. Their DVD collection was small but showed excellent taste. I bought a film by Mike Leigh, Life Is Sweet, The Criterion Collection. I bought a copy of the local newspaper, The Wayne Independent, in front of the Honesdale Post Office. It is always important to check out the local media. However, the major publication in the Poconos is the Pocono Record and I visit their web site often to keep up on the news. Recently there have been many fires in downtown Stroudsburg and even one of the Delaware Water Gap trolleys caught on fire and burned up completely.
I was getting very hungry, so for lunch I went to Eleganté Restaurant & Pizzeria. I didn’t do any research on restaurants in Honesdale so I picked this place just because it was open and looked like a distinctive local establishment. Inside, this Italian restaurant was surprisingly large, stretching back a long distance. I had a Salami Hero (also known as a hoagie or cosmo), a glass of Pepsi, and some chips. For desert I had mint ice cream with chocolate chips. This meal cost less than $12.00 but I tipped a few dollars extra. I noticed that the waitresses used the word “Hon” just like in Baltimore, “Is everything OK, hon?”.
My favorite photo from my trip to Honesdale is of a stuffed black bear that was sitting on the sidewalk to promote a business. Pennsylvania is supposed to be crawling with black bears but I’ve never seen one in the wild. The Promised Land State Park is said to be a good place to find black bears and Lycoming County has the largest population of black bears in the state. Black bears are typical Pennsylvania kitsch. For example, in Jim Thorpe I ate at the Bear Appetit Cafe which took the black bear motif to extremes and of course there is the Crippled Bear Inn near my house.
As I left Honesdale I noticed that all the big box stores and the Walmart Superstore were located just outside of downtown on Route 6. I drove south on Route 6 to reach Hawley PA, the next town on my itinerary.
Hawley PA was the smallest town on my road trip. It is best known for Lake Wallenpaupack, a large man made lake created by PPL. I was slightly familiar with the town from my previous visit to Ehrhardt’s Waterfront Resort, which is located on Lake Wallenpaupack, but I had never actually been in Hawley. Downtown Hawley is only four blocks wide and three blocks in length so there is not much there. I did see quite a few antique stores.
The first thing you see when approaching the town of Hawley is The Settler’s Inn, a hotel and restaurant housed in a Tudor mansion. This is where I took a wrong turn and wound up on Route 590. I followed this road for quite a ways hoping to get back to Hawley but I can see on Google Maps that it never does. Eventually I turned around and went back to the Settler’s Inn and went into town. I think I parked on Keystone Street on the west side of town.
I quickly located the only three establishments which are of any interest in Hawley; the Hawley Diner, the Ritz Company Playhouse, and Penny Lane Candies. The Hawley Diner is an old-fashioned diner. I wish I had waited to have lunch there, but I was too full to eat again so I didn’t check it out. I did buy some candy at Penny Lane Candies. This was a fun candy store where you can fill up a small plastic bag with a variety of pieces of candy. They had old fashioned candy like root beer floats and fancy candy like gourmet jelly beans. They weigh your bag of candy and charge by the pound. The Ritz Company Playhouse is a community theater so that interested me the most.
I stopped in at the Lake and Leisure Shop which sold souvenirs and tee shirts. They had a variety of cheap goods like ceramic figurines, lots of black bear figurines of course, but I settled for a Bee Gees CD, “Monday’s Rain”, for some 1970s nostalgia. This album does not have any of their hits on it but the songs will probably be new to me.
I didn’t spend much time in Hawley. Most visitors to this town are probably there to enjoy the lake. But I did find the Riverwalk Trail to Hawley Park and walked along the dyke path.
The final town on Route 6 in Pennsylvania is Milford PA. After that you are in New Jersey and we don’t want to go there! I didn’t plan on visiting Milford at all so I had done no research on this town. But I was done with Hawley PA by 2:30 p.m. so I had plenty of time to squeeze in Milford. I was also eager to complete my tour of the Poconos after the long drive to get there. The drive to Milford along Route 6 took a long time. Just outside of town I saw the Apple Valley Family Restaurant and I was tempted to stop there. It looked like a small empire similar to Country Cupboard in Lewisburg. But I proceeded along Route 6 and parked as soon as I could on West Hartford Street just before 7th Street. This was too far from downtown. I should have parked further up the street.
It was pretty hard to identify downtown Milford. I can see on Google Maps that Broad Street is the heart of the town and I did find my way there but it looks more like a residential area than a downtown area. The only clue that you are downtown is that the shops seem fancier and there are a few distinctive buildings. This was a rare attempt by me to completely wing it without being the least prepared to find anything. Nevertheless I did manage to find; the Milford Diner, Hotel Fauchere (an important landmark), the Tom Quick Inn, First Presbyterian Church, Books and Prints at Pear Alley, Dimmick Inn and Steakhouse, the Milford Community House, Pike County Public Library, Beer Barn, Chang Mao Chinese restaurant, and the Turkey Hill Minit Market. Unfortunately I can’t tell you much about these places because I didn’t do my homework.
I did stop in at the Books and Prints at Pear Alley. They sell lots of rare books, leather bound books, and prints but they also have used books. I found a good book Hauntings, Tales of the Supernatural edited by Henry Mazzeo with illustrations by Edward Gorey. The illustrations by Edward Gorey made this a good buy because he is a famous gothic artist. I only paid $12.00 for this book but it might be worth more than that.
I left Milford at 4:00 p.m. and didn’t get home until 7:00 p.m. since I had to drive half way across Pennsylvania. My GPS led me to take Interstate 84 all the way to Scranton. There was a rest area on Interstate 84 where I picked up some brochures for the Scranton area. Finally, I should mention that I stopped at the Lycoming Mall before going home and bought the Moon Pennsylvania travel guide. I don’t really need another travel guide to the state but I’m glad I bought this one because their chapter on the Williamsport area is impressive. Every other travel guide only mentions Little League Baseball as a reason to visit Williamsport. But this book has such in-depth information that I even learned about a few things in the area which had escaped my notice.
This road trip really advanced my knowledge of the Poconos region. I am very pleased with how smoothly the trip went. I even visited one more town than I had intended. Ordinarily I would be satisfied with this and turn my attention to other travel destinations. But since I’m interested in moving to the Poconos I intend to do some seriously in-depth research. Finding work in the Poconos would be especially difficult. There is not a lot of IT in the Poconos, it is mostly an outdoor recreation area. But there are probably IT jobs hidden away in local government. There is no reason an Internet startup couldn’t locate in a lodge hidden deep in the woods. Just visiting the small towns in the Poconos does not even hint at the many establishments hidden away between the towns. There seems to be a lot of backwoods entrepreneurial spirit in the area with campgrounds, resorts, ranches, and bed and breakfast places like Dwight Schrute’s Beet Farm and Bed and Breakfast.