Long time readers may recall that in May I took my older two boys on a Cub Scout camping trip to Ricketts Glen State Park. This park in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania has some lovely (and large) waterfalls. We went on a great hike, but it rained all day, and by the end of the day, the temperatures were dropping into the 30s. Our tent was taking on water. So I made the decision to bail, deciding that a winter-at-Valley-Forge type camping experience wasn’t really going to inspire the kids to want to do it again. We loaded the car and drove back down I-476 to home.
Anyway, my kids had some days off school this week for Rosh Hashanah, so I decided to take the three older ones back to Ricketts Glen. We weren’t going to camp, but we were going to stay in an inn right by the park that looked rustically nice in the photos. That way we could hike at night, and in the morning too.
The drive up was nice, and as we got to Ricketts Glen, the foliage turned gorgeous. It’s not quite peak yet, but there are a lot of lovely red, orange, and yellow trees up there in the mountains. The kids did reasonably well on our 2.5 hour hike. I told them they were in training for Yellowstone next summer, and they liked seeing the waterfalls. There was some complaining, but they made it.
Then, after a dinner in a small town roadside diner right out of central casting, we stopped at the grocery store, and went to try to find our inn.
My phone had no reception in the area, so I was just reading house numbers. A long ways down a windy road, I found a sign by a driveway that matched.
It was, of course, basically a house. There didn’t seem to be anyone there. I knew the proprietor might not be there, as she’d texted me that she’d leave my keys and instructions on the counter (which in retrospect might have been a sign) but I sort of assumed other people in general would be there.
My kids were wary; this didn’t look like a hotel! There was a sign on a fence saying “Beware of Dog,” with a dog behind it. They also thought this was a little strange. But anyway, we got out to go find the front door.
All of a sudden, another dog came bounding out at us — barking, chasing. My kids started screaming. I had my keys in my hand so I opened the car door and yelled at them to get in. They did, and I backed away from this dog that was rather vigorously defending the property from interlopers like us.
As I got back in the car, I debated what to do. My kids were too scared to go in. I had no desire to brave a guard dog to get into a house with no one in it. I didn’t have reception, so I couldn’t call the proprietor.
So I drove back to the main road, some 15 minutes away, and texted her. But given that my kids had no interest in going back, and we were already a ways away, I threw out the idea that we could go sleep somewhere else. My two boys wanted to go home. My daughter wanted to find a hotel nearby, but some quick searching on my phone (with 7% battery life remaining) revealed that we’d need to go to Wilkes-Barre, some 40 minutes away, to find a Holiday Inn type chain. We drove there. As I pulled over in a Domino’s parking lot to discuss this with my kids, I knew that we were only 90 minutes from home. I suggested to my daughter that if she was OK with going home, she could choose the next day’s activity.
So back we went on I-476. The miles went swiftly; other than the construction zones I could maintain 70 mph the whole time. Of course when we got back home at 9:15 p.m. or so, the 2-year-old still wasn’t asleep. As happened in previous nights, he could not fall asleep without lying next to me. I suppose I should stop fighting it; it may be as efficient a way of getting him down as anything else. But the result was that not only did I fail in my efforts to stay overnight at Ricketts Glen, I failed in my attempt to avoid the 2-year-old’s bedtime battles for at least one night.
Oh well, I guess I could try a third trip…