An All Too Brief Summer Vacation Part 2: The First Day of the Actual Vacation

In case you missed it:

I had hesitated to tell my son about our Skytop vacation, but surprising him would have been impossible.  (I was only able to pull that off once in think on December 31, 2014 when I told him that part of his Christmas present included a trip to the "ice farm".  It took him a while to catch on but he'll NEVER let us fool him again!)  He had been away with his paternal grandparents (taking that postponed Cape Cod trip that my husband and I never got to do) and when he got home as I was doing his laundry, I told him that he should think about what suit(s) he might want to pack if he was going away somewhere.  He already KNEW we were going away, and he was 99% certain of where we were going (he's a smart kid), but he didn't know when.  So he immediately asked how much time he had to "prepare and pack" and when I told him we would be leaving the next morning, he went into high gear.  (Although he did run out for several hours to play with some friends!)

The next morning, under threatening skies, we packed up the car (3 suitcases, 2 bulging garment bags, a messenger bag of electronics [not mine!], my purse and a umbrella [which would be MUCH NEEDED]) and headed west on route 80.  We made a rest stop right before the Delaware Water Gap for two reasons.  Number 1 I needed a bathroom break (hubby makes excellent coffee and I always drink too much of it) and number 2 I hadn't eaten any breakfast and our dinner reservations in the Windsor Dining room were not until 6:45.  So we incorporated a fast food stop into our break.

Crossing the Delaware and getting off the highway and onto Route 447 (and eventually 390) is stepping into a different world.  The tristate mindset needs to be left at the entrance to 447 (by the Days Inn)!  You are no longer on a highway full of exits or roads full of big box stores or much of anything.  There is just a two lane road with greenery on either side.  Sometimes a river/brook meanders alongside.  Sometimes you can see rarely used train tracks.  (How do you think they got to the Poconos "back in the day?"?)  There is the eerily abandoned shell of Penn Hills resort.  (Check out: to see what I mean).  There are scattered billboards in various state of disrepair.  (And there are some that are just fine.)  But mostly what you'll find it just road.  Road and nothing much else.

When you turn onto Route 390, you are starting your climb to Skytop.  The landscape of golf course tells you that you are on the property even before you are officially welcomed.  At this time of year it is clear, green and utterly breathtaking.  (No matter what time of year it is, it is utterly breathtaking!)

As you turn in, you will pass the gate and head over the bridge. You will make your way up the long meandering drive and lead you to the stone lodge that looks like it was born from the mountain on which it sits.  The road is narrow and curved, so take your time.  There is no rush.  Breathe!  Look to the right and see the magnificent lake.  Look out at the grounds and the golf course.  Let the serenity in.  This is what Skytop is.  Lush and lovely; no matter what the season.

As you pull up to the North Porch Portico, you will be greeted by one of the bell staff.  
  If you've been here before, they will most likely remember you (or will have it noted on their roster of guests so that it appears that they know.)

Robert has loaded and unloaded our car several times over the years.  Without request he gets our bags and will park our car (moving back the driver's seat because I am much shorter than he) while we check in.

As we checked in, I immediately noticed that the front desk has been renovated and the activities desk moved from the lower level of the lodge to the main level right around the corner from check in.  (Makes perfect sense).
It looks great, although I am a bit nostalgic for the old layout where keys could be placed in cubbyholes.

On this particular afternoon, there was no one in line at check in.  (Don't expect this if you come to visit during the holidays when the resort is jam packed...and for good reason...they know how to celebrate!)  Our room was ready and it was the same room we had been in the year before which really fit our family well.  (Remember, the lodge was built in the 1920s and even with renovations are on the smallish side.  This particular room had a King sized bed, but also an oversized chair/loveseat which pulled out into a bed.  This works much better for us than having a cot in the room, especially since my son is now nearly 6 feet tall!)

With a bellman and our luggage we headed up to the 3rd floor.  The boys took the elevator while I took the stairs.  (There are two public elevators.  The one by the check in desk was the one closer to our room and is "newer".  The older/"old fashioned" elevator with sliding gate on the east end of the lodge is the one that every child will find fascinating and will want to ride ad nauseum.  The Skytop staff has put up with this for decades I know, because I was once one of those obnoxious brats that rode it incessantly from floor to floor and my son now has that mantle passed on to him. )  I beat them to the room by a few seconds.
View from our room

Waiting in the room was a birthday card for my son (since this vacation was part of a birthday present to him) along with an $8 gift card to the tea room (for that sweet snack).  There was also a welcome note for us all with a small packet of Skytop mints (available for purchase in the gift shop located on the lower level) which would be scarfed up by my son before our trip was through.

We did some unpacking and settled in.  My son donned his fedora and trench coat (yes, you read that right and if you've followed my blogging you are surprised by this at all) and went out for a walk (in the rain).  

I went for a walk too, but inside.  I may have been coming here for years, but I like to check things out.  I peeked into the new Corner Roast which smelled heavenly.  (A mocha was definitely in my future.)  Then I made my way down to the lower level/recreation area where there are video games along with more traditional ping pong and pool tables.  There were also a few tables just outside the tea room to hold accommodate those who could got get a seat inside (or who wanted to sit outside in the courtyard in the rain).  While the tea room was not too crowded, the newly expanded Tap Room was obviously THE PLACE to be.  While it's been modernized (there are flat screens tvs on the walls) it still maintains the integrity of the space and remains a classic taproom with an old world mysterious vibe.
I ended up in one of my favorite places...the South Porch.  Even in the rain (if it's not too heavy and blowing in the wrong direction), it's a lovely way to spend a few hours. Though I had a good book with me, I spent more time enjoying "just being".  Watching sparrows come right up to your chair while chipmunks scurry about the grounds and venture onto the edge of the porch.

I got a little chilly after a while (amazing considering the previous week at home had me sweating with temperatures in the 90s) so I ran back to up to the room and got my sweat jacket (good move on my part for bringing it).  I also ended up with that Mocha ($4.25 for a small which is reasonable by coffee house prices.)  The barista drew a heart on it (although he ruefully said it looked more like an onion) before putting the lid on.

I found my son sitting by the fireplace (which was not lit) and convinced him to go get a deck of cards.  (We had brought some, but I'm sure you can find some if you ask.  There were chess boards strategically placed around the Lodge and throughout the weekend I saw more and more families playing card and board games.  Family time is NOT dead and thrives at Skytop!)  We played 3 rounds of Gin (Not to rub it in, but I won all 3 rounds!) and watching people come and go.  Saturdays are big wedding days and even the rain doesn't put a damper on things.  (The staff at Skytop wouldn't allow it!)

My son had enough of card games and went off to get cookies and tea (although he might have actually gone for lemonade).  This 4 o'clock tradition goes back much further than my time.  (Perhaps as far back as opening day?)  The service is more casual now (no china cups), but still a lovely tradition.  (Although I imagine the way to TRULY enjoy tea was to have it served to you on the frozen lake by waiters on ice skates...and there are photos of this to prove that it was done at least once in the early years!  Don't believe me, check out Images of America Skytop Lodge page 102!)

With the rain letting up (at least for the moment), I wandered to my car to get the umbrella I had left there.  (Good place for it, right?  It was not until later that my husband pointed out that there were 2 large umbrellas in the room's closet.)  I wandered over to the sports pavilion which has ice skating in the winter. (I CAN still skate; poorly)  During the warmer month bikes are available here for rent.  I continued to walk around a bit in the rain. Just observing the clouds and the mist that settled over the trees and mountains was more relaxing and fun than you can imagine.

I thought about heading down to the pool (would have to settle indoors) as I could see it wasn't that busy, but I never got there.  Instead I did some window shopping in the gift shop and tea room.  I could see the Tap room was STILL hopping!

Decided to end the afternoon back on the South Porch with my Nook and a glass of wine.  Can an afternoon end any more perfectly than that?


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