Late Autumn Get Away

Way back in early November (how does the time get away from me?), we did long weekend family getaway.  (Seems to be a trend in our family).  As I said here we planned to head back to Skytop for Veteran's Day weekend (which also happens to be NJ Teacher Convention).  We couldn't do Thursday-Sunday as I hoped, but we did manage Friday-Sunday.

All of us were excited to get away.  We were less excited with the forecast of rain on Friday and the predicted temperatures for the weekend.  It seems as if our area never experienced a real autumn.  It was warm (and rainy) and then it plummeted to winter like temperatures and (thus far) has never really gotten back to seasonable.  Winter coats were dug out and sweaters packed.

The resort is only 90 minutes (give or take) from our home and we like to get up there midday, even though check in is not until 4 pm.   Usually this is not a problem; unfortunately (for us) this time the resort was booked to capacity and our room was not ready when we arrived and was not available until nearly 4.  If it had been warmer and sunny, this wouldn't have been a problem.  My husband would have sat on the south porch and enjoyed the serenity; my son and I would have walked and explored.  But with the temperatures and weather, we were confined to the Pine Room/Lobby.  Although my son and I did do a quick walk (in a light drizzle) down to the Lakeview Inn (where we would be having dinner that night) and back.

I sat with my husband in the Pine Room for most of the afternoon.  I pulled out my laptop and did some work. (Yes, I know I was on vacation!)  I also wandered around a bit.  I can't stand just sitting around.  (Well, I can when I'm on the South Porch in the summer, as you may know if you've read this blog before.)  In hindsight, I should have pulled out a bathing suit from our luggage and gone down to the pool.  (My son did not bring a swimsuit; I think he should have.)  Of course when I did walk down to the area, it was so wet (and remember it has been a year of seemingly non-stop rain, which put somewhat of a damper on our summer visit), that the pool area seemed to have its own climate!  I swear there was a fog hanging over the room. 

Roaming around, I DID bump into some people I know...or I should say have come to know.  Resort Manager, Jeff Rudder, who I had hoped would join us for dinner that night, as we were trying for the FIRST time (see even a veteran has "first time" experiences) the Lakeview Inn Restaurant.  I also met up with Colleen, who manages the dining rooms and had carefully arranged my dining experience so that I would have no issues.

Just before 4, I received the text that our room was ready.  Perfect timing so that we could get ready for our dinner reservation.  My husband and I went up to the room, but my son wanted to stay downstairs as tea and cookies would soon be served.

Our room was on the 2nd floor and overlooked the north side of the lodge.  The room was nice, but a bit smaller than the one we've had in the past on the 3rd floor. (Ok, I've come to think of it as our room.)  We slightly higher than the North Porch roof, and I still want to know how the little rubber duckie managed to end up there. 
(You can almost make it out in this photo.)

By now it was not just raining, but POURING, so I was glad that there is a shuttle that will take you around various spots on the grounds.  I really didn't want to wear a coat either, but it was COLD, so I did.   The shuttle was quick (even with making a stop at the cottages before heading down to the Lakeview Inn) and so convenient with door to door service.

We were early for our reservation and we could have gone right into the restaurant (manager Colleen even saw us arrive and invited us in), but we decided to take a few  minutes and relax by the fireplace first where we could warm up and dry off.  I could have also gone to have a drink at their open bar area, but decided to stay with the warmth and allure of the fireplace.  (Skytop KNOWS how to "do" fireplaces.)

When we did go in, we were immediately seated.  The place was not busy at all, which is a shame because the food and service was awesome.  Of course, I was getting special attention because of my food allergies.  Colleen had emailed me a special menu earlier in the week AND Katlyn (who I had met back in October: was our server that evening.  We all had a marvelous meal and while I can't remember what everyone else had, I can say that I started with the prosciutto, moved on to the salmon rillettes (TO DIE FOR) and had the strip steak for my main course.  (Cooked perfectly and I'm drooling just writing all this.)  I am so glad that we tried the Lakeview...I WISH we had tried it over the summer because I'm sure the views of the lake and the golf course are stunning.  (When it is dark and raining no view is good.)  We will certainly go back again and I wish this location was open for lunch during the warmer months (hint, hint).  I would be there in a heartbeat!

Our time at the Lakeview Inn Restaurant was just under two hours.  This was NOT due to lack of service, but the fact that we were joined by General Manager, Jeff Rudder, and we spent a good deal of time talking before we even ordered our meal.  (Although Jeff encouraged us to order, we were in no hurry and it was nice to sit back, relax and chat with no hurry.)  It was a wonderful evening.  So lovely in fact, that we memorialized it with a photo by the fireplace (taken by Colleen).

Back at the lodge (via shuttle as it was still pouring, and of course, COLD), I went to peak in on the film that was being shown in the pool area.  (YES!)  Unfortunately, I came in at the end credits, but I could see how cool it would be to float and (watch a) flick. The evening's offering, Finding Nemo, sounds like a perfect pairing.  (I WOULD be hesitant to do this when they show Jaws or any of its sequels, which I know the resort has done.)  Another "next time" plan!

Heading upstairs to the Pine Room my son and I found that the sofas by the fireplace were deserted.  (They are highly sought after!)  We took full advantage.  If I can't read out on the porch, the fireplace offers a great alternative.

The two of us eventually did head upstairs (where my husband had already gone) and got some shuteye.  (With the hope that the next day would be brighter.)

The next day DID dawn bright, but bitter cold.  That is not going to stop me!  Hubby and I headed down to breakfast and told our son to meet us there.  (He is NOT a morning person; is there a teen who is???)  

Once again Katlyn (whose praises I cannot sing highly enough) was our server.  (Dinner at the Lakeview Inn and Breakfast at the Windsor Dining room; the staff is incredibly hard working.)  Upon telling Katlyn that we were coffee fiends, she made sure that was a carafe on our table.  I was able to have the kind of breakfast that I had loved before at Skytop because of the thoughtfulness of Colleen and the dedication of Katlyn.  I enjoyed a complete indulgence of fresh fruit, bacon and pancakes (the gluten free brand are also egg free) along with juice.  While my guys went back to the buffet to enjoy all that it had to offer, Katlyn brought me my special tray (so that there would be no cross contamination which is always a concern when it comes to buffets).  It was a delicious indulgence.

After a leisurely breakfast (which is something we NEVER have time to do when we are at home), we relaxed by the fireplace in the pine room (again).  The boy decided to go for a walk and I wanted to do the same, but he headed out before me.  I called him and we arranged to meet on the Lake trail...I would enter from where I would usually exit and he would meet me; hopefully at a halfway point.

It was a good thing that we had both brought hardy shoes.  (Hiking boots for him which he had NOT wanted to pack or wear.)  With all the rain the path was muddy and often water covered.  (So much so that there were portions where the water could not be avoided.  I should have treated my shoes at home, but I did not so my feet got a little soggy.    We did meet up and decided to trek on to Indian Ladder Falls.  This meant he had to double back a bit, but no matter.  

We crossed Rt. 390 and headed for the trail. There are more that I would like to try and it seems like each time we visit, I realize that there is another one that I haven't done and must find the time to try SOMEDAY. (This is a common theme for me!)  

But instead of taking the Trout Steam Trail (which is pretty easy) to Indian Ladder Fall, we decided to give the Alternate Trout Stream Trail.  This was a little more challenging, which I was not anticipating.  Nor was I anticipating was SNOW!  The bright day got cloudy (and hence colder) and then there were flurries.  Not a big deal, until the flurries got thicker and were seemed to be caught in a squall! 

Still, we kept going...

That is until we hit a patch that was completely under a foot or so of water.  My son wanted to go on, but I said no...and emphasized that we do NOT hike alone.  If there had been ANY way that we could have avoided the water, or even just gotten one foot wet, I would have gone on.  But there was just too much water in the way.  So we turned around and headed back.  And by the time we got back to the lake, it was sunny again! 

However, to my consternation I had to go through a large puddle and as a result got my one foot completely drenched.  I was glad to get back to the lodge and change my socks and shoes!

We had some down time and just hung around and relaxed, but the outdoors was still calling.  So after getting the shoes dry, my son and I headed out again.  This time we planned to go to Indian Ladder Falls via the Trout Stream Trail which would have been easier.  We headed out a slightly different way, going via Dutch Hill Road.  As such, I spied the Rhododendron Swamp Trail
which we had not done in a couple of years.  It's a short trail, but challenging because of the even ground (lots of roots and rocks).  We decided to give it a go and it WAS a bit more difficult than I had remembered. (Mostly because of the wet and all the leaves that had fallen, making it a bit more difficult to figure out where rocks and roots were!)

Finishing the loop that was the trail, instead of heading directly back to the lodge, we went east on Dutch Hill Road, heading (sort of) in the direction of the Lakeview Inn.  It is an easy walk (because you are on a road), but it was really starting to blow and get cold.    I think we were both glad to get back to the lodge and warm up!  And as for me, it was time to head to the pool!  Nothing better than relaxing in a hot tub after a cold walk.  (I never did get in the actual pool; I just popped in and out of the hot tub in between chapters of my book.)

After warming up and relaxing, it was time to head back to the room and shower and change for dinner.  This evening we were headed back to the Windsor Dining Room and we were thrilled that our favorite server, Ivanna, (who we now consider to be part of our extended family) was working. Additionally, Colleen was overseeing the dining room so I felt that I could sit back and relax and really enjoy a meal.  (Anyone who has serious food allergies knows how difficult this is.)  I was able to try something different to start;  butternut squash soup.  I didn't fall in love with it, but I liked it and I am always thrilled when I am able to try something new.

My entree was the rack of lamb and it was beyond delicious.  I wanted to lick the plate (don't worry i didn't).  And then there was a triple chocolate dessert along with a cappuccino.  

As for what the men had...I have no idea.  But as you can see we were a happy bunch afterward:

So what does one do after such a meal?

Dance it off, of course!

To be honest, my husband said he wasn't feeling too great so he bailed on us, but my son and I stayed in the Pine room to enjoy Saturday night's music.  And although he wouldn't dance a "regular" dance, he was up for the elimination dance. (Explanation of which can be found here.)  Sadly, once again we did not win, but we DID have a great time.  And once again we ended up towards the front of the Grand March which is one of my all time favorite traditions...and all that marching has GOT to burn off some of those calories that I consumed, right?

Once the music and dancing was done (I managed to keep my son on the dance floor for "Sweet Caroline" or at least part of it)  we headed back to the room and collapsed for the night.  (That is after packing up most of our belongings as we would be leaving the next morning.)

Sunday, the day we were to head home, was of course, the day where the sun shone bright and the temperatures moved up a little (though not much).  We had another fantastic breakfast (thank you Katlyn and Olivia).  

If I dined like this every would be so nice.  Because it's not only the food (although that IS a big part of it), it is the opportunity to sit down and relax as a family.  And to share conversation with each other and with those devoted Skytop staff members.  It is truly a treat.  But good things must come to an end...

But before they did, my son and I were DETERMINED to get to Indian Ladder Falls.  We knew we would have just enough time before check out.  But in case we took longer than anticipated, I gave my husband instructions to check out and have the bags stored if we were not back by 10:45.

Then, bundled up we headed off again; this time sticking to the Trout Stream Trail:




But bittersweet as we needed to turn around and head back to the lodge and then home.

Our time goes by so quickly; as time does when one is relaxed and at peace.  For me and my family, that's what Skytop is to us.  A place of peace.  Its why we return again and again.  (Along with the incredible staff, the great food, the activities...)


  1. Wow those falls are pretty, I'm glad you got to get to them before you had to leave (and when I have rack of lamb I probably do lick my plate) :)


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