You would recognize Skytop Lodge today if you were to compare the grand opening day photo in Claire Gierwatowski’s “Images of America: Skytop Lodge” with the lodge and grounds you see today. Additions and modifications since opening day on June 16, 1928, have only enhanced Skytop’s magnificent, stately appeal.
Images of America: Skytop Lodge covers more than 90 years of lodge history from the Roaring Twenties through The Great Depression, World War II, and other significant world events that could have led to its demise. The truth is Skytop has continued to grow and thrive through those ups and downs.
Whether you’ve visited Skytop Lodge, you’re planning a visit, or you want to learn more about Skytop’s history, Gierwatowski spent years researching and compiling the information and photographs contained in Images of America in order to preserve the memories and moments that have shaped the Skytop we know today.
The Dutch Colonial Revival lodge is surrounded by natural beauty with exceptional gardens, lakes, streams, and cascading waterfalls and set on 5,500 pristine acres in the heart of the Poconos that has beckoned guests to return year after year to relax and play. Images of America: Skytop Lodge is a must-see historical overview available at Arcadia Publishing and The History Press.
Primi (first course): Risotto Quattro Formaggio Aquarella rice, sautéed greens, taleggio, parmigiano, romana and leonora cheeses, fried baby artichoke
Want to try the most uncomplicated, melt-in-your-mouth risotto you’ll find anywhere on our planet?
I’m certain there’s only one perfect risotto and I found it at Mangia Qui, an immensely popular Harrisburg Italian restaurant across the street from the Pennsylvania State Capitol. Don’t be alarmed by the green tint. The sauteed greens were harmoniously balanced with perfectly cooked (al dente) arborio rice, artichokes, and a medley of cheese and garnished with pansies and flower foliage from co-owner Staci Basore’s garden.
Before I tell you more about my experience at Mangia Qui, you should know I was raised in a predominately Italian family. My father was of mostly German lineage but he couldn’t have cared less about German food. My maternal grandmother’s meals (i.e. homemade pasta and meatballs, roast chicken, and pork butt layered between a crusty cornmeal “sandwich”) set the tone for most gatherings. She labeled many of her native Southern Italian dishes as “peasant food.” What exactly is peasant food? Simply stated, they’re dishes that are specific to a particular culture or region and made from accessible and inexpensive ingredients. Sadly, Risotto was not in her repertoire but years later after she died, I tried my hand at preparing Arborio with a variety of seasonings and aged cheeses. The result was a gooey and lumpy blob and probably the reason my youngest son turns his nose up when I mention “Risotto.”
When Rick Dunlap, Visit Hershey-Harrisburg, and I set up my travel itinerary, he asked if I’d like to dine at Mangia Qui on day two of my three-day solo media trip. I said, “Of course.” I arrived at the restaurant around 5 p.m. after a jam-packed day filled with outdoor activities. Throughout the afternoon, my stomach growled non stop and perhaps because (as many Italians do) immediately after one meal (lunch, for example) my thoughts shift to dinner. By 1 p.m., I had already begun to contemplate what I’d find on the menu.
Not long after I arrived, I was in the process of unpacking my gear when my server brought to my table a small stainless steel bowl brimming with olives, a bottle of water, a water goblet, and the menu.
He discussed the daily specials as I perused the menu a second time. Half-way down the page, the words Risotto Quattro Formaggio popped out. I would have been satisfied with my appetizers and Risotto but my server asked what I’d like for my entree. Do you mean there’s more (food), I thought. The Branzino Seared a la plancha, olive oil poached sweet onion, Kentucky flats, Yukons and squash, and lemon caper brown butter was one of the “Secondi” that appealed to me so I ordered it. Sadly, I had no room or need for dessert afterward.
Basore is part of the team that owns and operates Mangia Qui and two sister restaurants, Rubicon and Suba. Mangia Qui offers a fresh, locally sourced, and artisanal approach to dining that’s as much about meeting friends and family for a relaxed dining experience as it “the food,” which was superb. Without hesitation, I recommend Mangia Qui to anyone who is seeking a first-rate Italian restaurant for a date night, family gathering, friends’ night-out, special occasion, or business-related dinner.
Mangia Qui: Casual dining and phenomenal Italian cuisine.
272 North Street Harrisburg, PA — 17102 717.233.7358
Complimentary valet parking on Friday and Saturday evenings, 5 -11 p,m.
My most recent Philadelphia media trip began at Le Pain Quotidien, (translated from French to English, “the daily bread”), a Belgium bakery and restaurant at The Granary, 1937 Callowhill St., Philadelphia, PA. Le Pain Quotidien is a franchised eatery founded by Alain Coumont. I chose Le Pain because I was in Philadelphia to cover The Barnes Foundation and the online menu reflected my hankerings that day.
An eatery that features gluten-free, vegetarian-style fare is consistently my first choice for lunch and Le Pain Quotidien Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai was outstanding. The menu and decor are ideal for the diner who is looking for French-inspired pastries, soups, and savory lunch options and an assortment of healthy, plant-based selections.
Le Pain emanates European culture with the comforting aroma of bread baking in the kitchen and a casual French-country charm. It’s a perfect prelude to an afternoon at The Barnes.
Call ahead to be sure seating is available during peak times.1 215 789 9870
AFTERNOON WITH THE MASTERS
Why are we so fascinated with museums?
I’ll tell you why I can’t stay away from them or better yet, I’ll show you why you should set aside time to visit The Barnes Foundation. (See my gallery below). Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.
Museums are my go-to place for inspiration for my own art (https://chigirie.com) and an opportunity to tune into my creative side and tune out the noise and chatter around me. Too much time had passed since my last visit to a metropolitan museum and upon reading more about The Barnes (as it’s often called), I knew I had to set aside an afternoon to experience this Philadelphia treasure. The Barnes Foundation houses a must-see collection of art by the world’s greatest master painters, sculptors, and designers.
As I made my way around the first-floor galleries, I came across paintings by my all-time favorite Impressionist painters: Renoir and Monet. And then, gallery upon gallery, the genre expanded to Matisse, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Seurat, and Modigliani.
I was so enthralled by the selection of paintings that I didn’t allow enough time to visit the second-floor exhibits but that’s all the reason I’ll need to plan a follow-up trip to Philadelphia.
The Barnes, (as it’s known to many) is a non-profit Philadelphia cultural and educational institution recognized for its exceptional art collections, programming, and special exhibitions.
Thanks to Dr. Albert C. Barnes for his vision and the foundation that honors his name for maintaining this collection of priceless treasures by impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modernist artists.
TIP: Allow ample time (three to four hours) to explore the galleries. African art, Native American pottery and jewelry, Pennsylvania German furniture, American avant-garde painting, and wrought-iron metalwork are arranged throughout the galleries in a manner that encourages time to view, study, and reflect on each object in the ensembles.
The ensembles, each one meticulously crafted by Dr. Barnes himself, are meant to draw out visual similarities between objects we don’t normally think of together. Created as teaching tools, they were essential to the educational program Dr. Barnes developed back in the 1920s.
Directions: The Barnes Foundation is conveniently located along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA. No need to worry about parking. Visitors are invited to park in the lot adjacent to the foundation.
For additional information, call 215.278.7000.
My visit to The Barnes Foundation was comped but my opinions are my own.
Plan a visit to Harrisburg and add this National Historic Landmark to your itinerary.
Imagine you’re standing in front of the Pennsylvania State Capitol building around the time of its dedication on Oct. 4, 1906. Close your eyes and envision you’re looking skyward at what was considered to be the tallest structure between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The capitol building held that record for 80 years. That must have been quite a sight to behold.
As a life-long Pennsylvania resident, I’m sorry to note I had only seen my state’s capitol building from a distance until earlier this year on a sunny late September day. As the traffic whizzed by me, I took a moment to admire the dome from the sidewalk in front of the complex. I realized I had no idea what entrance to use. As I walked up and down two flights of exterior steps twice, I checked my watch and realized I was five minutes late for my scheduled tour. I stopped briefly to ask a bystander to point to the main entrance that would lead me to the main lobby and the man directed me to two sets of double doors. A security guard mapped out my trek to the lobby where I found the information desk surrounded by several large groups of visitors who were ready to embark on their tours. There, I met my tour guide.
Visit Hershey-Harrisburg arranged my tour as part of a three-day media trip to Hershey and Harrisburg. I left Central Pennsylvania with a significantly greater understanding of why Harrisburg has remained Pennsylvania’s capital since October 1812 thanks to my tour guide, Jill Fetter. She’s the Capitol Visitor Services director and The Pennsylvania Capitol Shop manager in the Main Rotunda and an expert in both the building’s history and design.
Philadelphia architect Joseph Huston (1866-1940), designed the massive capital structure based on his vision of a “Palace of Art” and that’s exactly what you’ll find. The building and furnishings cost $13 billion.
Aside from its obvious grandeur and size, the exterior of the building is a gateway to the splendor you’ll find inside – classic American Renaissance style architecture that’s combined with artistic details that are unspeakably magnificent and illuminated by approximately 4,000 lights and 48 portholes in the dome.
Suffice to say, the building lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful capitol building in our nation. In fact, history has it that President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the capital as “the handsomest building” he ever saw when he attended the dedication of the building.
The interior focal point is the grand staircase – an ideal vantage point for visitors to view eight large murals by Philadelphia artists, Edwin Austin Abbey, and the famous Barnard Statues by George Grey Barnard, and 17-foot bronze doors that each weighs a ton. Keeping your eyes fixed on one element at a time might be difficult for even the most disciplined spectator as your tour guide describes each of the massive installations of stained glass, murals, and paintings crafted by the most talented artisans of that era.
Some of the largest rooms feature a European influence with distinctive Renaissance elements – Italian in the House Chamber, French in the Senate Chamber, and English in the Governor’s Reception Room. Add to that mix Greek, Roman and Victorian installations of exquisite art and ornamentation displayed throughout the building.
Historians, politicians, teachers, students, architects, travelers, and anyone with an appreciation for history and art and a fascination with politics and lawmaking, should visit the Pennsylvania State Capitol complex. Architectural students will want to study how Huston, the architect-of-record, incorporated motifs that embody Pennsylvania’s achievements in history, animals, industries, occupations, and modes of transportation into his design. Whether your glance is towards the dome, straight ahead, or under your feet, you’ll find examples of Huston’s affinity for art. One example is the Moravian tiles you’ll see intermingled on the lobby floor. They were designed and manufactured by Henry Chapman Mercer of Doylestown, PA as a way to illustrate and incorporate the talents and wares of local craftsman.
There’s so much to see and take in at the State Capitol Building. Take the time to download the PA Capitol Self-Guided Tour Mobile app to learn about the self-guided tour stops, how a bill becomes law in PA, and research additional information in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German.
Tours are free and offered every half hour Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. or on weekends and most holidays at 9 and 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. You won’t be able to tour the capitol building on New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving and Christmas day but you’ll have plenty of other options before or after those holidays. I encourage you to register for a tour so won’t miss a detail along the way. A Capitol Tour Guide will fill your head with architectural, artistic, and political highlights that will make this building’s incomparable beauty come alive for you. If you decide to wait to schedule your tour until you arrive in Harrisburg, be sure to check the schedule before arriving at the capitol complex.
If you own several pairs of sunglasses, you’ll never need to ask, “Has anyone seen my SUNGLASSES?”
Maybe they’re in my car or in my handbag. In 2017, I sampled six pairs of fashion eyewear from sunglasswarehouse.com and I keep a few pairs in each of our cars so I never leave home without my sunglasses.
FORGET EXPENSIVE DESIGNER EYEWEAR
The last pair of expensive designer sunglasses I purchased did not come home with me after playing a few sets of tennis. I left them on a bench near the tennis court and I experienced buyer’s regret for at least a few weeks after losing them.
Forget the expensive designer eyewear if you’re prone to breaking or losing your sunglasses.
Sunglass Warehouse offers a variety of styles and frames that can be worn for all of your activities from hiking and cycling to fly fishing. Your options are to buy sunglasses at affordable prices with no worries if you happen to lose or break them, or obsess about your designer frames when you should focus on your activity and have fun.
What if your sunglasses fall off your head into the water while you’re fly fishing or on a canoe or kayak trip? Will you dive into the water to retrieve your glasses? I hope not.
Sunglasses are not only accessories. They also protect our eyes from UV damage and Polarized lenses improve visibility for activities like fly fishing. Each of the five pairs I’ve sampled has withstood the test of time, after countless hours on the water.
Sunglass Warehouse has hundreds of styles of sunglasses that are priced at $20 or less. If you prefer round, square, oblong, Aviator, textured, black, blue or brown, you’ll find what you’re looking for at www.sunglasswarehouse.com. Click on the coupon below to find your perfect pair.
The site is easy to navigate and filters allow you to find your ideal pair from among Sunglass Warehouse (SW) Exclusives, Festival Shades, Brow Bars, Flat Lenses, Matte Metals, Retro Classics, Bold Shades, Colored Lenses, Cut-Out Shades, and Rose Gold.
Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. I have experience with all of these companies and by linking to their product or a party that sells their products, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and definitely not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.
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The truth is my years as a print journalist were some of the best days of my life and winning four newspaper association press awards was the icing on the cake.
I didn’t have demanding editors pressuring me to take on additional assignments and I rarely turned down assignments but I knew I couldn’t pass on an offer to cover services and amenities at lodging destinations in a popular Northeastern Pennsylvania resort region. With more than 1,300 published features’ stories to my credit and eight years writing for the same publications, I accepted my first freelance travel writing position with a tourism website.
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