Fernwood Resort: Creating Year-Round Family Experiences
Family Engagement the Focus at Fernwood
Family fun…Have you taken the time to create lasting memories with your family? You likely won’t hear any complaints of boredom from your kids or partner while you’re vacationing at Fernwood. The resort is surrounded by woods in a peaceful setting that’s ideal for hiking, foraging among the trees, or participation in a variety of activities.
Creating an experience that’s all-encompassing for families and guests of all ages is one of the challenges Gina Bertucci, Fernwood Resort co-owner, embraces.
With more than 18,000 member families, Fernwood Resort and the Villas at Tree Tops & Fairway®, 2157 River Rd, East Stroudsburg, PA, is part of RCI and is one of the largest vacation ownership properties in the Mid-Atlantic region with 650 beautifully-appointed villas.
“We have both timeshares and rentals so we’re a mixed-use property,” Bertucci explained. Lodging options range from one-to-four bedrooms with accommodations for every taste, with a home-like feeling and amenities from simple and economical to deluxe and spacious.
When you’re ready to venture out onto the property, you’ll also see why Fernwood has received “green” awards.
According to Bertucci, “As a business, when we were looking at how to develop these pieces of property, what did we do?”
The Pocono TreeVentures and zip line courses are examples of the extraordinary measures Bertucci and her partners have taken to preserve the beauty and nature on the property.
“We looked at ways to preserve this property. There’s a stream that goes through it, but really when you’re up in the trees, you really do appreciate the nature and the beauty of this region.”
Everywhere you turn at Fernwood, there’s an activity that encourages family engagement. A few of the free on-site activities are swimming and weekly pool parties, summer family movie nights, picnics and BBQ nights. At an additional cost, try horseback riding at Bushkill Stables, Pocono TreeVentures Ropes and Zipline courses, Blue and White Lightning Tubing and Paintball. Visit Fernwood Resort’s website for prices and hours of operation.
Approximately 17 years ago, Bertucci and other businesses affiliated with the Pocono Mountains Vacation Bureau got together to answer the question, how can we continue to showcase the Poconos as a region to explore and enjoy, and at the same time, preserve its natural beauty?
The Fernwood partners, for example, utilized approximately 10 acres of gorgeous farmland for the TreeVentures and Zip Line courses.
“It’s beautiful and challenging and when you’re finished, you think I just did something and it’s great exercise. It’s about authenticity,” commented Bertucci. “And not everyone has had a chance to try horseback riding? For other people, it’s shopping at the Crossings (Premium Outlets), canoeing on the Delaware River, bike riding, seeing nearby Bushkill Falls or following a lovely natural walking path at the 77,000-acre at the Delaware Water Gap National Historic site.”
What’s our recommendation for off-site family engagement?
Don’t leave the Poconos without a stop at Bushkill Falls, known as “The Niagara of Pennsylvania.” With each season the landscape changes, providing a unique experience each time you visit. We suggest you reserve a half-day for your adventure.
Bushkill Falls is the “Niagara of Pennsylvania”
Why should you plan a trip to the Pocono Mountains’ region?
As the nights turn chillier and the leaves that adorn the trees of the Pocono Mountains fall to the ground and create a gentle blanket of vibrant shades of red, yellow and orange, celebrate fall by tuning into the sounds of freshly fallen leaves underfoot. Celebrate the four seasons in the Pocono Mountains.
“There’s something for everyone in the Pocono Mountains. It’s all here and that’s fortunate for us. Family time is part of the fabric of our lives. You remember those moments together.” Gina Bertucci, Fernwood Resort.
My stay at Fernwood Resort was comped but my opinions are my own.
A NEW stretch of trail in Northeastern Pennsylvania offers residents and visitors one-and-a-half miles of compacted terrain that’s ideal for jogging, walking, and cycling. The Carbondale Riverwalk opened in May (2018) and on a late spring afternoon, adults and children of all ages spent their afternoon taking in the prolific greenery along the Lackawanna River, a 40-mile long river that’s known for extraordinary fly fishing.
On that day, couples strolled hand-in-hand, children pedaled diligently to keep up with their parents, and cyclists took advantage of the safe pedestrian-only pathway.
I imagine I was among the first-timers to participate in the bike loan program. While usage statistics are not available yet, it’s safe to say exercise and nature enthusiasts continue to discover and utilize the new pathway, partly because of “BikeCarbondale,” a free bike-share program that makes it possible for individuals to borrow a bicycle so they can take in the Carbondale’s Coal Mining History. The program is managed by the Lackawanna Heritage Valley (LHV) in conjunction with two prominent Carbondale partners: Hotel Anthracite, 25 S. Main St. and the Greater Carbondale YMCA, 82 N. Main St. The program is made possible with funds made available through the Northeast Pennsylvania Healthcare Foundation. Individuals age 18 years and older are eligible to loan one of the authority’s 10 bikes available at the hotel and YMCA.
Cycling was my first activity after checking in at the Hotel Anthracite, Carbondale’s newly-renovated lodging (formerly known as Carbondale Grand Hotel). (You can read more about the hotel in an upcoming article on my website.) Chris Simpler, Hotel Anthracite general manager, was eager for me to test drive a bike and the new trail. I returned to the hotel revitalized after approximately two hours.
LHV projects stimulate the region’s economic development, enhance tourism, and strengthen community organizations with a goal to improve and increase the quality of life for area residents. The Lackawanna Heritage Valley trail system spans 70 miles from the confluence of the Lackawanna and Susquehanna Rivers in Pittston and continues north where it connects with the Delaware & Hudson Rail Trail and the Carbondale Riverwalk.
You will celebrate the sunshine and appreciate the shaded areas, too. When you stop for a break, take note of the established trees that provide a canopy and the shrubs and native plants alongside the banks that serve as a natural border. Venture into downtown Carbondale and admire the architecture.
Since 2013, LHV has opened eight miles of well-maintained heritage trails that enhance and showcase the region’s striking beauty and diverse scenery. You can watch the videos of the grand openings of the Scranton to Taylor, D&H Extension Trail, and Archbald to Jermyn stretches, and learn more about the most recent, Carbondale to Simpson.
Trail project partners were the City of Carbondale, PennDOT, DCED (Department of Commerce and Economic Development) and DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources). FABCOR (Jessup) and Rutledge Excavating Inc (Tyler Hill) completed the trail with and QPI (Carbondale) constructed the wall near the junkyard. The Riverwalk section will connect to the D&H Rail Trail later this summer to form a 20-mile stretch of fully developed trail.
Contact me via the form below if you have questions or comments.
Singer, actor, TV host, producer, songwriter, author, motivational speaker, TV pitchman, radio personality, record company head, TV station and sports team owner, family man, and humanitarian are all titles attached to the legendary and iconic Pat Boone whose career has spanned more than five decades.
Pat Boone was the first child born to Archie Boone, a building contractor, and his wife, Margaret, in Jacksonville, FL on June 1, 1934. He described his life growing up in Nashville with his parents and siblings – a brother and two sisters, as “wonderful” and “idyllic.”
Although no one in his family was a musician by trade, his mother played some ukelele and taught Pat and his brother to play some chords. Pat became known as “the Boy on Roanoke Rd” – “the kid who knows all the pop songs of the day and will come to sing for you with no strings attached.”
“We entertained our family at all our gatherings as we were headed toward our teen years. So in the midst of my athletics and school and other activities, I became an amateur singer, a little dreaming that might lead to a career.” ~Pat Boone (via an email interview)
Indeed, a professional career followed – one that has endured more than 50 years. Pat is 83-years-old with a long list of accolades and recordings to his name; a record company, “The Gold Label” that’s dedicated to legendary and accomplished artists, (who incidentally, all come with million-selling gold records to their credit); and he is regarded as the #10 all-time top recording artist, according to music industry magazine, “Billboard.” His career has spanned more than five decades. Read a full list of his accomplishments at patboone.com.
As much as music has been an integral part of his life from an early age, Pat says reading the Bible and attending church services are the backbone of his life, then and now.
I learned that the whole Bible from the first words in Genesis, “In the beginning…” to the last words from the book of Revelation in the New Testament…all the Bible was written by Jews about Jews and for Jews, and focused on Israel and God’s chosen people.
While attending a Christian high school in Nashville, he met his wife, Shirley, whom he lovingly refers to as his high school sweetheart. They were married when Pat was nineteen and by the time he had graduated from Columbia University (Magna Cum Laude), Pat quips, he had four girls, only three-and-a-half years apart.
I should have been neutered or perhaps jailed – but my wife did become a great mother as well as a wonderful wife and having those responsibilities kept my feet on the ground when my career took off like a whirlwind, luckily 11 months ahead of Elvis and “Heartbreak Hotel”.
His affinity for music continued through his teens and adulthood. In late 1959, a love affair with the Ernest Gold melody to the movie Exodus and the theme song led Pat to put his faith and songwriting skills to work when he subsequently wrote the words “This Land is Mine,” the lyrics behind the esteemed show tune. The song is referred to by many as “the second Jewish national anthem.”
How do his Christian beliefs tie in with his connection with Israel?
He explained, “We knew then, and I know now, that we Gentiles get in on this exquisite and unique relationship with God through our acceptance of Jesus the Jewish Messiah, the one who fulfilled all the prophesies of Isaiah about the One who would come to lead his people out of captivity and bless them more then all the people in the world.”
He further explained Christianity, properly understood is a direct outgrowth of historic Judaism and it’s clear that God wants every believer to understand our “Jewishness” as well as our Christianity and the word. Christ, he noted, is a Greek translation of the word “Messiah” or God’s anointed one.
“When I’ve spoken to groups of Rabbis in the past, I tell them I’m representing the 4th branch of Judaism; there is Orthodox, Reformed, Conservative and Messianic. Everything we believers in Jesus hold sacred and true is a direct outgrowth of the Bible which deals ‘explicitly with Jews and God’s promises to the people of Israel.”
According to Pat, Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a longtime friend, has said on many occasions, “Evangelical Christians are Israel’s best friends in the world – we know that.” He and the Israel Prime Minister got to know one another during an Israeli water function at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
“He (Benjamin Netanyahu) became of fan of mine when he was at M.I.T. in his college days, and loved my record of ‘Speedy Gonzales.’ We’ve been good friends ever since,” Pat remarked.
Although the prime minister was not able to attend Pat’s Tel Aviv concert three years ago for security reasons, Pat met with him privately, “just the two of us at his request, the night before in his office in Jerusalem,” he says. When Pat walked into his office they shook hands and Netanyahu said, “Hello Speedy, come on in!”
“And the beaming smile on his face made some of my Israeli friends jealous. Our friendship is real, deep, and based on our understanding of God’s expressed intentions for his chosen people…,” says Pat.
HISTORIC PILGRIMAGE TO THE HOLY LAND PLANNED
Pat has joined forces with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, an Israeli American Rabbi, and the founder and current president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews headquartered in Chicago and Jerusalem, as they host a most memorable “Historic Pilgrimage to the Holy Land,” a 10-day journey that will depart North America on May 9, 2018. In addition to sightseeing opportunities at some of Israel’s most cherished sites, the tour coincides with the actual 70th birthday of the modern state of Israel and the dedication of the U.S. Embassy on May 14. As part of the celebration, Pat will film a TV special in the Roman amphitheater in Caesarea for national and international distribution.
He referred to the tour as “a loving seminar in the things that we hold in common, much more than things that might divide us in understandings or beliefs.” The trip is a historic pilgrimage designed for Christians and Jews, with sites selected that are of particular interest to the Fellowship of Christians and Jews and “we” the believers in Jesus as the Messiah.
“We believe that everyone who comes back from this tour, whether invited by Rabbi Eckstein or me or a couple of other co-hosts, will have a lasting and permanent sense of identification to Israel, the Jews, the one God of the Bible and the sense of destiny that unites us.”
Together, he and Rabbi Eckstein’s collaborations have helped to fulfill God’s prophecy by paving the way for tens of thousands of poor and persecuted Jews from all over the world to return to and settle permanently in the land God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their efforts, particularly a television special Rabbi Eckstein and Pat co-hosted, prompted the Christian community to donate tens of millions of dollars to relocate and care for the displaced Jews in modern Israel.
Pat said, “I’m proud of that.”
From his days as a budding entertainer on Roanoke Rd. to his humanitarian work in Israel, Pat believes God will continue to bless his efforts if they’re good and ensure the happiest life he could possibly live.
“I’m convinced God won’t let horrible things happen to me. If all young people today could have that kind of assurance we would have a better society. And most psychiatrists would be out of work.” ~Pat Boone
OAHU – The Island of Oahu, known as the Heart of Hawaii, sets the rhythm of the islands with exciting, new improvements, changes and additions on an ongoing basis. Below is a glimpse of new and dynamic updates with Oahu’s hotels & resorts, activities & entertainment, restaurants and cuisine, shopping, and festivals and events.
Hotels & Resorts
The Island of Oahu caters to travelers of all ages and budgets. A variety of hotels and resorts offer a multitude of packages to make any trip unforgettable.
Find the perfect deal and escape to Oahu.
The former Pacific Beach Hotel recently debuted as the all-new Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach following an extensive $115 million transformation. As Oahu’s sophisticated, new resort in the heart of Waikiki, Alohilani Resort Waikiki Beach will offer a stylish new way to stay and play in Waikiki, which is transforming with new cultural, culinary and shopping offerings. The resort will feature star-studded collaborations with Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, acclaimed New York architecture and design firm Rockwell Group, which designed the resort’s lobby, restaurant, pool deck, guestrooms and suites; and architectural firms WATG and Pacific Asia Design Group. The 839-room modern resort will feature five new culinary concepts and a destination pool deck, along with authentic design touches inspired by Oahu’s lush landscape and rich cultural heritage. AlohilaniResort.com
As one of Hawaii’s largest hotel management companies, Aqua-Aston Hospitality is proud to offer guests some of the best value in the islands. For new bookings arriving Jan. 1, 2018, Aqua-Aston is pleased to announce the expansion of its guest amenity program. Varied by hotel, the new amenity program will include valuable additions, such as exclusive discounts for Aqua-Aston guests at select Oahu eateries and attractions; discounted or free entry for Aqua-Aston guests to Bishop Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art, and Waikiki Aquarium; improvements to our popular Waikiki-to-Ala Moana shuttle service; a curated roster of live, onsite entertainment; and newly-added Hawaiian cultural programs. Aqua-Aston.com
Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina is re-defining the luxury spa experience with the debut of Naupaka Spa & Wellness Centre. The island’s newest spa haven combines innovative health and wellness practices with traditional Hawaiian healing. On five floors, Naupaka features fourteen indoor treatment rooms, indoor hot and cold plunge pools, steam room, sauna, needle shower, two Himalayan salt chambers, relaxation areas and change rooms, and the resort’s fifth pool – a private sanctuary featuring an outdoor lap pool and whirlpool surrounded by foliage and swaying palms, overlooking the hotel’s porte cochère. A barbershop (serving local craft beer) and a feng shui-inspired Billy Yamaguchi Salon complement spa offerings. Outdoor treatments are offered in tranquil muliwai massage hales overlooking the Pacific and the resort’s lush gardens. FourSeasons.com/Oahu
Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach continues Hilton’s “Another Day in Paradise” into 2018. Guests can book five nights and get the fifth night free, opening the way for visitors to experience the stylish and modern amenities of the largest Hilton Garden Inn in the world. HGIWaikikiBeach.com
The new Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach now features a full garden of kalo (taro) plants that line the full length of the pool deck. Once a month, a Hawaiian cultural advisor will give a hands-on lesson on how to harvest kalo while sharing the history and importance of this staple to the Native Hawaiian culture. After harvesting their own kalo, participants will prepare their own lau lau (steamed pork and/or fish wrapped in taro or luau leaves) for cooking and tasting. The kalo is a “living exhibit” at Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach allowing guests to nurture this plant through its normal life cycle. HyattCentricWaikikiBeach.com
In addition to the recent Hawaiian Music & Dance Hall of Fame Historical Exhibit, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach will launch a special walking tour centered around the cultural history of the area. This tour, “E hoala e” (Revive, Renew, Restore), will be held once a week to provide guests an in-depth look at the history and culture of the island, culminating in a visit to the onsite Historical Exhibit. In the warm spirit of Hawaiian hospitality, Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach will be offering a special group offer for select dates in 2018. Groups can have easy access to entertainment, shopping, dining, spa, and cultural immersion, with rooms starting at just $215 per night. The reservation must include a minimum of 10 paid rooms to take advantage of this limited time offer. Waikiki.Regency.Hyatt.com
For families visiting Oahu, the Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head provides an assortment of goodies for children of all age groups. Infants receive a new Infant Amenity Package complete with infant-safe sunscreen, fragrance-free, all-natural baby bath products, and a squeezable baby whale. Children ages 12 and under receive a complimentary box of crayons and cultural activity book of fun and educational activities celebrating all things Hawaii. Once the book is completed, children can exchange it for a souvenir gift. The property also offers complimentary souvenir boxes decorated with the child’s choice of anthurium flowers or Hawaiian fish. Onsite or at the beach, kids can choose from a selection of grab-and-go inflatable fish toys, beach balls and slippers for water play, and complimentary beach bags with a pair of children’s sunglasses. LotusHonoluluHotel.com
Waikiki Parc is offering an extensive Valentine’s Day package entitled LOVE at the Parc. The limited-time offer includes one two-hour surf lesson for two, a romantic chef’s special dinner for two at Leahi Concept Kitchen, a romantic Dive-In movie, complimentary parking and access to the Valentine’s Day Weekly Mingle, a special holiday-themed gathering with mini red velvet cupcakes, cheese and fruit platters, champagne with strawberries, and the hotel’s private-label Parc Chic wines. WaikikiParc.com
Activities & Entertainment
The Island of Oahu is brimming with fun-filled activities for everyone to enjoy. Visitors can explore Hawaii’s special culture and iconic history, or choose from a wide variety of outdoor and indoor activities to energize the spirit.
In partnership with Honolulu’s newest transportation system Biki by Bikeshare Hawaii, Aqua-Aston Hospitality now offers the “Discover Oahu” package to guests who book direct. The package is inclusive of two Biki Free Spirit bike rentals (featuring multiple trips up to 300 min.). With 100 convenient Biki bike stops from Downtown to Diamond Head, guests staying at an Aqua-Aston-managed property will be able to use Biki to discover Oahu’s varied eateries, shops and activities at their own pace and in a sustainable way. Aqua-Aston.com
Guests can marvel at Hawaii’s amazing humpback whales aboard Atlantis Cruises’ Majestic. With its sleek, modern design, the Majestic hosts three different levels for guests’ viewing pleasure. Its top level, open air deck offers 360-degree views, ideal for spotting exciting whale activity and other marine life. AtlantisAdventures.com
The “Holo Moana: Generations of Voyaging” exhibition at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum celebrates the resurgence of the centuries-old, ancestral practice of long-distance ocean voyaging. Closely following the Hawaiian sailing canoe, Hokulea, and its return to Hawaiian waters, the exhibit is based on a collaboration between Bishop Museum and the Polynesian Voyaging Society (PVS) and is on display in the J. M. Long Gallery through June 24, 2018. Cultural objects from Hokulea’s voyages are on display along with a variety of interactive stations. Visitors can step into a wind-based immersive experience that uses digital sensors and electronics to bring to life the winds used by voyagers and told of in Hawaiian cultural stories. Visitors can also enter a full-dome projection theater with audio narrated by PVS president Nainoa Thompson, master of the traditional Polynesian art of non-instrument navigation. BishopMuseum.org
Live entertainment is featured on Saturdays at Haleiwa Store Lots in the Kamehamalu Courtyard from 2-4 p.m. Visitors can enjoy performances from local artists at the plantation-style gathering place in the heart of Haleiwa town. HaleiwaStoreLots.com
Hawaiian Ocean Adventures (HOA) will begin operating a second location on the windward side of Oahu beginning January 2018. Activities will include adventures onboard a Hawaiian sailing canoe, kayak and SUP adventures. HOA is a locally-owned and operated family eco-tour business offering true authentic ocean activities out of Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa. HawaiianOceanAdventures.com
Pacific Historic Parks is happy to announce several new tours in 2018 including a 2018 USS Arizona Memorial Tours, Pearl Harbor Visitor Center Tours, Pearl Harbor Virtual Reality Tours, Diamond Head State Monument tours, as well as a tour of the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park that includes lunch. Group, military and travel agent discounts are available. In addition, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor has added a new F-16A Fighting Falcon to its extensive collection of modern jet fighters. A new “B-17E Swamp Ghost Tour” has been added and can be booked at the front desk upon arrival. PacificHistoricParks.org or PacificAviationMuseum.org or Bowfin.org
Paradise Helicopters, a leading Hawaii helicopter tour company, is launching an adventure-packed tour of Oahu’s most historic WWII sites and iconic movie settings. In the Kualoa Expedition Tour, guests depart from Kalaeloa Airport near the Ko Olina resort area. After flying over some of Oahu’s most iconic locations, guests touch down at Kualoa Ranch where they have the option of three ground adventures: A horseback tour, ATV tour, or Kaaawa Valley zipline tour. The Kualoa Expedition Tour starts at $719 per person for an experience of up to 6.5 hours, including luxury ground transportation back to Kalaeloa Airport. The zipline experience is an additional $30 per person. ParadiseCopters.com
Roberts Hawai‘i and Hawaiian Crown have joined forces to offer a convenient new pineapple delivery service – available exclusively for domestic travelers using Roberts Hawaii’s Airport Shuttle Service on Oahu. Guests can now preorder boxes of locally grown Hawaiian Crown and Sweet Gold pineapple – picked to order, pre-inspected, packed, sealed and delivered to the airport in time for departing domestic travelers to pick up and take home. AirportShuttleHawaii.com/SweetGold
Several new events are included in the line-up at Our Kakaako for 2018. Scheduled the third Friday and Saturday of the month, Paakai Marketplace showcases unique local products and Hawaiian culture at SALT at Our Kakaako. The monthly event, held in in collaboration with PAI Foundation features live music and is a free, family and pet-friendly event starting at 5 p.m. In addition, the popular SALT Bar Crawl occurs on the third Saturday of every month starting at 5 p.m. Village Bottle Shop and Tasting Room, Moku Kitchen, and Bevy Bar at SALT at Our Kakaako feature different breweries each month. SaltAtKakaako.com
The Star of Honolulu is splashing into humpback whale season with daily whale watching cruises. From Dec. 23, 2017-April 5, 2018, kids ages three-11 can cruise aboard the Premier Whale Watch cruise for free with each paying adult. StarofHonolulu.com
Twogood Kayak’s Hawaii has announced the launch of a new kayak tour created specifically for those who enjoy being outdoors in Oahu’s exotic and tropical ocean environment. For this excursion, guests will have the option to choose the tour area from a list of options that offer the best of kayaking on Oahu. TwoGoodKayaks.com
Restaurants, Cuisine & Chefs
Oahu is known for its diverse culture, which is exhibited by the assortment of cuisine found throughout the island. With wonderful choices and an array of culinary options, there’s a restaurant fit for everyone.
Baku, Waikiki’s modern robatayaki restaurant, has introduced weekday lunch pairing specials. Each special features one of Baku’s robata-inspired or signature lunch dishes paired with a signature cocktail, craft draught beer, sake tasting flight, artisanal shochu, or wine from the restaurant’s extensive list of imported beverages, all for less than $20. Options include the robata-grilled Baku Burger, a sushi combination lunch, robata skewer platter, and more. baku-waikiki.com
After 29 years of featuring set menus, Chef Mavro has divided the restaurant into two venues and now offers a small plates menu in the main dining room and his famous Grand Tasting Menu in the upper tier. The iconic restaurant will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2018. ChefMavro.com
Located in Aqua Ohia Waikiki’s newly refreshed lobby is the local’s favorite tiki bar and lounge, Da Big Kahuna Waikiki – an ideal venue to grab a bite in-between daytime excursions or to sip a drink before heading out for evening adventures. In a casual restaurant setting, sample a tasty menu of contemporary Hawaiian and American plates. Da Big Kahuna’s menu includes juicy burgers, pub-style appetizers, and salads. Known for its iconic Fish Bowl Cocktails, Da Big Kahuna features a full bar and now offers food and beverage room service up to Aqua Ohia Waikiki’s 12th floor where guests can imbibe on their lanai (balcony) gazing out to the energizing city below. Da Big Kahuna Waikiki is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. OhiaHotel.com
Known throughout Oahu for his Poke Stop restaurants, Maui-born Chef Elmer Guzman brings his specialty to the Luana Waikiki Hotel & Suites with his latest concept, Fish Hook Café. Serving breakfast and lunch, Fish Hook Café offers an assortment of locally and sustainably-sourced grab-and-go items including salads, sandwiches, pastries, and gourmet coffee, as well as Chef Guzman’s delicacy: poke bowls, built-to-order. With the opening of Fish Hook Café guests have an additional dining option called Fish Bowl, the property’s breakfast buffet, where Chef Guzman also selects the rotating Hawaiian-style staples such as meats, cereals, pastries, and Oahu-grown fruits. Fish Hook Café is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. while Fish Bowl’s buffet is served daily from 7 to 11 a.m. FishHook.Cafe
Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina is thrilled to announce a new partnership with award-winning chef and restauranteur Michael Mina. Fish House, the resort’s signature line-to-table restaurant will become Mina’s Fish House. Some architectural and décor changes are planned for Four Seasons’ iconic beachside dining experience, including an outdoor bread oven and private dining room. Guests can expect an exciting new menu featuring locally-caught fish and locally-sourced produce for a unique dining experience. FourSeasons.com/Oahu
The world’s largest open-air shopping center recently unveiled a new foodie destination. Lanai @ Ala Moana Center now features local favorites and eateries new to Hawaii, including Ahi & Vegetable, BRUG, Mahaloha Burger and Sobaya. The remaining eateries, including Agave & Vine, Da Spot, HiTEA Café, Ike’s Love & Sandwiches, Musubi Cafe Iyasume, Teppanyaki Farmer and Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha are opening soon. Lanai @ Ala Moana Center is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. The contemporary food hall offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and grab-and-go options, and features indoor and outdoor seating for up to 450 customers. AlaMoanaCenter.com
Locals and visitors will now be able to catch some poolside rays with a mimosa in-hand at Mahina Brunch, the Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club’s new musically-inclined Sunday dining experience. Centered around celebrated chef Ed Kenney’s elevated home-cooking style using locally sourced foods, Mahina & Sun’s executive chef Erik Leong incorporates seasonal ingredients into the new Mahina Brunch menu available poolside or inside the restaurant, every Sunday from 6:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Diners can also groove to rotating sets curated by Aloha Got Soul. MahinaandSuns.com
Oahu is home to hundreds of high-end designer stores, as well as local boutiques carrying locally-made products.
Ala Moana Center recently unveiled Hula With Aloha, an authentic Hawaiian cultural experience where kamaaina (locals) and visitors can network, practice and learn the art of hula from award winning kumu hula (hula teachers). Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Hula With Aloha is located on Level 3, Ewa Wing in the Bloomingdale’s Court and features beginning, intermediate and advanced hula classes, lei making and more. AlaMoanaCenter.com
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort recently expanded its retail offerings within the 22-acre resort. Among the most notable openings is the return of DFS to Hilton Hawaiian Village. The luxury retailer, known for its duty free airport shops and destination luxury galleries, will open an approximately 2,000-square-foot space at the resort in December 2017. Among the expanded options is the resort’s logo shop, Anuenue, which sells curated items of the cherished Rainbow Mural, Hilton Hawaiian Village logo memorabilia, and the resort’s own exclusive coconut papaya skin and hair care line. HiltonHawaiianVillage.com
Located in the heart of Waikiki, International Market Place is Oahu’s premier shopping, dining and entertainment destination. Guests can ring in Chinese New Year with festivities throughout February, enjoy “O Na Lani Sunset Stories,” the center’s free daily hula and storytelling performance, and snap a selfie with legendary Hawaii musician Don Ho’s one-of-a-kind bronze statue in the Banyan Court. Visitors can then finish the day at one of eight chef-driven restaurants on the Grand Lanai. ShopInternationalMarketPlace.com
Festivals & Events
Oahu is home to the largest number of festivals and events throughout Hawaii. Visitors can connect with the local community and experience renowned events showcasing the island’s rich arts and culture, the world’s top amateur and professional sporting competitions, and the many ethnic celebrations exclusive to Oahu.
Jan. 8 – 14, 2018, the Sony Open in Hawaii kicks off the PGA Tour by bringing 144 of the world’s best professional golfers to Oahu’s exclusive Waialae Country Club. Past participants include notable golfers including 2017 winner, Justin Thomas. Thomas also became the first to open the year with back-to-back wins in Hawaii since Ernie Els in 2003. The seven-day event is one of the largest charity events in the state of Hawaii. SonyOpenInHawaii.com
The Volcom Pipe Pro, a World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000-rated event, returns Jan. 29 – Feb. 7, 2018 to cap Hawaii’s winter season of surf at one of the most iconic waves in the world, the Banzai Pipeline. The Volcom Pipe Pro’s track record of epic, barreling surf draws major talent year after year, making it a true mix of aspiring professionals and the sport’s greatest names, including 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater and Hawaii’s own John John Florence. The event is free and open to the public and also produces a world-class broadcast that is available to stream via WorldSurfLeague.com and the WSL app. WorldSurfLeague.com
The 10th Annual Ukulele Picnic in Hawaii will be stringing together a day of exciting events in celebration of Hawaii’s most beloved instrument. The festivities are being held at the Kakaako Gateway Park on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018 with performances by famous musicians from Hawaii and Japan, vendor booths, or you might take the opportunity to study professional Ukulele players’ techniques! All events and entertainment are free and open to the public. UkulelePicnicInHawaii.org/en/
Feb. 10 – 17, 2018, local and global artists will showcase their work in Honolulu during a widespread beautification and education of street art during POW! WOW! Hawaii. The event will include gallery shows, live panel discussions, mural projects, concerts, live art installations and more. PowWowHawaii.com
Taking place on Feb. 19, 2018, the Great Aloha Run is an 8.15-mile foot race that starts at Aloha Tower in Honolulu and ends at Aloha Stadium in Halawa. A three-day sports, health and fitness expo occurs during the weekend of the race and includes an array of exhibition booths offering unique products and services, entertainment, workshops and more. GreatAlohaRun.com
Wanderlust, the producers of the largest yoga lifestyle events in the world, is returning to Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s fabled North Shore in 2018 for Wanderlust Oahu that will unfold over Mar. 1 – 4, 2018. This beach yoga and wellness retreat at Turtle Bay Resort will kick off Wanderlust’s 2018 festival season and offer awe-inspiring experiences and settings for yoga enthusiasts, music lovers, foodies, surfers and seekers. TurtleBayResort.com
The 24th Annual Honolulu Festival is one of Hawaii’s premier cultural events, promoting understanding, economic cooperation and ethnic harmony between the people of Hawaii and the Pacific Rim region. Taking place Mar. 9 – 11, 2018 the festival draws thousands of new and returning spectators. Through educational programs and activities, the festival continues to successfully share the rich and vibrant blend of Asia, Pacific and Hawaiian cultures with the rest of the world. HonoluluFestival.com
The Prince Kuhio Festival is a series of events, ceremonies and activities organized by The Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs to celebrate the birthday of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole who founded the first Hawaiian Civic Club on Dec. 7, 1918. These celebrations began in the early 1970s and have grown to include month-long activities including a commemorative parade, choral concert, “Hoolaulea” or “Hoikeike” (celebration), and more. This year’s festival will take place on Mar. 25, 2018.
Chakra Bowls in the entrance at The Lodge at Woodloch. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui.
Calm your mind, awaken your soul
Spending a day at The Lodge at Woodloch is synonymous with a day in heaven.
The Lodge at Woodloch is a family-owned, one-stop spa destination located in the Lakes Region of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Individuals who want to experience a complete overhaul will find a phenomenal setting for total mind and body rejuvenation.
You’ll need to tailor your stay at this award-winning resort and allow time to savor every class, activity, and meal you choose. Depending on the length of your stay, I suggest you select one or two indoor spa services and one or two classes or activities and plan to venture outdoors. Use your time to tap into the adventure in your soul.
I arrived there eager for my massage session but immediately picked up a schedule of events and classes at the registration desk before heading to my room to change. A complete list of classes is available at the front desk and in each of the guest rooms, but if narrowing the selection is a bit daunting, a personal concierge can assist you with scheduling. You can view a current schedule of activities here.
Even if the thought of being out-of-doors in the cold Pocono Mountain air sends chills up your spine, bundle up and take a walk. The property is so picturesque throughout the year, with scenic hiking and bike trails that are a favorite among nature-lovers.
The dock at The Lodge at Woodloch is a vantage point for observing waterfowl and other wildlife. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui.
Your comfort is a number one priority to the management and staff at The Lodge at Woodloch. Feel free to drop in at the coffee and tea kiosk for a glass of fruit infused water, high-end herbal tea with locally-produced honey or artisan coffee. Lucious treats are available throughout the day. Hydration is important after a day of activity and guests receive a complimentary refillable water bottle and shopping bag branded with The Lodge at Woodloch name and logo. Filtered water is available in each guest room, so guests can refill their water bottles as needed.
Find Time to Socialize
If you’re traveling alone, ask to dine with other solo guests. The main dining room and bar area are warm and friendly and a popular spot for great conversation.
Unleash Your Spirit
If exercise isn’t your bag, try a gentle chakra yoga session to free the creative flow you’ll need for a cooking demonstration or a watercolor painting class. Daytime and evening events are available.
Learn New Skills
Flyfishing? Betterment is often the result of branching out and learning a new hobby. Join the knowledgeable team at the lodge and allow them to introduce you to the joys of fly fishing.
Stick with the familiar or try something new when you join in on an organized fly-fishing class designed for aspiring fly anglers who yearn to be on the water. Full and half-day guided fishing trips on the Lackawaxen and Delaware Rivers can be arranged with advanced notice.
On your way through the lobby, take note of the art that hangs on the walls in the corridors. The Lodge at Woodloch has created a venue for regional artists to display their wares, which is indicative of the management’s commitment to the arts. The paintings displayed during my visit provided a visual appeal and warmth that original art evokes.
Art at The Lodge at Woodloch. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui.
Dining at TREE, The Lodge at Woodloch restaurant, is an experience you’ll relish. The naturally-raised meats, fish, seafood; organic, locally grown vegetables and wholesome grains are combined and presented with an artistic flair.
A few of the entrees from a sample menu are Oven Dried Tomato & Charred Broccoli Flatbread – Basil Pesto, Homemade Ricotta, Calkin’s Creamery Vampire Slayer, Balsamic Reduction (veg) Shrimp Pad Thai – Shaved Root Vegetables, Local Cabbage, Scrambled Farm Egg, Pistachio, Hoisin Sauce (gf) Eggplant Cutlet Parmesan – Smoked Mozzarella, Oven Dried Tomato & Olive Tapenade, Arugula and Roasted Pepper Aioli (veg). Samples menus are available here.
Many of the selections are plant and vegetable-based and bursting with flavor and texture that’s sure to please. Feel free to begin your lunch at the Buffet Station Salad Bar & Seasonal Condiments that’s brimming with a Chef Inspired Daily Soup and energy and protein-packed selections for vegan and vegetarians. There’s no guesswork as you’re helping yourself at the stations or ordering from the menu. Vegan and vegetarians are clearly marked.
If you need a getaway, visit The Lodge at Woodloch’s website where you’ll find a package to suit your needs. All packages include accommodations in one of 57 extravagant guest rooms, three gourmet meals per night of stay, speakers and workshops, creative arts, scheduled group fitness classes throughout the day, lectures, chef’s cooking and baking demonstrations, guided group adventure outings, a personal spa concierge, pools with hydro massage waterfalls, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis®, steam rooms, saunas, and a 3,000 square foot state-of-the-art cardio weight studio.
Accommodations at The Lodge at Woodloch. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui.
The Lodge at Woodloch WILL exceed your expectations. The resort has consistently received a wide array of awards over the years from the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award to the Travelers’ Choice Award by TripAdvisor.
(Details provided courtesy of PR Newswire – Nov. 16, 2017)
Get your fill of holiday fun in the quaint town of Morro Bay, CA.
Crab Pot Holiday Trees will set the mood and the inaugural Winterfest will deliver a dozen days of merriment from December 1 to 12.
Well-known for its signature 576-foot tall volcanic rock that sits majestically between the Pacific Ocean and the tranquil bay, MorroBay is a busy seaside village. If you need a getaway from the day-to-day stresses that zap your energy and holiday spirit, Morro Bay is a must-see waterfront city in San Luis Obispo County, California. Holiday shopping, outdoor adventurers, and boating enthusiasts will find this community friendly and enchanting.
They are trees constructed with durable, weatherproof PVC coated Crab Trap Wire. Morro Bay craftsmen build their first crab pot holiday tree from local buoys, crab pots and fishing gear last year in Tidelands Park on the Embarcadero.
It was such a hit, this year the city will again light its homemade creation in honor of the local fishing community, and decided to import and additional 14 crab pot trees from a Coastal North Carolina crab trap maker and place them all over town. ~ Jennifer Little, Morro Day tourism manager
According to Little, “Our fishing community works so hard throughout the year. This is such a great way to celebrate our maritime heritage at the holidays.”
The Central Coast Fisheries for Women coordinated the entire event to highlight the extraordinary local seafood and fishing families of Morro Bay.
December 1 – 12
Lighted boats and trees, Santa’s House (open daily), a Santa Crawl for 21 years and older, tall ships brimming with history in the harbor, and REAL snow for the kids are some of the events planned. Additional details are available here.
“Come enjoy 12 days of fun at the first annual WINTERFEST in Morro Bay, CA! Kids Get Free Stuff,” Little advises.
Stay in a Morro Bay hotel property in December and kids 12 and under will receive a free bay tour, free kite, free clam chowder. Find out more details here!
For information on all the exciting things to do and see in Morro Bay, visit www.morrobay.org.
Do your plans include an overnight stay in The City of Brotherly Love?
Why historic Philadelphia?
By far, Philadelphia is one of my favorites cities to visit.
“The City of Brotherly Love” tugs at my heart.
Whether you choose to take in the sights on foot or perched on a streetcar, be sure to detach from your electronic devices long enough to appreciate the modern and historic buildings that line Philadelphia’s wide streets. Keep your camera close by because there’s something for everyone, whether you’re tuned into people watching or architecture. Philadelphia offers an array of stunningly beautiful architectural gems.
Are you aware Philadelphia’s history dates back to 1682? I also learned something new while researching the city’s rich history. Philly and I share a birthday. William Penn founded Philly on October 27 to serve as the capital of his Pennsylvania Colony. According to http://www.ushistory.org/us/4c.asp, Penn aimed to draft a plan for the city that left the horrors of crowded European urban life behind.
(also known as University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)
After a particularly long week, my husband and I took two days off to rediscover Philly’s cuisine and culture. We began our glorious 24-hour whirlwind tour at Penn Museum, 3260 South St.,
on the University of Pennsylvania campus, with Pam Kosty, public relations director, as our guide.
Stroll the University of Pennsylvania campus and you’ll soon discover why this Ivy League school is regarded as one of the world’s most respected research and teaching institutions. Penn Museum, located on the campus, was our first stop upon our arrival in Philly. Both the interior and exterior of the building are enchanting and representative of an enlightened society eager to promote the arts and sciences. The museum in College Hall was formally opened to the public January 2, 1890.
Create your own signature learning experience as you celebrate the incredibly diverse artifacts and art displayed and intermingled with hands-on learning tools. If you’re fast-tracking your way through Philly and you’re short on time, you can view each of the exhibits in two to three hours. You can also expect to find many objects on display that originated from university-led archaeological excavations and anthropological expeditions. Stone tools, household items, monuments and yes, fine art, are among the treasures you’ll see.
When you think of archaeology and anthropology, what comes to mind? Truly, both disciplines are a celebration of mankind and our world’s diverse cultures.
Take your Pick or see them all
The interior space houses 11 signature exhibitions: Egypt (Sphinx), Egypt (Mummies) Gallery, Africa, Canaan and Israel, China, Etruscan Italy, Greece, Rome, Japan, Mexico and Central America galleries; space dedicated to special exhibitions, and a cafe that features tasty, authentic food from around the world. I chose an Indian dish that was delicious.
Click here for an updated list of special exhibitions or to purchase tickets to the museum.
Museum hours are Tues to Sun., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month.
Admission is $15/general adult, $13/senior citizens (65 and above), and $10/children 6 to 17 and full-time students with college ID. Museum members, active U.S. military personnel, children 5 and under and PennCard holders (Penn faculty, staff and students) receive free admission.
2. Sonesta Philadelphia Lobby Art Exhibit
Our next stop was check-in at the incredibly hip Sonesta Downtown Philadelphia. View the original art of Philadelphia’s fine artists and craftsmen in Sonesta’s lobby. The exhibit is updated every six months. Hotel guests in need of information should consult with the concierge.
Sonesta Rittenhouse Square is centrally located downtown at 18th and Market Streets in Center City, and only a short distance from a multitude of attractions. Whether you and your spouse are on an overnight getaway or you’re traveling with children, I guarantee you won’t want to miss the historic Reading Terminal Market. Whatever taste bud you hope to satisfy, you’ll find a selection of baked goods, meats, poultry, seafood, and produce. Other vendors also carry flowers and cookware. The Reading Terminal Markethas been open to the public since 1892.
4. The Butcher Bar
What’s your hankering? As 5 p.m. rolls around, and particularly after hours of sightseeing and walking, why not try one one of historic Philadelphia’s newest restaurants?
As we approached the restaurant around dusk, the large shutters on the second-floor windows were wide open. I could see diners engrossed in conversation and candles gently flickering. The entrance-way was bursting with activity as guests sipped cocktails, wine and beer. Happy hour was in the works.
The Butcher Bar, 2034 Chestnut St, offers a lunch, brunch and dinner menu that will leave the meat lover’s mouth watering. I can still recall my reaction to one of our appetizers, a slab of bacon. “Oh, this is incredible – tender and juicy.” Words cannot describe this delectable creation. Kunihiko Matsui and I sampled a variety of menu items.
HOUSE APPLEWOOD SMOKED SLAB OF BACON
maple – saambal glaze $9
THE BUTCHER WEDGE
iceberg, blue cheese dressing, heirloom tomatoes, hard boiled egg, house bacon, garlic croutons – $10
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER & BRUSSELS SPROUTS
parmesan, lemon, balsamic reduction $10
SCALLOP, LOBSTER & SHRIMP SAUSAGE
seafood mousse, lemon butter sauce, fine herb salad $14
The bar features 16 beers on tap, 6 draft wines, and a whiskey-based cocktail program. You should absolutely make reservations. View the menus here.
5. The Eastern State Penitentiary
Before leaving Philly, The Eastern State Penitentiary was our final stop as we prepared to leave the city. Over the years, I’ve heard rave reviews about the Eastern State Penitentiary, but since most of my trips to Philadelphia have been brief, I’ve never found the time to visit.
Regarded as “one of the most famous and expensive prisons in the world” and the world’s first true “penitentiary,” the ruins are bone-chilling and captivating. My overall opinion is the crumbling walls, empty prison yards and dimly lit hallways all speak of the lives of the inmates who called the Eastern State Penitentiary home. They are haunting as much as they are thought-provoking.
Notable residents were “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone, who were among some of America’s most famous criminals.
A masterfully created one-hour hands-on audio tour, history exhibits, artists’ installations, and a vivid imagination are all you’ll need to feel the history that emanates from the walls. A very knowledgeable tour guide also led us through portions of the building.
Stay tuned for video clips from Eastern State Penitentiary.
Are you looking for a more in-depth history of the penitentiary? Visit http://www.easternstate.org/history-eastern-state.
The penitentiary is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last entry at 4 p.m. Don’t plan to visit on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day, when the facility is closed.
Granted, you won’t have a full 24 hours to tour historic Philadelphia, when you factor in time while you’re sleeping, but in a brief period of time, you will get a taste and feel what makes Philly so interesting. Allow some time to relax and catch your breath. There’s no need to rush, and realistically, who can say how many days, weeks or perhaps even months you’d need to see everything Philly offers? Move at your own pace.
Visitphilly.com graciously arranged my visit and also provided me with information that helped immensely when we were mapping our 24-hour visit. Feel free to reach out to the staff as you are planning your trip to Philadelphia.
The Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum is an excellent place to experience a portion of the history of Pennsylvania Anthracite. Pat and I spent a few hours on a beautiful July day at the Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum at Knoebels Amusement Resort. http://www.knoebels.com/ride-play/attractions/mining-museum.
Knoebels, “America’s Largest Free-Admission Amusement Resort” is located in the heart of the anthracite coal region in Pennsylvania. This year, Knoebels is celebrating its 90th anniversary.
What will you find at Knoebels?
The air-conditioned museum opened in 1988 and is chock full of mine artifacts, stories, displays and great information about mining and life in the coal regions. The visit was surely at the right price. Admission to the museum, amusement park, and parking are FREE.
A sock filled with money
The first thing I saw at the door to the museum is one of my obsessions – a squished penny machine. When I’m on vacation, I carry a sock filled with shiny new pennies and quarters on the chance there’s a machine. I can insert two quarters and a penny, and presto: A 51 cent souvenir, with the die-pressed symbol of where you visited. But, I didn’t bring the sock with me, so I went to the gift shop counter and took two shiny pennies from the “need-a-penny” jar and got four quarters for a dollar. I went home with the two mine museum squished pennies they had. Knoebels gets new penny dies every year, and this year they have 37 different designs. I guess I saved a bundle ($17.50) by forgetting the sock.
Go to the Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum
Genealogists and history buffs can pick up and read hand-written accident reports from the coal mines more than a hundred years ago. You can search a database for accidents involving your ancestors. See displays and models showing mining methods, tools, and equipment. Finally, be sure to have your partner or a bystander take your picture outside driving a mine “Lokie” two years older than the park, and see other tracked mine equipment.
Most of the equipment in the museum are from the collection of the late Clarence “Mooch” Kashner of Coal Township. Kasner was once president of the Independent Miners, Breaker men, and Truckers union, and a retired PA State Mine Inspector. He asked Peter Knoebel to display the artifacts and memorabilia he’d acquired throughout his career. In 1988, the museum, a building built to resemble a coal breaker, was opened.
One of his pieces in the museum, a rough yoke fashioned from coveralls and a parachute harness, was used to pull one miner to the surface from a collapsed mine during the 1963 Sheppton Mine Rescue. Because of the harness Travel Channel visited Knoebels. The museum, the mine rescue, and the harness were featured in one episode of the Travel Channel’s “Mysteries of the Museum” in 2013. Watch the rerun on July 24 at 8 p.m. EST and 7 p.m. (http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/mysteries-at-the-museum/episodes/sheppton-mine-disaster-bite-board-erie-collar-bomb) You can watch on July 24th at 8 PM, 7 p.m. Central.
There’s lots more to see and do at Knoebels.
Knoebels is ranked as one of the top-ten family amusement parks in the United States. The first thing after the museum, you see the Black Diamond. We didn’t take the dark coaster ride through the coal mine on the Black Diamond, but you should. Instead, we went through three more museums and exhibits. I rode on the 103-year-old carousel and grabbed three brass rings without falling off my horse once. The Grand Carousel was voted the best carousel in the Golden Ticket Awards competition held by Amusement Today in 2007, and 2010 to 2015. In addditon, Knoebels food has won the awards 13 times in the last 15 years. Make sure you sample some before you left the Park.
Our 39 mile “trek” to the Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum was well worth the trip.
Bundle a trip to Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum and Pioneer Coal Mine Tour
When you’re planning your visit to Knoebels, you should also allow time to visit a nearby top ten tourist attraction in Pennsylvania. Consider first scheduling a half-hour trip to the Pioneer Tunnel Mine Tour and “Lokie” ride in Ashland. (www.pioneertunnel.com) This “newer” narrow gauge locomotive was built in 1927. It is a 0-4-0 type Lokie that typically was used to haul coal from strip mines. I suggest you first take a trip on the train behind a Lokie in the morning and the Coal Mine Tour at noon. In addition, get your picture taken in a Lokie and visit the Knoebels Anthracite Coal Mine Museum in the afternoon. Maybe spend your evening on some of the rides on the bargain “Sundown Plan.” Don’t miss all the photo ops.
Celebrate coal mine history
Finally, join Pat and me on Sat., Aug. 20, 2016, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. as we celebrate the 24th Annual Pioneer Day and the 53rd Anniversary of the Pioneer Tunnel Tour. Take a mine tour and a steam train ride. Enjoy the special events that will be held adjacent to the tunnel.
In the works
Pioneer Tunnel will be adding a reconstructed mine headframe to its attractions, hopefully this fall. I’ll write about it then.
Pat and I went to Eckley Miners’ Village for their annual “Patchtown Days,” a genuine commemoration of Anthracite Heritage. We had an opportunity to experience Slavic Fest 2016, a celebration of the customs and traditions of the Slavic peoples who emigrated to the anthracite coal region. Traditional music, food, living history, and crafts were all part of the lineup. Pat’s family is Slovak. Her maiden name was Trubisky, before that maybe “Trubecki” in the Carpathians where her great grandparents came from in the 1870s.
We were at Eckley for a fun and eventful morning. In the middle of the main street. we saw a play about prejudice against the Slavs presented by Eckley Players, a group of volunteers who dress in 1870s garb; Pat ate “loksa”, a potato/flour pancake cooked on a coal stove in a Slavic summer kitchen; we talked to some University of Maryland archaeology students on a dig on Eckley’s Back Street; we listened to Slavic music; Pat fed a therapy donkey and decided not to buy a corn straw broom; people ate haluski, pierogi, halupki while I had hot dogs and watched them. Seems like it was a great day for a good time in a relaxed setting.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation defines heritage tourism as “traveling to experience the places, artifacts, and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past.”
Eckley Miners’ Village is heritage tourism.
Most of all, it tells the story of anthracite heritage and people through the preservation and exploration of the site. It is helped by these cultural festivals. http://eckleyminersvillage.com. Next year’s Patchtown Days will be a celebration of Irish culture.
Eckley Miners’ Village was founded in 1854. But it is a village frozen in time. Consequently, you see a company town that housed miners and their families, a doctor, a company store, and churches. The town also had the coal mine and the “breaker” where the mined coal was sized for market. These often were the only places immigrant families could afford to live. In the early 1900s, Pennsylvania had more company towns, which were known as “coal patches,” than any other state in the nation.
Eckley survives, a relic of anthracite mining heritage, because of a movie. The 1968 motion picture “The Molly Maguires,” starring Sean Connery, Richard Harris, and Samantha Eggar scenes were mostly filmed there. The homes and streets were restored to circa 1870 and a prop breaker and other period structures were erected for the movie. You’ll want to rent or buy the movie, a lost American film classic, at Amazon or Netflix. (http://www.movies.com/molly-maguires/m47145) I’ll write more about the “Mollies” in Anthracite Heritage in future posts.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission has active support by the Eckley Miners’ Village Associates, a non-profit community-based organization. Eckley is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Take a guided tour at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m., Monday-Saturday (at 2 p.m. on Sunday). Treat yourself to a nice quiet stroll through history. Haunted Halloween Lantern Tours and Christmas at Eckley are two of the special events offered throughout the year.
1940s WWII Weekend
Consider attending the 1940s WWII Weekend August 6 and 7, which will include a Swing Dance to a live band on Saturday evening at the Freeland Public Park Pavilion, four miles north of Eckley at 401 Front St., Freeland.
Eckley’s 1940 anthracite mining engineer’s reflects the home front in the region, the subject of the weekend. It seems like it was an interesting time in Northeastern PA.
In 1940, more than half the US homes were heated with coal – 88 percent in Pennsylvania. However, anthracite production and employment were cut in half from 1918 and the biggest company had filed for bankruptcy in 1937. Although the war years brought production back, labor shortages with increased production caused problems . Some results were labor problems and collusion between companies. The push for more coal caused much of the extensive environmental derogation that led to many of today’s abandoned mine land problems.
“Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have!”
by Mike Korb
Over 60 percent of the world’s anthracite coal is deposited in Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA). During the 19th century, anthracite coal was the fuel that ignited the Industrial Revolution. When you take an anthracite heritage tour, there is lots to see and lots to learn about in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania – 484 square miles in nine counties, between Harrisburg and Forest City. When you travel the 150-mile trip up Interstate 81 and across US Route 6 and make one of the many eye-opening side trips through the coalfields, you will ride along a ridge, looking into deep valleys, over steep hills, along streams and rivers, and find yourself surrounded by spectacular scenery. You’ll see cities, mountains, unique small towns, and hear and learn distinctive stories and traditions. And those are just a few of the characteristics of anthracite heritage tourism that are something unlike anything else – Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have!
The story of the anthracite coalfields is a legacy of labor history, ethnic diversity, and pride, creating a working-class culture that made America great. One-hundred years ago in this scenic area, 180,000 hard-working miners were producing the coal that created modern America. It’s a real believe-it-or-not experience when you read and hear the work these guys did when you see it yourself on a journey into an underground mine. I’m inviting you to come and explore NEPA to enjoy the one of a kind anthracite heritage tourism, recreation, sights, stories and adventures waiting for you here in the coal regions.
I’m Mike Korb, a mining engineering graduate of the Missouri School of Mines in Rolla Missouri. I’ve been working in the mining industry for more than 50 years in management, executive, professional, supervisory, consulting, and technical jobs; worked in bituminous coal, iron ore, limestone, industrial sand, copper and slag mining operations and more than 20 years in the anthracite coal fields here in NEPA. The past eight years I worked for Pennsylvania in Abandoned Mine Reclamation until May 13, when I became a “mining, reclamation, management, heritage development consultant,” retired. Always before now when I called myself a “consultant ” it was because I was looking for a job. Now I don’t want to work full time anymore but I don’t want to stop working either. I want to continue being an advocate for mining and coal, responsible environmental management, economic development on previously mined lands and heritage development and preservation.
Right now I’m working to start a group to promote and facilitate tourism of the heritage, history, culture and natural beauty of the entire anthracite region and to educate and apprise about the features and events that demonstrate them. Joan has graciously offered to allow me to blog on her Visit Northeastern Pennsylvania page and I plan to talk with you about what that organization is doing and about the great attractions and events that are related to anthracite mining heritage, at least until she gives me “the hook.” I’m working on the name of it, which likely will be the Anthracite Heritage Alliance (AHA).
I was an immigrant to the anthracite region more than 40 years ago. I moved to Hazleton on Valentine’s Day 1974. My good wife Pat (some call her St. Pat for being married to me for nearly 50 years) and I had looked at houses in Jim Thorpe, Lansford, Palmerton, Pottsville, Nesquehoning, Coaldale, and Lehighton, to name a few, and I think probably every town in a 25-mile radius of Tamaqua, where I was working at the anthracite mining operation Bethlehem Steel bought from the Fauzio Brothers.
When we first looked at the region, it looked like a pretty dreary place, with lots of gray landscapes, but we discovered the people were amazing friends and neighbors and it was a great place to learn about the industrial revolution, labor history, and immigrant communities. We found it a remarkable place to live. We moved away for nearly ten years for a job on the west coast but came back because it’s such a good place to be. It’s also somewhere you’ll want to visit. The area has some fantastic mining heritage tourist attractions, including two state anthracite heritage museums and three underground mine tours, and the Molly Maguires; and hundreds of potentially great ones. I’ve taken dozens of groups on heritage and mining tours here and haven’t touched the coal dust on more than a fraction of them. One tour I led a couple years ago was called “Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have!”You don’t want to miss what you can see and experience on these tours. We have big open pit mining operations, magnificent architecture, churches, museums, ethnic food, iron furnaces; and historical sites – places that literally changed American history, economics, labor.
We were the “old country” for people who moved to Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, California, and their grandchildren. How many people in the United States had a “grandfather who worked in the mines?” And wouldn’t it be neat to show the kids where grandpa worked or a place where grandma made her home? You can do both of those and lots more in NEPA.
AHA will develop a strong partnership network focusing on shared anthracite heritage issues, in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Schuylkill, Carbon, Columbia and Northumberland Counties – across the entire anthracite coal region, and help address legacy mining issues. The partnership network will attempt to include all of the mining, historical, environmental, cultural, heritage, stories and tourism aspects of the anthracite region, and I hope to tell about its growth, the “Sights and Sites You’ve Likely Not Seen but Should Have!” and the anthracite heritage tourism places and events you should visit in NEPA. I can also help answer questions about places you want to know.