Salmon River Fly-Fishing Tales

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  • September 25, 2019
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Salmon Fly-Fishing Tales" Learning to Fly Fish for Salmon on the Salmon River

Salmon Fishing

Angling On The Fly

Salmon River Fly-Fishing Tales is a three-day account of my first-time salmon fishing in the Salmon River, Altmar, NY.
by Joan Mead-Matsui, a five-time award-winning freelance journalist; travel writer, and photographer.

If you’re looking for Salmon River fly fishing tales and stories from my freshwater fishing expedition, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s all here – the angling, flies, bait, encounter with international anglers, and the final word on my success during my first salmon-fishing trip to the Salmon River. My Salmon River fly-fishing tales are more about my experience as a whole, rather than one specific story or incident.

The primary objective for this story assignment was to arrive at the river and learn as much as I could through listening, observing, and interviews with other anglers.

Where To Stay in Altmar, NY

Keep in mind you’ll need a place to rest your weary legs after a full day on the water. My late September trip to Altmar began in Pulaski, NY, with a long-time friend who also loves fishing and culminated with an overnight travel assignment, outstanding meals, and lodging at the Tailwater Lodge.

Tailwater Lodge Exterior Photo

The Tailwater’s accommodations tie in seamlessly with my outdoor recreation travel writing assignments and that’s why I’ve been a guest writer there four times.

If you’ve never stayed at the Tailwater, it is a phenomenal home-away-from-home upscale lodge that’s an independently owned Hilton Tapestry Collection award-winning property. It’s also adjacent to the Salmon River. The decor offers a lodge-like atmosphere but the accommodations are all about comfort, exceptional casual dining, and exemplary customer service. Bright and early, you can walk out the front door, hang a left, and within 50 ft., you’re on the river’s banks.

Need Room for Fly Tying?

The guest rooms are equipped with a desk and chair so you can set up your vise and tie flies should you deplete your supply.

Now that you have a place to hang your waders at night, the experienced fisher should have no problem catching at least one Chinook, Coho, or (landlocked) Atlantic salmon. The less skilled will learn a thing or two.

Longtime Goals Met Trepidation

Salmon fishery evolved into one of my goals not long after I learned to fly fish eight years ago. Only recently, did I find the courage to schedule a trip.

Why? Because I couldn’t coax any of my trout-fishing friends to take off time from their work. As a result, solo salmon fly-fishing was my only option and synonymous with wading into foreign territory. Despite mind-boggling self-doubt that actually kept me awake for a few hours the night before I departed for Altmar, I packed my gear in my car and embarked on my travel assignment to upstate New York.

Near-Perfect Conditions

A September trip, when the water is warm, appeals to me more than steelhead fishing in late October and early November. A few years ago, on a bitterly cold November day, my friend, our fishing guide and I set out to the Douglaston Salmon Run in search of steelhead. Within an hour, my fingertips and feet were numb and I was chilled to the bone despite several layers of clothing.

In stark contrast were the recent picture-perfect not-a-cloud-in-the-sky fall days with an ideal temperature for wading. Although they set the stage for three relaxing days they aren’t the ideal conditions for salmon migration. Salmon, much like trout, is a coldwater species and the air temperature was 70 degrees or higher by mid-day. That boosted the water temperature, which slowed the relocation.

One fisherman told me to return to the river to see the mass migration in mid-October. He assured me I’d see droves of salmon coming up the river once the weather turns ugly and cold.

Learning salmon fly fishing on the Salmon River

My mood turned more serious as my trip was winding down. Keep reading for additional Salmon River Fly Fishing Tips.

Salmon Larger Than Me?

Maybe not that big but I’d heard many stories about the weight and size of an average-sized salmon caught in the Salmon River. Twenty to 30-lbs is the most common range. As a result, I wondered how someone my height and weight could reel in a 20 to 30-pound salmon.


After watching anglers in the Sportman’s Pool the first night I arrived in Pulaski, a neighboring town, I had my doubts if I had the skills to keep a salmon on the line and reel it in.


I awakened at 6:15 a.m. on my first full day in Altmar and was ready to fish by 8 a.m. Breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts took longer than I expected and I decided to make a quick stop at a fly shop on Route 13. The sales clerk offered expert advice but my river arrival time was set back by an hour or more.


The crowd thickened on Saturday as multiple drift boats and a large group of fishers arrived along both sides of the shoreline. More people on the water seemed to have an impact on the number of salmon I saw but a change in travel plans allowed me to stay until late afternoon.

TIP: Be sure to get your hands on a fishing map so you don’t waste your time driving. You’ll find one online beforehand or at the local tackle or fly shops when you arrive.

Fly or Spin-Fishing?

I wanted to increase my chances of catching a salmon so I brought the spin rods my friend loaned me and also rigged my fly rod with a heavier-weight line and attached weight and an egg pattern I bought at the fly shop. I’m skittish about using borrowed equipment so I tried both and eventually switched to my Orvis 9-ft, 8-wt Encounter rod. I set out down the path to the Sportman’s Pool, a popular spot along the Salmon River and joined a group between the deep pool and the riffles.

After walking around fishing gear for more than a mile along the river bank, I was relieved to find an opening spot where the riffles spilled into a calmer pool. That seemed like the ideal scenario for me, a person who doesn’t feel comfortable in water above my knees.

Salmon Fishing Tips and Lessons Learned

  • Every year, thousands of anglers toting spinner and fly rods descend on the river but not everyone leaves with a salmon. The beauty is those who don’t catch a salmon, have an opportunity to assist a fellow fisherman.
  • Throughout the day, there were times when anglers were elbow-to-elbow but folks came and went throughout the day. You’ll eventually find a vacant spot. Don’t crowd your neighbor.
Salmon fishermen should practice etiquette even when elbow-to-elbow conditions prevail.
Salmon fishermen should keep a distance even when elbow-to-elbow conditions prevail. Maintain a safe distance to avoid hooking someone or encroachment. Be polite and follow the New York State Fishing Regulations and Rules.
  • Move out of the way of an angler who has a salmon on his line. You might hear the phrases, “Coming up,” “Coming down,” or “Fish on.” As a courtesy, you should move out of the way and allow them to safely follow the salmon. You can also offer to help.
  • Female anglers are still a minority. Only a mere 10 percent of the fishermen I saw fishing were women.
This salmon fisher was calm as he waited for the Chinook salmon to tire.
  • Fewer than 40 percent of the fishermen I watched fished with fly rods.
  • Mostly everyone is willing to give advice.
  • Watch an instructional video before you go. There is an abundance of YouTube videos that will give you tips.
  • Read this Salmon River article and learn more about the salmons’ migration and spawning habits.
  • Salmon rise above the water and thrash as though theyre frolicking. Who knows? Maybe they’re celebrating their last days on earth.
  • The onset of the salmon run is similar to a silent alarm that sets off a flurry of activity that continues for months.
  • Anglers from around the world fish in the Salmon River.
  • Wear wading boots with studs to help keep you safe in the water. Salmon River rocks are slick and the current strong.
Yugoslavian Angler helps me prepare my line and bait on day three of my Salmon River fishing trip.
Salmon Season Can Bring Out the Best in Humanity. This Yugoslavian man was eager to teach me how to fish.
Don’t be shy about asking for advice from seasoned anglers.

When Does Salmon Fishing Begin?

Salmon season on the Salmon River typically begins in September, although weather plays a role in the migration. Suffice to say, schedule your trip from September to November or whenever a dorsal fin is spotted emerging from the water. Colder temps can bring on excellent conditions and you’ll be more likely to hook a salmon.

As you wade, wait, and watch for the shockingly large salmonoids to rear their heads and make their infamous splash, look around you and admire the scenery. A Yugoslavian fisherman told me salmon fishing is his opportunity to wallow in nature and cleanse his soul.

By this time, you’re probably wondering if I caught a salmon. The answer is no and as much as I would have loved to present one to my family, I went to Altmar to learn and observe. I felt a few hefty tugs on my fishing line but to make catching any fish the ultimate goal would take away from the invaluable lessons I learned and the friends I made.

Room for Improvement

5 Improvements I Should Make (Based on a Survey of Fisherman I met)
  • According to the Yugoslavian man, the egg patterns I had were not the best for salmon fishing. He recommended a mealworm fly.
  • My line was too long
  • I needed more weight on my line.
  • The salmon ignored my fly because I didn’t move it in front of them.
  • My casting needs work.

To Eat or Not to Eat

A salmon is a salmon and they’re all edible, correct?

Not necessarily, I learned. Depending on the salmon’s age and overall condition, not all salmon flesh is pink, flaky, and delicious. One fisherman told me some can taste fishy and others are downright foul-tasting. That was a disappointment to hear, considering I practice catch and release but would have made an exception.

Read my previous Tailwater reviews and stay tuned for my upcoming Tailwater Lodge coverage. Discover Oswego County here.

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Lifestyle Natural Stress Remedies Relaxation therapy Spa Spa Facial and Massage

Hand & Stone

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  • September 16, 2019
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Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa Glen Mills PA

Warm Your Heart; Relax Your Mind

Massage: A Natural Stress Remedy

A massage IS without a doubt, one of the best natural remedies. For example, when everyday stressors are taking their toll on your general well-being, opt for a Hand & Stone massage treatment.

Now’s the time to schedule an hour of sheer massage bliss that I guarantee will help you relax and calm your nerves.

Hand & Stone, with more than 300 locations, offers a variety of spa options from massages to facials and hair removal. My lifelong friend and I elevate a Hand & Stone massage to the top of our list of “girlfriend” activities when I visit her at her home in West Chester, PA.

Make Time for Yourself

If you don’t have hours to spare, you’ll find at least one massage treatment that’ll loosen your tight muscles and lessen the impact tension has on your body.

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa Lobby Glen Mills, PA
When you step into a Hand & Stone lobby, you’ll find a friendly staff and a bustling waiting area filled with customers. Make it a point to do something wonderful for yourself. Book an appointment. Photos courtesy of Hand & Stone.

A Massage Offers Relief from TMJ

During my most recent visit, I arrived at Hand & Stone seeking relief from an ongoing TMJ ( temporomandibular) issue — an annoying and sometimes painful jaw ailment. TMJ is, at times, attributed to jaw clenching and teeth grinding.

Try A Gentle Swedish Massage

A Swedish massage, the most popular of all massages was the perfect fit. Some of the benefits of massage are reduced muscle tension, improved circulation, and the reduction of stress hormones. Even after my treatment, the positive effects lasted for days and reminded me to take care of myself every day.

Hand & Stone Massage Therapy Room
Hand & Stone Massage Therapy Rooms are ultra-private, climate-controlled, with soft lighting, and relaxing music playing in the background.

Finding a Massage Therapist

Finding a licensed massage therapist with the skills and touch necessary to soothe your tired, weary muscles is often a trial and error process. We all have different criteria for determining the ultimate massage. But for me, it’s a gentle touch and pressure that reach the muscle without the tenderness afterward.

Hand & Stone Lobby Offers Beauty Solutions that support health, wellness, and beauty.

Hand & Stone offers solutions that support health, wellness, AND beauty. Browse the products before or after your spa treatment.

Relaxation Therapy

Sandi, a Hand & Stone licensed massage therapist, came to my rescue. Her calming voice, combined with a gentle touch alleviated the muscle tension I was holding onto throughout my aching jaw. From the moment we met in the lounge, her immediate goal was to set the stage for a memorable and therapeutic experience. Using moderate pressure, she relaxed the muscles from the base of my neck, along my shoulders to my face and jaw.

Not sure what treatment is best for you?

The Hand & Stone menu has a variety of options from Swedish and Himalayan Salt to Decompression Therapy. Combine a massage and a facial and leave the shop feeling extraordinary.

Appointments are recommended but walk-ins are welcome. You’ll find the hours particularly convenient. Hand & Stone is open seven days a week, with extended hours.

Visit Hand & Stone

In six weeks, the shop will move to a larger location in the same shopping plaza. The new address will be 301 Buyers Drive, Concordville Town Centre, Glen Mills, PA. Call (610) 361-6171 to schedule an appointment or visit to find a store near you.


Rest assured, my massage was comped but my opinions are my own and based solely on my experience.


Joan Mead-Matsui is a five-time award-winning freelance journalist; travel writer and photographer. She covers news and features’ stories that range from unique travel accessories and products to destinations and attractions. Prior to launching her websites, and, Joan was a full-time freelance content and features’ writer for print and digitals news sources and magazines.

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3 Interview Tips for Journalists

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  • September 13, 2019
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Story ideas are everywhere!

Lessons From An Award-Winning Journalist

Learn “3 Interview Tips for Journalists” from five-time award-winning freelance journalist Joan Mead-Matsui. Conquer your fears and boost your confidence with practical tips you’ll use time and time again.

Do you want to strut into an interview beaming with self-confidence

The 3 Interview Tips for Journalists will help you stand out from the moment you sit down for your interview. Do you want to show your style but you’re not sure where to begin?

Do you want to stand out from the crowd? I’ll teach you how to tap into your interviewee’s story.

Places to Interview for Your Next Story
Interview during dinner? Why not? A conversation over a delicious meal is relaxing and the perfect icebreaker.

Take it from me, interview skills are the single most important instrument in your reporter’s toolbox.

Start today!

Practice these 3 Interview Tips at your next interview

1. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions. Prepare for the unexpected answer and immediately follow up on any comments you believe will interest your readers. Don’t hesitate to ask for additional information but give your interviewee time to finish a sentence,

2. Keep your options open but have your list of questions on hand. I can tell you from experience, (and more than 1,500 interviews to my credit) interviews that begin and end as a conversation will make your story easy to prepare and are, by far, the most interesting to read.

3. Read or listen to your interview transcript less than 24 hours after your interview. Follow up with your interviewee by email no later than a day after your interview. If you have an equipment malfunction or you’re not sure about an answer to one of your questions, don’t wait until you’re ready to prepare your story.

Do you love what you’ve read so far?

Think about the most memorable television, radio, YouTube, or podcast interviews you’ve watched or listened to in your lifetime. If one, in particular, comes to mind, chances are the interviewer’s style is one of the factors that set the interview apart from the others you’ve seen.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with looking to some of the world’s most famous journalists as role models but develop your own style. 3 Interview Tips for Journalists will guide you through some of your more challenging interviews.

Interviews on horseback? Why not? As long as you’re looking ahead, you can interview almost anywhere.

Preparation is Key

As a journalist, you set the tone. Prepare for your interview, stay calm, show respect, be patient and inquisitive.

Additional Insight

Why do I love interviews?

Above all, people and their stories are intriguing. Everyone I’ve met in my life, from the artist to the politician has a story that’s ripe and ready to tell. In other words, extract that information and present it in an interesting and engaging way while adhering to basic style rules.

Is a travel writer a journalist?

Travel writers are journalists and one of my goals as a mentor is to convey the importance of integrity, creativity, and professionalism to new writers who cover the travel and tourism industry. I’ll expand on tips for travel writers in new lessons in the Journalist Support Hub, a members-only Facebook community. I created the group to give news writers the tools they need to compete and thrive in a highly competitive market.

Join today by clicking here.

Do you have your copy of my course, “The INCREDIBLE Interview: Tips for Journalists and Travel Writers?” Learn how to interview with style. I dispell myths, debunk your pre-conceived notions you’ve come to believe about yourself, and teach you everything I learned as a freelance journalist for newspapers and magazines. You’ll walk away with the lessons I learned that led me to win five newspaper association awards.

A WRITER’S NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO INTERVIEWING will guide you through the best tips and techniques you can use when you conduct interviews. You’ll learn Tips For A Meaningful, Productive Conversation you can apply to your on-going journalism and travel-writing courses.

“I was really nervous about being interviewed but you’re a great interviewer.” “I can tell you love your job.”

We all love praise. Positive comments propel us to work harder and smarter. Even the occasional positive review is a motivator and indicator you’re moving in the right direction. Soak up the praise and ask for feedback every time but above all, ask your interviewee for final comments. For example, you might ask, would you like to add something? Is there anything I forgot to ask you?

Learn how to put your mind at ease, squash your fears, and set the stage for compelling and engaging INTERVIEWS with people from all walks of life who want to tell their stories.

As always, message me with any questions.

Learn new skills today. Join the Journalist Support Hub, my members-only Facebook group I created to give you ongoing support. Learning is a lifelong process but the truth is, we can’t always find the guidance we need.

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American Zoos Lifestyle Museums and Zoos Pennsylvania attractions Things to do in Pennsylvania Zookeepers

Reptiland: 7 Reasons To Visit Today

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  • September 12, 2019
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Reptiland Komodo Dragon

A Must-See Pennsylvania Zoo

Animals bring smiles, warm our hearts, and teach us why we need to learn as much as possible about their natural habitats. Reptiland offers interactive exhibits.


Reptiland: 7 Reasons to Visit introduces you to slithering snakes, alligators, two Komodo Dragons, frogs, giant tortoises, parakeets, and an emu. They’re the seven reasons you should plan to spend a morning or afternoon at the Reptiland.

Turtles, lizards, snakes, frogs, and crocodilians from around the world flourish in naturalistic habitats with an educational element that spans 6,500 square feet. Reptiland exhibits and gallery houses are open year-round.

Should you need more coaxing, Reptiland: 7 Reasons to Visit, is the best of both worlds: entertainment and education. Adults and children can count on learning a thing or two about each of the animals who call Reptiland home. Displays and exhibits offer visitors a chance to observe and learn.


Very often, we look to zoos for entertainment but, they can provide so much more and ignite curiosity and nurture a sense of respect and wonderment for children and adults of all ages.

Take a moment to browse the photo gallery and then scroll down and continue reading about Clyde Peeling, Reptiland founder and owner and the astonishing animals in his life. At the bottom of the page, click on the links to watch my candid video interviews with Peeling, an astute and captivating speaker with years of expertise.

Reptiland Photo Gallery

Celebrating Success: One Step at a Time

Peeling’s dream began as a roadside zoo and has evolved for more than 50 years as a result of his perseverance and genuine concern for the welfare of the animals. Opening a zoo was a lifelong goal and that dream came to fruition on July 11, 1964, when he opened the Reptiland doors to visitors. Creating “a zoo along the road,” rather a roadside zoo, according to Peeling, has been his focus since he bought the tract of land, formerly a vacant strip of Pennsylvania farmland in Allenwood, PA.


Reptiland wasn’t an instant success and the zoo has grown as a result of Peeling’s diligence, periodic expansions, and renovations, and most of all, his dedication to the animal preservation, responsible propagation of a variety of endangered species, and conservation. Peeling is recognized and respected for his efforts throughout the zoo community and it’s not a mystery why. Once you’ve been inside Reptiland you’ll understand.


Here’s your chance to watch my series of interviews with Clyde Peeling. You’ll learn more about his aspirations and current happenings at Reptiland.

My series of video interviews with Clyde Peeling reveal how the man behind Reptiland overcame obstacles along the way. In this interview, he explains how traveling exhibitions have become an important part of Reptiland’s business.


My sons and I spent a memorable afternoon at Reptiland. Teaching children to respect all creatures is as much a matter of providing mobile classrooms at zoos near you. .


Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube travel channel and share this article and videos with your friends and family.

Reptiland: 7 Reasons to Visit

Do you have comments or a photograph about Reptiland you’d like to share? Post them at Learn more about my travel and content writing services here.

Visit for visitor information, current show schedules, and other important details.


Many thanks to Clyde Peeling and his staff for the opportunity for my sons and me to visit Reptiland. I hope you’ve enjoyed Reptiland: 7 Reasons to Visit. My visit was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experience.

Be sure to check out my related zoo coverage. As a newly married couple and for years while we raised our children, we made a point to regularly visit zoos as a reminder of how we, as humans, can peacefully and respectfully co-exist with the animal kingdom.

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City Hall Grand Hotel: Where to stay in Pennsylvania Eber Culver architectural designs Historic hotels in Pennsylvania hotel Pennsylvania hotel Williamsport Hotels near me Lifestyle Williamsport Lodging

History Brought to Life

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  • August 26, 2019
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City Hall Grand Hotel Exterior

Williamsport LANDMARK


City Hall Grand Hotel Williamsport
Once a city government hub, the Williamsport, PA, City Hall was transformed into a hotel that will delight anyone who appreciates an artful renovation of a historic property. The “Trumpeter,” Civil War monument erected 120 years ago, welcomes guests and passers-by.

All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.

The transformation of a vacant, multi-level municipal building into lodging that appeals to travelers from all walks of life was a challenge for the City Hall Grand Hotel designers. Yet, the city hall repurposed three years ago, is a perfect example of design ingenuity. The late Joshua Butters saw this project as an opportunity to showcase Pennsylvania historic architecture, preservation, adaptive reuse, and revitalization of a downtown building.

Step into this historic downtown Williamsport, PA building and time stands still. If you envision a grand old style structure that features wooden interior doors with frosted glass and everything down to the doorknobs screams city government hub, you’re on the mark. If you’re looking for re-purposed historic hotels near Wellsboro or the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, this grand hotel is within an hour from outdoor recreation attractions.

As I set out to find lodging in the vicinity of a well-known fishing creek, the room descriptions and images on the hotel’s website prompted me to book a room for my sons and me. After hearing about the restoration project from the hotel’s manager, I knew City Hall Grand Hotel would be a treasure we had to see in person.

City Hall Grand Hotel Exterior
The towers are a focal point throughout the city. If you lose your way as you’re sightseeing around town, the towers will guide you back to City Hall Grand Hotel. Photo by Kento Matsui

Eber Culver: If He Could See It Now

Eber Culver, one of the city’s most prominent architects saw his design come to life when the City Hall was built in 1893. The five-story former city hall in the heart of downtown Williamsport, PA, with its two towers and yellow brick trimmed in stone, molded brick ornamentation and columns of terra cotta, is a sight to behold. On Nov. 7, 1976, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. 

Culver’s city hall has its place alongside another historic Williamsport landmark, the “Trumpeter,” a Civil War monument erected 120 years ago. Walk along the streets of the former “Lumber Capital of the World” and you’ll find other fine examples of antiquity and the city’s industrial heritage. Williamsport offers the traveler a taste of the past and important insight into Pennsylvania’s array of industries.

Although the building’s exterior facade has remained unchanged due to rules that govern the treatment of historic properties, the stone, and architectural detailing pave the way for what’s in store inside. Step inside with me to catch a glimpse of this re-purposed historic City Hall .

City Hall Grand Hotel Williamsport PA Treasure

On the first floor, commercial tenants set up their offices but only a few steps away, down the hall, is where the hotel design show begins. There are no better words to describe the City Hall Grand Hotel than a thriving example of creative, quality craftsmanship, and adaptive reuse. 

The interior reveals Williamsport’s industrial heritage while offering guests modern-day comforts. During the renovation, brick and lumber were salvaged and incorporated as key elements in the overall design.

City Hall Grand Hotel, Williamsport, PA

City Hall Grand Hotel offers two types of rooms: Traditional and Hulk Rooms.

HULK ROOM? What’s a Hulk Room?

The late Josh Butters (Hulk Destruction, Construction, and Salvage Company) came up with the name to convey his appreciation for the city’s history and individuals who led it to prosper and grow. Authenticity isn’t limited to the names he gave to the guestrooms. Butters honored Williamsport when he mapped out the design of each one-of-a-kind room.

Many of the Hulk Rooms feature open showers and separate toilet rooms lending a European flair. Guests who are traveling with children and need more privacy should request the “Flood” or Lumber rooms.

City Hall Grand Hotel Guest Room Open Bathroom
An open floor plan in many of the Hulk guestrooms featured an open shower room that’s ideal for couples and single guests. See the image directly below for another take on the open bath area.
City Hall Grand Hotel open floor plan second view
Brick and tile line the walls and floors in the Hulk bathroom shown below.

Several of the Hulk Rooms feature a sliding door that can be adjusted to close off a section of the room to give adults traveling with children more privacy. Be sure to ask for one of those guest rooms when you book your reservation.

City Hall Grand Hotel Industrial Heritage Shown Throughout the Building
You’ll be captivated with the restored photographs displayed throughout the hotel. “The Lumber Room” reflects the city’s title as the former Lumber Capital of the World. Some of the photos date back to the 1800s. Shown is one of the many tables Butters handcrafted.
Hulk Lumber Room City Hall Grand Hotel
A close-up photo of the late Joshua Butters’ craftsmanship shows off wood as one of Williamsport’s primary industries: Lumber.

Every detail, from the bed frames and sliding doors to the sink and light fixtures have Butter’s creative stamp.

City Hall Grand Hotel Crafted Lighting Fixtures
Soft task lighting adds a touch of minimalism to a Hulk Room at City Hall Grand Hotel, a re-purposed historic City Hall building in Williamsport, PA.

He designed and crafted many of the accents exclusively for the City Hall Grand Hotel owners, Tim and Sandra Butters, whose vision for the late Victorian-Romanesque Revival-style building ties in with its former title, “Lumber Capital of the World.” No two rooms are alike.

Salvaged lumber and hardware are repurposed in each guest room. Wood and metal were repurposed as headboards and other accent pieces.

Traditional Rooms

Yes, you have a choice from a Hulk or Traditional room in the City Hall Grand Hotel but the design scheme is anything but generic. Custom-made fixtures mix with the new, antique, and repurposed to create an artful atmosphere.

City Hall Grand Hotel Decorative Accents
Take note of the hand-crafted sinks and other fixtures created by Joshua Butters and other local craftsmen.
One common trait is the attention to detail and the “Origami” swan you’ll find perched upon your bed when you arrive.

Once you roll up the blinds you’ll enjoy the light that floods the room through large windows. A private toilet and shower room and a soft color palette are among the charms you’ll find in a City Hall Grand Hotel traditional room. Most rooms in this magnificent re-purposed historic City Hall are furnished with a mini-refrigerator and Keurig machine.

Two of the Traditional Rooms are equipped with a Jacuzzi Tub
If soaking in a tub filled with soothing, warm bath water is your idea of relaxation, request a room with a Jacuzzi tub.

Don’t expect to find a front desk in the lobby or anywhere else at City Hall Grand Hotel. One additional feature we love is the absence of wait time when you check-in. Guests receive a payment confirmation and a key code prior to their arrival.

From the ceiling to floor, expect the unexpected elements.
One of the show-stopping architectural details is an original glass ceiling in one of the Hulk Rooms.

In a world filled with lodging options, you don’t want to miss out City Hall Grand Hotel conveniently located in downtown Williamsport at 454 Pine Street. Plan a visit for the sake of seeing this treasure or combine your stay with a trip to one of the nearby attractions. We visited Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland, which led to an extraordinary video interview with founder, Clyde Peeling. The following day we set out for Rock Run for an afternoon hike to one of Pennsylvania’s most beautiful array of waterfalls.

Visit to book your getaway.


My lodging was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experiences. Many thanks to the City Hall Grand Hotel management for the opportunity to spend two nights exploring and enjoying the hotel and Williamsport.

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Join me in “The Hub”

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  • July 20, 2019
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Journalist Support Hub Membership

A Members-Only Journalist Support Hub

Created for Journalists and Travel Writers by Award-Winning Journalist Joan Mead-Matsui

Sign up today and receive the support you need to learn and grow.

Join Today!

Give your career a boost!

Discover “The Hub,” my Journalist Support Hub created to give writers the support and encouragement they need to create outstanding articles.

Learn more about the group here.

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Lifestyle Trout Fishing Northeastern Pennsylvania

Fly Fishing Weekly

Joan Matsui Fly Fisher Travel Writer

Sunday Chronicle

No Fish Last Week but read on…

I hope you enjoy my new weekly blog post, “Fly Fishing Weekly.”

Fly fishing is one of my all-time favorite hobbies and although it’s a life-long sport, some of the most successful anglers I know have told me it’s also a continuous learning process. Something I can teach you if you’re a new fly fisher is patience. Follow my journey here every week for tales from the water.

Several years ago, I met a seasoned angler, Jim, while I was wading in the Delaware River. Jim has fished since he was a child. I whined a bit to him that day when I was frustrated. Afterward, I was embarrassed because I know not everyone catches fish every time but I needed to let go of my negative emotions so I could move on to a more positive attitude. Letting go was one way to remove my mental barriers.

I didn’t catch anything today, I told him.

His reply, “There are weeks when I don’t catch a fish. It’s not always technique that dictates if you catch a fish. Water temperature and water level play a major role in whether the fish are biting or not. And of course, you also need to consider the fly you’re using.”

He’s correct, at least as far as I can tell. Overall, my technique has immensely improved thanks to practice, an Orvis media trip, and guidance from my fishing friends. Almost eight years into fly fishing, I can roll cast and select a fly that’s somewhat palatable to the fish. That’s a definite improvement.

Hot summer days are problematic. Wading in cool water is a fisher’s delight but the trout, notably a cold water species don’t agree.

The last time I was out on the water – yesterday – fish were rising but unfortunately, did not take any of the flies I threw out. I began with a small nymph and three to four minutes later, I discovered my hook was caught on an underwater branch or it was stuck to the side of a rock. After breaking the line free, I noticed my fly was gone.

When in doubt, I resort to my favorite flies, an elk-hair caddis pattern or a blue-winged olive. Woolly Buggers are an option but they tend to plop, rather than quietly land on the water. I’m working on casting streamers.

Joan Matsui Fly Fisher Travel Writer
Spring is my favorite time of year to fly fish for trout. This day was a combined fly fishing and photography trip.

Two weeks ago, I brought my oldest son along on a two-hour evening trip to the Lackawanna River, a tributary to the mighty Susquehanna River. The water level had dropped significantly from last week but fishing conditions were nearly perfect. NO FISH!

Typically, by the end of June, the water temperature has begun to rise as the rainy days of June disappear. Here we are in July, the hottest and most humid month of the year in Northeastern Pennsylvania, with a jump in our air temps to 85 to 90 degrees for several days at a time.

Joan Matsui Travel Writer Fly Fishing
The pensive look while hoping at least one trout would take the fly. Northeastern Pennsylvania has some outstanding streams and rivers.

Today, my friend Amy and I met along the Lackawanna River. Amy arrived about an hour before me and had already moved upstream from where we planned to meet. She caught three or four fish in an hour but by 10 a.m., the sun was bright and only a few shaded areas remained along the banks. We were optimistic we’d see some fish rise and we did but again, they weren’t interested in our flies. Once Amy and I commence with fishing, we don’t want to stop.

We ended our afternoon perhaps a bit discouraged but the diehard angler never completely gives in to frustration. After all, there are six more days this week.

Happy fishing to you!

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Family Products and Services Lifestyle Product Reviews


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  • June 26, 2019
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FamClub Premium Monthly Rewards Box

Engaging Families

Subscription Service Rewards Family

Jason Bailey recognized the need for families to grow together.

But how do you arrive at that point with all the distractions parents and children face today?

Jobs, school, travel, sports, and electronics can all take their toll on family time. That’s why Jason Bailey, a South Florida resident created FamClub, a family-oriented subscription service that will delight and motivate you to reinvent family time. Jason is a father of two and a CEO of several companies. But he also recognizes how important family time is…

I agreed to test and review this service because as a parent, I remember how much my children appreciated our family time together. We fished, planted gardens, hiked, and created art projects often. When my sons became teenagers and our lives became more hectic, we struggled to find together time and keep up with chores.

FamClub’s mission is to “harness” the technology we’ve come to blame for leading us astray from playing, working, and growing together. Jason designed a subscription-based service that encourages families to set and complete goals. Premium members receive a monthly customized box that’s packed with rewards for completing their goals. Please see the assortment of gifts I received in my March, April, and May reward boxes.

FamClub Reward Box
Subscribe to FamClub and receive a monthly reward box. FamClub offers subscription options so you can choose the one that works best for you. Shown is the “Family Time’s Blooming” March Reward Box.

The items you’ll find in the rewards boxes will put a smile on your face. The first box I received contained a water bottle, egg-shaped chalk, foam football, trimming shears, puzzle, gardening gloves, and a mini clay pot with flower seeds. They’re essential ingredients for family fun and excitement that will motivate your children to work side-by-side with you. FamClub makes it incredibly simple to integrate rewards with activities you and your children will love.

FamClub Reward Box
“Everything But The Kitchen Sink” is the April themed rewards’ box.
FamClub Reward Box
“OUT OF THIS WORLD” will launch your family into another galaxy and create the ultimate space adventure. Each child and adult member registered with the FamClub receives a gift.

FamClub offers three subscription plans: Monthly, Premium, and Basic and an app allow you to sign up and track your goals while you’re mobile. Visit the app store on your mobile device to download it.

The premium subscription gives kids of all ages a reason to reach their goals.
The items in the rewards’ box will be enjoyed by young children and yes, also the teenagers.

Visit to sign up.

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Fly Fishing Stories Fly Fishing Women Fly-Fishing Friday with Joan Lifestyle

Fly-Fishing Friday

  • By
  • June 14, 2019
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Fly Fishing Friday Joan Matsui Travel Writer

Adventures on the Water

Not every Friday am I able to end my work week midday but when time allows, I’ll break loose from my laptop around 3 p.m. to fly fish or hike.

They’re both two of my all-time favorite hobbies and if the conditions allow, give me a day without rain and I’ll head outdoors to appreciate the abundance of pristine water and bucolic trails and meadows we have in Pennsylvania.

We’ve had a wet spring with record precipitation but many of the days without rain have been sunny and beautiful with ample water in our streams. Today is one of those days when nature beckons me to spend time wading and foraging for trout.

From trout season opening day in April to fall, I find my local creek, which is stocked in early spring, an ideal close-to-home retreat. I’ve accumulated a collection of photos and fishing stories to share with you every Friday. Although I’m not a “selfie” fan, I have a hard drive full of fishing memories.

Let’s begin with last weekend when I strayed from my township to another local fishing hole that’s located at the confluence of two creeks. I caught a fish in the pool a few weeks ago but last week was a no-show. Even with a dense hatch after 7 p.m., not one fish rose to the surface. But it isn’t necessarily the catch that’s as important as the experience and the sound of water as it runs over rocks, birds flying overhead, and quiet time.

Actually, I’ve caught (and released) more trout since opening day than I expected. That’s the beauty of fly fishing. Seeing a trout rise to take a dry fly, quickly and safely removing the hook from its mouth and gently returning it to the water is what attracted me to fly fishing.

I’d welcome fly-fishing-related questions and comments here or on my social media platforms. Let me know your favorite creek, river, or lake or share your fishing tips with my readers.

Enjoy your weekend wherever you live.

Joan Mead-Matsui

Fly-Fishing Friday with Joan Matsui Travel Writer

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Hawley Lodging Historic hotels Lifestyle Pennsylvania Historic Hotels Pocono Mountains Lodging Settlers Hospitality Group


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  • June 5, 2019
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Ledges Hotel Lodging Dining

Historic Hotel – Modern Luxury

There are no bad views from the windows at the Ledges Hotel – whether you’re looking in or out.

Ledges Hotel Window View
The Settlers Hospitality Group offers its guests a year-round view of the waterfalls and gorge alongside Ledges hotel. All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.

Each Settlers Hospitality Group property has its own unique story. The group’s five restored lodging options are nothing short of architectural gems redesigned with the Genzlinger family’s flair and commitment to respectful preservation.

Ledges Hotel suites offer a glance at the property before you set out to see property on foot.
The architects and designers planned the project so the grounds and interior compliment one another.

Seeing is believing.

Jeanne and Grant Genzlinger, with the help of architects, specifically, the world-renown Bohlin Cywinski Jackson team, renovated the property with a highly-focused vision that allowed them to effectively incorporate the natural landscape and the nearby community’s history, antiquity, and charm with their adaptive-reuse initiative. Custom-designed furniture is the finishing touch to the impeccably stylish decor.

Repurposing historic buildings is a mission Settlers’ co-founders, Grant and Jeanne Genzlinger set out to accomplish more than 30 years ago when they bought Settlers Inn, an art and craft-style hotel that sits along Main Street Hawley. Ledges Hotel is one of five properties owned and managed by Settlers Hospitality Group.

Whether you enter the property from Route 6 or the lower end, through a series of side streets, you’ll immediately realize why the hotel’s name, Ledges, is appropriate.

Ledges Hotel is a perfect fit for guests who come to Hawley, Pennsylvania to engage in a variety of activities you’ll only find in a historically rich town. Antique and other specialty shops, restaurants and diners, and businesses line the streets in downtown Hawley. The Genzlinger family has worked tirelessly to make your overall experience engaging, active, authentic, and educational and their efforts are far-reaching. Co-founder Grant Genzlinger works with other local business owners and organizations to broaden the array of recreational opportunities available to visitors.

Originally constructed as a home to the John S. O’Connor Glass Factory, Ledges Hotel sits adjacent to a series of waterfalls that drain into a tree-lined gorge. The property is worthy of mention in itself, set adjacent to massive rock ledges and Paupack High Falls. They’re a wonder you won’t want to miss.

Now IS the Ideal Time to Visit

If you want to experience the Wallenpaupack Creek as it gushes over the natural stone ledges into the river gorge, now is the perfect time to plan a Ledges Hotel weekend getaway. Record rainfall has allowed the waterfalls to flow non-stop with the sight and sounds of cascading water. The landscape is quite beautiful at any time of the year but the steady progression of blossoms and ever-changing scenery are all part of the overall beauty of a Northeastern Pennsylvania spring.

If you yearn for a day on the water, plan to spend a few hours in or by the scenic Lackawaxen River, a 31.3-mile-long tributary of the Delaware River.  Outdoor enthusiasts will find ample opportunities to fish or launch their canoes and kayaks. If water sports are not your first choice for entertainment, Ledges is close to hiking and cycling trails, restaurants, churches, shops, and other services guests might want.

Ledges Hotel window view
Sunlight floods the sitting area on the first floor of the two-story suites.

The view from the first and second floors of my one-bedroom two-story suite can be enjoyed while lounging on the hotel’s custom-designed furniture or soaking in the Japanese-style soaking tub.

Ledges Hotel Master Bathroom
One and two-bedroom two-story suites feature a spiral staircase that leads to a spacious master bathroom complete with a Japanese-style soaking tub and open shower stall with a rainfall showerhead.
Ledges Hotel custom-designed furniture
When bedtime arrives, the second-floor master suite is a heavenly reprieve perfect for a sound sleep.


“Glass” wine. bar. kitchen is Ledges Hotel’s on-site restaurant and a popular gathering space for local residents and guests who want to listen to live music while dining al fresco alongside the waterfalls and gorge. The chef created a variety of small plate dishes that are perfect for sharing and late night fare.

(I ordered the tasty Seared Ahi Tuna, Shiso sesame crusted, jicama apple slaw, and sweet onion dashi with a side of crispy Brussels Sprouts).

Dining Ledges Hotel
When staying close to your room appeals to you, Ledges Hotel offers a dining option that allows you to appreciate the scenery while enjoying a chef-prepared menu that’ll impress beyond words.

The outstanding accommodations, landscaped grounds, and gracious hotel staff make this the quintessential choice for a wedding or special occasion venue. Visit for more information.

Ledges Hotel, built in 1890, is a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2013.


Throughout the year, I cover a variety of properties from historic hotels to fishing lodges. Rest assured, my trips were comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experiences.

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