Tour #11 – Solitary Travel and Some Old Familiar Places

Labor Day weekend 2013 and again I had a four-day weekend and could not plan a trip due to a previous commitment.  Out came the map to see what I may have missed close by and I left Friday morning alone for PA State Park Tour #9.

Since I was driving through my old stomping grounds, a visit to Marie Antoinette Lookout on Route 6 was a must to test out my new camera.  When I arrived the fog was still lifting from the river valley below and the view was better than I had remembered it to be.  My father took us to this site many times a year on our Sunday afternoon drives and I still recall when Route 6 went directly past the lookout and between the narrow rock cuts.  The beautiful stonework has been refurbished within the past five years and was extremely well done.  If you’re a local Marie Antoinette Lookout is nice but the real thrill of excitement comes at Wyalusing Rocks just east of here along Route 6.  There was a group of motorcyclists just preparing to leave when I arrived and a few other people still on the rocks but by the time I left I was alone on these ledges high above the Susquehanna River.

I had my GPS programmed for “least use of highways” and allowed her voice to guide me through places I have never been to a park north of Wilkes-Barre named for a little girl who was kidnapped from her home by Delaware Indians in 1778.  She spent her first night in captivity under a rock ledge in what is now Frances Slocum State Park.  It was a beautiful day with sunshine, blue sky and large white clouds and the views around the lake were spectacular.  I did not know the man and his son in my photos but I liked the contrast of their red clothing with the background.  I began a short hike to the rock ledge and before I reached the area, my camera battery died.  Rather than walk back to the car, I completed the hike sans camera, returned to my car for my older camera then hiked the loop in the opposite direction.

For years I have used a Canon Powershot S3 6.0 Mp 12x zoom and can’t say enough good things about it.  It uses AA batteries and takes great photos.  The only drawback is its size – a great camera to wear around your neck but at times it can be too bulky.  I began to have problems with the camera during Tour #7.  Sometimes when I use the zoom, the camera immediately shuts off.  In July I decided to buy myself a Nikon camera.  I plan to keep my Canon and continue to use it and will be interested in comparing the two.  My father was extremely interested in photography.  When we were growing up he always had his camera (or two) wherever we went, his favorite media begin slide photography.  I still remember sitting in front of the large projection screen, viewing his pictures or home movies.  He would have loved the digital age as I do.  You know immediately if you “got the shot”, there’s no cost to develop so you can take thousands of photos (and maybe get a few good ones!), and let us not forget we can easily use software on our personal computers to make our photos better.  It took me a while to get accustomed to the smaller size of my new Nikon Coolpix S9500 (18Mp 22x zoom) but I am very happy with it and am sure I have not even skimmed the surface of its capabilities.  That said we all need to have reliable back-ups of our digital photos.  I recently lost a relatively new external hard drive that contained the only copies of all my digital photos for approximately 10 years.  The verdict on the drive is not yet in so I can only hope.

After I completed Frances Slocum Trail a second time I checked out the rest of the park.  There is a beautiful swimming pool that was unfortunately not open due to no lifeguard for the day.   I left the park and headed west toward my next stop using my GPS to guide me.  When I passed a Lackawanna State Forest sign, I found a place to turn around and went back to take my photo.  I had never entered Ricketts Glen State Park from the bottom of the glen before so it was a treat to stop here and see the last of the twenty-two named waterfalls in the glen.  At the top of the park I drove through the day use area parking to see how many people were out enjoying the day (quite a few) and was not surprised to find the park office closed for the day.  When I tell people about my travels to state parks I am sometimes asked which my favorite is.  I can never give a concise answer because I have many favorites for different reasons.  Ricketts Glen is the park most others name as their favorite.  It gets placed on my must-see list, along with a few others I have seen (and probably many I have yet to see.)

From Ricketts Glen to home is a very familiar route as most of it is the same road to Worlds End and through my hometown of Towanda.  After stopping to harvest some wild catnip in an old familiar place I surprised my mother with a short visit before returning home with forty-eight parks check off my list.


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