North America

A Pennysylvanian Victorian Town

The weekend we drove to Jim Thorpe, an old coal mining town in the Pocono mountains brimming with pumpkins and haunted houses, we noticed a huge banner on a highway route through the Lackawanna County.Β A well-lined face crinkled by a grin and a head full of silver hair stared back at me. The man, it turns out, had disappeared. Yet another of those baffling cases where the family woke up one morning to find their husband and father to have vanished. My inner Wallander was mystified. It was as if we were on the sets of a drama like The Missing, a chilling prospect.

Weaving our way through roads flanked by trees which were still in the nascent stage of light oranges and pinks, we reached the town of Jim Thorpe surrounded by lush hills that had turned a brooding shade of green under the blue-grey skies. We deposited the car in the parking lot next to the Lehigh river and started for the town of Jim Thorpe, following a demarcated path. That is when I stepped out of line. For a second though. I had detected an old railroad crossing gate and wanting to photograph it I had made a beeline for it. No cars incoming too, but hey-ho, a booming voice rang across the parking lot on that cold October noon like a bullet, ‘RETURN TO THE WALKWAY RIGHT NOW!’ piercing my skin and senses with precision. I scurried, suitably chastened, back to my place next to Adi on the path. Mortification.

I espied a bunch of people crossing the parking lot in the exact way I had attempted to, the next morning. The same people in the parking lot booth, yet they turned a blind eye to the errant six. Life — it works in mysterious ways.

In Jim Thorpe, you meet cordial railway men. They point out scenic geographical features of the Jim Thorpe National Park within which the town is located. You shall chug through the park if you buy a ticket for the steam train, and you hear about black bears who romp around the market square, rummaging in bins, when they fall short of food. The Lehigh River gleamed emerald green in places, in others midnight blue and rust (with mineral deposits), as it skirted the town, passing through a landscape mottled with ancient woodlands of white pine, rhododendron, ferns, abandoned sheds and railroad. A peaceful scenery punctuated by the gushing sound of waterfalls making their way into a gorge. And the few hikers and cyclists who waved at the train passing by.

Them training their cameras on the train. Us training ours on them.

Later after we had had our fill of regressing to a state of child-like glee, we walked around the narrow alleys and winding roads of Jim Thorpe that was named after a former Olympian athlete called Jim Thorpe – it had no connection with him whatsoever though. The words ‘Mauch Chunk’ leapt out at us from signages. The Lenni Lenape tribe is supposed to have named the town for the mountain nearby, Mauch Chunk or ‘the Mountain of the Sleeping Bear’.

Atmospheric cafes; stone churches stained black by the passage of time; second-hand bookshops where I went into a tizzy, laying my hands greedily on beautifully bound tomes; antique shops; stores selling dream catchers and trippy, psychedelic stuff; boutiques selling handmade, embroidered leather boots; former old jails where the Molly Maguires, an outfit of Irish immigrant coal mine workers, were imprisoned and executed; old ladies with faces like immobile masks sitting on their old porches (straight out of a supernatural thriller in my fervid imagination).

Jim Thorpe has a fair bit going on. You might want to cycle along the abandoned railroad because it does seem like the kind of activity where you feel at one with the old forests around you, breathing in the scent of the pine trees, the possibility of meeting a black bear… but if you end up there, remember not to step out of bounds of the path in the parking lot, okay? The grinches shall get you.

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46 Comments

  • Paula

    How pretty you look, and such lovely pictures! I shall heed your warning if I ever visit that way… I’d be the one to get in trouble as well, πŸ˜€

  • iwannabealady

    And here we have a rare sighting of Arundhati! It’s good to see you πŸ™‚ We’ll have to get into some trouble together soon! I had my honeymoon in the Poconos many moons ago and it was my first time really feeling the experience of being in the woods and connecting with nature. It’s a beautiful place. I’m happy to know that the stone-faced old women didn’t pull you into some nightmare.

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Hah thanks πŸ™‚ The deal is on mate! Trouble is my middle name.
      Honeymoon in the Poconos would have been a dream, Lyz. Did your ex rescue you from a few black bears? I would love to read or hear more about your time in the Poconos. xx

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Isn’t it? I bet he would have been happy to find this out but alas he had died already.
      About getting yelled at by strangers, I have two experiences already and I did not care for it much but hey it is okay πŸ™‚ xx

  • Osyth

    I wonder if I could persuade a town and a national park to randomly name themselves and for no particular reason, after me! I like this idea. And I loved your telling of the place and your wonderful pictures and I must ask … those boots – I feel my inner Imelda wakening and lusting after those boots – from where? Xx

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      They might just πŸ˜‰ The athelete’s son wanted his remains to be taken back to Oklahoma.
      Thank you Osyth. Hah those boots. They are as old as my marriage. They were acquired in a Nine West store in KL during the last leg of our honeymoon. These are my go-to for any kind of occasion. Not only are they dressy (those tassels have my heart), I can walk miles in them without feeling a twinge of discomfort. xx

      • Osyth

        How I wish the same could be said for the boots I wore to Barcelona last weekend …. confident that after nearly 4 years they must be the perfect choice for walking I had to wear Birkenstocks for 3 days when I got home to let the damage even start to heal – heal the heels infact!! Never mind, I did feel quite chic and didn’t look like a tourist and had the most glorious time. The tassels would be irresistible to me …. fabby dabby! Xx

        • Dippy-Dotty Girl

          I can quite picture the chic Brit-French in her heels towering over the Spanish and looking spectacular in those beauties. The thing with fashion is that sometimes you have got to take the blisters with savoir faire and pay for it later in Birkenstocks. I used to have such bad corns at one point during my days of covering fashion – trotting around on heels at fashion weeks
          is pure harakiri for the feet – that when I went home my parents got me shown to a homeopathic doc. He recommended that I apply garlic juice on the corns to soften them up and boy did it work even at the risk of stinking like a skunk! Though a skunk must smell a thousand times worse.
          How was Barcelona in your fab dab boots? πŸ™‚ xx

          • Osyth

            Oh I loved it … like in love loved it! I’m happy to report that it looks as though that particular daughter may be heading there for her next chapter so I will have plenty of excuse to explore more (leaving the heels at home!!) That line β€˜harikiri for the feet’ is priceless …. you bottle the idiocy of fashionable feet in four words. Garlic juice is extremely easy to get here and I may risk the sub skunk arΓ΄me for relief!!! Xx

          • Dippy-Dotty Girl

            Ahahaha thanks. Mr. Two Brains might be cursing me unless he is travelling as you mentioned to the States. But yes your feet will thank you for the garlic love. I will take the love love and float away into the noon to arm myself with some coffee before I head out in my new stiletto boots to meet an old friend πŸ˜€ xx

          • Osyth

            He’s back in Boston so no worries about the whiff. Enjoy your boots and your friend. There is nothing quite so empowering as a towering heel on a boot, I find!! Xx

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Thank you Theresa…the second day blessed us with bright blue skies and yeah those shop signs were cute. The entire town had beautiful architecture. Happy Thanksgiving! We are not doing much but it is a holiday and Adi needed it after unseemly hours at work πŸ™‚ xx

      • TheresaBarker

        Oh! Unseemly hours at work. Such a great phrase. Yes, we are having a quiet holiday with just immediate family; we have a tradition of making Cornish Game Hens (little chickens) instead of a big turkey – easier to gauge when they are done and each person gets their own little chicken! My 20-something daughter and her partner/boyfriend are making a pumpkin pie from scratch – including from the whole pumpkin – their 2nd ever, and I’m making my favorite Flourless Chocolate Cake. Have a great day! πŸ™‚

  • Mad Hatters NYC

    Lovely pics. Whereas I tend to strictly adhere to the rules (one of those), my longtime travel companions are notorious for ignoring the rules (suggestions, as I believed they understand them), regardless of the stern warnings and occasional scoldings they invite, in order to get that perfect shot. It used to make me cringe, though I’ve relaxed a bit as time has gone by. Besides, it’s not like you used flash on a light sensitive artifact or knocked over a priceless work of art in order to take a selfie. ?

    • Dippy-Dotty Girl

      Thank you Lynn. I adhere to rules but I do end up bending them here and there as you can see. Most usually because I forget them! πŸ™‚ And I can go to lengths for photos, selfies not included. I suck at selfies. xx

  • We Travel Happy

    I’ve been very busy lately and I missed quite a lot of your recent posts, so it’s nice to finally be able to sit down with my decaf and catch up on your blog. Nice post, nice pictures and you look gorgeous!

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