Memories from the final road?
On the outskirts of Scranton, Pennsylvania, settling in for the night. A road trip moment.
We just drove through the Catskills, past so many places we remember from childhood. In those days, these mountain towns were home to the best resort hotels, Grossinger’s, and so many others. It was the upstate New York version of Las Vegas, sans gambling.
The hotels became the casualties of the huge cultural changes of the 1960s. By the late 1960′s and early 1970′s, all were gone. Their ghosts linger on … empty swimming pools, huge buildings filled with once-luxurious, empty rooms.
- Ghost lounges at Grossinger’s. Photograph by Steve Bley
I was expecting to see the same dingy, sad mountain towns … Liberty, Monroe, Monticello, Peekskill, Catskill … they always looked to me like they might have been lovely and could be lovely again. I was right. It just took a lot longer than I ever imagined.
The area has indeed come up in the world. Gone are those down-at-the-heels towns with boarded up main streets. Today the mountain towns look healthy and alive. Apparently time has wrought positive changes including sources of revenue other than hardscrabble farms. There are new buildings. These look like prosperous suburban towns.
As we rolled out of the Catskills around the edge of the Poconos toward Scranton, we hit rush hour traffic. Time to stop.
Finding a motel was interesting. Although I printed directions, I switched Richard (our handy-dandy GPS) on as soon as we were past Hartford. With a little coaxing, I prevailed on him to take us the way I wanted to go, so I could have maps to look at and a way to locate restaurants and motels.
There was supposed to be a Motel 8 around here. They are usually a bit less expensive than other chains, so I told Richard to take us there. We wound around the Route 81 and seemed to be going in circles, discovered the most dilapidated motel we’ve ever seen, said “No thanks!” and headed for what presumably would be a Motel 8.
A few minutes later, in the firm, authoritative voice we have come to know and trust, Richard announced “You have reached your destination.”
We looked to the left. A familiar sight greeted us. McDonald’s. Obviously not the motel. So, we looked to our right and indeed it was our destination. Ultimately. Just, not today.
It was a cemetery. A large, old, long-established final resting place. Although I’m sure they had room for us, we were not prepared for that destination.
I didn’t know a GPS could have a sense of humor.
So here we are at a Sleep Inn which while overpriced, is at least clean, available, and not the nasty place down the road or the waiting graves across from Micky D’s.
Tomorrow, Silver Spring. Happy Trails.