My annual pilgrimage to the summer playground of my youth – Wayne and Pike Counties in Pennsylvania (aka the Lake Region) - was once again scheduled around another silly farce (this time a British one) at Hawley’s Ritz Company Playhouse – KEY FOR TWO by John Chapman and Dave Freeman.
When I left for PA – as usual via Routes 15 and 206 and across the Delaware to Route 6 – I did not have a room reservation. I was hoping to return to the newly renovated Fife and Drum Motel in Honesdale, but got no response to an online inquiry. I discovered that it was now known as the Delaware and Hudson Hotel, after the Delaware and Hudson Canal. Luckily they had a vacancy. I had read last year that the new renovation would include a restaurant. There was none yet, but construction continued where it appears the restaurant will eventually be.
As usual I ventured along Routes 6, 191, 590, and 652 in PA, visiting Beach Lake, Hawley and Honesdale, and Routes 52 and 97 in NY, driving through Lake Huntington and Calicoon and stopping at Narrowsburg. Nothing much had changed since last summer, although there was some construction underway in Honesdale and the Wagon Wheel bar and grill at the end of Route 652 near the intersection of Route 6, which I had passed hundreds of times over the past 45 or so years, was being torn down.
And, as this annual trip is all about relaxation (not a thought of the GD extensions and minimal thoughts of anything 1040), I spent most of the time reading the latest entry in Margaret Truman’s Capital Crimes mystery series and enjoying a cigar (they are much cheaper in PA – my first stop on each trip is the Tobacco Road shop) while sitting at the Observation Deck and along the shore at Lake Wallenpaupack and in the Tusten Veterans Memorial Park under the Narrowsburg Bridge overlooking the Delaware River. I even managed a few afternoon naps!
Breakfasts were at usuals Towne House Diner in the center of downtown Honesdale, Shirley’s Family Restaurant across from the Wagon Wheel on Route 652, and the Country Café, also on 652, in Beach Lake, and, new for me this year, the Whistle Stop Café across from Peck’s Market in Narrowsburg. For dinner I returned to old favorites Gresham’s Chop House (Veal Saltimbocca) across from Lake Wallenpaupack and the Towne House Diner (French Toast Ham and Am) in the center of downtown Honesdale, and tried two new restaurants in Beach Lake.
The first was Joe’s Ranch House Restaurant on Route 652, where Bernadette’s Seafood Restaurant used to be. As the name would suggest it turned out to be a steak and ribs joint, neither a choice for me. While the drinks were well made (not a Stinger this time) and the service was pleasant and accommodating (the waitress got me a dish of ice cream even though it was not on the menu), the Spaghetti and Meatballs special was nothing to write home about.
Over the years I have wanted to dine at the Beach Lake Inn, but it was either closed or not in the cards. I noticed that the Inn was under new ownership, and now had a separate bar as well (as I was finishing up at 7:30 PM a jazz band was just starting to play in the bar), and made sure to include a stop. I was glad I did! This is indeed a hidden treasure in the heart of “downtown” Beach Lake, just passed the Central House and across from what used to be the General Store/Post Office. The last time I was in this building it was a gift shop – that was over 35 years ago.
I had a delicious corn chowder, Caesar salad and Veal Parmigiana with baked potato, ending with Cheesecake. For a change I did not have to teach the bartender how to make a Stinger! The service was good, although the one young girl seemed to be overworked, and the price was very reasonable, especially for the Stingers. I have added it to Greshams Chop House as a “must stop” for future annual pilgrimages.
The weather was very pleasant. The gas differential from NJ to PA was minimal – I paid $3.47 per gallon for regular when I filled up at a “no frills” station a few miles before crossing the bridge and $3.55 per gallon for “self-service” at a Sunoco in PA. The big difference was in NY - at the first station I came across when returning home along the Delaware on Route 97, a Citgo, a gallon of regular was $3.99. Last year at this time it was under $3.00 in both NJ and PA and $3.05 in NY. I put a total of 534 miles on the car round trip and spent $57.00 for gas.
It was indeed great to get out of New Jersey and do nothing but relax. Unfortunately the GD extensions were still there when I returned Sunday afternoon.