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  • Chris B

Appalachian Trail Conference – New Jersey and New York 2007

Rhonda and I got back from a 9 day trip to the Bi-annunal conference of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey. We left on Friday and camped in a very nice state park out of Clinton, NJ. We arrive at the conference site on Saturday around 9am, picked up our registration packet, moved into the dorm and went to the first workshop. We attend workshops Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Monday afternoon, we moved from the dorm to a ski area nearby. The conference planners had made arrangements to use the area for those that wanted to tent camp. The rate charged by the conference for tenting was about a fourth of the dorm lodging. The shower facilities were not that great and were not right at the camping area.

Tuesday, we went on an excursion with a group via commuter train to Penn Station and Madison Square Garden and the subway to City Hall Park and spent the day on a walking tour of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn Heights. It included a visit to the Ground Zero 911 site and Trinity Church, Wall Street, St. Marks Church, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, a ride on the Statten Island ferry and finished off the day with a great meal in Chinatown. We even bought ice cold bottle water from street vendors for just a dollar. This was my very first visit to the Big Apple. The commuter train and the subway was an exciting experience. I must admit I really enjoyed it all. In some respects it is like a big carnival.

Wednesday, we were signed up for a hike, but it was raining a little so we went to the Campmor store in the morning and to the New Jersey Botantical Garden at Skyland. It was on an old estate with beautifully landscaped gardens, fountains and grounds. We we returned to the camping area that evening, we found the tent on its side and the cots and bedding jumbled up inside. A few pieces were damp. Evidently, a shower accompanied with wind dislodged the tent which we had not staked down. We had to straighten one of the poles a little, but otherwise no harm done.

Thursday, we went to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. We rode to the site with a couple that was somewhat familiar with the area. We first toured the immigration facilities there on Ellis Island and then took a ferry over to the Statue of Liberty. There was significant security precautions in place to go into the statue. It is always fun and exciting going to places that one has read about or seen in magazines on television or in a movie.

We left on Friday and stopped off in Jim Thorpe, Pa (between Allentown and Scranton) to bike the 26 mile Lehigh Gorge Trail. There an outfitter there that provided a shuttle up to White Haven. They dropped Rhonda and a couple of others off part of the way up so they could do about 15 miles rather than the twenty-six. I caught up with her before we reached town. The outfitters also ran rafting trips down the Lehigh River.

We found the the town of Jim Thorpe (formerly Mauch Chunk) was quite interesting. It had the appearance of a little village in Switzerland. It was strictly tourist but very nice and worth anyone's visit. We stayed in a very nice county camp ground on Lake Mauch Chunk. The weather was very nice for mid July.

The only problem was that one of the campers nearby had a young female child that a problem. Not sure if she had a pain or a mental issue, but she cried and whinned until late into the night. I kept saying to myself and to Rhonda, don't the adults realize that it was annoying everyone around them. The parents could have easily take one of the vehicles and moved out to an area away from the campsites once they saw that the child was unconsolable.

Generally, we would take camping over a motel most anytime, but there are occasionally an incident or a situation that we'd rather avoid. One of those was someone talking way past the campground quiet time. This has occurred only a few times over our numerous nights of camping. One time in a campground at Locust Lake State Park in Pennsylvania a couple of men speaking some kind of Slovic language; maybe Russian, sat around their campfire and talked until midnight. We were tent camping at the time and they were no more than fifteen or twenty feet from where I was trying to sleep. I know it probably ain't very Christian, but I wasn't very quiet the next morning when I went about the task of fixing breakfast or breaking down camp.

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