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Autumn in the Pocono Mountains

In another life, I lived where open spaces wed themselves to an infinite landscape.

In another life, the city was a speck on the imagination of a wilderness so vast, it yearned to meet the horizon and keep stretching itself further into the collective consciousness.

In another life…

Travel is the glue that binds us to alternate narratives of our own lives.

I grew up in a family that didn’t have the financial means to travel and so I traveled in my own mind to the parts of the world I would read about or come across in cinema.

Traveling as an adult has started to become a never-ending way to stretch my mind’s interpretations of places far past their previous limitations.

My version of America outside the confines of cities has always been shaped by others’ interpretations. Growing up in New York City, the rest of America has always been a daunting concept. Beyond its plethora of symbolic meanings, America is the wide-open unknown that yawns across huge expanses of the United States. It’s the sprawling wilderness that stretches north into Canada. It’s the stunning array of countries that extend beyond the United State’s southernmost points.

And so, when I got the chance to explore a small part of the over 2000 square miles that the Pocono Mountains region covers, my mind was swimming in previous interpretations of that hallowed part of Pennsylvania.

Decades ago, the Pocono Mountains area was referred to as The Poconos and in the New York City area The Poconos was advertised as a honeymoon shangri-la of epic proportions. The commercials I grew up with referenced jacuzzis in the shape of champagne glasses and the mere mention of The Poconos in conversation would incur an amused eyebrow raise and chuckle.

Armed with these rather peculiar and comical interpretations of the area, I set out on a three day journey with the Pocono Mountain Visitor Bureau. My aim was to photograph the Pocono Mountain area and their aim was to open my eyes and change my previous perceptions about the area.

I didn’t come across giant champagne glass shaped jacuzzis at all during my exploration of the area. What I did come across were miles upon miles of untouched wilderness in the throes of autumn, a striking array of outdoor activities, and a large variety of small and medium size towns and cities that intrigued me enough to put them back on my bucket-list of American towns to visit.

One of the highlights of my journey was having the conductor of the LeHigh Gorge Scenic Railway allow me to take photos from the back of the train. Train travel and trains are some of my favorite things in this world.

Here is a location guide to the photos in this set:

1 - Autumn foliage and railroad tracks seen from the . The poles on the right are the original telegraph poles used for early communication in the mid 19th century.

2 - Spectacular autumn landscape and view at

3 - Autumn hiking trail and bicycle path at

4 - The site of “the first commercial locomotive on rails in the western hemisphere” in

5 - Zip-lining through beautiful autumn trees at

6 - A view of the Delaware River at

7 - Autumn lake landscape at Woodloch Resort

View these photos larger and in a set here (click on each photo in the set to enlarge):


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Autumn - Pocono Mountains - Lake Teedyuskung

I had the fortune of getting a grand tour of the Pocono Mountains over the last few days courtesy of the who invited me and a few other photographers over to their lovely part of Pennsylvania to document the fall foliage and a wonderful assortment of places and activities in the Pocono Mountains.

This is Lake Teedyuskung which resides on the beautiful property of Woodloch Pines Resort. The has been in operation since the mid twentieth century is an all-inclusive resort that is home to a destination spa, championship golf course, and acres upon acres of absolutely gorgeous land full of hiking trails and lush forests.

We were taken on a boat tour of the lake on a stunningly beautiful and moody autumn morning. The fog had just lifted and the fall foliage framed the lakefront houses perfectly.


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The Hotel Hershey and the Hershey Wine and Food Festival - A Travel Journal

Last weekend I found myself in Hershey, Pennsylvania thanks to an invite by my friend Carol Cain who runs the travel blog: . We went there to attend The Hotel Hershey Wine and Food Festival.

The weather had just shifted from the last lingering notes of summer right into brisk, delicious autumn weather. It truly was the perfect weather for a road trip to one of the most beautiful hotels I have stayed at on the East Coast.

History of The Hotel Hershey

The was built in the 1930s and is a four-star hotel that sits on a scenic vista overlooking the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania. The architectural style is a mesh of Italian and Spanish influences.

Milton Hershey’s initial vision for the hotel was to mimic the style of the grand hotels him and his wife Catherine had enjoyed on their extensive travels around the world. When plans for an Egyptian style resort fell through due to exorbitant price estimates, Milton put his plans on for the hotel on hold. It wasn’t until nearly a decade after the death of his beloved wife that Milton decided to pursue building the hotel of his dreams.

Milton gave the architect D. Paul Witmer a postcard of a hotel he had enjoyed on the Mediterranean and from that postcard and his extensive travel notes, the Hotel Hershey took shape. (Source: )

In 2009, nearly 70 years after The Hotel Hershey first opened, a major $67 million grand expansion began. Ten new luxury cottages named the Woodside Cottages, a swimming complex, an ice-skating rink, several boutique shops, and an opulent new restaurant were added to The Hotel Hershey.

The Hotel Hershey in Photos

The first thing that you will notice as you enter the main lobby is the incredible Art Deco influences that dominate the interior design.

The hallways that lead away from the main lobby are lined with boutique shops where guests can shop at their leisure.

There is also a chocolate-themed spa on the premises (of course) called which includes treatments like: The Whipped Cocoa Bath, Chocolate Bean Polish, and the Chocolate Fondue Wrap. It is in relatively close proximity to some of the boutique shops so that spa guests can also shop while waiting for spa treatments.

One of the most outstanding areas on The Hotel Hershey’s premises is the Circular Dining Room.

Milton Hershey didn’t want any of the diners to have an obstructed view. To achieve a dining room without any bad seats, the Circular Dining Room was built without pillars or corners. It’s a stunningly decadent room.

A corridor that wraps around the Circular Dining Room:

Part of the recent expansion included a new restaurant called . Here is part of the building that houses Harvest flooded with beautiful natural light:

Woodside Cottage at Hotel Hershey

We stayed at the during our stay at The Hotel Hershey. Since it was only the two of us, we stayed in a (very large) individual room.

However, you can rent out an entire cottage which includes a great room, a grand fireplace, and cathedral ceilings along with four or six bedrooms. Each room at the cottages also includes a porch with rocking chairs (which I loved!).

Here is our cottage which was called the Pine Cottage:

The room:

The bathroom (Yes, that is a remote on the sink-top. It was to control the flat-screen television over the soaking tub):

Even the bath products are chocolate-themed: Cocoa Bean Body Scrub and a Cocoa Bean Bath Bar.

The Hotel Hershey’s Formal Gardens

The Wine and Food Festival was held outside in the Formal Gardens. The gardens surround the main building and sit between the main building and the various related hotel buildings on the premises.

The Hotel Hershey Wine and Food Festival

Carol and I attended several wine events during the weekend. The first night we arrived, we attended a wine-tasting session with Laurie Forster, . Here was our table overlooking a grand ballroom:

Not a bad way to start the weekend!

The next day, we attended a wine-blending class hosted by the Sonoma based .

Wine-blending is a science. I had never attempted it before. We tasted five traditional French varietals: Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. We then tasted Rodney Strong’s Symmetry which is a Bordeaux style meritage blend.

We then had to come up with our own blend of Symmetry. Here is what the table looked like at the beginning of the session:

…and here is what the table looked like after myself and the people at our table attempted to create our own blend of wine:

I would love to say that our blend came close to the complexity of the Symmetry blend we tasted but I am not going to front. I personally fell in love with the taste of the Malbec but couldn’t quite get it to blend with the other varietals in a way that would have been pleasing to the palate. We also struggled with whether or not to incorporate the Petit Verdot. In the end, we went through a few (extremely) failed blends before our table settled on a 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The final day of the festival included a grand tasting located on the grounds of The Hotel Hershey:

During breakfast, we had a wonderful conversation with a member of the Capponi family. The Capponi family has been running Villa Calcinaia in the Greve Valley in Tuscany since 1524. Here is our new friend with wines from his family’s vineyards at Villa Calcinaia:

There was a lot of delicious food to be eaten during the grand tasting like this Mocha Almond Opera Torte made by pastry team at The Hotel Hershey:

And these Caramel Apple Blondie Verrines were just the right combination of sweet and tart:

I also enjoyed this wahoo sashimi with pink grapefruit, sea beans, Szechuan chili oil, and truffle. It was a fresh bite with a good crunch from the sea beans and a bright finish thanks to the pink grapefruit:

Our time at The Hotel Hershey was sweet (pun intended) and for my first wine and food festival, it was a great experience.

But then, how can you really go wrong in a town where the street lights are Hershey’s Kisses?


I hope you enjoyed this travel journal. I have quite a few trips planned for October. I enjoy making posts like this so I can’t wait to take you along on those adventures as well!


* The photos in this post were taken with a combination of the Sony A99 and the Sony QX100 using my iPhone. If you are curious about the Sony QX100, feel free to check out my recent post:

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