The most relaxing place I have ever been to is a park in Pennsylvania called Cook Forest State Park. It is about one and a half hours south of our home. There is a very nice gift store, Tall Oaks, on the way down and we always stop to look around and sometimes buy an antique or gift. Once you enter the forest there are so many things to do. There is shopping, hiking, amusement parks, swimming, putt-putt golf, horseback riding and canoeing and a dozen other interesting things to do. There are lots of places to stay and several really excellent restaurants. It doesn’t look commercial while driving through the park because everything is tucked away.
My parents are from Pennsylvania so we would travel through the park several times a year and do some hiking or have a picnic. The year I was having my daughter, I went camping with my parents because my husband was away and we had a great time. My husband and I would take day trips with relatives to hike and picnic.
The first time my husband, daughter and I went to Cook Forest, we went with another couple and their children. I had made the reservations and had found a place that allowed dogs also. At the time we had a black dog that was a pound puppy and had the best personality I have ever seen in a dog. He would play hide and seek with the children and keep an eye on them constantly.
We drove up to the cabins and the reaction of the other couple was not good. The cabins looked very small and not that appealing. The first word out of the husband’s mouth was “Can we get our deposit back?” I wasn’t quite sure what to do. But I said lets find the owner and see just what we’re in for. That wasn’t an easy task in itself. The owner was no where to be found. We finally found her quite a distance from the cabins, at a house tucked way back in the woods and quite a few cats hovering around. She took us to the cabins where we would spend the next week.
We were pleasantly surprised when we looked inside. The cabins were very clean and came equipped with almost everything we would need. It was like playing house when you were little. The kitchen was tiny, the bathroom a stall and the bedroom was separate. In the living room there was a fireplace and a pullout bed from the couch where my daughter and her friend would sleep. Outside there was a fire pit and swing and it was very inviting. There was wood provided for each cabin and we would sit out until way into the night before retiring to bed. We cooked most of the meals over the campfire and it tasted wonderful. Waking up to the smell of the campfire was one of the more memorable things of the week. One day out of the week we would go to one of the restaurants in the area.
The week was spent doing miles of hiking and we would do a canoe trip that was three miles long. They also offer a ten mile canoe trip that we took on another trip and we also did tubing. Most of the time the water is just perfect and enough rapids to keep the canoe moving at a good clip. There are so many trails that I know we haven’t hit all of them even after twenty years or so of traveling down to the park. We would take the dogs, our friends had a dog also, on the hikes and most of the time had no problems. However, we happened upon a porcupine one trip that tangled with our friend’s dog, a black Irish Setter named Jake. Luckily, the wife had gone to school to learn how to become a veterinarian’s assistant so she came to the rescue. The dog was fine within a few hours. Putt-putt was just across the street and as we were leaving, the owner of the cabins came to us and said to beware of the bear that had been spotted in the area. That certainly sent up red flags all over the place. It also added more excitement to an already fun trip.
The times we spent in the park were precious. We came back very relaxed and couldn’t wait until the next summer to return. The last time we were there was the year my daughter started college. We tried to rent a cabin several times over the next few years but it was always a last minute decision and all the cabins were booked. We heard a few years back that the cabins weren’t available anymore. Times change and I suppose you can never go back but it was sure fun while it lasted.
From our backyard to yours, we can still build a campfire in our backyard and that’s something to be thankful for.