Gee! ography

Sunday, May 06, 2012 Road Junkies 0 Comments

On the History Highway, Day 53:  Oneonta, NY to Wilkes-Barre, PA

On this spectacular Sunday, we veered into the EXIT ONLY lane on the history highway and found ourselves heading south on a geography journey.  We started the day searching for a couple of letterboxes in Oneonta, but both turned out to be hidden in singularly unsavory locations.  After finding the first behind a restaurant near the garbage and used grease storage (yuck!), we bailed when we discovered that the next box by the same planter would take us onto what was clearly private property in an overgrown area near abandoned buildings.  Fool us once, yes, but not twice.  Starbucks seemed a better idea, but the only location in Oneonta was in the student union on a college campus and didn't open until noon, so south we went.


Although we realize what a pest it is, the lowly dandelion provided some beautiful scenic vistas as we drove through the foothills of the Catskills.  Broad fields of yellow blooms at the feet of rolling tree-covered mountains.  The blue sky contrast completed the picture perfect scene.

Shortly after noon, we took an inventory of our grocery holdings in the car in search of lunch, since none of the towns we were passing through seemed to be filled with healthy offerings.  We came up with an apple and a raw sweet potato, both of which we peeled and sliced.  Add some raw almonds and seeded multigrain crackers, and we've got lunch.  Though we both were happy with this meal, we laughed, musing that no one else would probably have found it appealing.

When we started the day, we still had letterboxes to plant in New York, New Jersey (yes, we were going to get close enough to get this one checked off), and Pennsylvania.  Having discovered a point on the map where all three states meet, we thought it might be fun to hide the three boxes within close proximity to each other but in different states.  Ken had determined that Port Jervis, NY, was the place to find the tri-state marker, so we set the GPS for that location.

New York-New Jersey Boundary Marker
A drive through Laurel Grove Cemetery on a peninsula in the Delaware River leads you to a spot under an I-84 bridge across the river.  Beneath the bridge is a New York-New Jersey boundary marker, put there in 1884.  About 75 feet away is the tri-state marker on the shore of the Delaware River allegedly marking the place where New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania join, even though the actual border is said to be in the middle of the river.

We were fascinated by all the activity in this popular tri-state area.  Another couple was there when we arrived, and the guy, a congenial New Jersey native, told us about a photo of himself taken on the tri-state monument back in the 1980s, when he was in his teens. He insisted on taking a photo of us sitting on the marker, ensuring that we positioned ourselves so that the marker could be seen.  Nearby a dad and his two daughters were trying their hand at fishing, while couples romancing in the adjacent parking lot came and went.

We're in three states!
Finding no likely place to hide our letterboxes near the tri-states site, we thought we'd put the New York box in Laurel Grove Cemetery.  However, the burial yard was a study in contrasts.  In the area around the graves, grass was neatly clipped and meticulously maintained, making it difficult to find a location to hide a letterbox.  On the other hand, the periphery of the cemetery was a hotbed of poison ivy, not a great host for a letterbox either.

On to plan B, or maybe it was C, by now.  Across the Delaware River was a very special location-- the highest point in New Jersey.  And there was even a state park to commemorate it.  We were really just looking for a place to plant these boxes at this point, especially the New York and New Jersey ones.  Tonight's resting place was in Pennsylvania.  If we didn't find a home for the NY and NJ boxes, we'd end up taking them home with us.

New Jersey High Point monument
Frankly not expecting much, we were blown away by New Jersey's High Point State Park in Sussex.  From the summit at 1,800 feet, the view is a panorama of rich farmland and forest in three states.  At the top is a 220 foot obelisk, completed in 1929.  During the summer season, visitors can climb to the top for spectacular views of the Catskills to the north and Poconos to the west. 

Of course, we couldn't resist searching for a letterbox planted near the apex.  By the time we found it around 4:30, we had to skip the other two boxes planted in the park and return to the task of finding homes for our own NJ and NY boxes.  Since Ken has an affinity for the Appalachian Trail and it traverses the park, the combination seemed the ideal fit for our NJ box.  None of the other boxes in the park were near the AT, so everything fell into place.  The NJ box found an cozy home along the legendary trail.


But we still had to locate a residence for our NY box because we were about to leave the state.  We tried tracing the AT into NY, but it was only a very brief stretch and totally unsuitable, as the trail wound through an ocean of poison ivy.  What to do?  What to do?

In the nearby town of Unionville, we located a charming village cemetery.  As in the other New York cemetery we visited earlier, everything seemed to be either obsessively manicured or covered in poison ivy.  Finally, Ken pointed to the perfect spot, and our letterbox slipped right in, a perfect fit.

At last, we were free to go to Pennsylvania.  Our drive down I-81 in both New York and Pennsylvania today proved to be just as picturesque as that highway is through Virginia.  We finally arrived at our hotel in Wilkes-Barre around 7:30 with two boxes planted and Pennsylvania still to go.  No problem.  As Miss Scarlett said, "Tomorrow is another day."

Today's Stats:

Mountains:  237
Bugs hitting our windshield:  7,291
Rejected sites for letterbox plants:  6
More Photos from Today

View from NJ highest point
Fishing at the busy tri-states area