Hoof it up north. Declare fasts from nicotine and Facebook. Plunge into neglected political texts. Hike those trails, swim away accrued tension in the indoor pool. Sleep in. But most important of all: attack the novella outline, build up that world. These were the ideas behind my trip to Mount Pocono over the holiday weekend. None of it took.
My hotel, attached to a dead restaurant, was under renovation; black and yellow “CUIDADO” tape complicated access to the lobby through poorly-conceived automated doors. An adjacent continental breakfast area was designed for a off-off-off season crowd. From the parking lot, tolls leading to the Pennsylvania Turnpike beckoned. Everyone seemed nervous.
Across 490, a McDonald’s, but a glance into a trough beyond the guardrail revealed the shattered corpses of McDonald's’ signs past: the reds fading, the text bleached white and protruding. In the other direction, a haggard Holiday Inn Express frowned upon its own dead satellite eatery. Anyway, Donald Trump was finally imploding and I was incapable of disengaging from my phone.
An agonizing Saturday morning gave way to a tolerable Saturday afternoon, the sky the color of drying cement. 490 is a two-lane back road with posted highway speeds; it’s a must if one is to get anywhere non-corporate. The brilliant fall foliage—breathtaking, almost blinding—passes in a blur. A lot of Trump yard signs; a lot of “cash only” businesses.
Francis E. Walter dam lay at the end of a three-mile long gauntlet of vicious reds, yellows, and oranges, dumping down into a dusty, cracked basin that would make a perfect backdrop for a Ford F-150 commercial. Rocky ridges contemplated me as I stood cranking my neck at the intake tower and raised highway. Families fished at the water’s edge. It’s an area where visitors cannot help but feel puny, insignificant. Take a picture, maybe three, run away.
Pawing through Listen, Liberal or dipping in and out of podcasts, I couldn’t focus any more than when I was at home. The window of my room revealed a wall with sunlight peeking through at the highest edge, a glimpse of parking lot. For whatever reason there were multiple families with small, unruly children on the same floor. Shuttered businesses receded into the woodwork, awaiting snowfall. Graffitis encircled dead electric signs. The trees will outlive us all.