Sometimes I like to bend the rules of Somewhere New and see an old friend. Jonathan and I take turns driving the windy back roads of Pennsylvania to visit each other every so often. For the month of October, Phil and I packed up for a long weekend in the mountains at Jon's.
I'm not a fan of Halloween. I started loosing interest in it about as soon as I started loosing teeth. Don't get me wrong, I still liked candy, but Halloween just seems so terribly contrived. So devoid of any real culture. As a teenager it was an excuse to stay out really late with friends running around the neighborhood. As a young 20 something it was an excuse to drink excessively. I just wasn't into it.
And yet the peer pressure to dress up and show up is high.
And actually, that's how Somewhere New started in a way. That first trip to Boston in 2011 was a protest against a party I didn't want to go to. Not because I don't like my friends. Because I don't like what Halloween has become. Where are the scary movies? The all night pumpkin carvings?
The celebration of past spirits and the embracing of current life?
Getting together in costumes and drinking doesn't fulfill any part of me.
I know this view isn't popular though so I chose my getaway location wisely by choosing to spend my time with another self-styled social curmudgeon.
We visited the budding Penn State Arboretum one evening. We watched old, silly scary movies. We carved pumpkins and ate my famous butternut squash mac and cheese. And generally we just gave Jon a big ole dose of socialization that he is usually too studious to seek out.
One thing I insisted on doing was taking a hike in the untapped wilderness of PA. We chose Bear Meadows and did a long winding hike through the tall laurels and up to the vista of Indian Wells.
Bear Meadows - which gets its name from the common inhabitants of the area - is actually a bog, not a meadow. The area is unique in its variety of trees which are usually found further north - things like Balsam Fir and Yellow Birch, but it actually has strong feelings of the south too. Walking the trail from the parking lot, as you start to climb, you enter a dense forest of laurel that stretches well above your head. Every so often Phil would let out a "Hey OH!" to ward off any roaming bears.
The hike is about 6 miles with a pretty good climb that empties out to a rocky outcropping and a great view of the fall foliage.
|Ground Cedar sporting strobili|