Travel stories: the Poconos

We cranked down the car windows, letting the hot summer air blast our faces.

“Ready?” Husband said, glancing in the rear view mirror.

“Yeah!” Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka, ages seven, five, and three, hollered from the back seat.

“On the road again,” we belted out, “Just can’t wait to get on the road again, the life I love is making music with my friends, and I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

We sang the next part of Willie Nelson’s song with Husband’s amended lyrics. “Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway, we’re the best of friends as long as we do things my way, on the highway, on the road again.”

We had already spent a week in New York City at my brother’s place in Queens, venturing out each day to perform our touristy duties of consuming pasta in Little Italy and making Flicka’s wishes for a funky haircut come true in a basement salon somewhere in Greenwich Village. We narrowly escaped the temptation to purchase miniature turtles at a shop in Chinatown, opting instead for paper parasols and silk pajamas. And we took the Staten Island ferry to Lady Liberty’s place to say hi.

The car now gobbled up the miles along I-80 until we caught sight of a chalet, our timeshare for the week, nestled in the Pocono Mountains.

“‘Nobody puts Baby in a corner’,” I quoted Patrick Swayze’s famous line from the 1987 flick. “Fun that the movie was set here.”

“Pretty sure it was the Catskills,” Husband said.

I circled back to the eighties. “I think you’re right.”

We climbed forty-plus steps to our lodging, dumped our luggage on the living room floor, and the girls scattered to their new rooms. But Dicka took a spill, catching her nasal septum on the edge of the coffee table. Blood pulsed from her nose.

“Oh, wonderful.” I darted into the kitchen, grabbed swaths of paper towels, and returned to the scene of the accident where Husband was cupping his hands under the deluge.

The bleeding finally stanched, we tugged on our swimsuits and set out for water. We located the pool, teeming with vacationers, and jumped in. My ducklings, clad in swim wings and goggles, bobbed in the deep end with Husband and me.

New York accents mingled with Southern drawls. And was that German? Italian too? A sampling of the world floated in the pool along with us.

“I’ve never seen a suit like that before,” Flicka said, gazing at a Muslim girl in full-body swimwear.

I nodded. Then I peered at the water and wrinkled my nose. “And I’ve never seen so much hair in a pool before.”

Husband cringed. “Can’t be good for the pool’s filter.”

The next morning in the fitness center, I lowered myself into another pool for aqua aerobics class. My classmates, a handful of older ladies decked in floral swim caps and Long Island accents, chattered amongst themselves, their raspy voices betraying their habit which I had seen them stub out into the ashtray by the door.

We worked our arms using Styrofoam noodles, gripped the edge of the pool for our leg lifts, and hop-twisted—Jack LaLanne style—through a few songs. The women chitchatted again during the cool-down, and I wondered if I could: 1. say ‘Larry’ in a Long Island accent like the woman who so often mentioned her husband, and 2. find a swim cap as cute as any of theirs.

“Let’s run to Blockbuster,” Husband said when I returned to the chalet.

Since the family was ready to go, I slipped on my long grey sweater over my swimsuit and trekked out the door with them. We drove to a nearby town, but as I stepped inside the video store, reality smacked me: we were no longer in a resort, and my attire was utterly inappropriate for the setting. What was I thinking, not getting dressed? I squared my shoulders, closing my sweater tightly around me while we perused movie titles.

We found more than an afternoon’s worth of entertainment and proceeded to the checkout line. A male voice wafted to me from behind.

“Ma’am? Ma’am?” said the voice.

Was he calling me? I turned to face a young man. “Hm?”

“Your dress is up, ma’am,” he said, like he was pleased to save me from embarrassment.

My face heated. I extricated the hem of my sweater from the leg hole of my swimsuit—how had it gotten there anyway?—with a harrumph. “Thanks.”

I whirled to face forward again. ‘Your dress’? It’s a sweater, thank you very much, I felt like saying. To cover my swimsuit, if you don’t mind.


We remember our trip to the Poconos in 2007 as one of our favorites. We’ve still never witnessed a nose gusher like Dicka’s. “Ma’am? Ma’am? Your dress is up, ma’am” is a well-worn quote in our house now. And I shudder every time we recount stories of the hairy pool.

But would we go back to that timeshare in the Poconos? In a heartbeat.


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*Names in this blog have been changed to protect my family, neighbors, and friends in the neighborhood, and in a nod of appreciation to the beloved Swedish author Maj Lindman, I’ve renamed my three blondies Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka.