The American Chronicles: Finding Jim Thorpe

The American Chronicles: Finding Jim Thorpe

As we were winding our way through the backwoods in Vermont toward Rutland to visit our niece Megan and her husband Bill, we crossed over the Grand Canyon—the grand canyon of Vermont, that is. Chris, Service Dog Charlie and I got out and braved the speeding local traffic to walk out on the bridge for a view of this breathtaking overlook of the 165-foot Quechee Gorge, cutting through the Ottauquechee River. Then on to Megan and Bill’s. Great visit and a wonderful lunch cooked by Megan while Bill and I watched some college football. We were so excited to be with them we forgot to take the customary family photo before we left. The fam will probably pull our family membership card for that.

From Rutland, we continued a ways to the Lake Bomoseen campground for our overnight before heading back home. The 2,400 acre Lake Bomoseen is the largest lake entirely within the boundaries of Vermont. The overnight there was very peaceful—no cell service, no internet…meaning no television. Well, camping isn’t what it used to be! I guess this is really called glamping. Up early the next morning and all ready to go when one of our camping neighbors frantically was waving at me to stay put. Seems I had forgotten to raise up the levelers beneath the van. It’s a wonderful thing—how the campers look out for one another. Levelers up. On our way to the next stop. We try not to travel more than 200 miles a day. There is good reason for that. This leg toward home, however, was about 325 miles to get to the campground at Tamaqua, Pa.

It took us almost six hours to get to Tamaqua. The last 40 minutes was winding around through the remote hills and valleys of Pennsylvania’s coal and logging country in the Pocono Mountains. We hadn’t eaten since our early breakfast and we were tired and hungry. All we really wanted was to sit down at a restaurant and have a nice meal. The check-in guy at the campground told me there was a restaurant about two miles away. We got there and it was closed. So Chris found a nice bar-b-q place. Another 7 miles. We got there and it wasn’t quite as advertised. It was a food truck and the rain started coming down. She found yet another restaurant about 8 miles away. That’s when we discovered Jim Thorpe.

The Burrough of Jim Thorpe is this really neat town that served as a rail center for coal and lumber. Victorian architecture, a train station, just a gem in the middle of nowhere. Got its name when Jim Thorpe’s widow essentially negotiated the burial of the Olympic athlete there. Old town. Narrow streets, especially for our RV. I couldn’t make the turn up the street to the restaurant, so I had to back around and try to park along the street while holding up traffic. Found a place and began parallel parking. Chris and Charlie were in the back, supposedly guiding me. Then I scraped against a street sign. I think Chris was so tired she was just watching like she was watching a bad movie. Anyway, we got parked and walked up the hill to the restaurant, which was…closed.

Now we are not only tired and hungry. We are both getting a little grouchy. Maybe more than a little. Walking down the street, it starts to rain heavier. We stopped and asked a goth-type girl who was working at one of the shops if there were any restaurants open. She said, “I’m not really sure. It seems most of them have closed.” Great help, Captain Obvious. I happened to look across the street and the best place had an “open” sign. It was the Inn at Jim Thorpe. Beautiful Victorian with all the trimmings. We took a seat on the balcony outside because the music coming from the pub inside was so loud—great singer, but loud. We had a very nice dinner, got over our hunger and grouchiness. And hurried back to the RV in the rain. Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without murmuring and disputing.”  Uh-huh. Turned out to be a great day.

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Bill Wilson