On and Off The Mountain/Stephanie Grubert

I rely on my MacBook Pro for my weekly writing and for surfing the web for news, shopping, Facebook and record keeping. When the trusty laptop is not available I go into plan B. This week the battery charger died. Yes, just stopped working and I only had 30% of a charge left. Luckily this week there are three other Apple laptops of various vintages in the house and the one I am writing this column on just came back from a keyboard repair from Jason Percival at NEPA Geeks on Friday night.

This particular laptop I gave to my grandsons almost two years ago when I upgraded. The kids use it mostly for games, but Microsoft Word was still on it and also some old On and Off the Mountain columns from three and four years ago. It has a familiar look and feel and I am thrilled be using it this week until the new charger is delivered. Technology is constantly evolving with machines getting faster and programs more full featured, but the five year old I relied on this week is just fine.

End of July

We are almost at the end of July with this edition. Sunday night’s rain was a godsend. The soil was so dusty and dry and now we have a reprieve. The newspaper mulch is working around the squash, tomatoes and beans but the uncovered areas are thirsty. There’s nothing like a soaking rain to perk up gardens and lawns. I picked huge bags of yellow and green beans, an abundance of broccoli and a few peppers to make a huge stir-fry last week. I used some purchased colored peppers, onions, carrots, and cherry tomatoes to brighten up the mix. Now is the time to enjoy the fresh seasonal produce.

Happy Anniversary Ruth & Quentin

I want to wish a Happy Anniversary to Ruth and Quentin Heller who celebrated 50 years of marriage on July 21, 2014. Ruth and Quentin have owned and operated Heller Orchard in Wapwallopen for most of the 50 years of their marriage. Apples are the main crop and you know how healthy they are for us. The Heller’s sell peaches, plums, nectarines and 100% Fresh Apple Cider. When you stop by be sure to congratulate Ruth and Quentin.

Family Time

Mark Grubert and his friend Elizabeth Rostan came to Mountaintop for the weekend. Thunderstorms on both non-stop flights between Charlotte NC and Wilkes Barre caused arrival and departure delays for Mark and Liz. We enjoyed an abundance of family time and Charlie and I cooked up some nutritious and delicious breakfasts and dinners.

I went for my usual daily 3-mile walks out of our development and down Heslop Road up to the Pennsylvania State Gamelands sign. The route is beautiful and I have seen wildlife several times there in July. The rest of the family made two separate treks to the old now sealed railroad tunnel that is located about a mile north of the former Rice Township Fire Company buildings. There is a nice road, now covered with grass but easy to walk on or a hiker can get to the tunnel by taking one of the logging roads further up through the gamelands and around a small lake dammed up by beavers.

The tunnel was built through the mountain and carried the Laurel Line electric rail train from Wilkes Barre to Hazleton until it was shut down in the early 1930’s. The highway cut for I-81 north and southbound lanes sealed the tunnel from the western end during the construction of the highway in the 1960’s and now has a special gate installed to protect the bat habitat in the dark moist tunnel. It is just like the sound of the trains in my head, when I enjoy a walk on the new Black Diamond Rails to Trail in Wright Township. There are an abundance of wonderful places to enjoy a walk in Mountaintop.

We had a nice campfire and s’mores roast on Friday night. We have a small portable fire ring that is perfect for the occasional festivity. So far this year the mosquitos and deer flies have not been overly abundant. The birds are probably eating them.

Family Bear Siting

Saturday night just as we finished eating dinner on our screened in porch a large black bear trotted into the back yard and then retreated into the nearby woods, when he detected that we had spotted him. The bear took a right turn into the woods and came out to our Wilderness Drive road and then walked up the long hill toward Heslop. Patrick Dicus quickly pulled out his mini iPad and got a couple of shots, which were promptly posted on to Facebook. It was my first bear siting this year. I always love to see the animals from a safe distance.

The Dicus children went to UK Soccer Camp last week up at the Mountaintop Soccer Complex off of Church Road. There is a large new building onsite that will serve as a concession area and for equipment storage. Soccer is the biggest sport worldwide and Mountaintop has plenty of interest. The fall soccer season will soon be here and the newly invigorated soccer campers are ready for the challenge.

Mark Grubert headed back to Charlotte on Sunday and the Dicus family went to the Francis Slocum State Park pool. I stayed home to freeze beans and relax in the shade after my walk. I think you call it a staycation, at least for the weekends.

We are looking forward to the Hobbie Carnival this weekend. Diana Bloss and her army of volunteers put on a wonderful three-day event. Diana says the tractor pull on Saturday brings in the biggest crowds. Our family enjoyed the food and all of the children’s games last year. The music lent a festive tone to the bazaar.

The biggest bazaar of the summer is coming up August 8, 9 and 10. In addition to all of the yummy food choices, awesome basket tent, and games for the kids the First Annual St. Jude Parish Rummage Sale in the St. Jude School gym during the 2014 church picnic. Rummage sales were the staple of Altar and Rosary fundraisers years ago and like garage and yard sales offer a variety of trash to treasure items. St. Jude’s Picnic is a huge event and well worth a stop.

Golf-R-Rama The golf season is in full swing.

Last week I took my nine-year-old granddaughter Kate for a lesson in driving, putting and then playing a few holes at Blue Ridge Trail Golf Course. Kate was very attentive and when she got the ball airborne several times she was ecstatic. All golfers no matter how young or how old feel their hearts leap when they get that perfect shot up into the air. Golf is a sport you can enjoy from childhood to old age.

With the Wright Twp. day camp ending this week, the Dicus children will have more time for golf. The Grubert Golf Camp is next up.

The Tuesday night Blue Ridge Ladies league has only about a month left of their season; however, a post season Ryder Cup tournament is planned for September. I will be co-chairing Ryder Cup and now I have to learn all about it.

Blasting Continues The Route 309 blasting project

continues and is about half done. A major portion of the mountain adjacent to the northbound lanes is gone. You have to pay close attention when you are driving either north or south on the single lanes now open on what used to be the southbound lanes, but you can steal small glance of the clearing as you ride by.