Posts Tagged ‘getaway’

Rafting season is underway on Pennsylvania’s Lehigh River in the Poconos Mountains

June 30, 2010
Whitewater Challengers Rafting Trip

Rafting down the Lehigh River, even the Class I trip had some fun rapids on this Dam Release weekend © 2010 Karen Rubin/

Rafting season is underway on Pennsylvania’s Lehigh River in the Poconos Mountains.

Major thrills and whitewater are a short getaway away.

We were completely surprised by the quality of the rafting on the Lehigh River, which cuts through Lehigh Gorge State Park.

Whitewater Challengers, one of the biggest raft operators in the area (they send out some 350 rafts a day), offers a superb program – 16 trips with up to 20 rafts a day, satisfying for those who want a tame, swim-splash-fun trip delightful for families, to those who want to a true challenge.

The most exciting trips are on Dam Release weekends, when the river provides Class III rapids.

The rafting here, on a Dam Release weekend was plenty fun.

Their method is to have the guides accompany in kayaks, so somebody on the raft is designated to steer. That got to be me, and was the most fun about the trip on the Class I river (the easiest).

I was green with envy, though, as I watched the kayakers coming down, some on sit-on-top Ocean Kayaks like my own. Next time, I will try that, and this portion of the river would be a great place to learn whitewater kayaking, where you have to learn how to do a quick in-water release.

Whitewater Challengers has the most amazing set-up, tucked into the woods about 30 minutes from where you begin your rafting.

So when you arrive and register, you get a bus “transfer” that is color-coded for your trip; you pick up your life-jacket. If you forgot anything (sunscreen, hat) there is a well-equipped store. You can rent a wetsuit (we didn’t need it the day we rafted). It is all so extremely well organized.

While you wait, you can have breakfast there (pre-paid or pay-as-you-go) underneath a pavilion.

You get to look around – there is a camping area (there were a load of boy scouts when we visited); a zip-line course in the trees.

Whitewater Challengers also offers mountain biking trips – and you can combine various adventures together.

We took advantage of coming the day before the rafting trip to sample the 25-mile rail-to-trail gravel path through the Lehigh River Gorge State Park which follows the river (we saw rafters going down from a different company that operates right from White Haven).

Whitewater Challengers operates some 16 rafting trips with up to 20 rafts per trip.

In addition to the rafting trips on the Lehigh River, Whitewater Challengers also operates rafting trips on New York’s Hudson River Gorge, from North River in the Adirondacks (which can be a Class IV trip, depending upon season), the Black River Canyon out of Watertown, Salmon River out of Pulaski, and Middle Moose River, out of Old Forge.

Contact Whitewater Challengers, 800-443-8554,

Read more and see slideshow

– Karen Rubin, Editor & Publisher

Travel Features Syndicate

Getaway With Surprises to Red Bank on the New Jersey Shore

November 5, 2009

We just discovered a fabulous getaway destination a mere 1½ hours south of Manhattan: Red Bank on the New Jersey shore. We found one of the most fabulous 7-mile biking trails on Sandy Hook, part of Gateway National Park, that is so scenic and so interesting, and even more so because of a long history as a fort (you can see battlements that were revolutionary in their day, from 1890s and buildings that housed soldiers) that spanned the eras from the mid-1800s, through World War II, the Cold War and the Missile Age. It also has Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse, dating from 1764, not to mention gorgeous sandy beaches, water on both sides, and a popular destination for fishermen and birdwatchers.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse

Sandy Hook Lighthouse dates from 1764 - just one of many surprises on the Sandy Hook bike trail (c) 2009 Karen Rubin/News&PhotoFeatures

After biking, we went into historic Highlands, enjoyed a delightful lunch on the water at the Inlet Café, before exploring Twin Lights, a phenomenal lighthouse which turns out to be the first place where Fresnel’s lens was used (and after that, Congress made it the standard illumination for all lighthouses). It’s also where Marconi demonstrated his wireless invention. The structure is fascinating, and you can climb to the top for an amazing view – in fact, it is the highest point (we are told), on the Eastern shore – and for that reason, has been an observation post for military and commercial reasons since Colonial times.

Twin Lights

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the riverfront Oyster Point Hotel – recently renovated and thoroughly contemporary and charming. We especially loved the patio with plush sofas and pillows, where we could enjoy morning coffee and croissant. It also has a fitness center, beautiful lounge. The views of the river (especially from our room, 510, on the highest floor), are just glorious (


Its sister property, the Molly Pitcher Inn, just around the corner, is completely different in style – it dates from 1928 and is very traditional, but shares the same quality of excellent service and elegant guest amenities. It also has an outdoor swimming pool (in season).


The village of Red Bank is charming with red brick sidewalks, planters, and whole blocks of Victorian buildings dating from the second half of the 1800s, and lovely cafes with outdoor dining. We were surprised to see two music shops – Jack’s Music Shoppe, and a guitar store and all sorts of boutiques, not to mention various and sundry investment banks and brokerages that are very telling about who lives in the neighborhood (hint: Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi).


What is more, you can reach Red Bank and the Atlantic Highlands without a car – take a ferry from Manhattan (, or by North Jersey Coastline train from Penn Station (

 Check out the full story and photos at