Balderramas Back East – Phase 2: Jim Thorpe, PA

After our wonderful time during Phase 1 of our trip, we set out on Sunday to make the 2+ hour drive to the Poconos Mountains, specifically, Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania, for Phase 2. This phase was the focal point of our trip, as it was the first time my siblings and mother had gathered together in over two years.

My sister found and coordinated a VRBO home just outside of Jim Thorpe that accommodated all 15 of us (7 adults and 9 kids) – a fantastic find. Each adult/couple had their own room and bed, while the five oldest grandchildren slept in a room with two bunks and a twin bed. The three-floor house also featured a nice game room on the basement level with a pool table, foosball table, and shuffleboard. Usually, that would be awesome, but with so many kids under 10, the pool balls became magnets of destruction that quickly had to be hidden.

Of our six-day stay, I spent three of them working remotely, while my family ventured out to explore and enjoy Jim Thorpe and the surrounding area. Rather than give a day-by-day chronology of our trip, I’ll share some highlights of our time together in this house in the woods, reflecting just how quickly the week passed, and what a blur it became.

Decorating the house for my mom’s birthday

The whole basis for this trip was to celebrate my mom’s birthday (as she had one ending in a “0”). On the first night, after my mom and all her grandchildren went to bed, my siblings and I went downstairs to blow up balloons and decorated the main level. We blew up dozens of balloons and balloon words, then snuck onto the main level and found ways to hang them that didn’t involve using any tape. The evening was filled with lots of laughing, creativity, and fun. Everyone woke up to a fun surprise.

An image of the main floor of our vacation rental, with balloons that read "Happy Birthday 70", "Love You Wow", and other balloons draped over the television on the wall.

Riding the Train

We took a trip on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway and took in some of the beautiful scenery. The kids absolutely loved the train and being in the open-air car. The ride was the perfect length to keep the attention of 7 kids under 12. It was great seeing the Poconos Mountain countryside, but I’m honestly partial to the Royal Gorge Route Railroad in Colorado.

This video of Clara taking in the training experience stole my heart.

Family Photos

On Tuesday evening, we connected with a photographer to get some full family shots, venturing out to this pasture next to a lake (I’m sorry, but I don’t recall which one). The scenery was very majestic and I think we got some great shots. We were also reminded just how challenging it can be to photograph young kids in an unfamiliar setting. Our photographer was extremely patient with the kids, but we definitely had to temper our expectations. I’m anxious to see how they’ll turn out.

Just hanging out at the house

We had tons of fun just all being under one roof. The kids played a ton of Just Dance on the Switch, with most of them not being able to beat Dax, their 4-year-old cousin. Throughout the day we ate and drank well, played lots of games, laughed, relaxed, and just enjoyed having everyone together.

Sadly, the end of the week, and Phase 2, came all too soon, and I had to say farewell to two of my siblings as they ventured home. We all packed up our things and headed out, towards the next phase of our trip: Ocean City, Maryland.