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Wilkes-Barre, PA: First impressions

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Last weekend, Sarah and I went to Wilkes-Barre, PA, where we are moving, with the primary goal of finding a place to live. We flew to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre airport (by way of Chicago), rented a car, and got in to our hotel room late Friday night.

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Scene at O’Hare International Airport

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Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport


“Meditation Room” At W-B/Scranton Airport

Saturday morning, we woke up and I peeked out the window to get my first glimpse of the area during daylight hours. I saw a bunch of chain stores, and mountains in the distance. Pretty damn cool, since I didn’t really get to see the mountains at all the night before.

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First glimpse of Wilkes-Barre

To get to our appointments, we had to drive across town on 309, one of the major roads. This gave us some great views of the city and surrounding area.

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Wilkes-Barre, as seen from 309

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309

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Bridge across the Susquehanna River

We spent Saturday touring apartment complexes and rental houses and calling others to attempt to find something suitable. Frankly, it was pretty frustrating. Even the apartment complex we thought would be a pretty safe bet turned out not to be a good option at all. Some houses were decrepit, in bad neighborhoods, or both. In the process, we did get to see a lot of the area and got to know our way around a little bit. We were mostly interested in living in Kingston, a smaller borough right across the Susquehanna River from Wilkes-Barre.

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A Kingston neighborhood

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Looking toward Edwardsville, and the mountains

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Looking down on the valley from the top of a hill

We also spent some time in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

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Someone painting a mural

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Staircase

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YMCA

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Osterhout Free Library

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Inside the library

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Another shot inside the library

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Church

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The square, downtown

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Around Town Bicycles

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Bike Shop Parking Only

We eventually found a good place to live in Kingston — we’ll be renting half a duplex, 3 bedrooms, two stories, plus basement and attic, and a small fenced yard for the dog. All for the same price as the 2-bedroom apartment we have now.

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The front of the house. Left half is hours.

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Back yard (fence to be completed, debris cleared away)

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Our neighborhood

We also managed to go for a couple of drives in the mountains while we were there. The fall colors are a lot further ahead there than they are here. One drive included a precipitous gravel road up the side of a mountain, with some switchbacks and quite steep sections, and even some rocks forming small rock gardens in the middle of the road — driven in our rented PT Cruiser. Man, that car sucks. But it survived. And we only nearly hit a couple of deer.

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View from near the top of one mountain

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Mountains

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An industrial complex nestled in the mountains — strange juxtaposition

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Driving through the Endless Mountains

We only got a small taste of the beautiful country in the area, but it’s certainly whet my appetite. I’m excited about cycling there, but some of these roads are just incredibly steep, for a long time. I’ve got a real challenge cut out for me.

Moving!

Friday, September 26th, 2008

I have some big news. After almost six months of searching and sending out 40+ applications, Sarah has accepted a job in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (pronounced like “Wilks berry”).  It was a long, arduous search, but I’m proud of her for sticking with it.

Wilkes-Barre is a city of about 40,000 people in eastern Pennsylvania, although it’s part of a larger metro area with Scranton and some smaller towns. It’s situated between the Endless Mountains and the Pocono Mountains,  about 2 hours from New York city, and two hours from Philly.

At this stage, I don’t know a lot about the city, or the area, but I’m learning. I will keep the job I have and work remotely. (I just realized this will mean no more commute! Horror of horrors! Oddly enough, I’ll actually miss my commute.)

I’m very excited about her job, and about living in a new place near some mountains, and exploring the area. It’s bittersweet, though, because we also love this area, and we’ll miss our families, friends, and riding buddies.

This will also mean finding all new cycling routes and mountain biking trails … I’ll miss some of the rides we have here, but I am betting that the mountains will provide all kinds of fun new challenges. I’m used to hills, and I enjoy them, but this will be taking it to the next level.

Also of note, we’re moving just late enough that I will be able to do my favorite ride of the year here, the Brown County Breakdown. It’ll be one last excellent hurrah with my mountain biking buddies (until I come back to visit). I won’t be able to ride the Hilly Hundred, but while that is also a fun ride, if I had to pick between the Breakdown and the Hilly, I’d choose the Breakdown every time.

It looks like we’ll be going to Wilkes-Barre next weekend, hopefully, to look at apartments and whatnot. It’s hard to believe this is really happening. It’s very exciting.

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