Like many New Yorkers, I am not native to The Big Apple. As a young teenager, I knew I wanted to eventually leave behind my suburban life for the bright lights of “the big city“. With a pitstop in Philadelphia for undergrad, I did just that and landed a job in New York City right after graduating. I’ve called NYC home for over 15 years now with the bulk of that being in Brooklyn. I love to visit with my family back in Southern Maryland but I have never regretted making the move to NYC. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, raising my kids in the city has been awesome. However, every New Yorker will tell you that it’s great to escape the city from time to time. With the recent global pandemic of 2020 that shut the city down, those escapes became a necessity for many.
My husband and I represent the quintessential divide of those escaping NYC: the beach folks or the woods folks. This is best represented in a t-shirt I just had to buy when I saw it from a boutique hotel in Phoenicia, NY called The Graham & Co. The t-shirt reads “Catskills vs Hamptons”; the Catskills representing “the woods” and Hamptons “the beach”. I am of the beach variety and my husband is all about being in the woods. Over the years, my husband and I have taken turns with our local summer vacations to be fair. One year we’ll do “the woods” which includes upstate NY and Catskills Mountains area. The next year we do “the beach” traveling out to Montauk, NY and staying at fun spots like Breakers Montauk.
We have always thought about getting a vacation spot at “the beach” or in “the woods”, but that desire came to the forefront with the global pandemic of 2020. Thinking of booking a few weeks at an AirBnB or Vrbo during the pandemic made us realize how much sense it made for us to just move forward with our idea to get our own vacation home. For versatility and drive time, we started to look at “the woods” for our very own getaway. We instantly started looking in and around the Catskills Mountains. We looked at modest cabins and even plots of land that we could put an Airstream on (what an adventure, haha). Our property excursions occupied most of our weekends during the Summer of 2020 which was a welcomed breathe of fresh air for us and our kids after being on lockdown during the Spring of 2020. But we started to lose steam with finding “ok” spots but nothing really worked out for us. We also weren’t the only ones trying to escape NYC so it was totally a sellers market.
Lo and behold, we received a recommendation to turn our sights away from NY and check out spots in Pennsylvania. My husband is originally from central PA and he was the biggest skeptic of us going in this direction at first but, we figured why not take a look. After lining up about 5 places in one weekend to check out, we found our new little getaway almost immediately. It was the second place we looked at, it had a great price, was located in a lake community, and only a 2 hour drive from Brooklyn! We couldn’t be happier with our decision!
What makes our little getaway spot so great is how excited our city kids get when we arrive. They head straight to our open backyard to explore and see what’s new from our last visit. Our property line backs up to protected PA state woodlands so it’s trees, rocks, and branches to climb for days. I love the ease I feel of letting them just run outside which takes me back to my own youth visiting my great grandparents house “in the country” as we called it. It’s reminded me of the fun and beauty one can find in nature. The other great thing about having our vacation home is actually coming back to Brooklyn. Don’t get me wrong, we love reconnecting with the outdoors and getting fresh air, but my husband and I have a new found appreciation for the city we call home. The restaurants, museums, and the ease of walking anywhere we want to go when in Brooklyn has a new glow when we come back from a weekend away.
Over the past year, many New Yorkers made the escape from the city more permanent by leaving all together. I totally understand why some people felt the need to leave. The global pandemic and city shut down was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It taught people a lot about themselves and what they can and can’t tolerate with being in a city environment. For me, the city shut down reminded me of all the things I love about living in Brooklyn but had taken for granted. If we decided to move to our woodland escape permanently, I know I’d miss the buzz of the city I yearned for back when I was a teenager because that city spark hasn’t left for me. I’d miss being able to walk my kids to school or running into a friend while walking in my neighborhood. I’d miss “that feeling” of Spring in Brooklyn when we hit those first few days with the temperature in the high 60s. I’d miss cracking my windows open and hearing the cars going playing music and the first Italian ice carts sighting. I’m sure if we only had our Brooklyn apartment for our family of 4, I’d be booking weekend getaways every month but I couldn’t happier and more thankful that we get to have the best of both worlds. I love you Brooklyn!