Yesterday Danielle and I went to Pine Creek Gorge, about 2.5 hours away from Wilkes-Barre. It is sometimes referred to as “The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania” although it isn’t as in-your-face majestic as its desert counterpart. To get there you have to take back roads that snake along turquoise streams and rivers, freshly threshed corn fields and various spores of unpolluted towns. We finally get there, hoping to find a road that will take us to a lookout point, only to find that we inadvertently drove to the bottom of the canyon. We see a sign advertising CANYON VIEW with another sign juxtaposed saying Private Property: Violators will be Prosecuted, Mauled, Quartered, Halved and Wholed.
Annoyed but undeterred we reset the GPS, which is now freely giving us a roundabout way to get there. We drive through a desolate state park where everything is called Happy Acres. The only residents of which can be found at the shooting range down the road. A couple rusty metal bridges later and we’re back on what appears to be a main road, slowly weaving our way up the mountainside past melting lakes and stillborn trees. The route becomes more indirect, leading us to dirt roads that apparate before our eyes. I wonder how anybody found anything before the invention of turn-by-turn direction. Hilly corn fields begin overtaking the trees. Before long all you can see is blue sky and yellow ground. It almost feels like it’s the end boundary in a video game. If you tried to walk toward it you’d hit a wall or a warning saying Turn Back!
We finally reach the lookout point. It’s cool to see blueprints, fossils of the last ice age. At least that’s how I imagine the canyon got here. There are steps that lead down, enabling multiple perspectives of the canyon so you can get multiple pictures to eventually filter the natural out of. At this height, the tiny specks you normally see from the ground take shape of massive hawks, gliding along a gust. Up here, we also saw what we believe to be turkey vultures or some other kind of red-headed bird of prey/convenience.
I pose so Danielle can take a picture, me chilling on the railing in the foreground, a precarious drop and bumpy landscape in the back. While she is doing this, I hear the sound of settling in a tree. I turn around and, about fifty feet away, perched in a tree, is a Bald Eagle.
I’ve never seen one in the wild before. It just sits there. I project a smug aura onto the bird. He’s a maverick; unbranded, untouched. He perches in this tree for about ten to fifteen seconds and then he leaps out, stretches his wings, and takes off. A few moments later, two vultures flock by in the opposite direction of the eagle. They settle on a rock. Defeated, I imagine. Danielle and I head back to the car.