For most people, a road trip entails plenty of planning ahead of time. This normally includes hotels booked along the way, scheduled stops, and planned driving hours. When I headed off on a road trip from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls all the way to New York City, this was absolutely not the case. My friend and I hopped into my old Pontiac Pursuit with no maps, plans, or bookings. All we knew was that we had two weeks to figure it all out, and a half-downloaded map of the state on Google Maps. Looking back, it definitely wasn’t the smartest way to start out an adventure. However, it did lead us to discover some amazing places off the beaten path. Otherwise, we may never have stumbled upon the hidden gem of a tiny place called Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania.
The adventure all started in Canada, at the incredible Niagara Falls. We planned all along to sleep in the car, but when the time came to do so, we realized just how small it was. We reclined our seats as far back as they went and tried our best to get some sleep. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing ever, but as broke backpackers, it was surely our only option. Being the end of October, the car got quite chilly overnight. Anyone walking by would have seen what looked like a car packed full of blankets and pillows, as we tried our best to stay warm and comfortable.
The next day we headed to the Rainbow Bridge to cross the border into the United States. As our access to Internet dissipated when we crossed, it was now time to start figuring out where we were going. After several wrong turns and questions to strangers about the best highways to take, we were finally on the road just outside of Buffalo, New York. A couple of days later, we had crossed into the state of Pennsylvania. Things had gone smoothly so far, but when we drove into the tiny town of Delaware Water Gap, we knew they were about to get better.
At first, the plan was to stop to go to the bathroom and try to find an Internet connection before moving on. The first establishment we noticed was a huge, beautiful country club and hotel. It was on a golf course and right along the famed Appalachian Trail. When we headed in to inquire about the bathroom, we were greeted by some incredibly friendly employees. They were intrigued about our road trip and asked about our plans for the night. When we informed them that we were sleeping in the car, the two employees were amazed by our determination. Not only that, but they also decided to offer us a free room for the night!
The amazing kindness in this town didn’t stop there. We headed into the town to spend the rest of the night exploring, and we stumbled upon a whole community of kind, generous people. We spent the night at a local jazz club, one of the oldest in the country, where everyone welcomed us with open arms. The town seemed like a family, and they were all eager to hear our travel stories and learn about our plans for the road trip. After less than 24 hours, Delaware Water Gap truly felt like a home away from home. The next day, we headed on to New York City. However, we changed our plans in order to stop in the town again on the way back through Pennsylvania.