We just got home from a lil' less than a week at the Poconos. My mother n law turned 75 in March and wanted as her present from her son's (she has three) that they & their families & herself go somewhere together. So the three sons pitched in to make it happen. We were there from Saturday July 11th til Thursday July 16th. Our family was going to stay til Friday but we had to get Cooper out of the kennel before 11 on Friday & didn't want to get stuck in traffic & miss getting home on time so we ended up leaving on Thursday night. Jim's family (Brian's youngest brother) owns a timeshare & was able to book the condo we stayed at & were kind enough to share it with us. Our family were kinda "tag-alongs". It was nice, because it took a lot of the "planning/stressing", not to mention "hotel" expense out of our hands. We were extremely grateful to them for letting us stay there. Brian/Emily/& I haven't really been on any kind of family trip all together since a quick weekend trip to Boston a few years ago so on top of being able to spend time w/ Pat & our brothers' families, it was just nice to have any kind of "family" vacation for our family. My mother in law Pat is a very "outdoorsy" type. She loves nature, traveling & doing hikes. It's a trait that runs in all three of her boys as well. So this trip consisted of a lot of hiking, trails, water falls, & nature. We even managed a little rafting on the Delaware River. It was really nice. I enjoy the outdoors too, but maybe not quite as much as they all do. Mostly because I'm not in the greatest of shape at the moment which made some of it a bit hard on me. (This trip was a good reminder for me to get myself in better shape....which is a lot easier said than done.)Pat had arrived on Friday & stayed with us at our home in NJ & drove up with us to the Poconos on Saturday. We got there in the late afternoon on Saturday & decided to take it easy that first night so we just ordered a pizza for dinner, & did a little grocery shopping for anything we still needed to pick up for the week. On Sunday.... Rob (The middle brother) would be arriving with his family of 5. They would be there from Sunday to Thursday. Their 3 boys are heavily involved in sports & this was what they needed to do to make it work. We were just grateful they could make it! It was really nice seeing them. They live in Ohio & we don't see them as much as we would like to. Anyway... we had decided that each of the families would make a meal. This way not one family was doing everything & we didn't have to eat out every night. On Sunday Debbie (Jim's wife) made chicken parm, with spaghetti & Italian bread, Monday I made BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, & corn on the cob and Tuesday Eileen (Rob's wife) made turkey taco's! Everything everyone cooked was delicious!!! It was a great idea & everyone felt like they pitched in & yet, could take it easy on the nights when they didn't have to cook! Brilliant! LOL! For my part, it was the first time I made pulled pork sandwiches, I was relieved when they came out really good!! I tend to get nervous when I have to cook for a lot of people.. you know will there be enough? Will everyone like it? Etc. I'm not used to cooking for so many people. But it all worked out. I made a really simple pulled pork recipe using of all things.... ginger ale! It was super yummy & moist... if I do say so myself..lol. Anyway... On Monday we decided to go rafting, since all of us couldn't fit on one raft. We split the families up... Brian, Emily & I went with Rob's family in a raft (8 people)& Pat & Jim's family were in another (6 people). I think everyone had a good time, I know our raft had a lot of fun!!! We sang songs, & laughed a lot! We tried our best to find any "white" water we could!! Which was hard to do, lol. The water was very calm! It wasn't the most exciting of water rafting but it was still a lot of fun!! We sang (& tortured our kids with a bunch of songs they didn't know...lol. ie: Gilligan's Island theme songs)& rowed & rowed!! We all stopped 1/2 way up the river trip to this little island & had a picnic lunch. We called it Monkey Island. Cause the night before Rob & John (our nephew) were sharing a story about their recent trip to Nicaragua & about a little island called Monkey island that was about the size of this one. Only 4 people were the actual rowers in each raft! Our group got a little competitive when for a brief bit, the other raft was beating us!! LOL! We blamed it on the fact that at that point our youngest nephew Mikey got out to swim & was hanging on to the back of the raft & dragging us down, so we lost some ground. We told Mikey he had to get back in so we could kick it up a notch... lol! We ended up passing them & never looking back.. lol! Not that it matters in the least but... we smoked them!!! HeHe! It was fun! The only little downside was that John was not feeling his best... he still had a bit of lingering upset stomach from his Nicaraguan trip. But he was a real trooper & took it easy & made it down the river just fine. We all went back to our condo & ate the pulled pork which was cooking all day in the crock pot & watched American Ninja Warrior on television!! I think maybe some people played a game too. It was a fun day! We weren't sure what our plans would be for Tuesday because they were calling for rain. It was an annoying rain cause it was very intermittent. Each family kind of did their own thing that day.... Rob & his family + Pat ended up going to Camelback & zip-lining. Our nephew Patrick & his mom Debbie stayed at the condo to work on Patrick's school assignment, Jim & his two other kids went fishing & Brian, Emily & I did a little exploring & had lunch at this great place called Dale's!! Super Yummy! Recommend it if you are near Camelback Ski Lodge! We all got together that night at Rob's condo for taco's & a rousing game of Apples to Apples. Emily really enjoyed that game, a possible Christmas idea! Everyone seemed to have a good day, well except I'm not sure if working on a school assignment was Patrick's idea of fun! Poor Patrick. Wednesday we planned on doing a little hike with all of us. (Various family members did a few little hikes on a few of the days thus far) while some of us would be getting showered & stuff... but this was our "first" organized hike with everyone... but when we woke up on Wednesday it was raining pretty heavily which put a crimp in the early day hiking plans. Jim/Debbie & family decided to get in a little outlet shopping since there was a big one near by. Our family hung at the condo until the rain subsided & then we went w/ Rob's family to hike some water falls which were about a 1/2 to 3/4 hour away. So much fun! We had no idea what to expect but the waterfalls were really cool, we even saw a bunch of deer on the hike up to the falls, & lots of people were even swimming in them. Our adventurous nephews were over the moon I think & Bryan our one nephew even went across a big log that had fallen over the river & sat on it! He seemed to be quite happy out there! I was happily surprised that Emily was having so much fun on this hike as well!! She didn't complain at all & actually was enjoying it a lot!! Emily usually isn't much of a nature girl..so it was great to see her having so much fun outside! Everyone enjoyed themselves, & I think my husband Brian was really happy! He really enjoys hiking & I think he liked that we were all there together doing this. I was too. Everyone got back together Wednesday night & we cooked up burgers, brats, & sante fe green pepper sausages on the grill & had an outdoor bbq at the park/swimming pool area at our condo resort. Afterwards we went back to the condo & some of the family played another game of Apples & Apples. Brian, Rob & I opted out this time to let the others who didn't play last time get a chance to play... we had a nice time chatting though. Around 10pm we said our good byes to Rob/Family as they would be leaving the next morning. Thursday morning was a quick breakfast of dunkin donuts, & coffee. (& Just for fun... I threw in a little emotional breakdown) I can't really explain it I think I just needed a good cry I suppose. I got over it fairly quickly though. Anyway... Jim & his family went to do zip-lining in the morning after breakfast, while our family went to see another lil' water fall near the condo called Buttermilk falls. Afterwards we played mini golf & had a quick lunch of pizza. That afternoon we ended up going to Dingman's Falls with everyone except Debbie & Christopher who were really wiped out from the zip-lining. Who could blame them? I would probably have been too tired too. Anyway... we ended the day by taking Jim/Debbie & everyone out to dinner as our thank you to them for sharing their time-share with us. It was our way of saying thank you! We left soon after dinner (ofcourse we couldn't resist an ice cream invite from Jim/Deb & boys!!) But after that we got on the road. We were really missing our new puppy Cooper sooooo much!! We could not wait to pick him up on Friday morning! Jim/Debbie & their boys along w/ Pat would be leaving on Saturday! We had a great time & most importantly I think PAT had a great time & Birthday present!!!!! Which was the most important thing!