Growing up I spent lots of time at the mountains going to 8 bees out door club near Hazleton Pennsylvania. I really do miss going to 8 bees but no doubt at all that it’s changed and I’ve changed and it wouldn’t be as fun now as it was then. I had good friends there but I stopped going when I didn’t have a ride anymore. I went with my parents but mostly with my grandfather because my dad was always working. It felt more like home to me than where I actually did live. It was my happy place where my low vision just didn’t matter.
I even have fond memories being there when I was a baby sitting at the campfire at my grandfather’s trailer. I always think of the white birch trees, the smell of the ferns, blooming mountain Laurels. Can’t forget the colorful fall foliage. Anytime I see white birch trees it makes me think of that place
As I got older it was more going there with my nan and pop. My dad was always working. Really he worked himself to death. We Got to play on the hills which were really just the waste from the coal mines. Lots of rocks were played on. Can’t even count how many times we would try to build forts. Playing in the woods was fun too! My dad built us a tree stand. We learned to fish and got our own fishing poles. I still do like fishing but I don’t necessarily have the patience to sit in one place for any more than a few minutes. I really liked eating the fish too and It’s where I learned how good catfish are when Mr. Bonne told my dad how to cook it. It’s best with the skin still on it.
I guess that was around the time we started being allowed to shoot guns of course under my dad’s supervision. We were definitely taught gun safety and that that they are not toys. Basically it was you do anything stupid with it you’d get beat with it and not be allowed to touch it again. I remember being pushed to try it. He always tried to make me fit in. Eventually my brothers hunted a few times with him and I just went up there to hang out because TI’d be a terrible hunter.
By the time I was in middle school my dad was going ever couple weeks and being older me and Ricky had more freedom and we’d be off riding our bikes all day. My dad wanted to save money and get us mountain bikes. We were using old bikes that my grandfather collected from the trash.
By middle school we’d seen a couple of quads riding around and one of the people that happened to work where my grandfather did was selling a 3 wheeler. I guess that was around 8th grade I had most of the money I needed to buy it from cutting grass and doing the snack stand at Ramblers and bought the thing. We had lots of fun with that thing. Once I discovered mud and silt.
We were finally allowed to start swimming in lakes but only when my parents were around. Swimming in a strip mine is a lot different than a pool! You don’t float as easily.
When I graduated a friend happened to mention he was selling his quad. I had a good chunk of the cash I needed for it and got the rest for graduation. By that time it was ride all day and drink all night or some combination of the prior. I’d explore for miles and found some cool spots. I started a couple of trails that eventually became well used. The coolest thing was seeing a jeep pull out of one of the trails I started. There were all sorts of fun places to ride. It went from deep mud pits to soft silt to rocks and coal banks, tunnels under 81 and sand pits with everything in between. It was always fun trying to climb the steepest coal banks
It was sometime around this time I helped build a cabin for a guy and he gave me his old trailer as payment plus he supplied all the beer we wanted. It was in the field next to my dad’s spot. I had a few spots in mind but none of them were available for a couple of years. Finally I got my first choice and was getting it cleaned up and set up the way I wanted it. I’d found a bunch of bricks I was collecting to rebuild the fireplace.
I started hanging out with the guys and playing poker for change. Anything I ever won went into the kitty for beer and food during deer season. I’d stay the week for buck season even though I didn’t hunt due to my eyes. It was always a fun time!
My quad got stolen. I’m 99% sure I know who stole it for drug money. Maybe some day that person will admit to it. Same person had other shit of mine stolen multiple times too. Some other things happened that shouldn’t have happened and basically ruined the mountains for me.
The other thing that sort of took a lot of the fun away from camping there for me is there were several accidents. 100% preventable ones and those that should have been responsible tried to sue the property owners. Before that the rules were pretty much don’t be a dick and pay your dues. I paid $100 a year and it was a steal. Due to the accidents the owners had to at least tell you no swimming and that sort of thing.
I would love to hear from anyone that I knew from up there. If anyone stumbles on this page don’t hesitate to email me. I’m grateful for the bonners having that place available.