STOCK PHOTO. I'M NOT A WINE DRINKER BUT I STILL SAMPLED THE CHABLIS AND ROSE. WHEN MARY SAW THE CONTORTED FACES I WAS MAKING, SHE UNCORKED A BOTTLE OF PINK CATAWBA AND SAID, "THIS WITCHY BREW IS A DELIGHTFUL SPARKLING WINE...THAT MEANS IT'S THE SAME THING AS CHAMPAGNE, BUT NOT FROM FRANCE." I THOUGHT IT SUCKED TOO.
We watched a montage of horror movies snippets during the quiz. I needed to make a calculated guess on a, "DARK SHADOWS," question but the rest were easy like; Eddie Munsters' middle name, the city that "PSYCHO," opens up in and the actress that played the bride of Frankenstein.
COMPOSED BY CHARLES GOUNOD, IN 1873.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Somewhere in the clutter of the most remote alcove of my garage, I'm certain that that unopened bottle of Pink Catawba crap is still in my possession.
On Saturday night, we missed the horse-drawn hearse, "HAUNTED HAYRIDE." But we came down in time for the big scavenger hunt. They divided us into five groups, our three-couple team was called the, "HOUNDS OF THE BASKERVILLES."
Mary gave us added incentive by declaring that each couple from the winning squad would receive a $25.00 certificate, good for hotel services. At that moment none of us took into account that we were all checking-out in the morning. So the "generosity" of the payoff was not only superfluous but unusable, (unless you came back in the next six months).AN ORDINARY HOTEL MIGHT HAVE STOPPED WITH VIRTUALLY USELESS GIFT CERTIFICATES...BUT NOT MT. AIRY. THEY LAVISHED THE WINNERS AND SECOND PLACE FINISHERS WITH REAL "KEEPERS"... SOUVENIR RIBBONS.
Mary, Meg and Maureen gave the same clues, in different sequences, to each team. I'm guessing it was because I was the only sober man that a redneck from Roscoe New York anointed me captain.
My team found the "raven" in the bird cage at the duck pond and "Igor's Lavatory," wound up being the men's room door, next to the arcade. Towards the end, we were stumped trying to find the, "39-STEPS." On a hunch, I led the team to the indoor tennis pavilion and started counting the stairs. The Roscoeman's girlfriend LuAnn was singing the, "MONSTER MASH," when he belched, "Shush, El Capitan is counting!" Somehow, I was able to maintain my concentration and find the final, winning clue...just ahead of the, "PHANTOMS OF THE OPERA."
In the morning, after a big breakfast, we packed and came down to check-out. We met the Roscoe couple on line. We agreed that the whole weekend was great. I said, "It's too bad the scavenger hunt prize was such useless bullshit." The man said, "LuAnn hoped to get a facial out it but we can't wait around till after noon." She pointed down the corridor towards the bowling alley and said, "But we got full use out of our certificate." He said, "On the way back from the beauty salon, we weren't thinking of food when we passed the snack bar." LuAnn said, "But I took a shot and asked if they take those stupid certificates...and they do." He said, "We have a long drive home. We got four sandwiches...to go. Plus, four sodas and some fruit...we'll have a picnic lunch in the car." Sue and I followed suit and felt like we actually won something.
We liked the Mount Airy Lodge so well that we returned two years later. The hotel was pretty boring because we had already done everything. Or what we wanted to do, like use the Jacuzzi, steam room or sauna, was no longer available. The only thing new was outside the theater, a "Starving Artist Sale." Even the concierge desk was gone. It was replaced with a "help yourself," rack of brochures for other local destinations. That's what inspired us to horseback ride and spend the next afternoon at the outlet center.EVEN STILL, OUR SECOND MOUNT AIRY GET-AWAY WAS GOOD. PERHAPS MORE SO FOR SUE...DUE TO THE 102 STORES OF THE "CROSSINGS OUTLET MALL," 1000 ROUTE 611, IN TANNERSVILLE.
I never thought I'd see the Mount Airy Lodge again but in March 1997, they advertised such an inexpensive deal that we thought it would be fun to give my three-year old a change of scenery.INDIRECTLY, THIS VISIT TO MOUNT AIRY HAD A HALLOWEEN THEME. THE HOTEL WAS SO EMPTY, IT REMINDED ME OF THE, "SHINING." EVERYTHING HAD GONE DOWNHILL. THERE WERE VIRTUALLY NO SERVICES. THE HEALTH CLUB WAS CLOSED, THERE WERE NO LIFEGUARDS AT THE POOL, THE HIGHLY PUBLICIZED INNER-TUBING MOUNTAIN WASN'T MAINTAINED WITH ARTIFICIAL SNOW...AND IT WASN'T EVEN STAFFED. FAR WORSE, ON SATURDAY, OUR ROOM WAS NEVER MADE-UP. THE HEIGHT OF OUR WEEKEND WAS TRYING TO FIGURE-OUT HOW TO USE THE BIDET...OH WAIT, THAT WASN'T WORKING EITHER.
This time around there were no headliners, the cute social directors and the holiday themes vanished and they fired the all the masseuses. The only added "amenity" was a fund-raiser bazaar for the Mount Pocono volunteer fire department, in the theater. To encourage customers to come, area businesses gave away key-chains, water bottles, pads, pencils and other chintzy advertising. We lasted ten minutes, (fourteen years later we still use our Cumberland County Bank jar opener).
Later, a gossipy woman told us that the Mount Airy Lodge had been cited for several health code violations...including an infestation of bed bugs, fire hazards from exposed wiring and failed kitchen inspections, (Kind of makes you wonder why she came). Then in an annoying nasal whine she concluded, "Even if you find someone to complain to, they all act like zombies."
The hotel was plummeting fast but wouldn't hit rock bottom for a couple more years. The escalating popularity of cruise ships and Caribbean tourism had a lot to to with their demise. But the final dagger in the heart was the new national fixation...gambling. So the allure of Las Vegas and Atlantic City made the less than sexy lodge, (still clinging to the memories of Bob Hope, Nipsey Russell and Connie Francis), teeter on obsolescence.
We got lucky because I'm not as tough as I seem. If I had seen nauseating creepy crawlies in our bed like that woman suggested, I would have gone bonkers. I would have been put in a straight-jacket and hauled off to an insane asylum. Instead, we were only exposed to cracked tiles in pool, horrible buffet-style dining and an acute lack of premium hotel activities and facilities.
After 1997, people all but stopped coming to the Mount Airy Lodge. The quality of the food was significantly cut. The chambermaid staff was greatly reduced and groundskeepers were almost eliminated. Then more terrible rumors about the lodge's safety and cleanliness surfaced. Finally in 1999, the Mount Airy Lodge closed it doors and went into foreclosure.
It's terrible to see the things we like die. But like a phoenix who rises from its own ashes, the self-imploded Mount Airy Lodge was demolished...and a new hotel/casino was built in its place. That might sound interesting but for a guy like me with thirty-two years of gaming experience...the new casino...is enough to scare me away.