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By the light of the silvery moon


February 24, 2011

I love astronomy, and Moonlight Drive is just around the corner from the house, but a blurb I read in The River Reporter calendar had me curious enough to venture a little farther from home to observe the heavens with other like-minded folks.

The Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC), located in Dingmans Ferry, PA, offered me (and a few unsuspecting friends) the opportunity to join forces with a group of nature lovers on what was described as a “short hike to a scenic overlook to watch the full moon rise.”

The gathering, which is but one of many the organization offers year round, sounded like fun—and in many ways, it was. Approximately 25 adults and children, ranging in age from four to 70, gathered at the center,

PEEC, in cooperation with the National Park Service, is the largest residential center in the Western Hemisphere for environmental education. Listed among Renew Americas Environmental Successes, PEEC ( peec.org ) has also been singled out as a Pennsylvania Outstanding Conservation Organization. It’s mission is to foster “environmental awareness, knowledge and skills through education in order that those who inhabit and will inherit the planet may better understand the complexities of natural and human-designed environments.”

A museum, gift shop and hands-on exhibits greeted us as we milled about introducing ourselves and preparing for the “short hike.” Our guide, Jessica, gave a (brief) outline of what was about to transpire. Thinking that I had done my homework (with an advance call to ask pertinent questions), I was surprised that there had had been a few hiccups of miscommunication.

Although I had been told that sturdy hiking boots were a good idea, the mother with an infant strapped to her back and thegrandma who had been told that sneakers were “fine” for the trek were both a bit surprised when it became apparent that the “easy, beginners walk” was actually two-and-a-half miles each way, riddled with snow (duh), ice, streams and a highway or two to cross.

It wasn’t long before the group realized that we were getting more than we had bargained for, but we soldiered on through muck and mire, since really, there was no turning back. As nightfall approached, questions regarding “How much farther?” and “Does anyone have a flashlight?” filled the night air.