I think it goes without saying that I'm not one of the people who believes there's nothing to do in Scranton. Usually there are more than enough things to do in Scranton and the surrounding communities if only we choose to leave our homes. I'm often guilty of choosing my couch, a soft throw and a Bravo marathon on TV over going out. In fact, Friday night I did spend on my couch listening to the warm rain fall. But on Saturday and Sunday, I took advantage of the variety of good things that Scranton and its people have to offer.

On Saturday morning I met a friend to run from Mellow Park in Peckville to parts of rails to trails pathway in Jessup and Archbald. We passed the quickly moving Lackawanna River (or I should say, it passed us) and enjoyed the leaves on the trail and a bit of mud that we were tough enough to handle. In the evening I went to the Olde Brick Theater in my neighborhood of North Scranton, more specifically Providence section, to see original plays written by local talented writers as part of the Jason Miller Playwrights Project at Scranton Public Theater. Writers took their inspiration from the cross section outline of rooms that remains in the wake of the demolition of the former Pub Charles at Linden Street and Penn Avenue. Each participating author has written a scene set in one specific room in 'The Providence Arms' -- a nondescript, fictional boarding house in Scranton.I was so impressed with these plays. I laughed - a lot. I was moved. I felt sadness. I felt nostalgic for an era in which I never even lived. I really enjoyed the great writing, acting and directing that was not only showcased in Scranton but was created here as well.

On Sunday I took a shorter run by myself from my home in North Scranton to one of my favorite coffee places, Zummo's in the Green Ridge section of Scranton. At 9 AM the sun was already hot and I was feeling this short 2.something mile run. There I met a good friend and we chatted at an outside table over coffee and something healthy and rather tasty homemade granola bar. The coffee served here is the delicious Electric City Roasting Company coffee. You won't find another coffee quite like what this local company brews. And Zummo's provides the perfect setting where you can enjoy the flavor of the neighborhood as well as the coffee, watching families, couples and hip singles pass in and out - after church or a bike ride or a walk or carrying notebooks and laptops. While I was there I recognized a couple of talented female artists - one whose copper and glass work is sold nationally in catalogs and proudly displayed in restaurants and galleries in Scranton.

To finish my weekend I took my parents to Maiolatesi's Winery in Scott Township. It's not officially Scranton but it's a mere 7ish miles away. For Scranton and other northeast PA residents it's a short jaunt for views that are breathtaking and access to a fun way to spend a beautiful afternoon outdoors. Having been there before I knew about the winery's nice deck with glass tables and comfortable chairs where we would "picnic" with our food and the wine we would buy. To me it's very European to spend an afternoon sitting, talking, staring at the sky while sipping on delicious wine and tasting cheese, grapes and a fresh baguette. Maybe that sounds trite, pretentious or poser-ish but I really don't care. I enjoy it fully. My mom and I split a bottle of the Sparkling Viognier, which was cold and crisp and had just the right amount of effervescence. My father who prefers red wines, which research tends to favor for heart health when drunk in moderation, enjoyed some Cabernet Franc. I've been there with family and a variety of friends and I always have a good time. Maybe it's the wine talking but I think the sight of a beautiful sky and mountains makes me feel a bit more spiritual and very grateful to be alive to enjoy it all.

That's a weekend in Scranton.

I often get on what I call my "soapbox" when people insult my birthplace of Scranton. Scranton is not perfect (no place is) and of course it has its flaws. But what is definitely not true of Scranton is that "there's nothing to do," a phrase I've heard uttered by many who live here. Of course these folks and some others have often muttered much worse about the city through the years. Being more of a defensive person (yes I'm aware and I admit it), I tend to respond to these comments or even the hint of them by saying all of the great things that are going on here.  But why should I play defense when I can be on offense. I can talk about what I enjoy in the city of Scranton any time. I can put it out there and let people decide for themselves. But at least they'll have the information.This light bulb lit this afternoon when I finished a run around Lake Scranton - one of my favorite places to visit in Scranton. I thought why not take pictures and even record the places I think make the city great and then share them by posting them. I didn't photograph today but I will the next time I go there to run. In the mean time I can use words to describe it. The distance around is about 3 1/2 or 3 3/4 miles. I say "or" because, while I believe it is 3 3/4, I'm not positive. There's plenty of shade from beautiful trees to provide shelter from the sun and intense heat on really hot days, which is why I enjoy running there. And in addition to the shade, there are a few spots to stick your hand in refreshing fresh water to cool off as I did today.

I love that the path around the lake has a variety of people enjoying it. There are families, couples, friends and individuals all there to enjoy the beauty in their own way. Some take a slow stroll stopping to look at birds through binoculars or to photograph the water, the geese or the trees, others walk briskly for exercise, families meander with little ones and others run - some times going around twice or more. There are some pesky hills that make it tough to continue conversation with a friend. These are the parts of the run where I choose to be silent. Let's face it, my mouth is going for most of the rest of the run. And that's even when I'm by myself :-)   No, I don't talk to myself at the lake. It's enough that I do it in my car and at my house. I haven't begun doing it in public yet.

A warning to new comers about some waste: beware of the poop left by the geese. It's quite messy but at least it tends to be confined to one area near the large bridge. It becomes a bit of a mine field but I'd like to think of it as a fun obstacle.

Lake Scranton is beautiful in every season. When the leaves begin to change color it truly is beautiful to see the oranges and yellows falling from the trees, probably my favorite time at the lake.  And you can often catch a glimpse of deer crossing the path as well. Years ago when I was a teen-ager there were black bear spottings but I haven't heard of anything lately and I've never seen a bear.  If you like squirrels and chipmunks you're in luck. I won't taint this with my thoughts on squirrels. Let's just say they're not my favorite furry critters - to say the least.

If you haven't been to Lake Scranton, I recommend you visit. It's free and it's beautiful. You can get exercise in an idyllic setting. It sure beats the treadmill.  A couple notes: bikes, scooters, roller blades (any things with wheels) and pets are not permitted (Nay Aug and McDade Parks, which are also beautiful, do allow bikes and pets though so don't get excited).

I hope you enjoy the lake as much as I do. I think we're fortunate to have it!