To winter sports enthusiasts, Pennsylvania looks like a giant welcome mat. Of course, you may need to brush off the snow to read it - but that's part of the appeal.
Snowshoeing is an up and coming sport that doesn't require special skills: if you can walk, you can snowshoe. And kids especially enjoy snowshoes shaped like dinosaur feet, Robert Baldassari of Skytop Lodge reports. In fact, this family-oriented Pocono resort features everything from a ski school and ice-skating pavilion to horse-drawn sleigh rides and igloo building.
Fishing, too, boasts a pair of wintry variations. The more familiar version entices avid sportsmen-and sportswomen-to head for the lakes with chisels and drills. "There are five rules to ice fishing," John Wiediger explains. "Numbers one through four are 'safety,' number five is 'have fun.' Always test the thickness of the ice near the shore. It should be at least four inches thick."
On weekends, campgrounds fill with motor homes pulling snowmobile trailers-and the forests roar with activity. Locals such as Atwood and his wife, Karen, prefer to take less congested weekday rides. "You might come across only four or five other riders all day. I spend a lot of time in the woods throughout the year, but it's different in winter," Karen says. "I'm not interested in speed, but looking around. The wildlife is amazing! You can see deer and turkey, and sometimes even watch a grouse drumming a mating call."
Those who prefer a quieter method of outdoor exploration often take to the woods on cross-country skis. "When you downhill ski, gravity does all the work," Pennsylvania Cross Country Skier's Association president Rick Garstka comments. "Cross-country skiers appreciate a different aesthetic of the outdoors. The sport covers a wide range of ages and ability levels, and is relatively easy to learn. Also, you're not locked into one performance level. The tempo can be a relaxed jaunt, or you can take your heart rate to maximum levels."
For many skiers, though, the sport is synonymous with speed. The close proximity of Pocono resorts prompts travelers to head for the slopes nearly every weekend.
The advent of snowboarding has brought a change in culture to Blue Mountain Ski Area, as well as resorts across Pennsylvania. And if balancing on boards seems excessively challenging, it's still possible to catch a wild ride down a mountain: Snowtubing accommodates anyone with basic sitting skills. All play and no work sounds like a perfect formula for winter fun.
While every sport has its own vernacular, snowboarding's constantly evolving vocabulary is particularly colorful. Examples of the lively lingo:
Bust: Basically means "to do" but more emphatic, as in "Watch me bust huge air!"
Jib: To ride on rails, logs or anything other than snow. (Avoid jibbing on other snowboarders.)
Mc Twist: Turning upside-down with two full rotations. An inverted trick that would make most people McSick.
Punch: To crash. This one should be avoided.
Steeze: Style. Hearing, "Dude, you've got mad steeze!" is a good thing.
Oh, and by the way, Patois means the special jargon of a group