Sometimes as the 58 year old kid, you have to treat yourself to life’s wonderful pleasures that are not muddy, adventurous, snowcovered, or viewed from underneath a smelly sleeping bag in a tent. This was the case this weekend when Janet and I went to the Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, Pa. This woodland retreat was created in 1927 by C.G. Dorn as a wonderful family camp to enjoy for years as a respite from the rigors of the oil business. The family built cabins for each of their children and enjoyed hunting and fishing for years until 1995 when they opened it up to the public. Fast forward to the fall of 2009, the Dorn family decided to put the property up for auction and two of their regular guests, Cliff and Tracy Forrest, had the vision to buy Glendorn and not let it be sold into parcels of land. The Forrests have put their heart and soul into the place as evidenced by their induction into the exclusive membership of Relais and Chateaux. http://www.relaischateaux.com Only the finest hotels and resorts are in this directory and you can appreciate this as you wander the grounds and see the thoughtful way the place is landscaped and the cabins are appointed.
As Janet and I approached the black iron gates in our Jeep,which recently hauled mulch and firewood, I tucked my shirt in and announced our presence to the staff who were waiting for us. We were shown to the Dale Cabin built for one of the Dorn sons. This was our second trip to Glendorn and it was our 25th wedding anniversary. The accomodations did not disappoint as each cabin has it’s own flavor and decor consistent with the history of the retreat. As we wandered to the Big House for our lunch, we were greeted by a friendly staff and escorted to a table in the dining room with a great view of the brilliant fall foliage. The fresh flowers on the table adorned with white linen tablecloths and napkins, were welcoming along with the beautuful silverware and utensils. The cuisine is prepared by Executive Chef Joe Schafer and his unique style of menu is second to none. To show you how good this guy is, my friend Cliff gave us a tour of the kitchen and presented a country ham to Joe to prepare for the breakfast menu for the next day. Now if you know anything about country ham, you know that it is like a catcher’s mitt that has been salted to death and is stored in a dry place. It is big in the south and when the boss says to prepare it for the next day, you better know what you are doing for the guests. Joe was spectacular and even prepared it with the traditional red eye gravy and grits. Pretty good for a guy that can prepare world class meals in the Pennsylvania wilds. Cliff even dropped the damn thing in the parking lot but I will tell you, it was good. Dinner was unbelievable and the fresh bread and butter with black sea salt was so good, I remarked to my wife that I would like to swab the butter dish with the warm sourdough bread. But I envisioned the whole dining room staring at me in horror with fixed eyeballs if I had done something like that. Hey, at least I wouldn’t lick the butter dish? But again, Jan’s filet, my salmon and the soups and desserts were to die for as we made our way to the two story fireplace which was lit for us to enjoy. The opening of the fireplace was circled with a stone archway that was protruding from the wall and Cliff told us that when a Dorn became engaged, they had to walk that stone protrusion above the opening of the massive fireplace. Up and over the arch and down the other side. Lots of accidents Cliff said, but part of the great fun with the Dorns and the traditions that they have instilled in the place.
Janet and I hiked and explored the trails which was pretty adventurous seeing that Janet had broken her elbow hiking six weeks ago. But she was game and the beauty of the place was spectacular. We even did a little skeet shooting this weekend under the watchful eye of Cliff and his Orvis endorsed staff. I am not a good shot. I can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a bag of rice, but I had fun trying. You can fly fish here with excellent instruction. Mountain bikes are available for exploration and in the winter, there is cross country skiing, showshoeing, and just up the road is Ellicottville, NY which has loads of alpine skiing opportunities. But if you just want to walk and explore the grounds, that is really relaxing and you can really soak in the atmosphere of this storied 1500 acres. You almost feel as if you are back in time especially if you take the time to read the history of the Dorns at their special retreat. I laughed at the sense of humor of C.G.Dorn in a series of published letters to his best friend bound in an old book on the desk in our cabin. Cliff and Tracy have respected that heritage and kept the history of the place in tact with references to the Dorns and their way of providing rest and comfort for their guests.
Perhaps the most impressive thing abount Glendorn is the attention to detail. The training of the staff is superb as they concentrate on the little things. They serve you coffee with the logo on the mugs facing you and the handle on your appropriate side. The cabins are serviced twice a day. You can go out to fish, hike, etc., and when you return, your bed is made or turned down and everything is tidy as if you had just checked in. Fruit, wine and cheese, snacks, are all available in the rooms in the lodge and the cabins. Really, there is nothing that you can desire because the attention of the staff is so keen. Cliff does not allow tipping. He and Tracy feel that the service should be excellent without the incentive of monetary compensation by the guests. For the 58 year old kid and his bride of 25 years, this was a wonderful getaway. We were sad when we had to drive the Jeep through the black iron gates on the way out, but I said,” Dear, wasn’t that wonderful? I will definitely bring you back here in another 25 years.” Just kidding dear……………. we can’t wait to get back. Check it out and definitely go there. http://www.glendorn.com
As we met our friends for pizza when we returned, we laughed and said,” Well, back to reality.” But, you know, sometimes you just have to appreciate the finer things and “go for it.” That is what good memories are made of and celebrating a wonderful life with my wife couldn’t have been at a better venue. Thanks for reading and go to Glendorn.