How ya feeling?
Odds are, not as peppy as you‚??d like to be and really, really cold.
It‚??s no secret to NEPA dwellers that these months that are awash in gray skies and even grayer snow tend to make one feel lethargic and borderline depressed.
There‚??s an actual name for this feeling: seasonal affective disorder (or SAD, appropriately enough). But just because it‚??s got a technical title, does that mean it‚??s something that absolutely has to occur?
Nope, according to Dr. Michael Church, a professor in the psychology department at King‚??s College. He and Dr. Charles Brooks, a recently retired King‚??s professor, wrote the book ‚??How Psychology Applies to Everyday Life,‚?Ě and in it, the pair explored SAD and its possible causes.
‚??There‚??s this notion that during winter there‚??s less light, making people more susceptible to being depressed as a result,‚?Ě Church said. ‚??That, in itself, sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy. After a while, it‚??s an expectational sadness: ‚??Here comes winter; I‚??m going to get sad again.‚?? People passively give in to it. If they find themselves bored, they then find themselves feeling sad or bad.‚?Ě
Church and Brooks lean towards a different reason for the gloominess, something that can actually be controlled by the individual, unlike lack of sunlight.
‚??What we really found is that people‚??s lifestyles change dramatically during the winter,‚?Ě Church said. ‚??One of the big things is that there‚??s less activity scheduled ‚?? no church bazaars, weddings, vacations. People tend to live their lives in the Northeast more so between April and October.‚?Ě
Church said this is due to factors outside of the weather itself.
‚??Winter becomes more expensive in terms of heating costs, so there‚??s not much extra to go out and do things. It also tends to be more annoying; you wear more clothes, there‚??s more stuff to carry around, and people become irritated.‚?Ě
Though it may seem the cards are stacked against you in beating such misery, there‚??s one simple solution: get moving.
‚??People who stay active, who work out, take vacations, get together with friends, and don‚??t give in to the winter are happier,‚?Ě Church said.
Thankfully, there‚??s no shortage of things to do in the area, from actual winter sports (for those who can bear the cold) to indoor activities (for people who prefer to stay away from the outside altogether).
Though it may seem unsavory to step out into the cold and snow, some people actually relish it. Enter: skiers, snowboarders, and anyone else not afraid to scale a mountain then, subsequently, fly down it.
Sn√∂ Mountain at Montage (1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton, 800.GOT.SNOW, snomtn.com) and Jack Frost Big Boulder (1 Jack Frost Mountain Road, Blakeslee, 570.443.8425, jfbb.com) are two places to satisfy such urges.
Why would anyone ever want to go out in the white stuff?
‚??The scenery around here in the winter is really nice,‚?Ě said snowboarder Jerry Bruno, 22, of Jermyn. ‚??I also like the feeling of flying down the mountain on the snow. It might sound cheesy, but you‚??re just using the Earth and gravity to go fast; you don‚??t need a motor. Plus, I don‚??t mind the cold.‚?Ě
Sn√∂ and Frost offer areas for skiers, snowboarders, and even a place to go tubing if strapping something to your feet isn‚??t your thing. Prices and hours vary.
Racing a car is a dream for many, but impossible for most. Fortunately, NEPA Xtreme Speedway (25 Forrest St., Wilkes-Barre, 570.903.9182, nepaspeedway.com) can help make those fantasies come true, though on a much smaller scale.
The large Speedway building houses a 10-foot wide, 24-foot long track that plays host to slot car racing, the hobby of racing powered miniature vehicles that are guided by grooves or slots in the track on which they run.
‚??It‚??s pretty competitive, and fun,‚?Ě said Speedway owner Eric Skurka. ‚??It‚??s cool to be able to take a small car that, in real life, would be $200,000 and race it around the track, and it costs almost nothing. Purchase the car for less than $50 and you can usually have a ball with it for years.‚?Ě
Speedway is open every day except Monday with race nights on Wednesdays. It‚??s $5 a day to race as much as you want or a monthly pass for $25. If you want to give it a shot before committing, the first hour is no charge.
Remember how much fun gym class was in school? Well, who said you had to leave that behind?
If you join one of the teams in either the Wilkes-Barre Social Sports League or the Scranton Social Sports League (570.209.5869, scrantonsocialsportsclub.com), you‚??re sure to relive those glory days.
The Scranton club offers indoor dodgeball, kickball, and volleyball, and the Wilkes-Barre branch (which is brand new) will kick of its inaugural season with dodgeball.
In fact, The Weekender has put together a team to play in the league, so if you‚??d like to challenge us and have a blast while doing so, feel free. Dodgeball runs every Wednesday for eight weeks beginning Jan. 30 at Odyssey Fitness (401 Coal St., Wilkes-Barre). Games run between 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. and you can sign up as a team or a single. There‚??s a minimum of 10 per team (three of which must be girls), and all members must be 21 or older.
A fee of $60 includes a t-shirt, happy hours, and post-game festivities.
Nothing says winter spirit like some ice skating, and there are places to glide about the rink right in our backyard.
The Coal Street Ice Rink is one such spot (38 Coal Street, Wilkes-Barre, 570.208.9471, coalstreeticerink.com), and it is open to the public from 7:30-9 p.m. Fridays, 1-3 p.m. and 7:30-9 p.m. Saturdays, and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Afternoon sessions are $6, evenings $7, and rental skates are available for $3 per pair.
Revolution Ice Center (12 Old Boston Road, Pittston, 570.883.1100, revolutionicecentre.com) is another option and is open various times Friday through Sunday. It‚??s $6, $4 for children under five years old, and rental skates cost $3.
Or really any color when you step into the facilities at Gotcha! Indoor Paintball (253 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, 570.208.9001, gotchaindoorpaintball.com/home).
You can swing by for some open play, grab a group and go at it, or even celebrate a birthday. Prices and hours vary, so make sure to call when figuring out when to get your shooting on.
Get your heart racing and blood pumping as you scale the walls at the Wilkes-Barre Rock Climbing Gym (102-104 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, 570.824.7633, wbcg.net).
The gym is open every day except Monday with varying rates depending on how much (or how little) you want to climb, and it even has a Climbing Safety Lesson package for beginners.
Sometimes a breath of fresh air is all it takes, and if you throw in a spectacular view, you‚??ve got a pleasant stroll, despite the colder weather.
There are plenty of places to go for a walk and take in the sights, from Ricketts Glen to the Appalachian Trail.
‚?Ę Mocanaqua Loop Trail System: Trailhead is off Route 239 in Mocanaqua. Turn left after crossing the Shickshinny Bridge from Route 11.
‚?Ę Marie Antoinette Overlook: About 40 miles west of Tunkhannock on Route 6.
‚?Ę Grand View Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park: Trail head is on western side of Route 437, while Falls Trail is to on eastern side of that road.
‚?Ę Pinchot Trail System: Leads to Pine Hill Vista can be accessed from Pittston Road in Lackawanna County.
‚?Ę The ‚??Pinnacle‚?Ě
on the Appalachian Trail: To access from Hamburg, take Old Route 22 to Reservoir Road (intersection near church/graveyard) and park at the reservoir gate.