Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Catskills Live Up to Reputation: Blogger

We're back from our much-anticipated week up in the Catskills. The house was nice, the rain held off, and we all had a good time. So far, the relaxed feeling is still with us.

The Catskills really are very beautiful, and a few snapshots can't do it justice. Nevertheless, here are a few snapshots.

[click on any image for a magnified view]

Owen spent the week as a day camper at the Wayfinder Experience, which took place at a site near near the Ashokan Reservoir. We gave Owen his own disposable camera, but he was too busy having a wonderful time to remember to take any photos, so we don't have much to show. But this will give you a sense of the kind of place and experience it was:

If you live anywhere near the Catskills, and you or a child age 11 and up are interested in living out heroic fantasy for a week, I highly recommend the Wayfinder Experience [click here].

High Point

While Owen was thrashing about with a styrofoam sword, Robert and I had some time to ourselves to explore the area. We soon found that our total of 45 years in the city had soured us to long driving trips on hilly, winding roads, so we didn't venture too far. Our biggest hike was along the High Point Trail. It was supposed to be our starter hike, just to break us in; but what we thought would be a short jaunt took almost six hours, and really wiped us out. Fortunately we were carrying a good lunch and lots of water.

There always seemed to be a stream nearby.

Worlds we passed along the way:

We didn't reach the top; once we finally had a view, we stopped, rested, ate lots of the wild blueberries that grew all around, and headed back. I was too beat to pull out the camera to take pictures of the blueberry patches. But it was the taste that was the most memorable anyway. The berries were intensely flavorful and sweet, so much better than the cultivated berries we bought later in the trip.


The house we rented had a big yard, and at night it was lit by a galaxy of fireflies. I experimented with keeping the camera shutter open for long stretches of time (1, 4, 5, 10 seconds), and this is the best I could get:

Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir is the source of drinking water for the city of New York. Several small towns were displaced in order to create it, similar to Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts, and, I suppose, to many reservoirs across the country. Nonetheless, it's very beautiful, and draws lots of trout fishers as well as bikers, rollerbladers, and walkers.

[Click on the 360o panorama below to get the full effect.]

Kaaterskill Falls

On Saturday, we visited the popular Kaaterskill Falls, the tallest set of waterfalls in New York State and one of the primary inspirations for what became the Hudson River School of artists.

Kindred Spirits, Asher Durand

I doubt that Asher Durand or Thomas Cole envisioned rock climbers rappelling off the walls. Nature appreciation sure has changed over the last 180 years.

Can you spot Owen and me in this photo?

Another from above:

Saugerties Lighthouse

We also visited the Saugerties Lighthouse, overlooking the Hudson River.

It is accessible by boat and by a trail, part of which is submerged at high tide. Indeed, the Hudson is tidal up to Albany. (It is brackish until Poughkeepsie, I heard.) We walked the trail and then had a lovely swim in the cove.

There is a nice deck shaded (and stained) by mulberry trees. The lighthouse has two bedrooms which can be booked as a bed-and-breakfast, as a way of funding the lighthouse's upkeep.

I was inspired by the light, reflections, and shadows to try to take some "artistic" photos. Once again, the camera sees too much -- I didn't notice how mucky the grass was until I uploaded the images at home. Oh well.

Click here for a slide show of our vacation pics.

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