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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Halloween on the Hudson

Boo York Haunts for a Wicked Weekend

Fun House 2017

There is something that just feels natural in the fall season of New York State, and that is Halloween.  I know, many of you might think Salem, Massachusetts is where it's at, but I argue that anywhere along the Hudson on a foggy night beats the Salem Witch Museum.

We made our way up to Putnam County for the Annual Kevin McCurdys Haunted House that has been in successful operation for over forty years.  The ticket's online will set you back twenty five dollars but the action itself last a full thirty minutes with great drama and frightful folks get you in the mood.

Beacon, New York
Minty Cocoa and Friend
Just a drive around Cold Springs, Garrison or Beacon passing foliage laced mansard roofs or cemeteries with Sirius Radio Halloween Channel with hot apple cider in hand can be fun.  We hit the weekend before the 31st and got some great foggy weather with thunder storms.  It made the evenings with a little wine, Edgar Allen Poe, flashlight and Bon Bons at our Air BnB rental cozy and in the spirit.

Casa De Flatironbetty ala Air BnB Rental
I have a habit of bringing festivus whenever I travel to either a private home or hotel. Some copper string battery lights, holiday props, seasonal flowers and decorative table clothe can dress up any room to make it feel more personable.

Cold Springs, New York 2017
Cold Springs, New York 2017
Between dining at the Hudson House over looking Storm King across the way or grabbing a bite at Whistling Willies up the hill - you can fill up on truffle mac and cheese to Parmesan fries.  All for the price of a trip to Cold Springs.  If you are looking for something more high end for bites - waterfall included, I would give The Roundhouse in Beacon a good once over.  Occasionally, I make my way up in the dead of winter to either the Hudson House or Roundhouse to cozy up next to a fireplace with a glass of wine and glance, occasionally, at the mountainous views outside.

No matter where you end up in October for ghoulish behavior, make sure you ride south 9W to Bay View Road and take in the breath taking views of Cold Springs from Storm King Mountain.  You are basically at Cessna plane level looking up and down the Hudson - it's gorgeous.  The road dips into the mountain range than back out.  It has it's scary appeal with the darkness of the mountain forest. The fact it's on a very narrow two lane road with a rock wall separating you from the drop off is also something to ponder.  Due check the weather before heading out.  The parks department tends to shut Bay View Road down when there is chance of an avalanche due to rain or snow.
Bay View Road, Storm King Mountain

If Hudson Valley area doesn't rock your boat - I have a link that will lead you to secrets of all the counties of New York State for a scurry time.  They even have a catalog you can order online to be mailed to you before the season starts.  Enjoy! Boo York

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Ocean Grove

Take Me Back to Ocean Grove, We'll Get There Easy and We'll Take It Slow....

Ocean Grove Beach, New Jersey
Ocean Grove is slowly becoming one of my favorite beach getaways that do not need a plane ticket and it's not necessarily just for the summer.  I am falling love with the town in it self.  Maybe its the largest neighborhood of Queen Anne Victorian houses in the country.  Maybe its the neighboring towns of Asbury Park that is making a comeback or Allenhurst that of home that put the show Downton Abby to shame but there is certainly something about this little New Jersey beach town that is extra charming.

Allenhurst, New Jersey
I first rediscovered this town from my childhood when I started making pilgrimages back to Ocean Town Ship where I had spent my formative years in a sleepy cove named Elberon.  I main train stop where in the 19 century you were greeted by horse driven carriages to take you to your summer chalet.

Quaker Inn, Ocean Grove
It was only when a friend had bought a home in Asbury Park at the time, very cheaply I might add that I began to venture out by bicycle that I came across the beach town lost in time.

Somewhere between Asbury Park and Bradley Beach is a a little town that was founded by American Methodist Church.  In fact, it is the oldest Methodist settlement in America.  While you may certainly buy a home here; the land itself is owned by the church.  There is a 99 year lease signed when purchasing the home in where you must resign a new lease once you have lived over the 99 years.

Ocean Grove Main Street
You would think that might sound Orwellian but it works out nicely.  The town has been nicely preserved.  If  a house becomes unlivable or a fire takes it away you must follow strict guidelines when building again.  Main Avenue, while small has very cute shops as you would find in a town like this.  Nagles is a staple in the community, it used to provide pharmacy service and double as an ice cream shop.  It had changed hands only a few times and still functions selling ice cream and works as a diner.

Ocean Grove Summer Tent Beach Cabins
Young adults riding down the streets on skate boards chewing bubble gum with little ones in pig tails following on tricycles gives you a sense of another time.  This definitely resonates with the senior crowd on a random Friday night pull out the old key board and sit on a random stoop and sing the classics.

While the beach might make Miami Beach look like an abandoned desert, patiently you will find a spot with some careful planning, especially on the weekend.  Don't miss out next summer on the delights of the easy summer breeze of Jersey and maybe some Beach Boys ABBA, Air Supply - they play at the Methodist Hall from time to time.
UMC Hall circa 1894

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hiking the Peaks Surrounding Putnam County, New York

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

For years I have taken the Metro North for day trips up the Hudson River and marveled at the mountains that cover the landscape of New York State.  I would watch people get on at Grand Central in hiking shorts and back packs and think to myself these people are freaks. I mean, you work hard all week to then work harder on the weekends with exercise? I would even see mountain bikes and protective gear.  People are going out for day trips two hours out of the city for this? I can't believe this also is a weekend getaway thing but alas there are people who travel with just a backpack, water, wallet and a change of underwear for these types of trips. No thank you sir, that's a little hardcore for me but a day trip, yes ma'am!

Storm King Mountain was named after by a proposal for the name by 19th century writer Nathaniel Parker Willis.  Willis was quoted saying -
"The tallest mountain is...looked upon as the most sure fore teller of a storm.  When the white cloud-beard descends upon his breast in the morning...there is sure to be a rain-storm before night. Standing aloft before other mountains in the chain, this sign is peculiar to him.  He seems the monarch, and this seems his stately ordering of a change in the weather.  Should not STORM-KING, then, be his proper name?"
That's right on target with those clouds, seeing how I was once trapped on another mountain as its beard swallowed up the the mountains' tah-tahs.  Ah, poison ivy on the eye. There is nothing like it.

  • Note: When you are caught in a storm and take cover under a rock, there is a great possibility the run-off from the mountain will drizzle off the rock into your eye! Viola! Maybe check the weather on your phone app before trying to be a hero.  It might save a trip to the doctors office.

Having said that, Storm King is a great place to start if you are not an avid climber. There are basic trails but you do need to pay attention when having to climb on a slight incline now and again. This loop around the mountaintop is very rewarding by means of not being a long hike at all.  The bonus is in the view, of course.  This is an easy day trip by train or car.  I recently drove south along Storm King Mountain and wrote an article about it. I must say at 200 meters above sea level, the views are amazing.

  • Note: When taking a train to the City of Beacon you will have to take a cab across Beacon-Newburgh Bridge to Storm King Mountain.  A car might be the better bet after all.  Being on the opposite side of the river where Metro North tracks are prove driving oneself to this adventure is easier and cheaper in the long run. What Uber driver wants to pick you up 410 meters above sea level?


My first indoctrination into becoming one of these weirdo hikers was Mt. Taurus. The stop is Cold Springs Train Station where you arrive in a beautiful quaint town from another era.  A recent article of mine covered my love affair with this town. One can stop and have a light lunch at any of the cafe's that line Main Street next to antique shops but don't let that distract you for long. There is a mission and that mission is to climb a mild but long trek up Mt. Taurus.  This has been a staple for myself for years. I spend more time midway on a rock that appears to look more like a couch then ever climbing to the top.  I sit on my couch rock and take in the view like a couch potato would be glued to a TV screen.  You cannot get better than this.  Just make sure that you are with trusting, faithful friends. Your feet literally dangle off the ridge that goes several hundred feet down to an abandoned quarry.  

Go on, stretch your legs and take in all that nature goodness!

Flatironbetty at Mt Taurus 2012

My last consideration and one that I have not taken yet is actually a quite popular hike for the Tri-state area.  It's even open on the evening of July 4th.  Many hikers may enjoy the fireworks above the river from neighboring towns.  You can see almost 5 towns away all the star spangled display.

Break Neck Ridge is a great place but as you can see from the video below, is a little more on an incline and a very narrow path.  I have friends in the 70's who make their way up in about two hours and then climb down to the neighboring town of Cold Springs for lunch. So this is doable by anyone not minding a little concentration with footsteps and pacing.  The views are amazing any season from photos I have seen.  I must confess that fall is my jam but again don't let the winter barren trees persuade you to stay away. It's a fantastic morning hike from what I have been told.  This is another great view of seeing the winding Hudson River as it makes its way up to the Canada and down to New York City.  

  • Fun Fact: The Hudson is considered an estuary because the currents run both north and south.

Get out and hike today in New York State.  Who knows? We might meet one day while I'm twirling and singing The Sound Of Music somewhere on a mountaintop near the Hudson River.