Sunday, September 13, 2009

In the Catskills

This weekend, Aviva and I left New York Friday afternoon and drove up to the Catskills for a weekend away with family. We met my in-laws, Bucky and Tanya, Aunt Irene and my sister-in-law Rachel, with her husband Larry, and their kids Marley and Dylan. Rachel had booked us two small cabins in Mt. Tremper, at the junction of routes 28 and 212. Despite the cold and wet weather, and surprisingly sulphurous water system (taking a shower felt like stand in a steam bath made of evaporating rotten eggs), the cabins were quite cozy. The pictures below and to the right are from the hike we took on Sunday, to Kaaterskill falls.

The drive was not bad, we made it up by seven in the evening and went to dinner with Bucky, Tanya and Irene while we waited for Rachel and Larry and the kids to arrive. We went over to a restaurant called Tisos, a cute, family own Italian place just about five minutes up route 212. The garlic bread was excellent, as was the eggplant zingarella (yup, eggplant parmesan with extra zing) and the ambiance was wonderful ... the 25 minute power outage in the middle of dinner only added to the character of the meal.

Dinner was long and enjoyable, and Larry & Rachel showed up soon after we got back to the cabins. We all crashed early, and got up late the next day to the sound of Dylan laughing. What a wonderful way to awaken :) Breakfast was whatever you could grab, I had a piece of toast and a pear, and then the mobile folks, Larry, Rachel, Tanya, Marley and I headed over to the Giants Ledge for a hike. The less mobile, Aviva, Bucky, Irene and Dylan took the Catskill Mountain Railroad to Phonecia ... Dylan has a thing for trains right now and apparently loved the ride.

The hikers braved the misty, wet weather to climb up to the Giant Ledge in the Slide Mountain wilderness. It was a relatively short, but steep hike, about 2.5 miles up a slippery, boulder-strewn trail, overcome with about two down shades of green which were only more intense due to the wet weather. The trail was beautiful and despite the rain, we were all soon sweating and huffing as we made our way to the top. The Giants Ledge is known for its amazing views, but as we approached we could only see mist through the trees and when we finally got to the edge, there was only an impenetrable wall of mist. It was dense and thick, almost like you could bounce off of it, but at the same time it was ethereal and teasingly, receding and re-thickening to give us only short glimpses of the ground beyond the edge of the ledge. Tanya, Rachel and Larry headed down after a brief lunch, while Marley and I hung out for a bit to explore other ledges (there were several more) before hustling down to catch them.

Ice cream on the way back to the cabins, then naps and cards and general shluffing before dinner at Riccardella's, a classier Italian place in Phonecia. Dinner was great, with fried calamari, fig bruschetta for appetizers and a bunch of great main dishes. I had some amazing duck crusted with pine nuts and spices, while Aviva had a delicious set of veal chops. The most fun meal was the zuppe de pesce Bucky and Rachel shared, basically a mountain of seafood requiring bibs, napkins, wet knaps, lobster crackers and a discard bowl. Watching Rachel enjoy the food was the highlight of the meal. We polished off the meal and two bottles of wine, spent a good hour exploring the hippie-junk and art gallery next door while Dylan bit my head and grabbed at signage, and then headed back to the cabins, goofed around for a bit and crashed out so we could get up early and get breakfast at Sweet Sues, a local institution. This place makes the best pancakes on the planet (or so my wife would have you believe). They were pretty damn good, huge and quite varied, Aviva had a carrot cake pancake while Marley had blue monkey pancakes. The omelets, muffins and other breakfast goodies were also wonderful. Combined with the fantastic weather (a welcome change from the rainy, misty weather which had dominated the weekend), it was a wonderful morning.

After breakfast, we left Aunt Irene in Phonecia and drove up route 214 to Kaaterskill Falls, a 260 foot two-tiered waterfall, the tallest in the Catskills. The hike to the falls is very short, only about a mile round-trip from the parking lot, but is quite slick and rocky, so we left Bucky and Aviva and headed up to the falls. It was a perfect day to see them, blue skies and cool after a two-day rain storm, and they did not disappoint (see the pictures at the top and bottom of the blog). Marley and I spent a good 45 minutes running around taking pictures, staying after everyone else left and then hustling out to catch everyone. We caught up just after then got back to the parking lot, said goodbye to Bucky and Tanya, and then went with Larry, Rachel and the kids to a market and the Smokehouse of the Catskills, buying bread, hummus, cheese, smoked sausage, venison and beef jerky (incredible jerky ... really amazing) for a wonderful picnic lunch outside. Then we said goodbye and headed home to Hartsdale, just about one and a half hours away. I have not been able to get away all summer, and I have to say it was a wonderful and much needed vacation.

No comments: