Friday, May 29, 2015

Camping at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation

Let me first clarify, this is what is commonly known as "car camping".  Given that i have the word "urban" in my blog title, this seems more than appropriate.

Ward Pound Ridge is about an hours drive north of the city, in upper Westchester County.  Its easy to get to, there is a shopping plaza about a mile from the campground as well as a small grocery at the bottom of the hill.  Firewood is available for purchase at check in, or you can bring an ax.

We always procure a group site and make a sort of college reunion out of it.  But they have an array of sites at Ward Pound Ridge, big and small, near and far.  Some sites come with an indoor shelter with stove, others with an open-faced lean to.  The group sites are spacious and woodsy, they pretty much come with a picnic table and a fire pit.  So choose what suits you best and be prepared.


Bring your hiking boots!  Thousands of acres to wander or hike.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Falmouth - Cape Cod, MA

Everyone has their favorite Cape Cod town.  If you've never been, it can be a bit overwhelming choosing a destination.  And if youre coming from NYC, it can take nearly four hours just to reach the start of the cape.  So start with Falmouth!  A delightful town and a fraction of the distance to Provincetown.  It has everything a New England beach town should have, and more.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day Tripping: Rosendale, NY

This New Paltz adjacent town is where many go to avoid the freshman herds and keg parties, taking with them the same sort of drum circle lifestyle.  The result of which is a beautiful little hamlet filled with culture and creativity.  Perfect for a day trip in spring or summer. 

10am: It's about a 90 minute drive from Manhattan, or a 1 hour 45 minute bus ride out of Port Authority (Pine Hill Trailways).  One of the first sites you will see, when pulling into town, is the Big Cheese.  Stop in for snacks and beverages, or dine on an egg sandwich and coffee.  Stock up on fine cheese or peruse their vintage clothing area while you wait.  They have a few tables inside and out.

11am: Follow Main Street out past the tressle and look for signs for The Snyder Estate.  A short, pleasing walk from the parking lot sits an old, abandoned mine, partially filled with water.  Have fun exploring, or just sit and enjoy the cold, crisp air, even on a hot summers day.

12pm: Heading back towards the village of Rosendale, take a left turn onto Binnewater Road.  Soon you will see a parking lot on your left, one with several large, old kilns at the back.  Just opposite the parking lot is the Rail Trail.  Head to the right and in less than ten minutes you will hit the trestle.  High above the Rondout creek, you will experience stunning views.  Bring your bikes and you can explore beyond the trestle.  In several miles you will come to where the Rail Trail meets Springtown Road, and there is a lovely bridge there overlooking the Wallkill River.

2pm: When the lunch bell rings, head to the Rosendale Cafe.  While the menu is solely vegetarian, you will not miss the meat.  Some personal favorites are the tempeh ruben, chilli stuffed corn bread, and the mission burrito.  They have several homemade salad dressings, that you can (and will want to) purchase.  As well as out of this world desserts, with some vegan and gluten free options.

4pm: Spend time walking off your lunch on Main Street.  Visit Soiled Doves for affordable antiques, tchotchkees, vintage clothing and linens.  And Vision of Tibet for beautiful textiles, jewelry, and bags.  Check out the local art scene at Roos Arts, The Belltower and Lovebird Studio.

6pm: Not ready to leave?  Head over to Market Market on Route 32 and dine on deviled eggs, Schnitzel, and Korean style fried chicken.  A great wine list and live music could put you well into the evening.  

Bedtime: The 1850 House  Recently renovated and revamped, this little boutique hotel right on Main Street would be the perfect place to rest your head ($250/night on Saturdays). 

Honorable mention:
Rosendale Street Festival July 19th and 20th 
Womens Studio Workshop
Alternative Baker
Rosendale Theater Collective
Joppenbergh Mountain 
The Creative Co-op

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pine Hill, NY

Perfect for anyone looking to put a bit of distance between themselves and the city, Pine Hill tops the charts at 130 miles from Manhattan.  Rural, unspoiled and low key.  I can think of no better place to view the changing colors in the fall or play in the snow in winter.


The Pine Hill Arms hasnt changed since i was a kid.  It's popular with skiers, given its proximity to Bellayre, and the town tavern is just downstairs. 

The Breezy Hill Inn is a charming B&B in the petite hamlet of Fleischmanns, down the hill from Pine Hill.  A gorgeously restored Victorian in a cute walking town, with a few shops and restaurants nearby.

The Copperhood Inn and Spa offers the perfect antidote to the winter blues.  You can enjoy massage therapies, hydrotherapy, as well as weight loss and detox programs.  Located on Route 28 in Shandaken, it's an easy ten minute ride away from Bellayre.

The Full Moon Resort is a hot spot for country weddings but simmers down in the fall and winter.   If you're a fan of big open spaces and delight at the chance to sleep in a yurt, this is the place for you.


 Peekamoose Restaruant and Tap Room, in Big Indian, serves traditional American fare and classy cocktails.  Spacious and elegant, with a price point that attracts mostly second homers and city slickers alike. 

The Pine Hill Arms is a towny bar with a juke box and very decent bar food.  Love it or leave it.

Mi Lupita is an adorable mexican cafe, tucked in the back of a mexican grocery store in Fleischmanns.  Family operated.  The food is made to order, in an open kitchen.  My personal favorite is the pumpkin blossom quesadillas.

The Flour Patch is a darling little breakfast spot, in nearby Margaretville, serving the usual morning eatables.

Arkville Bread and Breakfast.  As the title suggests, the bread is as mentionable as the breakfast.  Colossal omelets, crepes, bangers and mash.  Followed by delectable sandwiches for lunch. 

The Bun N' Cone has survived two devastating hurricanes, in my lifetime, and they just keep restoring it to its former simpleness!  A greasy spoon and ice cream shop in one, expect a lot of folks in camouflage during hunting season.


 The Cheese Barrel in Margaretville wears many hats.  First and foremost, an amazing selection of cheeses.  It's also a gourmet food source, coffee shop and bagelry.


Truly the main attraction, Belleayre Ski Mountain.  Not a lot of bells and whistles, just magical views and a kindred atmosphere.  Night skiing Friday evenings in the winter.  Hiking all summer and autumn long.

Pine Hill Lake is man made and man operated.  Great for kids.  We usually visit in fall, when dogs are allowed, to walk around the lake under a canopy of orange and red.  Hiking trails leading up to Belleayre can be found uphill from the parking lot.

A two hour train ride from Arkville to Roxbury, and back, aboard a vintage train.  You get sensational views, a history lesson, and a snack.  Operates May through October.  Delaware & Ulster Railroad

The Ashram Center, in nearby Margaretville, offers yoga, pilates and movement classes in a small, serene setting.  

 Hannah Mountain Resort and Country Club has a 19 hole public course, offering instruction and accommodations.  Stay for lunch in the club house or a drink at the bar.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day Tripping: Chuang Yen Buddhist Monastery, Carmel, NY.

Peaceful energy and natural beauty mix with cultural history, only an hours drive from Manhattan.  No planning or preparation required.

The Monastery is home to the largest buddha statue in the US, located in the main building.  A large prayer/meditation area surrounds the statue.  The monastery asks that you remove your shoes before entering the buildings. For this reason, i recommend wearing thick, warm socks.

The grounds of the Monastery are beautiful and tranquil, so visit on a sunny day.  Saturdays and Sundays they offer vegetarian lunch from Noon - 1pm ($6).  Some Saturdays there are guided tours at 1pm, check their web site before you visit.  Seeing the monastery wont take more than a few hours and can be done in less time.  It's underwhelming simplicity and quiet are what draw most, don't go expecting Chinese Disney Land.

Fall and early winter are a great time to visit the Monastery.  They are closed Jan 1st thru March 1st, but are open for Chinese New Year's eve and day (Jan 30th and 31st).  The New Year would be a splendid time to visit, although it will be considerably more crowded than usual.