Monthly Archives: April 2012

First Hike of the Year! (make that last three years!)

Black Rock Forest

Went hiking for the first time in years this past weekend. I think the last time was maybe 3 years ago, hiking Camel’s Hump in Vermont with Daphne. We practically ran up that mountain…and when we got to the top we were pouring sweat out, and we couldn’t figure out why we’d hiked so aggressively. This hike was a bit different. No large mountain, just a large rock. And I traded out Daphne for Randy. The hike was listed online, I think we found it by searching ‘hikes, new york city’ or something like that. Seemed doable, and with the possibility of seeing waterfalls and views, it was cemented.

The route of our hike. Starts and ends at that black slash mark. 'Black Rock' is where the scenic vistas were located.

The hike started out fairly easily. Nice and quite, no one else on the trails. Weather was a bit cool, but it was around 10:30/11, so we expected it to heat up a little. Plus, as prepared hikers, we wore layers! There was a nice stream running through the woods, which afforded us some good nature sounds, and some pleasant views. There were also some nice bridges across the stream, making for good picture opportunities.

RAR! Yay hiking! Bridge #1

Mini waterfall.

Even though there weren’t any leaves on the trees, we did see some nice vegetation and flowers poking through. Get ready for flower close-up shots!

Flowering tree.

Little fern.

Octopus tree. First they grow here, then they swim away.

On our way to Black Rock we came across a reservoir. Water levels were really low, which was really cool, because I got to see an empty spillway! Yay hydrology! Not sure why the water was so drawn down, or when they raise the levels, but it was neat. As we came upon it we saw an otter (or some other small mammal) scampering away. Wouldn’t see that near the city!

This is where the water would be flowing.

Close-up of the dam looking onto the reservoir.

Next stop: Black Rock. After about 20 more minutes, and a steeper incline, we finally reached our destination! The views were great!

View number 1 from Black Rock

View number 2 from black rock. I think that's the Hudson River.

After resting a bit at Black Rock and enjoying the sunshine we decided to return home. We felt a sense of urgency, mostly because we forgot to pack a lunch. Whoops! Lesson learned. Don’t do a day hike without snackies. Luckily we had plenty of water, but the lack of food was definitely felt by the end of the day.

The return hike was less picturesque because it follows a bunch of gravel roads. No more quaint trails through the woods. You also end up near route 9W at the end, so the sounds of traffic mix with those of nature. We did see one more neat river before we made it to the car.

A fixer-upper in the woods.

Upon reaching the car we gobbled down some peanut butter and crackers, and nutter butters. First stop: a deli for some tasty sandwiches. All in all an extremely enjoyable day! Can’t wait for the next hike! Maybe I’ll finally have an excuse to buy hiking boots, rather than wear my old gym sneakers!

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Long Island from East to West

Montauk Lighthouse.

A few weeks ago I got to experience the greatness that is Long Island all the way from the easternmost tip to the westernmost. Well, almost westernmost. Anyway, I spent one day out at the Montauk Lighthouse, and the other day at the Aqueduct Racetrack. Two very different experiences.

You are here. All the way to the right.

It was a beautiful day, right after the nice warm (approx. 60 degree) spring days. Still March though, which leads to my important piece of advice. Be sure to check when parks open fully, and don’t assume that just because it’s unseasonably warm these traditionally seasonal parks will automatically be open. I didn’t even think about this possibility of a closed lighthouse, so when we arrived and we discovered the lighthouse doesn’t open until April 15 I was a little surprised. Whoops! We could still walk around the grounds though, which was nice.

It was a bit chilly out on the point because of the wind, but on the occasions when that died down it was a beautiful, sunny, warm day. Not too bad to be walking around, enjoying the fresh air. And, because it was so early (too early?) in the season, there were not many tourists compete with.

Montauk Lighthouse

We discovered it’s possible to walk down by the beach. It’s a rocky beach, not a sandy one though, so be sure to keep the shoes on! If you want you can walk up higher by between the lighthouse and the ocean on a nice stone walkway.

Me on the nice wide stone walkway by the ocean. Montauk Lighthouse.

A cheerful March ocean. Montauk Lighthouse.

The were doing construction on the walkway in some places.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT'S CLOSED? Montauk Lighthouse.

Make it 'bearable' ...RECYCLE!

As we headed back west, I had to take a picture of one of the cool windmills they have in some of the towns. They’re historic, with the one pictured dating to 1804. It’s the Gardiner Windmill in East Hampton.

Historic Windmill.

We also saw some deer on the way home. There were probably about six. See if you can see any of them below. Unfortunately I scared them away when I insisted we drive closer…so they are very tiny.

Where's the deer? How many?

The next day we decided to class it up by taking a trip to bet on the ponies. Having gone to college in Saratoga Springs, NY I’m not unfamiliar with the track. I haven’t actually been to a racetrack since college though, and since I’ve been dying to see some horses up close it seemed like a great opportunity (so long as I put a blind eye towards the horse’s health…not so easy after skimming a NY Times article about the industry). The people I was with rub elbows with some of the owners, so we got to head down to the paddock and get up close and personal with the horses.

#8 in the first race...a favorite for the win. (I think).

#1a first race. Another favorite for the win. I wanted to bet on this guy...but my betting skills are rusty and I somehow chose #2 for the win...

I couldn’t remember how to place a bet, and somehow ended up betting wrong for the winning horse. I won my 3rd place bet though. Was feeling good for the start of the day…then I proceeded to lose on every single other bet I made. Good think I didn’t bring too much money. It was a fun day all in all. Got to go right up next to the track where the owners, trainers, and photographers stand. I also got my picture taken with a winning horse. It was pretty cool.

My photo-finish taking skills.

We ate lunch up at the buffet, which was really tasty. Reminded me of Vegas (kind of) actually, but more windows. Just as much gambling though.

So it was an interesting weekend, seeing how things change on Long Island from the easternmost edge to the western-ish edge. Very different mentalities, and nice additions to the New York Adventures I’ve experienced this spring.