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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Catskills trip

This past weekend I went to the Catskills with Alex. I took a couple days off, so it was an extra-long weekend. My only previous memories of the Catskills are a bit fuzzy because they're from a trip to the Catskill Game Farm with my parents when I was perhaps four years old -- the only things I know for sure are that 1) we fed a goat in the petting zoo, 2) there was a giraffe, and 3) the airplane carnival ride where you can push the stick to go up and down was highlight of my life up to that point. So this trip to the Catskills was bound to be different than my previous visit.

And it was great:
  • The Zipcar we picked up near Alex's place in Queens worked out well -- way, way easier than renting a car, and in this case, about the same price.
  • Storm King Art Center, a 500-acre sculpture park, was impressive both for its size and its excellent collection of modern sculptures. Maya Lin's new Storm King Wavefield was a bit of a letdown (it'll probably look better after the grass grows taller), but I liked just about everything we saw. Coming across sculptures while wandering the meadows and woods is conducive to appreciating each one, much more so than in a cramped urban sculpture garden like the one at the National Gallery. You see the piece first from farther away (at least for the large sculptures), and then reevaluate as you come up to it. The time it takes to walk among the pieces forces you to take more time to look at each one than you would in a museum environment, and many also play off their outdoor settings very effectively.
  • The Hudson Valley benefits from heavy traffic of well-off New Yorkers, who bestow its adorable small towns with excellent restaurants. We had several good meals, including a lunch in Rhinebeck (at a place called Arielle) that was among the best I've had in a long time, and not too pricey at that.
  • It was a bit colder than I expected at our campsite--it got down into the 30s at night. Cold toes in the morning in my summer-weight sleeping bag.
  • We hiked a vigorous 14 miles over three different peaks, which was a bit more than we meant to bite off due to some incorrect mileage info on our map. Great views, a bit more dramatic than down here in the mid-Atlantic part of the Appalachians.
  • The new High Line park in New York is really neat -- an old elevated rail line converted into a linear park with some very snazzy design touches. It works well as a public space, and was lively even when I visited in the middle of a Monday morning.
Didn't mean to be quite that talkative in describing my weekend. Anyway, pictures of most of the above can be seen on Flickr.


lj said...

There's a sculpture park in St. Louis (Laumeier) that my family went to a couple times. I felt the same way as you: it was a really good setting. I don't even remember how many of the pieces I especially liked, but it was a nice experience to just wander around a big park, and, oh! here's a sculpture! Hey, here's something else...

"Storm King" is quite a name.

Davin said...

I think you might have been older than four when we went to the Catskill Game Farm, since i feel like i remember the trip. Although my memory of the place could be entirely composed of bits and pieces of their catchy commercials.

Storm King looks pretty cool. I'm surprised i've never heard of it before.

teague said...

LJ: Laumeier looks cool, too. I saw on the site that it's 105 acres...Storm King is five times that size, so it's actually quite a hike to make it around the entire park. (I think Storm King is the name of a nearby mountain...yeah, it's quite a name.)

Davin: It's possible I was older, I'm not sure...but it felt like a very early memory. I had the song from their commercials in my head last weekend. I just Googled it, and the place closed for good in 2006! It was a remnant of a previous Upstate tourist era, I guess...