Bear Mountain- Hike #1

This post was started awhile ago, and I never finished it. I’m planning another hike soon, so I wanted to document our “maiden voyage”- our first hike. So…

Zombiegirl, MR and I went to Bear Mountain for a warm up hike for our trip in July. Zombiegirl packed everything her Aunt Paula, Uncle Ray and cousins gave her for her birthday- backpack, first aid kit, binoculars, flashlight-even her dehydrated ice cream. After culling some unnecessary items from her backpack and packing lunch for everyone, we left.
It’s only about an hour’s drive to Bear Mountain. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center and Bookstore on the Palisades Parkway where I bought a book of information on the NY, NJ, CT and PA section of the Appalachian Trail. I know Z-girl was eyeing that cute stuffed deer…
We got to the Bear Mountain park around 9:30 am, and saved the $7 parking fee because we finally purchased the Empire Pass. It wasn’t very crowded- a big crowd of Chinese people, a few serious looking hikers and a few groups of day-trippers. The parking attendant recommended we go south because that’s the way up the mountain- north followed more of the highway, and would’ve led us to Bear Mountain bridge. After a trip to the bathroom we followed the road on the left side of the BM Inn, which is a beautiful old inn, to the trail.

Almost immediately, it went up. I guess, in my mind, I never thought about the ramifications of “mountain.” You have to go up. 1305 feet up. And this was my first hike. My first thought was to stop and tell them I made a mistake. Then Beena called. And talking to her I was a little proud to say I was hiking. So I went on. And it got worse. We hiked behind two 20-somethings- one in Converse sneaks and the other in Coach sneakers. I wondered how long they would last. We leapfrogged with them for awhile on the AT (white blaze)/Suffern Bear Mountain (yellow) trail. On our ascent, we met a group of by scouts with their adult leaders- about 30 of them in full camping gear. I asked if they were BS, and when they replied yes, I asked if they would carry an old lady up the mountain, meaning me. Because by this time, I’m puffing like a locomotive. It sounded like I smoked a pack a day, which I don’t! I am so out of shape!

A little further up, Z-girl ducked behind a rock to change into shorts. The trail eventually leveled out and passed through a pretty glade where MR tried to find a walking stick. The BS troop passed us by because at this point, I’m stopping alot to catch my breath and slow my heart rate. We put on sunscreen and bug cream from Z-girl’s first aid kit (that thing has everything!) and continued on. A little further up, we cross a road- I think it’s 9W. It’s then that we realize that we were on only the yellow SBM. We missed the “turnoff” for the AT. I remembered reading though, that a hiker did the same thing, and was able to connect further on with the AT, so we kept going. It was a nice descent into a little valley, where we had to cross a stream and came up on a flat lane. Okay, this was nice, I thought, I could do this all day. This lane opened up into a meadow, where MR found a sign that said “Doodletown.” I had read that Doodletown was a deserted town, with most of the homeowners moving away after Bear Mountain State Park started buying properties to expand. We didn’t hike Doodletown (mainly because we couldn’t understand the sign) so we continued on to a little meadow, where we met two hikers and their cute dogs in hiking boots! We stopped them to ask if we were going the right way. They confirmed that we could pick up the AT if we kept on going. So we did.

About a mile down the trail, we found a rock outcropping where we stopped for lunch. After lunch we continued down the hill and came to a T in the trail. Do we go left or right? We couldn’t find any markings except the red which we didn’t want. After a brief disagreement, we decided to backtrack. When we got back to Doodletown, we noticed the Boy Scout troop setting up lunch in the meadow. Making a quick left to avoid the troop, we ended up on the 1777W trail, which was really easy- a level, wide walking trail without too many rocks. After about 20 minutes on that trail (I’m not really good at distances- go figure) we came to another fork. We found the AT! I, of course, chose the wrong way. We asked someone we met on the trail how to get to the summit, and he turned us around. Finally! On our way, after about 8 miles out of our way.

At this time I want to turn back. It’s all uphill from here. Ahead of us is practically straight up. We’ve reached the mountain. For the next hour, we climbed over rock outcroppings, twisted and turned up the trail and stumbled up the mountain, worrying that all this exertion is going to use up all our water. We finally came to a flat part- the highway.

I really need to figure out my distances. It felt like we were on the road for miles. Precariously close to the edge of a 100′ precipice. With cars zooming by. This was not my favorite part of the trail. I was glad to finally leave the road and it’s white blazed boulders.

The next part of the trail is the most “traily” part of the Bear Mountain AT. More rock outcroppings, dense forest, more “up”. It’s here that I start to get totally exhausted and start praying the end is in sight. The end of the trail, that is. It’s on the last really large outcropping that MR, a little ahead of us, spies the tower. I literally shouted out, “Praise God!” when I saw the tower. We made it. Then we stepped through an alternate universe.

From the green, lush forests we stepped into tourist haven. We almost get hit by all the motorcycles and we have to fight the Asian tour group to get to the tower. We’re reading the inscription over the door when MR has the brilliant idea to climb to the top. I almost knocked him down- if I could have gotten to him- my legs were shaking by this point. So up we go. And in climbing to the top, we debunked a popular urban legend- there is no soda machine at the top of the tower. Zombiegirl at this point refuses to go any further. She tells us she’ll get a ride down- she’s not going another step. She picks out the Harley dude she’s going to ride down with. She’s not kidding. We find a soda machine and rehydrate her, and although she’s still cranky, she agrees to complete the hike back to the car.

After playing the tourists, and taking pictures (some of dogs in hats) we start our way down. We find a huge outcropping with the AT carved into it, so we know we’re heading the right way. And it’s down. which isn’t really a good thing- it’s hard to go down a very steep hill without something to hold on to. We hit another road and followed that for a awhile and saw a pair of nesting hawks. And the parking lot. It’s in sight!

The next part of the trail was surreal. It’s about four o’clock now, and we’re still going downhill. It’s very rocky, and very steep. And very full of tourists. Going up! In saris, heels, dresses, sandals…don’t these people realize that they’re going to have to go back down? We’re falling all over the place in sneakers and boots. These people are nuts! They’re going out for a stroll- uphill. Morons.

We finally reach the portion of the trail we veered off onto the SBM- it really is poorly marked- and we’re in the final stretch. Z-girl is happy we’re getting closer to air conditioning, I’m happy I’m on level ground. Going downhill slid my feet to the front of my sneakers and now I have two happy blisters on my toes. We cross the great lawn where tons of people are flying kites, picnicking and playing ball. Nothing felt that good that day than sitting in the car and taking off my shoes and socks. I sound like I was complaining the whole time but really I had fun.
So how would I rate the Bear Mountain portion of the AT? Medium to hard. It was probably not the best idea to do this portion first. But doing it was an accomplishment and my theory is the rest can’t be that bad.

Once soccer is over, we’ll start back on the trail. MR found some nice Long Island trails he wants to try. And Dad gave me some awesome hiking poles I want to try out! Stay tuned for hike #2!

A Few Things Before My Life Gets Back on Track

I start work on Monday. I had three nice weeks of unemployment. No, I really only had six days of unemployment. The rest of the three weeks I was off courtesy of UBS. They escorted me out of the building on April 23rd, but my last day of employment was May 7th.

I start my new/old job with Cushman & Wakefield. Doing what I was doing and where I was doing it when UBS fired me. My boss called me the other day (after I was home for two weeks- whatever!) and asked me if I was going to be coming back bitter. Why would I be bitter? I recieved 33 weeks severence, four weeks paid vacation, got three weeks off and still got a job after all that. Not bitter- bittersweet. I’m going to miss putting Zombiegirl on the bus in the morning, being there for her when she gets home and doing homework with her in the afternoons. But I have to bring home the bacon.

Mmmmm. Bacon. Only had it once while I was home.

I wanted to blog alot while I was off, but I was too damn busy. Here’s a recap and some updates:

  • Killer the Fish seems to have made a complete recovery. He’s no longer swimming upside down, or hanging out on the bottom of the bowl. It was like he had a mini stroke for awhile. He’s active now, swimming around like normal. Thank God. We almost flushed him twice.
  • My hallway upstairs, which is the size of a room since we raised the ceiling after it collapsed on the kids and Lola, is almost finished. I can taste it. Pictures will go up on the blog next week. It makes me happy to go up there.
  • Zombiegirl’s room is being painted. It’s a most awesome blue. I should be finished with it next week also.
  • My man Parker‘s Dad and Zombiegirl’s soccer coach, Jason, hurt his leg showing the girls a follow-through at soccer practice yesterday. And ended up in the ER. This put a damper on our night-the girls were supposed to go out drinking. Oh well, as long as he’s not seriously hurt. He seems to get hurt alot. He screwed up his hand last Memorial Day weekend at our house in Riverhead cheating at tug-of-war! Get well soon, Jason!
  • I’ve planted my vegetables, herbs and flowers I got at Z-girl’s school and the St. Andrew’s Youth Group plant sale. I’m now growing Mint, Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, Eggplant, Peppers, Peas and Tomatoes. We’ve planted Chamomille and Cilantro from seed and they’re just starting to come up! If you know where I live, you’ll know I have very little sun on our property. I was out there every hour on the hour evaluating my sun situation. We get about 5-6 hours of full spring sun in the morning, and dappled sun after that. Hopefully that will be enough for our little plants to grow. I’m planting more herbs from seed today.
  • I’m the new webmaster for St. Andrew’s church! I’m learning as I’m going. Rob got me a copy of Microsoft’s Sharepoint (ha!) Designer and I’ve successfully copied from the already established webiste onto Designer by .ftp. I’m fiddling around with some layouts and changes- all advice is welcome! I’ll link when we’re up and running. Go me!
  • Mother’s Day was hard. I suffered two losses recently which made celebrating this holiday tough. Thankfully, my wonderful sister-in-law Paula had us over to her house to celebrate my niece Lily’s 2nd birthday. My other SIL Laura, my MIL Johanna and Paula’s MIL Gerry all celebrated being mothers/grandmothers/godmothers/aunts. My other niece Samantha and nephew Raymond made me forget my woes for a little while. (I really have to blog about these kids- they are adorable!) So a really nice party and really great gifts from my family made this Mother’s Day bearable. Thanks guys!
  • I got my bike fixed. And got one of those holders added to the back. MR then put saddlebags on the back for me to tote stuff back and forth- to the library, Stop N Shop or church. I’m going to try to either walk or ride whenever going anywhere in the neighborhood.

I enjoyed being a SAHM for awhile, but it’s back to the real world. The daily grind. The treadmill. I’ve downloaded a lot of songs onto my iPod so that the commute will be bearable. Now if I can figure out something to make WORK bearable.

Palmer Vineyards Yard Sale

Hey- if you’re planning on going out East this weekend, Palmer Vineyards is having their “yard sale”- save on your favorite wines! Unfortunately, we don’t head out to the beach house until soccer season ends, but we may go out for a day trip!

As sent by Palmer:

“It’s time for Palmer Vineyards Annual Yard Sale. This year, our sale will be one day only. We have very limited quantities to put on sale this year. We will open at 9am for our special customers, so come early for the best selection. Here is a sample of some of the items we will have this year:*

04 41/72 Merlot 50% off $6.49 per bottle
High Yield Chardonnay 50% off $3.99 per bottle
06 Sparkling Brut 20% off $17.56 per bottle
07 Sauvignon Blanc 30% off $11.89 per bottle
As always we will have a few surprises too! (They usually have live music…)
Mark the date and don’t forget to come early for the best selection.
*All sale items are while supplies last. All sales are on a first come first serve basis. No advance orders will be accepted. All sales are final.
Palmer Vineyards is located in Aquebogue. Directions are:
LIE to last exit (exit 73). Continue east on RT 58 to Osborne Ave. Turn left. Drive to end (Sound Ave). Turn right. Drive 6 miles to Palmer Vineyards, on the left. From the South Shore:Route 27-Sunrise Highway to 24 North. 24 North to Route 105 North. Right on to 105. Take 105 to the second light, Route 43. Make a right on Route 43 and go to the end, Sound Ave. Make a right on Sound Ave. The Winery is 1 1/2 miles on the left. From Orient:Stay on Route 48 for 25 Miles (Route 48 turns into Sound Ave). Winery is on right side.
Can’t beat the price for that Merlot!

My man Parker and how much I hate Dora the Explorer.

M and J dropped Parker off with us this morning so they could have some uninterrupted time with the doctor’s office with JJ. My second babysitting gig in a week! Maybe I could make some money off this new profession, hmmm?

Parker is three, and is a totally awesome little dude. I say that because right now he’s rockin’ the house with his rendition of “We Will Rock You.” He’s the youngest of the three kids in that family and was born with a cleft palate. After all this kid has been through (surgeries, tubes) he hasn’t lost his spirit and is in no way spoiled or hindered in any way. When he walked in to our house he had an ear to ear grin on- coming to visit us was a treat for him!

Wait- now he’s singing “Eye of the Tiger”- complete with “nih…. nih nih nih…. nih nih naaaaaa”

OMG, what a little ham! MR is really loving having a little boy around. He took out all the toys in his backpack and went through them with the kid. They tried to color a picture for M for Mother’s Day. They rode motorcycles on the couch. And waved to me when they passed by. My heart melts watching this kid. He’s a little sponge that repeats everything you say, then brings it up later in the right context. He’s a riot! And adorable.

And we have the TV on in the background, not that Parker’s watching it. He’s too busy exploring Zombiegirl’s room and following MR around. So while I’m cleaning, I’m watching Dora the Explorer. I know it’s a kid’s show, and I know repetition is good for kids, but come on! This show really hits a nerve. I don’t know what it is exactly- the talking Map, the talking Backpack or Swiper, the kleptomaniacal fox. Or Dora herself. I can just picture kids sitting on the floor watching this show with zombie eyes drooling on themselves. It’s truly idiotic.

But then again, I watched HR Pufnstuf as a kid. Today that would give kids nightmares.

No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

Have you seen this HBO show? I’m totally smitten…

I was ready to give up HBO after the Big Love season ended, and switch over to Showtime, where I can catch up with Dexter, The Tudors and Weeds. Then I watched this original HBO show- The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Yeah, it’s a mouthful. And I was skeptical about watching. I didn’t know what to expect since a) it takes place in Botswana, b) I knew nothing about the cast and c) I don’t like detective shows.

I should have known better. I know nothing about Botswana, but once I heard the music, I was hooked. I love Paul Simon’s Graceland with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. African music stirs something in me. Then, when I heard Jill Scott (who plays Precious Ramotswe) sing at her father’s funeral, I decided to continue watching as well as download her songs onto my iPod.

No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is based on the books by Alexander McCall Smith. Mma Precious Ramotswe opens the country’s first and only female-owned Detective Agency in Gaboron after her beloved father dies and leaves her many head of cattle. He taught her as a youngster to be observant and patient, and to follow her dreams- all the things that make up a good detective. She opens her agency in what is the US equivalent of a strip mall and with the help of her new secretary Grace Makutsi (played by Anika Noni Rose) and her gay hairdresser neighbor BK (played by Desmond Dube) and the clients start slowly coming in.

So what makes this show worth watching?

  1. Jill Scott. She is beautiful to watch. She is so expressive, but in the slow, easy way of Africa. She is a “classical shaped” woman which is appreciated in her country. Her character often pokes fun of her own largeness, but she exudes a sexiness and self confidence that is refreshing in this MTV anorexic world. Her relationship with JLB Matekoni (played by Lucian Msamati) is totally sweet.
  2. The scenery. It’s filmed entirely in Botswana showcasing the middle class and their struggles to grow and prosper. They use locals as extras and existing locales as sets. The colors and people are vibrant, interesting and beautiful. And the wildlife (chickens, goats, giraffes) live comfortably on their doorsteps.
  3. The politeness of the people. I love how they greet each other with “Dumela, Mma” for a woman or “Dumela, Rra” for a man. Instead of saying “miss” or “sir” it’s “mma” or “rra.” When greeting someone, one waits for a detailed response to the question “how are you?” In NY, when you ask how someone is, do you really care? They do. They’re genuine. They’ll also offer you a cup of tea or a cold drink on a hot day. Supposedly, they are a very friendly people.
  4. The cases. CSI this isn’t. There are no bodies and very little violence. Cheating husbands, dating daughters, stolen cars and a bad dentist are more the speed of the clientele at this agency. But they assign them Nancy Drew-type names and manage to solve them all.
  5. The humor. Subtle and easy humor. Self-depreciating and honest humor.
  6. The accents. Okay, I admit the first time I watched this I had to rewind a few times to get what they were saying. But after awhile, I was able to get into the patter and rhythm of the African dialect.
  7. The cast.

I just finished watching the sixth episode, which happens to be the season finale. Already? Six episodes? They’re all On Demand, along with the author’s “journals”- a behind the scenes look at his inspiration and the execution of this little gem of a show.

So watch, eh Mma?