A FALL NON-FOLIAGE WEEKEND

I wanted to get away to foliage country but I couldn’t get it together.  I dithered over a destination.  My photography colleague, Ken C., had kindly given me some itineraries for the Lake Placid area.  I was tempted but felt it was too far to go alone.  Next I thought about the gorges at Ithaca, NY but also ruled that out for the driving.  I even thought about Ricketts Glen;  I wouldn’t have climbed up very far because of my prior experience there.  As a last resort I decided to work the Catskills beginning with a Saturday major train collectors show in Kingston.  The welcome signs were out … for any other weekend.

So, bent and determined to get away for a couple days I returned to the shore.  I found that, as advertised, summer has definitely left, but there was lots to enjoy.  Friday night the skies were clear so I headed to the southern end of Long Beach Island to try and photograph the Milky Way.  The quarter moon made that difficult so I made some lemonade.  The moon’s sheen on Beach Haven inlet was beautiful.

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The Milky Way was there albeit dimmed by the moon and Casino City’s lights.  It’s still a sobering sight when developed.  It always makes me think of Dave Bowman’s exclamation as he flew his pod into the monolith (2001; in the book not the movie).  “My God!  It’s full of stars.”

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I was so pleased with my evening’s work that I set the alarm for sunrise.  Back at Holgate again, I was rewarded with great color although not much cloud structure nearby.  Another of life’s many, simple pleasures, shared with the gulls and four other early risers.  Two of them were from Easton, PA.  Wait, they’re supposed to be up there enjoying foliage.

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After breakfast I headed off to Cape May.  There I found fall foliage — if you’ll let me include Goldenrod.  Cape May enthusiasts will recognize this as Sunset Point with its concrete ship, the S. S. Atlantus.  Intended to be a part of a Lewes-Cape May ferry dock, it broke loose and grounded here in a 1926 storm.

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After lunching here in the wind I headed off to the light house area and the adjacent Wetlands State Natural Area.  There were more bird-watchers here than birds.  Lots of oooohs and aahhhs — “Look, there’s a Tennessee Warbler in the goldenrod.”  (What does a southern accent warble sound like?)  Thousands of dollars worth of telescopes and cameras with their stove-pipe long lenses.  I was delighted to find just a couple of Monarch Butterflys enjoying the goldenrod.

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I finished the day with a walk along one of the trails which brought me to the beach and some more beach fall foliage.

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The next morning I made a coffee and headed back to the beach for sunrise, this time at the Pearl Street pavilion in Beach Haven.  The sea was calm with small wavelets breaking within a few feet of the shore line.  It was chilly — about 40°, but absolutely awesome.  Looking left and right and seeing as far as the Revel casino (about 17 miles away as the gulls fly) I counted only six souls in view.

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After the sublime God beams, to Fred’s Diner for a perfect breakfast.  Then home, delighted with my non-foliage weekend.

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A VISIT TO ANOTHER CENTURY

I recently spent a weekend at the Mohonk Mountain House, a surprise birthday/Christmas gift from my special friend, Barbara.  It was an enchanting visit.  Mohonk is located a few miles west of New Paltz, NY but to leave the thruway and eventually wend one’s way through the 8000 acres of the Mohonk Preserve onto the resort’s property is to leave the 21st century behind.

 

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The Smiley brothers began the resort by acquiring a twenty room tavern on the lake in 1879.  What you see today was created largely from the founding until about 1910.  The Smileys were Quakers, and Quaker values such as moderation and restraint are imbued in the property and its employees.  The simplest example: as one drives along the 3.4 miles road from the gatehouse to the resort the usual speed limit road signs declare only “Slowly and quietly.”  The property has also benefited by the continuation of Smiley family management.  Think about that: one hundred and thirty-six years of family management.

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The resort was built at one end of Lake Mohonk, a land-locked lake about .4 miles long which supports boating, swimming, fishing, and sit-in-your-rocking-chair viewing.

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Within the buildings all is gracious and pleasant.  Expect and see no plastic, fiberglass, chrome, shag rugs, or TV sets in the lobby playing the weather channel.  In fact, see no TV sets in the rooms but, but … a working fireplace, and employees who come by each morning to see if one needs more firewood.

Enjoy a little balcony off the room, built of turn-of-the-(19th to 20th)-century iron grill work.  In the hallways are wall to wall muted carpets, soft beige walls framed by aged chestnut mill work, lined with pictures of old, serious white-bearded gentlemen and their long-skirted ladies, and small, intimate side rooms for quiet conversation.

But, among those sepias of ancients we were excited to come across a friend’s modern picture.  A fellow Leas resident, Helen Vukasin, co-founded Mohonk Consultations in 1980 with Mr. & Mrs. Keith Smiley,  and was chair of their board from 1995 to 2001.  She’s now Board Manager Emerita (2011).  Mohonk Consultations supports the tradition ( since 1883) of Mohonk “as a gathering place for those seeking solutions to global, national and local problems. The beauty of the natural surroundings, along with the Quaker tradition of peaceful inclusiveness, has provided a unique atmosphere for the useful exchange of ideas.”  Much of international significance has sprung from these discussions.  See here.

Beyond all this, however, there are the grounds that are so rewarding.  Acres of gardens and miles of trails.

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On a rainy afternoon we sat on the mammoth covered porch in rocking chairs (tea and cookies at 4:00) and enjoyed the mists and rain on the lake.

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On another garden walk we encountered a restful koi pond.

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In another shower……………

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On a walk along a glacial cliff, in the distance one of their iconic and official logo Summerhouses.

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Another tea-and-cookie-time scene.

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Finally, a fall scene from along the cliff walk.

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There is a gallery of additional images from the weekend.  Please click here to see it.

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