We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, May 8. 2018
View of the lake last weekend, with Shadbush in full bloom.
My kids are 4th generation Mohonk-lovers. A perfect New York State getaway for outdoorsy people. A classic old-timey place and somewhat kid-friendly.
The place has changed a bit over its 146 years. For examples, the rustic old Quaker place has decided to serve alcohol at meals, there is no longer a daily morning prayer service (sad - it was a good way to begin a day), dancing is permitted, and they built a lovely indoor pool. Also, it has become more expensive but the meals are far better than decades past when "Quaker simple" ruled and the only dessert was rice pudding. Still, no TVs and the rooms are plain although there are 130 working fireplaces. Just call down and they will bring you wood.
Also, a 110 year-old golf course and tennis courts.
The Smiley family, who have owned and run it since the beginning, gave around 10,000 acres to the Mohonk Preserve Land Trust, but the resort still has around 4000 acres of woods, gardens, pasture, the lake, etc. Of their 85 miles of hiking (or running, cross-country-skiing, etc) trails, many of them are wide, well-maintained gravel trails built in the 1870s for horse and buggies and designed to show the mountain views. Plenty of them are rugged enough, too.
You might call it a resort, but it's really not luxurious and is all about outdoor activity in all seasons. For us, it's about the hiking. I like to do an upper-body workout in the gym early, then do hikes after breakfast and skip lunch. Just bring a banana and an orange in the day pack. On our next visit, I want to focus more on bouldering and climbing trails than on plain hiking. My relatives like to use it for runs.
I am planning a bouldering day trip there soon for our hiking pals. As a reader reminded us, if you buy one meal online in advance you can get a day pass for everything.
More of my free ad for Mohonk below the fold, with snaps -
Continue reading "Free ad: Mohonk hiking and scrambling"
Friday, April 27. 2018
Thanks, Bruce. I want to do this: Hiking the Jordan Trail to Petra
Monday, April 23. 2018
I was asked today why I took a hike around Brooklyn. To non-readers of Maggie's, the answer isn't easy since I prefer to blog with a pseudonym and try to keep work and blogging separated, for a variety of reasons.
However, the answer I give is that I enjoy history, architecture, art history, and the company of people who enjoy these things as well. While the original hike was an attempt to meet some of our readers (and a chance for me to meet our editor for the first time), we knew just walking around aimlessly wasn't going to suit people's purposes.
After working with Bird Dog to put the first walk together, I began having some fun actually finding interesting and wacky things to look at around New York City. I saw a question in an open forum on another site which asked "What are some things about New York that nobody knows about and I should go see?" I felt qualified enough to answer that question, and most of the Maggie's hikers - certainly any who have gone on all four - should also feel qualified. As Bird Dog asked while we stood in front of a townhouse completely covered in mosaics, "Where do you find this stuff?" Most of it I've found just by scouring the internet. Places like Untapped Cities, Atlas Obscura, and New York Historical Society are obvious starting points. It's strange to say "places" for a virtual location, but our virtual world is an addition to our real one, and it should be used in that fashion. For many it is just a place to escape from reality, through games or social engines. That's fine. But it is also an amazing learning tool that is often underutilized.
Within those starting points, we can spin off further. Following links within articles which lead to stories about locations and art. Even the social engines are useful. Mrs. Bulldog, after all, found our DUMBO/Manhattan Bridge picture location because she is on Instagram and saw it was one of the best photo locations. Interestingly enough, her research on that also led to the addition of the Commandant's House (late editing note: when we visited this, I merely said the Commodore of the Navy Yard lived here. This was not incorrect, however, I missed that Commodore Matthew C. Perry, who opened Japan and whose flag was displayed on the USS Missouri during the signing of documents ending WWII, lived there), the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, and the Old Stone House. So even social media is useful in doing research, though we often malign it as useless.
Ultimately, it's good fun, it's great exercise (I was very stiff the next day, not sore), and it's a chance to socialize and learn from our surroundings and our fellow travelers. An annual mini-Canterbury Tales, if you will. A pilgrimage to nowhere in particular, except to exercise our bodies and minds.
Thank you all, again, for joining and looking forward to next year. I'm thinking Upper Manhattan. The Cloisters, Mother Cabrini, the High Bridge, Morris-Jumel Mansion, the old Polo Grounds, Battle of Harlem Heights, etc. Northern Manhattan is walkable today (it certainly wasn't in 1985, when I first moved here). If we're lucky, maybe take a gander at Yankee Stadium, even though it's not the original.
I promise to keep it under 10 miles this time.
Sunday, April 22. 2018
This was not the longest hike we've had, or so I thought. After reviewing the last three, I came to realize I'd bitten off a bigger chunk of steak than realized. We clocked in at just over 11 miles, and prior to yesterday, 10 was the longest. For some reason I had believed our hike two years ago was closer to 13 miles when in fact it wasn't even 9.5.
As always, an enjoyable group. We renewed friendships from previous years' hikes, made some new ones, and I even learned my cousin and his friends have never seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, despite one of his friends working for Pinkerton. Kids these days!
Mrs. Bulldog and I enjoyed a cocktail with two of our fellow trekkers at Ryan Maguire's, near where we'd parked. We commented what a pleasant and interesting group of people we did these hikes with. Everyone is open to chat, friendly, full of fun and information. Good people, no microagressions were noticed, no need for safe spaces.
One thing I did not factor into the hike at all was the Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn. I really didn't think there was much left to look at. I was wrong. We did run into several items which discussed the battle and its locations. A plaque on a bank, just after lunch, indicated the spot Washington had used to observe the battle as it began down in Gowanus (then the Guan Heights) and the Old Stone House had more information about the holding action a Maryland regiment had engaged to allow the Continental Army to escape. I'm an old dog, but still learning new tricks.
Thank you all for putting up with my error regarding 7 Middagh Street. Where I'd first said it was the location of the Plymouth Church, on the ride home I was sorting through my notes and found I'd flipped addresses and that it was actually the location of a home which was shared (over time) by W.H. Auden, Gypsy Rose Lee, Carson McCullers, Paul & Jane Bowles, and Richard Wright. Thankfully, my error was offset by a wonderful view of lower Manhattan and New York Harbor - so plenty of picture opportunities. In fact, we did hit Plymouth Church two stops later, so we didn't miss anything at all.
Several intriguing spots were missed on the second half, and that's fine. It was getting late, and we had to get the (not in service) water taxi. But we did finish, found a great dive bar (Sonny's) that was unfortunately considered by many to be a great dive bar...it was far too crowded.
All in all, a fun day. Pictures below of the Manhattan Bridge (Mrs. Bulldog pointed out it's the most heavily posted picture on Instagram, and judging by the crowds clogging the street at 10:30, she was right), the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park, and the Williamsburgh Bank Tower (once the highest building in Brooklyn).
It's easy to see why the DUMBO picture of the Manhattan Bridge is so popular...
Sunday, March 11. 2018
For Urban Hikers, Pocket Guide App. It's fun to get lost sometimes, though. Interesting things happen.
It's now good urban (and rural hiking) season. Get out there, friends, and do 9 miles with friends and family. Pizza and beer afterwards is the Maggie's Way.
Thursday, February 22. 2018
Yes, George Washington did go to Barbados, to visit with his brother for a while.
Barbados is a coral island situated a bit east and south of the other West Indies. Caribbean on its west side, Atlantic on the east. A popular winter getaway for Europeans and Americans. People tend to have their favorite islands, but I am not a big Caribbean fan. Its east coast gets a consistent pounding from the Atlantic, and a constant and welcome strong ocean breeze which makes the 75-82 degree temps feel cool.
- The island is an approximate triangle. The southern coast has the "city" of Bridgetown and is lined with mass market resorts and hotels like Sandals, etc.. The west coast has elegant old elite resorts like Sandy Lane where you dress for dinner. The north coasts are rugged. The interior is a combination of wild and agricultural. Except for the sugar cane, the agriculture (vegetables, cattle, goats, banana, plantain) is small-scale and not mechanized.
- The east coast, around 20 miles north to south, faces the raw Atlantic and is rocky (actually, coral rocks, boulders, and cliffs), rugged, with massive surf and is not safely swimmable due to crossing surf, sharp coral, and strong currents. Surfers drown there sometimes. There are only 3 little, simple places to stay on the entire east coast - no resorts, etc. We stayed in a nice little place on the east coast - 8 small suites - no pool, tennis courts, TV, or golf course and a little honesty bar in the dining shed which always had a gallon jar of rum punch.
- Photo is our porch, ocean surf behind the trees. During our visit there, the guests were French, Canadian, and Brits. One American, besides us. From Boston. I was reading Faulkner on this trip.
Our trip was not the conventional Caribbean getaway with "relaxing" and water sports. Photo travelogue below the fold -
Continue reading "Checking out the gnarly east coast of Barbados"
Monday, February 19. 2018
When I get my photos in order (I took around 40 snaps which is a lot for me, mostly corny landscapes), I will show and tell about some parts of Barbados many visitors never see, far from the beach resorts and the golf courses but never far from Flying Fish Sandwiches and rum. This pic from one of our hikes, along the north coast:
Bajan Rum Punch - The recipe is so deeply ingrained in Barbados' culture that its recipe is a well-known rhyme: "One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak."
(Makes about 2 1/2 quarts)
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Wednesday, February 14. 2018
Here we go - planning a Maggie's Farm Urban Hike is a great Valentine's Day conversation for your spouse, significant other, or someone you'd like to impress. It's time for the first glimpse of the 4th Annual Urban Hike Itinerary. As we ate pizza last year outside of Chelsea Market, there was a general consensus that we needed to see the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights. As you know, there's nothing in Brooklyn aside from a bridge, some heights, and possibly Patty Duke's identical twin cousin. And for those of you into bad 1970's B movies, The Warriors. Fuhgeddaboudit. Leave the gun, take the cannoli (Clemenza's house is in Gravesend, Brooklyn, but Paulie was probably killed in NJ since we see the back of the Statue of Liberty).
As usual, all are invited and welcome. I expect this may be our most well-attended hike yet. Last year I was surprised to learn one couple was from my hometown (hope we see you again), while yet another travels quite a distance from the MidWest just to share a few hours with us. They've attended the last two, and I hope we see them again, as well (my wife and I speak about your wandering ways often). A number of people in my office heard about last year's hike and asked me to inform them about this upcoming one.
Last year we were all dazzled by the 'secret lair' of the Manhattan Contrarian (my wife is still gushing). I suspect we'll be equally dazzled by some new sights this year. So feel free to add comments, observations, or suggestions. Even if you're not plannning on joining us (please join!), but you have suggestions, we'll welcome them if they fit into the time span/distance. We encourage additions, we encourage any additional commentary during the walk which you find useful (last year we even managed to glom on to a professional tour at one location). This is all about knowledge sharing.
The current plan is to start in Manhattan, possibly at a Dunkin' Donuts on Fulton, by Gold, about 3 blocks from the Brooklyn Bridge. We'll walk over the bridge, then head north to Dumbo, east to Vinegar Hill, the Navy Yard, and Admiral's Row. We'll then double back to the Heights where we'll take a look at Roebling's apartment (I think I've got the right address - 110 Columbia Heights at Orange and Pineapple), a brownstone that isn't a brownstone, the Atlantic Avenue tunnel, the original Abraham & Straus (a New York thing, A&S was an iconic store), the Wyckoff Street Mosaic, Gowanus Ballroom, the Gowanus Canal, the Red Hook Warehouse and the Red Hook Grain Terminal. Some other places of note where there may be stops include 299 Sands St (King's County Distillery - but it's early in the hike so maybe not), 141 Lawrence (Circa Brewing), Cacao Prieto (chocolates!), Prospect Park (a bit of a stretch, but we'll see), 195 Centre St (Other Half Brewing), 40 Van Dyke (Sixpoint Brewing), and 218 Conover (Widow Jane's Distillery - great bourbon).
Tuesday, January 23. 2018
On Sunday we went to the Michelangelo show at the Met. It's been a must-see, especially for art scholars (which is not me - confirmed dilettante), because a show like this will not be assembled again in our lifetimes. It's a giant collection of "Il Divino's" drawings, sketches, and cartoons for his works in painting, architecture (Rome's St. Peter's), and military fortifications (for Florence - below). Few sculptures, because it's about drawings. However, his drawings are sculptural.
Mrs. BD and I reflected that Michelangelo indeed was enchanted by male bodies, but that muscular male bodies also offer more sculptural opportunities than female curves.
We have rambled over the remains of the fortifications he designed for Florence. You have to find them there, on your own. I can tell you where to look.
Saturday, January 20. 2018
Saturday, December 30. 2017
Many cool choices here: Holland America “Repositioning Cruises”
If you like oceans (and missed service in the Navy), the transatlantic trips are wonderful and relaxing. Lots to see on the Atlantic ocean, and amazing food.
Saturday, December 2. 2017
Tuesday, November 7. 2017
A few more pics below the fold
Continue reading "A few pics of Storm King, including drone pics"
Sunday, November 5. 2017
Best-named mountain in the US, in my view.
Ten of Bird Dog's pals did the long loop (orange up, yellow down) on Storm King Mountain on Saturday. Actually, it wasn't the longest route which we would have preferred, but we missed the turn to make it 4 hrs. Would have been 12 people, but two spouses were under the weather. Perfect weather, high 40s to low-50s. Colder up top. There is some rock scrambling, just enough stair-climbing stretches when you can't catch your breath, and all of the trails are rocky but there are magnificent views of the Hudson River up top. It's just north of West Point, and we ran into some cadets doing a point-to-point over the mountains with 60-lb packs. Nice kids.
The route up that we took might be rated a 5/10 of 3/5 in some American systems, a 2-3/9 in the European system - but all rating systems vary and all are lousy. Descriptions are better. This hike quite manageable if not crippled or frail. Hiking poles definitely came in handy but our rule is always bring poles and especially if carrying a pack. We brought a drone and did some drone group pics from the top, and some drone panoramic views. We did it in 3 1/2 hours, but we didn't really stop for snacks or rests. Stopped only to fly the drone a couple of times, which is so cool to play with.
We saw migrating Broad Wing Hawks, a Merlin, an immature Bald Eagle (maybe a Golden - no binocs), and of course some migrating Turkey Vultures.
We finished up at Prima Pizza in Cornwall for great pizza and beer. Great choice. Try it.
Here's one of our team, perhaps familiar to our NYC Maggie's Urban Death Marches.
More pics later, including the drone photos.
Tuesday, October 17. 2017
Reader sent this pic from travels.
Not too much is left of the original castle or of the later palace. People were always renovating and modernizing these things, or else knocking them down. Dunnottar has been rebuilt to some extent for tourists. Lots of crazy Scottish history in it.
An old image of the castle below the fold, with some Dylan Scotland trivia too -
Continue reading "Dunnottar Castle, plus Dylan"
Monday, October 2. 2017
Wave Hill is in Riverdale, Bronx, NYC. Rus in urba. People who rented Wave Hill to live in included Teddy Roosevelt and Mark Twain. Now it is a public garden and event site. We took my in-laws to look around last week.
A few more pics below the fold -
Continue reading "Wave Hill"
Friday, August 18. 2017
When you are hiking and pond-hopping in the sandy back roads of the Cape Cod National Seashore and encounter signs like this, ignore them. Everybody does. Just go on through to a lovely isolated ocean beach. In the 1950s and 60s, it was a nude beach for the artists, writers, bohemian free-love intelligentsia from Boston and NYC, and the horny modernist architects from the US and Germany.
More random pics of the place we love below the fold -
Continue reading "A few Wellfleet pics, Aug 2017, with restaurants and tides"
Sunday, August 6. 2017
AVI reminded us that the Cape Cod National Seashore turned 50 this week. That Sponge-headed Science Man loves the Cape as much as we do. The Farm is wonderful, but being inland has always made me feel a little claustrophobic. I like access to sea and sky.
Pic above of a stretch of South Beach, with our group of intrepid birders. We hopped down from Wellfleet to Chatham last week to catch a Mass. Audubon birding trip out to Monomoy Island (about which we posted recently). Monomoy is designated a National Wilderness. The size and shape of Monomoy is constantly in flux, as is its intermittent connection with Chatham's South Beach (which is an extension of Nauset Beach - the Cape's southern barrier island group which now reaches down towards Nantucket.
We ended up boating down to lower South Beach instead of Monomoy proper, due to tidal water depth. Our guide du jour, Ellison, an expert birder, led us on an arduous 4 mile barefoot (watch for sharp shells) hike through mud flats, soft sand, and sharp-edged marsh cordgrass - and non-stop biting marsh bugs - to check out the early migrants and the breeding shorebirds. Ya gotta be tough to be a birder.
Bird list and more pics below the fold -
Continue reading "Monomoy bird list, plus Chatham MA, reposted"
Friday, August 4. 2017
On a rare lovely but cool morning, we were instructed to hike across this beautiful meadow (they are far and few between, but the wildflowers were in full bloom. This rare meadow habitat is called a Machair) and to climb that mountain in Hushinish. That was a heck of a no-trail climb, and the little plateau on top gave me vertigo.
Could you climb that without poles? No. Mrs. BD and another gal had to pull themselves up on hands and knees using heather as handles at some points to reach the peak. A good workout. This hill had a series of false summits. Sheesh, false summits are a bummer but hill walkers learn to expect them.
Lots of Harris and Lewis below the fold -
Continue reading "Our Outer Hebrides hiking trip, photo travelogue #3 of 3"
Tuesday, August 1. 2017
Label photo via Salt Water New England. She seems to like Harris Tweed. It lasts forever, except moths.
"Hand-woven in the Outer Hebrides from Scottish wool." It's still a cottage industry on Harris and Lewis. No factory. I am not sure where the garments and hats, etc. are actually constructed, though.
A Harris wool sports jacket is heavy, water-resistant, and heathery-looking, perfect for Isle of Harris summer or winter weather.
Scotland, they say, has no summer and no winter. The wool just keeps growing. Was that a mutation in sheep?
Mrs. BD and the gals forced a sports jacket on me at the Harris Tweed shop on the harbor in Tarbert. Nice lining in it. Nothing really in the tiny village of Tarbert but a ferry dock, a whiskey distillery (where they suggested coming back in 5 years when they will have something good) and the little Harris Tweed shop.
Pics of a weaver, the shop, and bustling downtown Tarbert below the fold.
Continue reading "Harris Tweed"
Sunday, July 30. 2017
Just south of Chatham on the elbow of the Cape, reaching south towards Nantucket, the Monomoy islands are a National Wildlife Refuge. They are full of seals, nesting shorebirds, and are a busy migration resting place. Also, the fishing there is wonderful. You can even do flats-style fishing for Stripers.
You can visit these (relatively) new islands by boat from Chatham. Nice little trip. You can stay at the Chatham Bars Inn which, I admit, has gotten fancier over the years. There are plenty of B&Bs. Chatham is pleasant.
Saturday, July 22. 2017
Not expensive. Group sizes are 2-8 people. They will expect you to be in fair physical shape, regardless of age.
Also, if you ever do find yourself out there, here's a cool day trip from Skye: GO TO ST KILDA
Monday, July 17. 2017
Our group of 8 assembled at the Inverness train station, and proceeded by van through the mainland Highlands to Skye.
Highlands, where they cut down all the trees centuries ago:
Like many or most of the place names in the Hebrides, "Skye" is Norse. And speaking of languages, 60% of Hebrideans speak "Gallic." That's the Scottish Gaelic. All signs are in "Gallic" and English. Luckily, they also speak a strange form of English which is possible to understand at times.
Once over the new bridge to Skye, we took a 2-hr warm-up hike during which the weather changed from fog to drizzle to heavy rain to peeks of sun. A good intro to island weather. Not for sissies.
Lotsa stuff below the fold. We do it for you -
Continue reading "Skye and Outer Hebrides photo travelogue, #2 of 3: The Isle of Skye "
Friday, July 14. 2017
It's July in Scotland, and people wear fleece, down jackets, Barbour-type jackets, wool hats, etc. just to walk around town.
We flew into Inverness via Amsterdam, and had a day or so, on both ends of our Hebrides trip, in Inverness. It's the commercial center of the Highlands with a population around 50,000. It is slightly touristy - really more of a take-off point for the hinterlands - and pleasant, but there really isn't much there for a tourist.
The River Ness runs through it, from Loch Ness to the North Sea. Salmon and Sea Trout in that river.
More Inverness below the fold -
Continue reading "Inverness"
Wednesday, July 12. 2017
On Wednesdays we usually focus on general conditioning (fitness for life) and rarely on training for specific athletic endeavors. That's for a reason.
However, tough hiking is just an extreme variant of walking. A question might be "If you had three months to prep for a ten-day backpacking hike in Denali, or the Bob Marshall, or the White Mountains, or, like us, mountains in the Highlands, what would you do?"
I should modify that a bit. "What would you do, assuming you had a day job and little free time on weekends?"
I asked an exercise expert friend, a competitive athlete who can do several reps of 300-lb deads, that question. She said, given just an hour daily, the emphasis should be on lower body endurance and intense cardio. She said she would do two days/week of the usual powerlifts, but replace her other exercise routines with an hour of stairmaster with a 20-lb weight vest, and an hour of calisthenics with a 5-10-lb weight vest. She correctly observed that hill/mountain hiking is not mostly about strength but is about stamina, agility, and endurance. A person can be very strong without good endurance (and vice-versa). She said an hour of intervals on the bike would be fine, but an hour walking on treadmill with a 20-30 -lb weight vest at a high incline would be better for the purpose.
She also said that, from her experience, daily 7-hour mountain hiking with packs over 10 days can not really be duplicated in normal life. Best approach, when actually doing the trip, would be two to three days on, alternating with one lighter day for recovery. In fact, that is roughly what our guide had planned for our mixed group - two days hard, then one day lighter, and so on. By day 6, I felt eager to tackle anything. Pumped up and ready to go. Too soon, it was time to go home.
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