Old Man Winter Delays Train Season

#HardHatReporter, Catskill Mountains, trains

By Rebecca Andre – May 10, 2018 10:54 pm – Arkville, Delaware County, NY

If you are wondering why the May opening of Delaware and Ulster Railroad has been pushed to June 2, you can thank Mother Nature and Old Man Winter, who have once again conspired to hold off precious spring and summer in the Catskills.

DURR Train

Platform in Arkville will be filled with riders starting June 2

Despite best intentions to have track work complete, problems left over from winter weather derailed hopes of a Mother’s Day Weekend opening.

Namely, frost heaves and cross elevation.

As explained by Wes Coates, General Manager of DURR, the cinders used in the building of the railroad hold moisture, especially in the lower-lying areas, and freeze, pushing the tracks up and out of place.

Efforts were made to avoid this issue, including plowing the tracks for the first time in 40 years to open them up to the sun quicker.

A larger railroad would have a simple fix, using a track stabilizing machine to force the tracks back into place.

“We are a little country railroad,” explains Coates, so this has to be done the old fashioned way: by running a passenger-free train over the tracks back and forth to stabilize them.

Durrr Train

#5106 sits patient on the tracks

Crews have already installed 100 tons of ballast (gravel/stone) and almost 1,000 new ties. Work is being done in both directions from the station in Arkville, including towards Highmount. Word is the visiting steam locomotive planned for June and September could cross the trestle over the Bushkill.

Vic Stevens, Chief Engineer, and Coates are both extremely disappointed by the hold up. “But we need to make sure the tracks are safe,” says Stevens.

***

Go to DURR.org for full schedule and ticket information. Be sure to check for updates on Facebook as well. 

DURR

‘Tie Inserter’ machine

DURR ties

New environmentally conscious ties treated with copper naphthenate  instead of creosote, which has been classified as harmful to the environment as it can leach from the ties when heated by sunlight and allow a petroleum residue to seep into ground water.

temp 3

The ‘Ballast Regulator’ is used to spread the ballast out for the ‘Tamper Machine’

 

Disappearing Rails: why give a damn?

Catskill Mountains, trains, Travel, upstate new york

– by Rebecca Andre

Updated 12/5/17 – On November 12, 2017 “Disappearing Rails – A Plea To Lawmakers” was released on Facebook. It has accumulated 5,489 views and 223 shares.

Disappearing Rails Plea To Lawmakers from Mountain Girl Photography… on Vimeo.

Above: Still from “Disappearing Rails”, photo credit: Larry Roth

On Monday, November 13 and 14, 2017, all Ulster County legislators received a copy of the Official Release on Vimeo, along with a password. This was so stats could be recordered and number of views would be accounted for.

In the email, they were made aware views were being tracked.

Only 25 people had access to this link: producers, Ben Rounds and myself, along with the 23 Ulster County Legislators.

Views before November 14, 2017 legislature vote: 2

Views up to December 5, 2017, when video password was removed: 6

The lawmakers had made up thier mind. By a majority vote they decided to go forward with the resolutions that brought the demise of 11 miles of Ulster County tracks, forever  severing the Catskill Mountain Rail Corridor.

Was the video was an exercise in futility? That remains to be seen. Pay-offs so far are the introduction of myself as a documentary filmmaker hopeful and the thousands of inevitable listens received  of “Train Used To Run” by Ben Rounds

IMG_3471

Stats page for Disappearing Rails views on Vimeo with password. Proof is in the pudding.

An almost accurate record of that meeting and vote that night can be found at this Daily Freeman article.

My candid record of that meeting, including intimidation tactics, Richard Parete’s vote change and Kathy Nolan’s attempt to change my own mind can be found on this facebook post.

Until the rails are removed, the fight will go on. Until. Please visit the Ulster & Delaware Railway Revitalization Corp website and donate to their legal fund and the final efforts to  Save The Rails.

Change the words “trees” to “trains” and how appropriate are the words of Dr. Suess:

“But now,” says the Once-ler, “now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear. UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” “I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”

*****

Original Post 10/16/2017

Viscose #6 Steam Engine fall run on the DURR

Viscose #6 Steam Engine fall run on the DURR

So you are wondering why you should care about the railroad of Upstate New York when California and Montana are burning and Florida and Texas are drowning. I get it. I sometimes wonder the same thing myself. Then I make a donation to flood or fire victims and move on with my day.

After all, we can’t fix it, right? The state of our country, politically, physically and morally is so precarious right now. I would like to stick my head in the sand and pretend like none of it is happening until a flame or a flood actually reaches my doorstep, or until the insurance drops my family.

Then I will get angry and all kinds of scared.

In the meantime…there is something I can do, we can do. Like donate to the local food pantry, raise money for animals waiting for adoption or vote on a local level believing this vote will actually count.

Also, I can pitch a fit to keep the Ulster County rails in place. At least until I actually see the steel being carted away. I do this not only because I am in love with trains. I do it because of the incredible blow it would mean for our economy and loss to our future generations if these rails were to be permanently deleted from our landscape.

“Future generations?” you ask. And “Who needs train travel? We have planes, and smart cars, etc. Why not just go back to horse and buggy?”

“Economy?” you ask. “Rail upkeep costs money!”

Trains and minimalism go hand in hand.

Well, to address the former, Millennials are reverting back to foot and pedal travel, and car-sharing. The throw-away culture of my generation is becoming a thing of the past.   The core hipster mentality is sweeping the nation: Minimalism.

I can back up the above statement . I’ve traveled Amtrak all over the country. Most recently, between NYC and Baltimore. The amount of young people hopping the train to get out of the city boggled my mind. One vintage Woolrich-clad group was particularly vocal about the horrors of bus travel and the expense of renting a car.

But the train only takes one out of the city into the Hudson Valley. After all, it can’t travel along the west shore of the Hudson. Oh, wait, yes it can. Proof positive this past weekend, Oct. 14 & 15, when the Amtrak Autumn Express found its way tunneling under then crossing over the Hudson, for a sweet and well-spent $169.00 a ticket. I know of a train enthusiast that was flying out from California and spending two nights in a NYC hotel to make this historic run.

Back to logistics. If you want to travel via train to actually visit or stay in the Catskills, you better hope you have a friend you can presume upon to pick you up at Rhinecliff. But you probably don’t, so you will be one more scale on the snake of vehicles slithering along Routes 17, 87 and 28. And, thanks to AirBnB, a house-sharing phenomenon, this congestion is only going to increase exponentially over the next few years. (I am surrounded by AirBnB rentals. Four to six cars in the driveway of a house that sleeps six to eight people is the norm.)

Wait, I’m getting ‘off track’ here…entering into the reduced environmental impact trains afford us…Have you seen the amount of cars overflowing the trail head parking areas?

To quote Steve Porter and Ken Anello, co-chairmens of the U&D Railway Revitalization Corp  (UDRRCorp)in their February 7, 2017 letter to Gov. Cuomo, “A revitalized railway has the possibilities of increasing the usage of the area by the most number of visitors with the least carbon footprint.

But the Govenor has yet to respond to this letter he received from UDRRCorp, a non-profit organization with a mission to “preserve and protect the entire Ulster and Deleware railroad corridor.”

“Rail travel is far from dead and being old fashioned.” writes Steve Porter in ‘Why Trains Are Good For Ulster County’. “More areas are starting to use trains to provide options for transit. No, it’s not going to replace the auto. But our culture is changing and cities and communities are going to be connected by more than just roads and bike trails. At least the progressive communities will.”

As the UDRRCorp would say, “Imagine the possibilities.”

Imagine less cars.

Imagine if the AirBnB-ers could car-share to Kingston and travel by train to innumerable destinations in the Catskills? They could plan to spend the week in one town, or if they want to explore, they can put on their hiking shoes.

Imagine climate-conscience youngsters hiking from Pinehill to Roxbury finding it’s just too long of a trek for them. They could, theoretically, take a train, do dinner at some overpriced, hand-cut-ice-serving-boutique restaurant and head back to their AirBnB one county over.

Imagine skiers leaving Kingston, destination Belleayre. This is not a far-fetched stretch (well, maybe the completion of the proposed resort is). In our not so distant past, trains used to carry vacationers to the doorsteps of Catskills’ resorts. Even Amtrak sees the positives of a rail line heading up country to deliver riders with the new and highly successful  Winter Park Express weekend train between Denver Union Station and the high-country ski resorts.

Imagine in vogue upstate nuptials taking place on the train. Considering the weddings exploding all over the Catskills, imagine photo shoots, rehearsal dinners or even bachelor parties on the train. Imagine all the intoxicated wedding-goers having a safe option for commuting.

Imagine none of this happening if the rails are removed.

It won’t happen tomorrow, next year, or 50 years from now. Because once the rails are ripped up they will never be re-built.

Thank you to George Bain and Ken Anello, Co-Chairman of UDRR Corp for these numbers I used for these beautiful shareable MEMEs!.

“The real problem would be the permits,” says George Bain of the UDRR Corp. “A railroad does not need a permit to maintain or repair itself unless it involves the waterways nearby. [Re]building a railroad would require permits and planning that would take decades.”

Another issue holding up all we can imagine for the rails (for example Rail Explorers) is the FEMA repairs Ulster County has yet to make after the severe flood damage between Shandaken and Phoenicia that Irene left in her wake.

I’m sure Thomas Cornell, the businessman responsible for the commencing of Rondout and Oswego original railroad construction in 1866  is restless in his grave. As are the many men who sacrificed blood, sweat, tears and even their lives to build these rails only 150 years ago.

The rails connect to the past while they serve the present, and can connect to the future. -Larry Roth, UDRRCorp

Should the rails be ripped up, I will have to tell my daughter, who was blessed with the travel bug and an adoration of trains like her mother, that the rails going through her town may not be there one day. That the precedent being set by removal of this seemingly unimportant set of tracks is that rail travel will soon be obsolete. That maybe when she, or her own daughter, is 21, soul-searching and forced by her inherited wanderlust to travel West, she won’t be able to cross this country on a train.

My daughter on CMRR’s ever popular Thomas the Train a few years ago.

Trains and sustainable tourism go hand-in-hand

Now to address the economical positives of keeping the rails in place, I mention my personal favorite: sustainable tourism. This article ’38 Reasons To Save The Rails’ is much more detailed than these few paragraphs, and compiled by experts, so please be sure to click on the link and read.

Even with only heritage rail companies running on sections of the Ulster and Delaware corridor, the amount of money being brought to these towns served is indisputable. Here are CMRR numbers for their last full season, 2015.

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Remember the traffic jam in Arkville, Delaware County the October weekend the Viscose steam engine came to DURR?(pictured at top of this article)

If you are reading this and don’t know where Arkville is, well, that’s my point. There are small towns all up and down the state funded Scenic Byway (Rt. 28)  where regular, working people live. People who own shops, cafes, real hotels, etc., that would only benefit from a train delivering hundreds of potential customers to their doorstep. Folks that never see the tourist dollars spent in Kingston.

This is what I mean about economy.

This is what I mean about making a difference locally. It really is not that complicated.

So you can’t damn the floods, or put out the fires, or fix a Texan’s home. But you can vote for rail/trail supporting legislators. You can attend a rally and make some noise. You can even contribute to the cause by actually buying a ticket for one of the train excursions still offered, and encouraging your friends to do the same.

By the way, The Polar Express is back!  Thanks to a temporary permit procured by CMRR for short excursions out of Kingston that began this fall. That’s a mere 25,000 person guaranteed increase in ridership during the months of November and December.

To take a train ride in Ulster County, click here.
To take a train ride in Delaware County, click here.

If you are so inclined, you can even reach deeper into your pockets and show a little love for the big undertaking that is my first documentary: Disappearing Rails. A short film to raise awareness about the importance of of keeping Upstate New York heritage rails in place for our economy and future generations.

Filming for this documentary, the brain child of Ben Rounds, local musician and major proponent of the railroad, begins this Sunday October 22 during his Whistle Stop Tour. We hope to include footage form this tour along with original Ben Rounds music to produce a small teaser of the film before year’s end. But time is of the essence, and so is money!

The reporter in me will make sure the film addresses both sides of the issues. Historians will be interviewed, along with rail/trail activists and trail-only supporters. Politicians will be given an opportunity for an on-camera interview. If they decline, that will be documented as well.

And if the rails are ripped up during production, well, it will be on film. For all the world, or at least the State of New York, to see, and to know, who is responsible. I am not being dramatic here, Ulster County’s opening of bids to remove rails was slated for October 12 and has been moved to October 19.

IMG_3307

If you would like to show your immediate support for the rails, here are details of the Whistle Stop Tour. Show up! At one, or all stops. Your presence will make a difference.

Whistle Stop FINAL simple

If you are more of a behind the scenes supporter, or a business owner directly affected by the fate of the rails, consider being a sponsor. Ben and I are funding the teaser on our own, but the film itself is going cost too much money without outside contributions.

All sponsors will receive thanks plastered throughout our promotional campaign and spending will be transparent in readily available reports.

And don’t forget the contribution to the Karma Jar. 🙂

What is written here is just the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to educate yourself about the possibilities in store as long as the rails are kept in place, please go to:

http://udrrcorp.com/wordpress/about

http://www.udrrhs.org/html/udhistory.html

http://savetherails.org/wordpress/

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Catskills’ St. Patrick’s Day parade, brush fires & burn ban

Catskill Mountains, new york, outdoors, photography, upstate new york

Sunday, March 13th proved to be not only a gorgeous day for a small town parade, but also dangerously dry in the Catskills. (Scroll to end for parade slideshow)

Five days after the Hubbell Homestead Fire  in Delaware County, brush fires continue to pop up.

Roxbury Fire Department Fire Chief Ken Davie went on to explain the lack of snow load this year has left the ground unsaturated, and allowed for grasses to stand tall and dry out, instead of flattening down.

Sunday’s St. Paddy’s Day festivities were still underway when a 12:48 pm tone rang out at the Roxbury Fire Department.  With the majority of the firefighters and trucks at the parade in Halcottsville, it was a scramble to reach the Denver brush fire.

Roxbury Fire Dept Hville parade 2016

Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department in Halcottsville St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Den1ver brush fire

Smoke in the valley

Denver brush fire 3

Brush fire at 23 Slauson Hollow Rd. of Salley’s Alley, Denver NY

Denver brush fire 2

Extinguishing the flames

denver brush fire 4

According to  Chief Davie, fire took less then 20 minutes to put out completely

Chief Davie reported the resident of the house below the caught field had been burning a bit of brush in a barrel, and a spark flew.

“People need to be aware and pay attention…there is a brush fire in Davenport [Delaware County] right now…there could possibly be 1/2 a dozen fires by the end of today,” said Davie.

The NYDEC has issued a burn ban beginning March 16, 2016 and ending May 14, 2016.

According to the March 13 press release “all residential brush burning is prohibited in smaller communities during the state’s historically high fire-risk period from March 16 through May 14,” said  state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens.

“This time of year has the most risk of fires and the risk is even greater this year due to the extremely mild winter we’ve seen across the state,” Commissioner Martens said.

hville st p day parade mr saftey 2016

Ignoring the ban is a serious offense:

Violators of the open burning state regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense. To report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332), or report online on DEC’s website.

“It’s a danger zone right now,” said  Fire Chief Ken Davie.

Parade photos by Mark Andre  |  Fire photos by Rebecca Andre

 

Loud Derby and Quiet Confederate Flag at 2015 Delaware County Fair, Walton New York

Catskill Mountains, outdoors, photography, state fair

A summertime tradition once again commenced this past weekend in Walton, New York.  The Delaware County Fair is an end of summer staple for “upstate” New Yorkers adults and children alike.

There are the rides of course…

tea cup ride 2

Bright lights against a Catskill sunset.

…and the petting of animals…

Feeding the goats...just a tip of the agricultural iceberg

Feeding the goats…just a tip of the agricultural iceberg.

…the purposeful crashing of cars…

demo derby day 2

Friday night’s demolition derby at the county fair in Walton was the scene of numerous car crashes and a “few good fires.”

…as hundreds of spectators pay $6 a ticket to fill the stands, and cheer on the clash of metal…

Smoke rises, and can be seen throughout the fairgrounds.

Smoke rises, and can be seen throughout the fairgrounds.  “I grew up coming to derby nights during fair week” says Mary Torma-Kelly, who has been with the Walton Fire Department and Fire Police for almost 10 years. Torma-Kelly goes on to explain the cars undergo modifications regarding the gas tank, and there are strict regulations that must be followed to be allowed to run in the event. Of course there are helmet regulations, and a major rule restricts any collisions with the driver’s side door. This is a time-honored tradition not everyone understands. Good old-fashioned fun is had by the drivers of the decorated, beat-up cars. The crowd goes wild when the driver of the last car running climbs on top of his car for a victory dance.

…of course there are tractors…

The local farmers get to use their tractors for something other then plowing and harvesting as they pull each (permanently) wrecked vehicle off the track.

The local farmers get to use their tractors for something other then plowing and harvesting as they pull each (permanently) wrecked vehicle off the track.

…and country music…

The Jason Wicks Band

The Jason Wicks Band

…and last, but not least, confederate flags.

Confederate flag flies and sells at the fair in Walton, New York

Confederate flag flies and sells at the fair in Walton, New York.

Yes.  The Confederate flag.  Despite swirling controversy, as outlined by the local online newspaper Watershed Post, the flag did have a quiet presence in a few tucked-away corners of the fair.  Belt buckles, pins and the flag itself were for sale by at least three (to remain un-named) vendors.

Yes.  Just a few hours outside of New York City, this fair speaks to the entrenched way of life (the good, bad and indifferent) of hard working farmers and their families. Those in the city and surrounding areas may not understand all the choices made by these folks, some 3rd generation farmers.  This is a proud land, owned by mountain farmers in New York State.  Personal judgements aside, my family sure had a blast, and the Demolition Derby was well worth our trip.

All Images ©2015 Rebecca Andre

Tales of Trout and Waiting for Spring.

Catskill Mountains, outdoors, photography

Neversink.  Beaverkill. Schoharie. Esopus.  Stony Clove Creek.

Never have I heard these coveted Catskill streams named so many times in one sitting.  Yet, I am so glad I was present at Trout Tales, an event hosted by Leigh and Mark Melander of Spillian, this past snowy Sunday, March 1.  An event that brought together passionate fly-fisherman, historians and policy-makers along with avid fishermen/women of all ages.  The youngest attendee was just 6 years old.

Initially,  my presence there was solely to escape cabin fever, as this winter has been long and cold, with Spring so slow to show.  Yes, I did want to show support to my husband and his new business, High Peaks Outfitters, document the evening with my camera, and slurp up the amazing soup served up by my friend and resident chef, Melissa Zeligman.

Upon leaving, I left with a belly full of the most spectacular clam chowder, and enough inspiration to fuel me until Spring.

Spring…  my husband cannot wait to step onto a solitary rock, stream side, and watch his line drift with the current…The wives of the below fisherman will agree, we too are looking forward to Spring, and the peaceful mood displayed by our men returning from the streams.

Also waiting, patience tested, for Spring is the panel of esteemed fly anglers that were present that night:

From Left: Chris Hensley, Mark Loete, Roger Menard, Judd Weisberg, Lenny Millen, John Hoeko, Tony Bonavist

From Left: Chris Hensley, Mark Loete, Roger Menard, Judd Weisberg, Lenny Millen, John Hoeko, Tony Bonavist ©2015 MGP&D

Enter: a brief overview of the Trout Talks.  After being introduced by the moderator of the night, Chris Hensley, an accomplished fly fisherman that calls the Catskills home, we heard from the six panelists, in speaking order:

  1. John Hoeko, Fleischmanns, NY – Began fishing only a few years after he began to walk.  Legendary anglers of the Catskills like Frank Mele, Art Flick, Harry and Elsie Darbee, Ed Van Putt and Herman Christian can be counted among his friends and associates.  John was instrumental in the passage of the “Catskill Water Flow Bill”.  Sunday evening, John spoke very whimsically as he recounted his love for fly-fishing.  And we are all waiting for the imminent opening of his fly shop in Fleischmanns, NY.

    John Hoeko, soon to be opening  up a fly shop in Fleischmanns, NY

    John Hoeko, soon to be opening up a fly shop in Fleischmanns, NY           ©2015 MGP&D

  2.  Tony Bonavist, Hurley, NY – Began tying flies at the age of 10. His bio includes a BS in Aquatic Biology,  26 years as a fisheries biologist for the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, an instructor at the Wulff School of Fly Fishing, and a published writer. He was also instrumental in the developing of the Catskill Waters organization and legislation that saved almost 200 miles of the Delaware Watershed.  Tony spoke fervently and proudly of the role he played saving the waters that we all take for granted.
  3. Lenny Millen, Margaretville, NY – Yet again, we see fishing taking hold at a young age with Lenny, a veteran guide of 25 years,  as he began fishing as soon as he could walk, no doubt with the help of his three brothers.  Beginning with spin fishing (which by the way, is perfectly acceptable in my book.  Especially when encouraging young people to to take up the sport, baby step by baby step.)  His love for fishing eventually landed him in the Catskills from Montana, where he established Catskill Kingfisher Guide Service.  Mentored by Joan Wulff, he returned the favor by serving 7 years at the Wulff School of Fly Fishing.  A true and heartfelt statement from Lenny on Sunday night regarding fly-fishing – and life, I should say – “There is plenty to learn for the rest of your life, no matter how young or old you are.”

    L to R Lenny, John, Tony

    From Left: Lenny Millen, John Hoeko and Tony Bonavist                           ©2015 MGP&D

  4. Roger Menard, Olivebridge, NY – Roger can rightfully boast of honorable service in the United States Navy, along with accumulating 65 years of fly fishing experience.  He is charter director of the Theodore Gordon Fly Fishers, member of the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, Catskill Fly Tiers Guild and Trout Unlimited.  Along with being a respected fly tier counting the Darbees, Keith Fulsher and Charlie Krom among his friends, he is also author of “My Side of the River: Reflections of a Catskill Fly Fisherman”.  Listening to Roger, it makes perfect sense he is a writer, as his story-telling of 22 inch rainbows and trout-stealing raccoons were a highlight of the night.
  5. Judd Weisberg, Lexington, NY – Once again, fishing became a destiny realized early.  At the age of 4, he began fishing at camp Lexington owned by his family.  His love for fly fishing has since taken him all over the world, from Maine to Japan.  Judd is a licensed guide in NY and PA, specializing in float and wade trips.  He teaches his “Elements of Fly Fishing” course to any and all who wish to learn the way of life of fly fishing.  Sunday night he mentioned his inspiration for guiding is his desire to “see others catch fish”.  Amen

    Mark Loete, Roger Menard, and Judd Weisberg ©2015 MGP&D

    Mark Loete, Roger Menard, and Judd Weisberg   ©2015 MGP&D

  6. Mark Loete, Chichester, NY – Mark became an angler on the shores of the Mississippi River. Mark has been a professional photographer (kindred spirt) for 30 years in New York, and has made the Catskills his home for the last 15 years.  Mark’s most recent accomplishment is the photographed collection of artificial flies housed in the Jerry Bartlett Collection at the Phoenicia Library and website.  He also is a NYS licensed guide and owner of Catskill Mountain Angler.  Sunday evening he shared with us some newspaper clips from the 40’s, describing huge harvests of trout, demonstrating there wasn’t always regulations and limits.
Chris and Mark Loete

Chris Hensely, moderator, and Mark Loete    ©2015 MGP&D

Melissa's Magical Clam Chowder     ©2015 MGP&D

Melissa’s Magical Clam Chowder ©2015 MGP&D

So…one may wonder what I absorbed from this night?  Perhaps I felt a little over my head.  Yet at the dinner table, or in the soup line waiting to be dished out yet another bowl of Melissa’s Magical Clam Chowder, it became glaringly apparent that we all shared at least  two things in common:  our love for the waters of the Catskills, and our desire to see people of all ages appreciate the life-changing effect taking to the outdoors can have.

Dare I say, whether its fly fishing, spin fishing, hunting, trapping, hiking or skiing, the Catskills offer all this up on an inviting “silver platter”.  All we have to do is get together our respective gear and cast out a line.

-becca

-becca

Written by: Rebecca A., poet and photographer, owner of Mountain Girl Photography and Design and Traveler’s Tea, an organic tea company.  Wife to Mark, mechanic, electrician, hunting/fishing guide and owner of High Peaks Outfitters. Mother to beautiful Bella, fisher-woman in training.

Thanks to: the esteemed Chris Hensley, for his informative bios, and for taking leave of his fast-paced career in the music industry and making the waters of the Catskills his home.

WATER. FALLS.

blog, photography

A GUARANTEE

Some days, problems pile up like heavy drifts of snow against a fence line.  Through the help of friends, family, creative thinking and down right hard work and determination, we shovel our way out of the drift. Eventually, the snow melts…

Cross Mountain, Delaware County, NY

Cross Mountain, Delaware County, NY ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

…revealing the ground once again, as we witness the transformation of snow into water. It evaporates and falls back to earth as precip of one sort or another.  This incredible cycle, is highlighted here in this NOAA and NASA Science on a Sphere movie….  a project tirelessly worked on by my amazing twin sister of Verglas Media.

Water Falls Movie Trailer

Water Falls Movie Trailer ©2013 Verglas Media

Here in the CATSKILLS, NY, we are blessed with water in its most beauteous state (snow) on a regular basis.  We ski, we photograph, we relish inside by the fire when it snows.  When the inevitable melting happens, most of the time, we are sad to see it go.  Unless it is  February or March, when we are so over all the winter activities and we just want to get our hands in the earth and some sun on our skin.

A GIFT

What melting snow leaves behind is not just a muddy slush, but a torrent rush of water, quenching our thirsty streams, our rivers, our reservoirs.  Raging over rocks, this Water Falls, skimming the banks of engorged rivers, and eventually plummeting over the cliffs, filling our senses, forcing us to acknowledge the simple gifts in life.

Lower Mine Kill Falls  ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

Lower Mine Kill Falls ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

Joy Rushes Upon a Slick Ledge BW ©2014 Becca for MGP&D

Joy Rushes Upon a Slick Ledge BW ©2014 Becca for MGP&D

A GIG

Over the last year, I have been blessed with intriguing creative assignments from several clients. I call these “gigs”.  The latest gig is periodically documenting, through photos, the weather for an online magazine.  This week, beginning on the Twelfth day of Christmas, I took the assignment very seriously, and decided to showcase the amazing water in the region through “The Seven Days of Waterfalls”  We are at Day 5, and I am particularly in love with the image below that I captured today. Notice the slowed down, veil-like movement of the water.  Now take a moment to drink in the beauty of the mountains.

Un-named Falls around the Bend, ©2014 MGP&D for Upstate Dispatch.

Un-named Falls around the Bend, ©2014 MGP&D for UD.

To all my family, friends, and fellow bloggers, may you have a peace-filled, joyous year to come.

Snow Melts |  Water Falls | Writing Soothes | Photography Inspires

How Houses Haunt Me

Uncategorized

Ever since I was a little girl, I used to pretend houses that didn’t belong to me were, indeed, my home.  The first house I coveted was the grand farm house belonging to the landlord of the farm we lived and rented on.  Gabled, with a wrap-around covered porch,  drawing rooms and fireplaces, a bright sunny kitchen and a cozy dark paneled study.  I was in this house only once, and it grabbed at my imagination, made me yearn for something that was, and never could be, mine.

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

As an adult, this fascination with abodes that weren’t mine found an acceptable outlet:  Frequenting real estate open houses.  The ultimate opportunity to observe another’s home, decor, way of life…and an opportunity to daydream about inhabiting these rooms, the changes I would make, and what would stay exactly the same.  It was a fun exercise, a good way to pass the time on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Today, while shooting the Catskill landscape for an online magazine Upstate Dispatch that I am a contributor for; after over a year of being satisfyingly settled in a cabin on the side of a mountain, I once again, found myself fantasizing…about a house that was not my own.

*the above house is not the house discovered today…that is a secret not to be revealed at this time.

This was not just a house.  It was a moderately sized, stone front cottage, at the top of a dead end road, with a view that was anything but dead.  With a view that forced me to inhale, made me feel alive with the beauty that even if I shut my eyes, would be imprinted on my brain.

I had discovered the perfect property.  Uninhabited, with grass that had gone to seed, and tall proud spikes of the mullein plant, and dried teasel blooms, sharp and eager on the border.  Mature apple trees, and maple trees, all in groupings of three.  Despite their lack of recent care, whoever had planted them so long ago had done so with intention.  And above the cottage, a little further up the drive, an amazingly in-tact barn.

And a pond.  The perfect circle of water.  A crooked bench beckoned to me, but this was my first visit, I was worried about being overly intrusive, so I resisted the urge to plant myself on the edge of the water and disappear in the tall grasses that swayed so carelessly with the last breezes of summer.

Peering in the windows (How could I not?) was not a disappointment.  Empty, but clean, with an “updated” kitchen and a wood stove and french doors separating two downstairs rooms.  There was a curved stair case that  led to a cozy attic bedroom where romance and babies and sleep promised to dwell.

The inexplicable feeling of longing, of belonging, that accompanied this property was disconcerting, as if I had been there before.  I often feel this way about abandoned homes, that are left alone at the best, but more often then not, discarded and disregarded in a state of irreparable damage.  I wonder of the living and dying that happened in that house, and in this way, the old homes haunt me, no matter what time of year.

Visiting these properties is a pastime I relish, especially in these mountains, where one can climb a mountain road, and breathe in a view of the world on some lost and forgotten property.  All the while, staying completely out of view from the world.

  ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

Remains ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design

Yellow Barn…similar to the one on our childhood farm. ©2014 Mountain Girl Photography & Design