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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Camping in the Adirondacks...

It's too bad that such an amazing weekend breathing fresh mountain air, sleeping in a tent and cooking all of my food over a fire had to end with me finding my bike missing from the courtyard upon my return to New York. But such was the case. The cable lock alone was left dangling from the fence and the oblivious security guard would only say, when pressed, "I got here at 6:30 tonight." Never mind doing rounds around the courtyard when beginning the shift. All I could do was report it to the police and tell the super. Come to find out though, after talking to him, another bike had been stolen over the weekend as well. So maybe now he'll fix the lock on the front door to the courtyard.

Anyway, the camping trip, which was my friend Matt's bachelor party, was a much needed respite from the constant hum and din of the city. The campgrounds were near Warrensburg, NY in the Adirondack mountains, so the trip required a train ride to Westchester County and a subsequent car ride provided by Matt's best man, Chris...who was an hour and a half late picking us up from Bronxville. Once underway, it didn't take me long to get mildly dizzy and car sick but Albany was only two hours away up the Taconic State Parkway, thankfully. We were planning on meeting two more in Albany (the Bills) and picking up a load of groceries and booze and then making our way on up to Warrensburg, hopefully before nightfall. But these things usually never go exactly to plan.

The Super Wal Mart in Albany is a mini city. Two levels of retail spread over an area the size of ten city blocks, and just about anything and everything available, including a disappointing array of organic produce, cheap clothing and household supplies and, you guessed it, hand gun ammo. The nature of these stores is that they suck you in and convince you, by using prices that don't end in 9, that you can afford to throw one more thing into your cart...continually. So, after an hour or so, we left with a lot of food and camping supplies that we may or may not have needed...the most obvious frivolity being a $7 machete that, thankfully, the best man paid for. It was worth every penny come to find out.

We got underway around 7:45, with daylight fading all around us along with the prospects of having any kind of natural light under which to set up camp. The campsite at Camp Dippikill, owned by the Albany University Student Association, consisted of several cabins and a trail heading out to a lake surrounded by campsites. (scroll to the right to see the lake...we were on the east side of it near the spillway)

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There was free wood and canoes for general use and a series of hiking trails, one of which led to a gorgeous summit with 180 degree views. All this was great but would have to wait until daylight. At that moment though, we had to deal with lugging the night's food and booze along with all of our packs about a mile down the path and around to the opposite side of the lake. My back was killing me about a quarter mile in.

Fire started, tents set up, booze poured and music going on the iPod speaker Chris had lugged out there, we were set for the night. And what stars! Man, I missed the mountains and this was my chance to finally taste the outdoors in NY State. Quite refreshing. And dinner consisted of merely grilled steak and asparagus, punctuated with handfuls of potato chips and gin and tonics. Healthy enough, right? After dinner activities around the campfire included listening to really loud Dave Matthews on the iPod, recreational slashing of anything we could find with the dull machete that somehow made it from Super Wal Mart all the way to our campsite, telling "your mom" jokes, drinking and stoking the fire all too often. Matt and Chris might have gone in the lake after a while, too...did I mention the night time low temperature was 40 degrees F? Chris' shivering question, "Why did I do that?!" was probably the funniest thing and the hardest I laughed all weekend.

Though my sleep that night was delicious, it was, unfortunately, interrupted by one of the Bills hurling "your mom" jokes (leftover from the previous night's witty banter) along with pine cones at my friend's tent. Apparently he had been crowded in the best man's tent and couldn't sleep. About the time he turned the iPod back on, I told him to shut it so we could all sleep seeing as how it was only 8:30 a.m.

After finally getting up around 11 and having a breakfast of bacon and more bacon (I actually had some peanut butter toast as well), Matt, the Bill that wasn't up early and I took off for the summit, which was a shorter hike than our trek to the campground from the cars. I snapped some photos of the views of the surrounding peaks and the Hudson river below (forgive the quality as they were snapped with my cell phone since my camera battery died while I was snapping the other photos of the campfire the previous night):

Matt's Camping Trip

Upon returning to the campground I swam in the muddy lake for a bit and then a few of us decided to head back to the car to get food for that night. Earlier that morning my friend had swum across the lake (immediately after he had woken up) to the boathouse to fetch us a canoe to cut the hike in half. So we loaded up the canoe with an empty pack and ourselves while Chris debated coming with us. After relating an incident where he had capsized a canoe once while trying to get in it, he promptly, though surely inadvertently, reenacted the scenario for us. Luckily for me, my bathing suit was still on. Unlucky for Bill, his iPhone was in the empty pack and it didn't turn on for hours.

We recovered, emptied the boat and tried it again though the whole trip to the boathouse, with three guys in one canoe, was uneasy and fears abounded of falling back in the lake, this time in the deepest part. We made it safely to the boathouse though and hiked back the rest of the way to the cars but, unfortunately, when we returned to the boathouse, loaded with food and booze, all of the canoes were out on the lake, filled with college kids. So we had to hike the rest of the way but it was no big deal. Later on, I hiked over to fetch back another canoe for the next morning's ride back.

The highlight of the trip for me came that evening and was actually during a moment of solitude. Matt had brought a South American hammock and had slung it between two trees by the lake shore and I perched myself in it with the book I'm reading and a glass, er, cup of red wine. The air was perfect, mid 60s, the sky at sunset was beautiful and I had just enough residual light to finish off a chapter resting in probably the most comfortable hammock I've ever been in. A nighttime canoe ride rounded off my silent meditative moments and then I rejoined the guys for some more ridiculousness before going to bed relatively early.

The following day's hike back was not nearly as exhausting to me somehow as the hike in on Friday night. Probably the mountain air and a general feeling of being well rested. Our ride back was smoother as well, punctuated by a stop in downtown Albany for lunch at a burrito place called Bomber's, and an impromptu stop at the NY Giants training camp. Something I probably would have never been interested in doing on my own but which was actually kind of cool.

We finally left Albany around 4:30 p.m. arriving at the train station in Bronxville just shy of the 6:27 train to Grand Central. I had to wait another hour for the next and was cursing myself for not having the time for a nap before my overnight shift at work. I managed though. I always seem to.

Now, I prepare for my trip to Massachusetts for the wedding and my subsequent weekend in Boston. Today I had another coaching session at Edge and have planned out the rest of my sessions up to my demo preparation. Getting excited. More on that in another entry though. I must sleep for the moment.

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