Tag Archives: exploration

Summer 2013

This past summer I was fortunate enough to get a drift boat. If you have never fished from one before, it’s a whole new addiction. Just seeing the river standing on a boat is incredible. Rowing the boat down the river and putting your friends into fish is just as good as hooking into the fish yourself. These are the highlights of my summer in photographs.

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The world is a wonderful place and this is some kind of life.

Freeborn Men

The northern woods are abuzz with the sights and sounds of fall. Bow hunters have taken to their tree stands, Trout are recovering from the long summer and the evening winds are brisk and cool.  Autumn is a welcome relief from hazy, hot and humid summer evenings. I believe in taking full advantage of every weekend opportunity to either get out on the motorcycle or Fly Fishing. It is also a fine opportunity to get in an extra camping trip or two.

The Hawk's Nest NYS Route 97
The Hawk’s Nest NYS Route 97

The Open Road

The East Coast Gypsy Run is a non-traditional motorcycle rally that starts down in Brooklyn with a Thursday night party, before heading up through scenic Ulster and Sullivan Counties in upstate New York. This year the ride set out on Friday the 13th, unfortunately we were unable to make it. On Thursday evening a ferocious storm blew through the county, leaving a path of downed trees and power outages through the Township.

The D&H Canal Roebling Aqueduct.
The D&H Canal Roebling Aqueduct.

Brandon and I decided to follow the run up through Route 52 in Sullivan County and into Ulster County on Route 55. We made some modifications to the route including a cruise through Walpack Center and the Delaware Water Gap along with Hawk’s Nest and a stop at the Roebling Aqueduct.

Sullivan County's Stone Arch Bridge, a murder was committed on this bridge.
Sullivan County’s Stone Arch Bridge, a murder was committed on this bridge.

In the Wild Forest designated areas within the Catskill Park there are remote roadside sites to camp at. This recreates the true freeborn man effect for a weekend warrior such as Brandon and myself. Cruiser bikes are a fine form of transportation; the saddlebags offer a place to store some of your gear and the seats are comfortable.

Road Star peeking out from behind the trees.
Road Star peeking out from behind the trees.

En route, we found the Blue Hill Café located in the sparsely inhabited mountain town of Claryville, New York. The café has a nicely renovated interior, they are a restaurant, bar, deli and small grocery. When we stopped in we met Irena, the owner and her bus girl Tishana. I had a delicious seafood feast washed down with a few Russian beers.

Russian Beers at the Blue Hill Cafe
Russian Beers at the Blue Hill Cafe
Brandon building a fire after the chilly night.
Brandon building a fire after the chilly night.

Wurtsboro, NY

As a boy, the family had a farm in Wurtsboro, NY on McDonald Road. It was a great place and one of the reasons I enjoy the outdoors. We no longer own the farm; we sold it a few years back. Wurtsboro remains one of my preferred destinations for a motorcycle ride; the Shawangunk Range running parallel with RT 209 town makes it beautiful country.

Cessna Bird Dog at the Wurtsboro Airport Hangar
Cessna Bird Dog at the Wurtsboro Airport Hangar

There are two stops that a rider should make when hammering down through Wurtsboro; the first is the Wurtsboro Airport. The airport is the oldest operating glider port in the USA, it was owned by the Barone Family since the 1940’s. The site of the airport was a large family homestead and the final resting place of the first non-Indian settler in Mamakating Township. Filled with storied history, the airport is under new ownership, the grounds are home to two Cessna Bird Dogs, gliders and several other historically significant airplanes.

Private aviation boomed after World War II, thousands of Americans were trained in the operation of the war birds; these pilots are the individuals who made America the great nation that it is. Recently aviation has fallen on difficult times, the Greatest Generation has retired, the housing boom destroyed airports to make way for subdivisions and the collapse of the housing boom wiped out trillions of dollars in retirement savings. Hopefully soon we will see a return to the pre-recession economy.

Danny's Motorcycle Parking
Danny’s Motorcycle Parking

Danny’s is my other recommended stop in Wurtsboro; popular with bikers, sportsmen and any red blooded American this is a fine roadhouse. America’s watering holes disappear all the time as our nation becomes successively more urbanized and suburban growth destroys each place’s unique heritage. Pretty much, this is the opposite of your average boring suburb’s Applebee’s, the building dates to the 1800s when the primary means of transportation through town was a canal. Over the years the establishment has been upgraded but you can still rest your kick stand less dirt bike against the pillar here and tie one on… now that’s America!

The Road Star all loaded up.
The Road Star all loaded up.

Next Weekend

That about wraps up the open road adventure, our time living as freeborn men. Like any weekend warrior, Monday is a fine opportunity to focus on numbers work and nurse the injuries of the adventure. It is a jam-packed fall and next weekend we will be at the Orvis Game Fair and Country Sporting Weekend along with Fly Fishing adventures in the Hudson Valley.

The Roundout Reservoir, New York City's thirst for water buried many Catskill towns.
The Roundout Reservoir, New York City’s thirst for water buried many Catskill towns.

The North Country

Exploring

Maine has wolves, this one had the misfortune of being on display at L.L. Bean.
Maine has wolves, this one had the misfortune of being on display at L.L. Bean.

MKFF last visited the wilds of Maine during a 2011 float trip with Fly Fishing guide Kate Farnham. Depending on where you are headed to in Maine, the drive is in excess of seven hours, a distance by any measure. It would be quicker and simpler via floatplane, bush plane or some other awesome means of transportation.  Having not attained enough wealth at this point in my life for such luxuries, we hopped in the FJ on Friday after jamming the truck full of gear and headed up.

The FJ rigged, loaded and climbing.
The FJ rigged, loaded and climbing.

Pleasant River Campground

I prefer to camp in a primitive setting, doing so allows you to disappear far away from civilization at no cost. In addition, its more fun to escape in the woods and imagine you are Danielle Boone. Either way, you leave civilization and its burden’s for a short time and check out high quality cold-water fisheries.

The tent site, Pleasant River Campground, Bethel, Maine.
The tent site, Pleasant River Campground, Bethel, Maine.

The Pleasant River Campground features secluded wooded sites along the Pleasant River, a tributary of the Androscoggin. The bathrooms are of high quality and the place is generally quiet. The owner rents out Canoes and Kayaks while providing popular amenities like a swimming pool and horseshoe pit.

Upper Andro Scenery
Upper Andro Scenery

Mount Washington

Mt. Washington is immersed in clouds most of the time, this is the valley view before ascent into the cloud.
Mt. Washington is immersed in clouds most of the time, this is the valley view before ascent into the cloud.
Going through a cloud, not in an airplane...
Going through a cloud, not in an airplane…

“Home of the world’s worst weather,” Mt. Washington, at 6,288 feet, is the highest peak in the northeastern United States. Mount Washington holds the record for highest wind ever recorded by man, a speed of 231MPH on April 12, 1934. This record was surpassed in 1996 though a human being did not actually stand there and record the wind speed as was customary in 1934. At one time, people were stationed on top of the mountain all season to record the weather.

Building chained to the top of Mount Washington.
Building chained to the top of Mount Washington.

In present day, anybody can drive to the summit on the Mt Washington Auto Road. The auto road is a 7.6-mile road that climbs Mount Washington. The road was completed in 1861 to serve carriages. The roadway has an average gradient of 11.6%; it is so taxing on your transmission that the road operators have created certain vehicle restrictions. In a future expedition, I think actually hiking Mount Washington would be interesting.

View down the Presidential Range in New Hampshire.
View down the Presidential Range in New Hampshire.

The Androscoggin

View of the Upper Andro looking downstream in a kayak.
View of the Upper Andro looking downstream in a kayak.

The upper Andro is a big east coast stream that consistently delivers larger than average sized Trout. Based upon Sunday’s float, there is also a population of Smallmouth Bass and Chub during the summer months. I floated the river with a kayak and used a Rapala floater on my LL Bean spin rod. The total catch was one Rainbow Trout, three Smallmouth Bass and five Chubs. I also had an air jaws on the line during a sudden summer thunderstorm that blew through. Eagles are common in these parts, they feast on the Trout and we did see one of them enjoying a meal.

This is the largest Chub I have ever caught.
This is the largest Chub I have ever caught.
The Thunder Rolls
The Thunder Rolls

Freeport, Maine

The Mandatory Boot Shot
The Mandatory Boot Shot

Home of L.L. Bean, the giant boot and a collection of outlet shops; Freeport, Maine rose to notoriety starting in 1912 when Leon Leonwood Bean created the Maine Hunting Shoe or Bean Boot.

L.L. Bean Hunting and Fishing Store Atrium.
L.L. Bean Hunting and Fishing Store Atrium.

L.L. Bean has grown into a global retailer and manufacturer while remaining one of the last US retailers to maintain a manufacturing presence in the USA.  Its reputation for quality and customer service is unparalleled and often studied in business school.

L.L. Bean Fly Fishing Artifacts
L.L. Bean Fly Fishing Artifacts
These snowshoes are beautiful, someone buy me them for Christmas.
These snowshoes are beautiful, someone buy me them for Christmas.

Portland, Maine

J’s Oyster Lobster and Steamer platter.
J’s Oyster Lobster and Steamer platter.

The largest city in Maine has the 19th century industrial ambiance common throughout New England. The city is a change from the lakes, rivers and forests of Maine while still maintaining the New England small town ambiance.

On the ride up it was agreed that we would all order the largest Lobster available in Maine. The cab driver recommended J’s Oyster; I ordered a heaping pile of Steamers and a Lobster. The platter was delicious although the sizes of Lobsters were fairly consistent.

Bull Feeney's assures us that, "Lobsters Love Guinness"
Bull Feeney’s assures us that, “Lobsters Love Guinness”

The next stop was Bull Feeney’s Irish Bar; I was enthralled with their slogan and sign, “Lobsters Love Guinness.” Another excellent point about Bull Feeney’s is that they have, “Maine’s most extensive selection of single malt Scotch and Irish whiskies.”

The Long Ride Home

The trip home always seems shorter than the haul up. The problem with this is you are leaving the beautiful scenery, camping and fishing of Maine and New England in general. The drive provides ample opportunity to stare out at the many fish filled rivers of New England and hope for more good days of fishing. I hope to get back sooner rather than later!