Camping in Shawangunks (Day 2)

Minnewaska State Park

It has been a while since my last camping adventure.
I saw lightening bugs, something that reminds me of my childhood summers in Ohio. I got to see them anymore when I stopped visiting Ohio. It is too hot for them to be in Florida.
I also forgot how hard the ground could get.
Before going to sleep that night I made sure I drank a protein shake so I wouldn’t wake up in lactic acid pain.
I was smelly and sore but didn’t care, shower was not happening that night.
When I do something athletically strenuous I tend to have to urinate frequently. It was very uncomfortable to keep having to get up in the middle of the night and wander around in the pitch black to get to the toilets. 
On my bathroom hikes I refused to look around in case something was lurking in the bushes – I didnt want to know.
The other downside is that I couldn’t sleep. First I was warm, then sore, and always uncomfortable and then cold. Brr was I cold.

I woke up early and took advatage of that shower. It wasn’t amazing but at least there was hot water.
Time to go hiking again? Maybe a swimming hole? I am so sore that I can’t imagine hiking again but you never know.

We pack up our stuff and head to Minnewaska State Park specifically Lake Minnewaska. Lake Minnewaska is a sky lake. A lake in the mountain top. It a few miles so we drive there. Luckily we get there early because the lot seems to be filling up. We park and fill our backpacks with what we need for the swimming hole.

We stop for a great view on the way.

We arrive at the swimming hole and no one is there. Turns out it doesn’t open for another 30 minutes.

I decide to change into my suit meanwhile and we go for a walk along the path around the lake.  I walk for a little while and decide I need more rest before I start for the day. I go back to the beach area to setup to lay down. I read and nap while Carlos does laps around the lake. I decided against going in the water because I overhear someone comparing it to diaper water. Carlos does go in for a little bit after his run.

I finally muster up the energy to go see the views on the other side of the lake. I am glad I did, they were amazing.

Carlos mentioned a great waterfall view that he saw while running. Still sore from the day before I decide against it. We really must come back to this area, especially when I am in better physical shape. So much nature and fun!

Time to get some dinner and head back toward the city. Somehow we end up at Tuthilltown Distillery and Restaurant and ordering a local whiskey flight.

The distillery and restaurant are a nice little area to throw a wedding or a party.

Due to the visit to the restaurant being on the other side of park we took a different route back home. We started going further and further uphill. Are we going back into the mountains? We come across this stellar view and must stop and look.

The rest of the trip back was uneventful until the cluster that is called the George Washington Bridge. Our plan to come back later to avoid traffic was flawed and we sat there forever. We eventually made it home though.
After my recovery I starting dreaming of future trips upstate. I might be hooked on nature. Can’t wait to go back!

Hiking in Mohonk (Day 1)

My husband and I have been talking forever about taking a drive to upstate NY and doing some hiking and camping. For the first time in a long time our schedules aligned and we decided to go up to near “Ellentown”, since he heard from friends it was very nice there.
After searching for campsites we found Sam Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campground which is near the “Gunks”, the mountain area at the Shawangunks that is popular with rock climbers. We aren’t rock climbers but it appears that there are trails nearby in walking distance. We book it quickly worried that the sites will book up since it is one of the last weekends of summer.

View of gunks from campground

To check in to your campsite you must arrive between 8-10 am or after 2pm. We made a mad rush to get there before 10 am and we just made it in time.
The sites are semi private. They say you can put two tents on your site but we don’t think we could have put more than one on ours. They are kind of small and you have to pitch within the wood designated area.

After check in it didn’t take us too long to set up our tent. They provide a bear proof locker for your food and toiletries. There are composting toilets and a sink not too far from us but if you want a shower it is a hike and cost $3 in quarters.

We put our sunscreen and bug spray on and head off to whatever hike is ahead of us.
Following advice of the campsite we follow the connector trail that takes us up to the Mohonk Preserve office.

We stop in the vistors center, there is a line. We don’t feel like waiting and still really don’t know where we are going so just follow signs for a trail. Outside the trail there is a nice man who is collecting money for the Preserve. Hikers need to pay $15 for a day pass to hike the trails. You get a wristband to designate that you paid. He gives us some advice on what trails to try. We pay and start on the East Trapps Connector Trail. It is a stone path that connects you to the rock climbing cliffs and the other trails. We soon learn why the guy at the campsite called it the StairMaster.

Soon we get to a flat trail. Upon the advice of the gentleman at the trailhead we go right.

Well I go right, my husband goes up further to walk along the climbers. I feel like I will just get in the way so I continue to flat trail below, hoping we meet back up with each other at some point.

Up to the rock climbers

I walk alone for a little bit. I take in the view of the valley.

At some point the trail begins to curve and I get worried since still no Carlos. Send him a message that the trail is changing direction. I look back occasionally but still no sign. Eventually he meets up with me and we soon come to a cross roads. We must decide which direction we want to go. We decide to go toward the private resort to get a view of the lake on property. The resort shares trails with Mohonk reserve. Hikers can use the trails but are not allowed to use the resort specific amenities such as the water and resort porch (we did use their bathroom though!).
As we walk toward the resort we get a very nice view of the lake.

Map of the resort area and Mohonk Lake

We walk a little farther and we get a spectacular view of this resort in the sky.

We sit on a bench overlooking the lake to fuel up on some snacks. I enjoy this much needed break. We dream of splurging at some point and getting a room at the resort. We later find the cheapest room is $600 a night.
After our snacks we try to find the trail again to circle us around the resort. We aren’t sure we are going the correct way but eventually end up at the Copes Lookout Road and at Cope’s lookout where we enjoyed spectacular views for a few minutes.

We had the lookout to ourselves the whole entire time there. I wish we would have brought a lunch to share on the ledge. Truly spectacular views.
At this point we were turning back toward the way we came. There were a number of paths in the direction we needed to go but we stumbled upon this wooded path called Giants path. Many of the paths we were on were nicely manicured flat trails. Giants path was not. It was down hill with lots of large boulders, following the blue marks. I started to regret this path, even more so when we came these larger than life boulders and a seemingly dead end.

They couldn’t possibly expect us to traverse down this crevice? We evaluated the situation for a little while and Carlos attempted the path, talking to me as he descended. He was confused on how to move on and took each step with hesitation. While he journeyed on I looked for some sort of information on the internet (thank goodness for cell phone towers). I found a video where a mother and maybe a ten year old boy complete the obstacle. I am still extremely intimidated by it so I wander around and look for another way down. I can’t find any other path down. I see markers for a red trail but red is bad right? Why don’t they have a bypass route? Carlos gets to the bottom. He seems pretty far down there. I am still not ready. I watch the video once more. Carlos decides to come up to get me, maybe we will go back up the boulders to the safer trail? At that moment I decide to just do it. I move forward and start following the blue markers. I move swiftly until I get to a point where it is sort of a steep drop. I guess my choice is to slide down? That is what I do; but in the process hurt my knee and twist my good ankle (the other side has a long term running injury). I am injured but not dead. I keep going. I reach Carlos. He is surprised how quickly I made it to that point. I didn’t waste time making decisions, I blindly followed the blue. The area I meet up with him is sort of an open area off to the right seems to be another secret pathway. Already pushing my luck with this path I decide to stay away. However it looks like the kind of place where bats or vampires sleep for the night. We continue on out. Carlos warns me about bumping my head since he did so on his first attempt out. My hat blocks my view so I bump my head on the same spot as him. Now I have a sore knee, ankle and head, but I am out. I feel so accomplished. So proud of myself for conquering my fear.

A video journey of the Giant’s Workshop (what it is called).

I am beaten down so we walk back.

We decide to take the path back advised by the ranger “Overcliff Road”. He said was supposed to have great views. While it had at least one viewing area, it was mostly boring path that went on forever and ever. I was tired and felt like this path was wasting my time and energy stores.

Finally as we turn back toward the vistor’s center do we come across some action.  We see pretty boulders and we get to watch the rock climbers in action.

We have to head back the way we came, except going up the stair master, I stumble down the stairmaster. My legs want to stop but there is an older man with his little dog coming down behind me. I MUST NOT LET THEM BEAT ME. The treat of being overtaken gets me down the hard part. After our campsite connector, we are back. I exchange some dollars for quarters in the campsite office, thinking a shower is even possible at this point. Once I get back to the site, shower is not happening.

The only thing that is happening is sandwiches, sleeping, and this wine.

We retired semi early since once it is dark, there isn’t much to do if you don’t have a burner. Fires not allowed on sites. The campsite has a fire pit but there is no way I am walking back that way.
Time to sleep….zzzzz

Flight? Bad travel luck over?

The journey of heading home starts with our train trip from Nuremberg to the Frankfurt flughafen train station. It is the main station that connects the airport with the regional area. We booked a hotel that night near the airport so we wouldn’t have to be rushed to get to the terminal. The hotel I booked with my Hilton points just so happened to be connected to the train station next to the airport. There is a convenience market and restaurants in the same mall area. After a hotel room snafu (we somehow got a non-smoking room that was smokey) we went out to get dinner at Paulaner, a restaurant located at THE SQUAIRE (the train station and airport mall area). I tried the Schnitzel one last time and was happy it came with a much needed salad. I also treated myself to some tropical dessert.

We go back to the hotel for an early night. We set our alarms and rest up for the flight.
We wander around a little bit in the morning before our walk to the aiport. We find a bakery where I get coffee and this cheese covered pretzel thing. I decided to carb it one last time in Germany.

Then it is on the walk to the terminal. It isn’t as quick as I thought it would be and we did end up taking a bus. The hotel and train station is in terminal 1 and our flight was terminal 2. Still have plenty of time since I always leave early for flights.
Frankfurt is a little odd. I felt like we went through security multiple times. You first go through a very easy screening and you feel like you are in the clear. But don’t buy any liquids or anything you expect to take on the plane. If you are US bound, you will have to go through screening once more to get to your gate, only within a window for your flight. They will make you dispose of any liquids you purchased (unless it is from duty free shop and “locked” up). There is a bathroom and shop on the other side where you can get duty free items, snacks, cold sandwiches, and drinks (water, soda, beer, and wine to consume there).
Once we got through the final round we sit and wait. Things seem to be smooth until we get our first delay message. It is a mechanical issue and technicians are looking at it. No eta, but no worry because so many flights are delayed these days we just expect that as the norm.
We sit some more and more delay messages. At some point they start to say a couple hours. Still hopeful of arriving home. They bring out drinks and finally sandwiches. I start to hear the rumor mill. The flight is getting cancelled. They won’t announce until it gets officially cancelled by the technicians.  They also talk about how it won’t be rescheduled for later that day because the crew will time out and there is no crew to fill the 8 hour flight. People start looking for other flights to get on.


I hear the rumors but don’t want to believe them until we hear official word over the intercom.  It finally comes. Our flight is cancelled. We are asked to wait for word of what to do. Some book themselves on alternate flights or the same flight the next day but now all those options are gone. Eventually they announce that they are creating a new flight for us the same time the next day and they are putting us in an airport hotel overnight with food vouchers.
We get some sort of vague instruction to find the shuttle for the Steigenberger Hotel and all arrangements will be handled at hotel. Apparently we are automatically booked on the flight for the next day. Groups of us wander out to find the bus. It is real confusing and no one is there to direct us. It is a group effort. Many on the flight are English speaking or have a good level of English language so with team work we find the bus. It is way too small for all of us waiting so we have multiple trips. While I am waiting delta calls me to offer me an $100 voucher. Really Delta? Still don’t know when I am getting home, and this hotel situation at the time seems messy.  Not really the best time Delta unless you have some information to help me now!
When we get to the hotel it is long lines for the check in. My husband gets in line and I sit aside with the luggage. We check in with almost no identification. It is almost like we could have been just stragglers who came in at the right time and got a free room. Breakfast and Dinner are in a special conference room for our group. I wasn’t expecting much for a free hotel stay but was pleasantly surprised at our room. It was nicely decorated and very clean. The only bad part is that we were at the airport, it was already later in the day, so we had no real time to get to Frankfurt and sight see. Let me correct myself – ten years ago I would have hopped in a cab or train to do whatever Frankfurt I could do in YOLO style but tonight we want to eat and get a good night’s rest after being at the airport most of the day.

The dinner was buffet style and very impressive. I wasn’t expecting them to comp any alcohol but they had a seemingly never ending supply of the Radelberger beer. We took full advantage of it and did find it had an end – after we spent a couple hours hanging out chatting with some jazz/chamber music musicians from Brooklyn who were coming back from some Germany performances. A couple of them lived not too far from us. If you want to check them out they are Project Trio and Turtle Island Quartet. They were really nice group of guys.

Once the beer ran out it was time for bed. We rest up and finally get on our flight home the next day.

I heard rumors of good compensation granted for flight delays and cancellations and planned to do research when I got home. The next day we came to discover that our entire flight was comped. Both legs of the flight were refunded. So we basically went to Germany on a free flight with the “inconvenience” of having to miss another day of work. Fortunately we both have understanding employers so that wasn’t an issue.
The European union has stricter compensation laws for airline inconveniences and it appears Delta went above and beyond that. So it is hard to say that my bad travel luck is still in place since it was bad luck to have a flight cancelled, we still got home safe. Plus we were well compensated. I guess these are the good problems to have.
Until the next journey.
Happy travels!


Today is the last day of sightseeing in Germany and we chose to spend it as a day trip to Nuremburg on the way back to Frankfurt.
When deciding where our our day trip would be, Nuremberg was on the list but with some hesitation. The only thing I knew about the town was Nuremberg trials and I feared that would consume the town. To our delight, Nuremberg was so much more and I wished we would have scheduled a night here to be able to see more.

We started of with an early train ride; well not that early. We ended up getting to the town about noon. We locked up our bags at the station and started our walk.

Always number one on our minds is food (well number 1 for me is where are the toilets because I always have to go). We find a cafe to have a little meal before we move on.

More sausages!

By the cafe there is a shopping area where craftsmen sell their unique items. I wanted to come back to buy some souvenirs but later forgot.

Craftsmen’s Courtyard

After some window shopping we walk through the old town. We pass some cafes and a monument to World War II refugees.

We visit to the St Lawrence Church (started 1360). Despite WW II the church survived mostly intact due partly to luck and pro-activeness in hiding and protecting precious parts.

After the church we wander around the town some more.

“Durer ” Rabbit

Finally we plan to visit the Germanic National Museum. Our map reading skills fail us because we end up going in circles. We eventually find it. We don’t have a ton of time left since we have a train to catch. We try to do the express version and finally towards the end I find the Durer works (but take no photos). The selection at the museum was pretty impressive. I would definitely schedule more than an hour or so here (unlike us).

We loved Nuremberg and definitely would have spent more time here. I will be sure to put it on the list to swing by again the next visit to Germany.
Now to catch the train back to Frankfurt.