Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Yes, we have labeled campgrounds “Quirky” before, so perhaps  new terminology is required… Beaverkill Campground is half its former self.  A flood washed away many sites so NOW the bathhouse is in the “Day Use” area which requires a mile of uphill driving (Do not attempt this on your bike), across the covered bridge (six foot seven inch clearance) .  The bathhouse is locked at 8:30 PM as is the “Recycling Center” (essentially a dumpster INSIDE a building). We don’t know when either are UNlocked – certainly not before 11AM when we beat a hasty retreat. The sites are mostly tent size, but there were only 6 of 50 occupied so we did fine. Of course the “system” had double booked one of the sites (we were told loudly by a Long Island Princess in the process of moving her brood of seven to a site 150 yards from ours.)  But luckily we could still hear her “music” until 10PM.  The kids were nice though as was the resident staff, both just a little embarrassed about Mom. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Biking Beaverkill Valley

The flat land along the Beaverkill is seldom more than 100 yards wide, but along the way are stout, well tended homes one imagines to be the gathering places of the Fly fishing elite.  We were tipped to a loop bike ride which would give us a closer look at some of these beauties and cross the ‘kill at a place where there be giants. We had driven this route and deemed it doable by geriatric cardiac patients, but found once again that “little ups and downs” can take the starch out of a fella.




Below the Craigie Clair Bridge, we watched two trespassing “sports” swinging nymphs across a hole with two GIANT trout and a goodly squadron of smaller guys.  From our vantage, we could see each time their white mouths winked open to take a morsel from the water column, but we were unable to assist.  In this low water, deep holes (often near the abutments of the bridges) hold fish until the levels rise again.


I wish now that I had purchased that history of Catskill fly fishing.  It surely would have told the story of what’s behind this elaborate gate.




Another handsome home.  We imagine generations of fishermen lodging here, telling tales on the porches.  At a couple, we envision a shiny Airstream parked nearby…its occupants joining in…

The Beaverkill

IMG_9651Our little campsite at Beaverkill Campground in the Catskills State Park isn’t anything exceptional unless you credit our fancy parallel parking between marker posts to get situated.  Nothing exceptional except that just beyond that fringe of Joe-Pye-Weed is the Beaverkill. 

THE BEAVERKILL !!!  –-  The mother stream of all dry fly fishing in America, where journeymen and swells have come for over one hundred years to try the Land of Little Waters.  This is where pools are named, enshrined in literature, spoken of in hushed, reverent tones and where, even in these hot , low water conditions, Trout the size of your arm sip flies from the surface in deep pools below covered bridges.
The water was up and clear; the run just below our campsite had some holding water that would have been prime in our home waters, but the Beaverkill is rocky and open to the sun.  Even after a nice rain, the sun beat down relentlessly and the water temperatures were close to 70 degrees. You just can’t release a fish in that water and be confident it would live to fight another day.

 IMG_9657The “sports” we met around town  (in bright pastel fishing shirts and caps with little flip down magnifiers) were just off drift boat trips on the upper Delaware and searching for another place to eat dinner in Roscoe.

Reluctantly, we decided to just wander about visiting the shrines. Of course we sought out the “Famous Roscoe Diner” as consolation for the tragic loss of our Donut Peaches and found it wanting in so many ways, but got intimate glimpses into the training of a new help.

Imagine two amply proportioned young women, raven hair pulled into buns above their matching black slacks and pink tops embroidered “Roscoe Diner’”, studying the computer screen.

This page is fa yah cheeze choices. NEVAH, give da customah a choice of cheeze. Den you gotta go through two moah pages.  Don’t ask. They get Provolone. It’s good!


If you can’t fish, you can talk fish or you can visit the place where the scions of Catskill fishing hang out.

The center is located near the fabled Junction pool where the Willowmemac and the Beaverkill merge (not that the young clerk who collected our fees would know).  There were no grey headed sages to speak with (but their names were on plaques EVERYWHERE.


On our own, Patty found a pod of Browns rising just below the bridge.
Robotic trout, deadpanned the guide at one of the local Fly Shops, they turn on automatically when someone crosses the bridge.

Al did find an interesting and knowledgeable fisherman to trade yarns with.  Thanks, John.
We headed back to “Trout Town” to see if anyone would tell us to just buy a license and fish.  No Luck there.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

In Praise of the Donut Peach and other Ephemeral Delights

IMG_9632In our continuing exploration of the Garden State, we visited our favorite local orchard, Strawberry Hill (peaches, nectarines and apples, no strawberries.) We came early because Ross is often “picked out”.


IMG_9603The variety on offer today was the Donut Peach, donut shaped morsels of pure sugary goodness. Donut Peaches don’t last very long –- not in orchard, not in the basket and certainly not in a crispy cobbler. We found a few ready to sample. (No pictures today. The usual excuse, the resident photographer was all sticky…)  We brought home 20# to ripen and counted ourselves fortunate.  This family place was immaculately groomed, friendly and well organized.  A much longer stay here in the land of Grand Boy may be necessary to sample ALL the varieties, but our hostess may run out of projects for us before then.
Another day, another magical berry patch.  Joanie already had a good supply of blueberries from Embry’s and created a five star cobbler last night.

IMG_9607Today we were in search of PIE and no one, I Say NO ONE, does fruit pie better than Embry’s.  We scored a Trifecta (blueberries, cherries and Peaches still firm in their heavenly combination) AND a Peach pie to take on the road.



Embry’s has lots more than blueberries and Pies to delight.


Then off for the Brown Eggs “ at the place where they keep them refrigerated” on a wagon in the back yard with an Honor System change box. 

IMG_9619We tried for the temporarily rare Jersey Tomatoes (weather) and struck out at a roadside place where local thuggery has made made these warnings necessary.


But Wait.  OLD YORK FARM at Reckless Road and York has a wagon we have shopped many times before, but this time we were honored to meet the owners.   

IMG_9622Herb and Karina call themselves   “Sundown Farmers”. 

Both are employed full time and farm from dawn to work time and often into the night (by headlight) after work.  They had the best tomatoes we have found,  a good variety of other veggies and a genuine down home friendly approach.  We enjoyed hearing their stories and especially their generous good spirits. 

Gary was nearby offering business advice; They refer to him as the Zen Master.  Gary has been known to grow a LITTLE corn.  We find later that he is locally famous for his Sweet Corn Farm and equally praised for his generosity. 
Thanks to our new friends for capping our day with kindness. 
And now we return you to our regular (4-5 times annual) Chesterfield Volunteer Fire Chicken Bar B Que where Tim, our vegetarian Son-in-law, manfully rips chicken asunder and fires it in a 40’ long pit.  When he returns, a really hopeful dog follows him around even more closely than usual.
“I think he misses me…” 

The carnivores appreciated the crispy chicken (No Pictures.  Yeah, …sticky…)  and are looking forward to the evening’s PIE.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Picking and Grinning

New Jersey may be the most densely populated state in the union but there are pockets where the “Garden State” earns its four stars.  A brief bike ride around Joanie’s place takes you by horse farms, thousands of acres of Preserved Farmlands, historic towns, old mills and the states' favorite Cooperative Farm.  The growing season has been hampered by the “Flood and Bake” weather. The Jersey tomatoes are suffering, but the Blackberries are the size of ping pong balls and the corn is Sweet Sweet Sweet.



Where do we    START??



Hippie chicks seeking smokin’ HOT peppers.






Pictures of the author in apparent Blackface, chin dripping with blackberry juice, have been deleted in the service of cultural sensitivity.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Goodbye Miss Daisy

We are going to miss Bethy around the Airstream.  Our book storage has never been neater, the salt shakers are flowing freely and vast areas of storage have been revealed.  ( I only wish I had turned her loose on the “office” cabinet.)  But new career paths are opening, critical arrangements need to be made and besides, this is the longest vacation she has taken EVER. 

We headed toward her “Midnight train from Pittsburgh” but found amusement along the way.  Fort Necessity National Battlefield and the memorial to the National Road gave us some useful information.  The Park Service does such a great job interpreting and preserving these places!





Close beside the still busy National Road –now US 40

We followed the National Road into the National Sprawl then into the “City of Bridges” (and tunnels and construction and sinuous convoluted expressways)  and into downtown in search of the Amtrak station.  Silly old me, when we saw the imposing old train station I envisioned a wide concourse, trains loading for the four corners, restaurants and such.  It took us a couple tours of the city to realize that the “station” is a waiting room below the condos now filling the once grand edifice.  Parking is at the Greyhound station (where they do load for the four corners.}
We dined lavishly at the Fish Market then abandoned poor Bethy to the hard chairs of the waiting room while we tried to extricate ourselves from the city on a drizzly Friday evening.
Oh Bethy.  We found your wine glass and we are saving it for the next “Driving Miss Daisy Tour.”

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The GAP Highlight Reel

If there is to be only one more ride on the Gap, show us the Good stuff.



Start at the Meyersdale Station. Stay inside and see the great exhibits while Evelyn clears the skies.


OK.  Look at all the blackberries. Remember this spot. Oh yeah, Bethy’s got that locked.

We’re going UP here, just a one percent grade, but UP nevertheless. 
The Keystone Viaduct, just 900’ long.


See the Wind Turbine.  The Two Ridges project has 64 along here.  The whole county is on wind power. (There ARE a lot of Amish in this county, but …)



Waiting out the shower in a shelter Evelyn steered us to.


Patty? Don’t you have faith in Evelyn?

Climb is over.  We are topping the Continental Divide.




Big Savage Tunnel is 3294’ but it’s nicely lighted


Whoa! Is that a train?




Big view from the top.  All the way to Cumberland.


All downhill back to Meyersdale.  Whee!

One more Highlight,  the big Salisbury Viaduct 1908’ long and HIGH.  Feels like you’re flying here.




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