Vintage Trains and Rocky Peaks

Another animal-planet morning. Hey, for a New Yorker who only sees invalid pigeons and subway rats watching chipmunks and a variety of colorful singing birds is very exciting.

Driving on the way back to New York I finally spotted the vintage train I saw advertised in many of the brochures thrown around grungy delis and stuffy local stores in the area. The Esopus Scenic Train was waiting in the station inviting us on board – unable to resist the temptation, we bought tickets and hopped on. Despite the Saharan heat, I chose to scorch in the outside wagon. Half of the ride was through the forest, along the Esopus Creek, which supposedly flows into the Ashokan Reservoir, the water source for NYC.

Along the way I spotted deer, and people tubing and bathing in Esopus…they looked so happy and refreshed, unlike me baking in the carriage. Then I realized something: by the time I get to my Brooklyn apartment, and turn on the water, I would probably wash in or drink these guys’ wash-off. I only hoped none of the swimmers or tubers peed in the creek.

In the Phoenicia station two ladies passed the retirement age were waiting for the train in 1800 style outfits, and nice lace umbrellas (purchased on eBay). They made quite an atmosphere waving and greeting the passengers. The small wooden station cabin, decorated with old pieces of luggage, the quiet of the sunny afternoon, I really felt I was arriving, 200 years ago, in a  train station.

Nobody wanted to make it to to Brooklyn too early, so we steered off the main road, roamed around the Ashokan Reservoir and marveled at its size and cleanliness, then stopped in Minnewaska State Park, a rocky beauty where one can hike, swim, horsebackride, bike, grill, relax.

The waters of the lakes in Minnewaska are so clean and transparent, that you can be in water more than 6 feet deep and clearly see the bottom of the lake. There is barely any life in these waters, and no algae grow because of the high acidity. They are pleasantly cold, a perfect refreshment for a hot summer day.