The Monster of North South Lake

I saw something once, something big and monstrous and unbelievable. I’m not talking about Bigfoot or the Lochness Monster, which I can’t bring myself to believe in. My monster was more mundane then an eight foot tall North American ape or a leftover brontosaurus. What I saw does exist. Nobody disputes that; it just wasn’t supposed to be where I saw it.

North South Lake boat launch

It was five years ago, while padding on North South Lake in the Catskills. I had the whole family out on the water, enjoying a sunny afternoon in our canoe. There were lots of folks out that day camping, picnicking, fishing, paddling, swimming and hiking on the footpaths around the lake and in the surrounding woods.

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Tappan Zee Bridge Tour

Several years ago, I saw a show on the History Channel focusing on America’s deteriorating infrastructure that featured the Tappan Zee Bridge prominently. The program highlighted the fifty year old span as the poster child for deteriorating infrastructure that was likely to collapse without warning — and soon.

Tappan Zee Bridge boat tour

That may have been overly dramatic, but the people I knew who used the bridge back then had formulated a plan to get out of their car if the bridge collapsed and dropped them in the river. I recall my sister talking about the order in which she would unbuckle her children. When New York announced we were finally getting a new bridge, everyone was grateful.

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Red Hill Fire Tower Hike

A couple years ago I took my kids camping into the Sundown Wild Forest in the Catskills. It was a fun couple of days but I went into it with a to-do list so long, we couldn’t possibly get to everything.

Red Hill fire tower sign

Recently I read that the state had added a day-use permit requirement (for summer weekends at least) to the egregiously abused Peekamoose Blue Hole, a popular swimming spot in the area, located on Rondout Creek. It reminded me of some of the hikes that we hadn’t gotten to, especially the Red Hill Fire Tower.

The Red Hill Tower was the last one in the Catskills to operate in its original role.

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