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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Valcour Island: Battle of the Waves

Valcour Island sits off the western shore of Lake Champlain, just south of Plattsburgh. It’s another of those spots in upstate New York where what you see today doesn’t even start to tell the story of the place’s history.

Valcour Island was the site of a naval battle during the Revolutionary War in which Benedict Arnold contested dominance of Lake Champlain just enough to prevent the British from pushing south in 1776.

There is only a half mile of water between Valcour and the shore. Though it always beckoned to me, sitting out there, right across from a big concrete boat ramp in Peru NY, I always felt better staying close to shore when paddling with my sons.

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