Saturday, June 15, 2013

Into the Catskills

Travel Day 2 -- Round Pond Recreation Area, USMA, West Point, NY (41.377700,-74.026700)

The parking lot in the Flying J, Brookville, PA where we spent last night was packed this morning. I felt guilty about taking up a space intended for an 18 wheeler. Breakfast at Denny's, then on the road for an almost uneventful travel day, traveling due east all day.

We finished crossing the eastern half of Pennsylvania and into the southeastern tip of New York state, finishing up at West Point, NY about 50 miles north of New York City on the banks of the Hudson River. Our statistics were: Start 0800EDT; End 1445EDT; Miles 310.6; Elapsed Time 6:45; Average Speed 46mph. I know this stuff doesn't interest anyone, but here is a convenient place for me to record this navigation trivia.

I said "almost uneventful". The campground is in the mountains -- hills by western standards. The last mile was a winding switchback from the highway up to the campground. It was a white knuckle mile with great fear of meeting an oncoming vehicle. It reminded me of the entry road to Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary except this one was paved and surrounded by forest.

Round Pond Recreation Area is located in a rocky, woody area, just three miles from the United States Military Academy. Round Pond is a clear mountaintop lake surrounded by a beach, playground, picnic areas and campsites.

Here is some background on the Catskill region from Wikipedia. The Catskill Mountains are a large area in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of New York. They are located approximately 100 miles north-northwest of New York City and forty miles southwest of Albany, starting just west of the Hudson River. The Catskills occupy much or all of five counties (Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster). As a cultural and geographic region, the Catskills are generally defined as those areas close to or within the borders of the Catskill Park, a 700,000-acre (2,800 km2) forest preserve protected from many forms of development under New York state law.

Geologically, the Catskills are a mature dissected plateau, a once-flat region subsequently uplifted and eroded into sharp relief by watercourses. The Catskills form the northeastern end of, and highest-elevation portion of, the Allegheny Plateau (also known as the Appalachian Plateau). Although the Catskills are sometimes compared with the Adirondack Mountains further north, the two mountain ranges are not geologically related, as the Adirondacks are a continuation of the Canadian Shield. Similarly, the Shawangunk Ridge, which forms the southeastern edge of the Catskills, is part of the geologically distinct Ridge-and-Valley province, and is a continuation of the same ridge known as Kittatinny Mountain in New Jersey and Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania.

Climatically, the Catskills lie within the Allegheny Highlands forests ecoregion. The Poconos, to the immediate southwest in Pennsylvania, are technically a continuation of the Catskills under a different name. The Catskills contain more than thirty peaks above 3,500 feet and parts of six important rivers.

The Catskills are well known in American culture, both as the setting for many 19th-century Hudson River School paintings and as the favored destination for urban vacationers from New York City in the mid-20th century. The region's many large resorts gave countless young stand-up comedians an opportunity to hone their craft. In addition, the Catskills have long been a haven for artists, musicians, and writers, especially in and around the towns of Woodstock and Phoenicia, New York.

Lots more information on the history and cultural impact of this region available elsewhere for those interested. Go find it and enjoy.
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