Ashokan reservoir in the twilight - Monday June 09 2003

Gretchen and I undertook a massive grocery shopping expedition today at the Uptown Kingston Hannaford. The provisions for which we paid money totalled about $150 and actually heaped up out of the grocery cart. When we got back home, our friend Jacob had arrived by car. He was driving a somewhat sporty late-model Volvo - exactly the sort of understated luxury car we predicted he'd be driving. Jacob is the guy who lived in Park Slope back before I moved there. He moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of a filmmaking dream. When she visited me, Gretchen introduced Jacob to me and my then-housemate John. John and Jacob eventually played a few games of basketball together on their own time. Since I last saw him, Jacob participated in the production of the recent movie Love Liza.
Jacob seemed more positive about things then I'd remembered him being. In the past it always seemed like a dark and stormy cloud hung over his head. Today, though, it seemed that everything he saw was either "so great" or "so cute."
The three of us went on walk down the Stick Trail, and I led them on a detour up the stair-step path of the Escarpment Trail (which is sort of incomplete). When we rejoined the stick trail, it turned out Noah the Cat had been following us. Cats aren't really designed for prolonged hiking in the woods, and by the time we returned he was panting like a little dog. Jacob said this wasn't good - that when cats pant it means they're really beat.
Later on I went along when Gretchen took Jacob on a tour through Kingston, first of Uptown and then over to the Rondout, including its most picturesque neighborhoods. There is one particular dead-end street crowded with beautiful Victorian mansions, and Gretchen has made three-point turnaround in it so often that it's possible the people living there have grown used to her car.
Using a detailed map of Ulster County, we figured out a route that lead from the Rondout all the way up Rondout Creek to the tiny village of Rosendale. There's no single road on this route - sometimes you're on tiny neighborhood streets in Kingston and other times you're on a major State Route such as 213.
The goal of this leg of the drive was to dine in High Falls at the Egg's Nest Saloon, another of those funky restaurants so common in the progressive villages of the eastern Catskills. There was a hand-scrawled note on the wall near our table that said the Egg's Nest looked to have been decorated by a "Martha Stewart on acid."
We ordered a "large order of nachos" as an appetizer and then three tempeh reubens as a main course. But the mound of nachos was so enormous, Jacob and I could only eat half of ours. Gretchen didn't have any of the nachos because of the presence of guacamole, which icks her out big time.
While Gretchen was off playing Centipede on a vintage videogame machine, Jacob and I talked politics. He still couldn't get over the reality that those shameless Republicans managed to pass their government-destroying tax cut package. When our discussion turned to Iraq, he expressed frustration that Bush's lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction seemed unlikely to develop into an impeachment issue. For my part, I said I didn't think Bush was out of the woods yet on that one. Before the war, Bush benefited from the press's desire to have a newsmaking war. But now that it's over with, the press could really use a scandal - and there's no better scandal than one having the suffix -gate.
When Gretchen returned to our table, her immediate inclination was to have us to talk about something other than politics, a subject she finds "depressing." But when I mentioned "Weaponsgate" her eyes lit up and she joined in the conversation.
It was growing dark on the way home, but Gretchen wanted to show Jacob the Ashokan Reservoir before he headed back to his parents in Connecticut tonight. She drove like a maniac as best she could back from High Falls. I showed her the shortcut back to Hurley Mountain Road, which shaved several minutes off our time. (On the main drag along the base of the Catskills, US 209, one tends to get stuck behind someone who feels unsafe going more than 35 mph - even though the road is mostly flat and its visibility good.)
Though it was after 9pm, there was still some twilight, certainly enough to illuminate the reservoir's water and make it stand out against the mountains. We wandered from Dike Road down to the shoreline, which was crowded with fishermen's row boats, all of them locked to various trees. The water level was so high that it had run up into the woods and was inundating the bases of trees and causing some tethered boats to float upside down.

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