Biking hot spot, the Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir

Rowboats Ashokan Reservoir

Frequently dubbed the “Champagne of Drinking Water”, 9 million New Yorkers revel in this pristine watershed called the Ashokan Reservoir. I usually enjoy dramatic views of it from the summit of Catskill mountains, like Cornell, Wittenberg and Overlook, but, today, I decide to get a little closer.

We park the car at a cul-de-sac on B W S Road, a car-free route along the southern half of the Reservoir designated for pedestrians and bikers only. Before we take to the sizzling pavement, our curiosity is piqued by what appears to be unusually low water levels along the shoreline.

A cemetery of neglected rowboats lie in repose under nearby branches. A yacht club for rednecks? Nevertheless, the rocky shore is a picturesque spot to second-guess the names of the mountains in the distance.

Those not afraid of a little humidity are walking and biking briskly along the car-free five mile loop (2.5 miles each way). We stop to explore another unusual sighting, a monument dedicated to J. Waldo Smith, the head engineer and visionary behind the planning and execution of the Reservoir between the years 1897 and 1907.

A mile later, we’re basking in the cool mist blowing over us from a, circa 1982, water fountain. Apparently, the tall plumes of cascading water only runs when the Power Authority’s hydropower turbines, located below the ground, are in service.

Our last mile takes us over a dividing weir separating the Reservoir and back onto an open road with traffic. Poor George is feeling a little tropical and pulls off onto the shoulder for a little respite. Underneath us is a culvert with an abandoned rail bed that distinctly has the potential of being a modern day rail trail.

Bikers can only hope someday.

Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir

Kingston Rail Trail (not yet)

Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir

Boldt Castle: crowning jewel of the 1000 Islands

Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle

You’ve heard of the world famous Waldorf Astoria but what about the equally iconic Boldt Castle? Both were owned by hotel millionaire George C. Boldt.

Built in the year 1900, this summer dream home on the St. Lawrence River was for his beloved wife Louise. Beyond the 120-room national treasure, Boldt also constructed five other impressive structures on an island known fondly as Heart island: the Power House, the Alster Tower (playhouse), the Hennery, the Arch and a stone Gazebo.

Located directly across the water on Wellesley Island is the magnificent Boldt Yacht House. Not a single detail or expense was spared.

Then, sadly, just months away from completion, Mrs. Boldt died suddenly. George never returned to his castle and for the next 73 years it crumbled into disrepair.

Today, thanks to years of expensive and pain-staking restoration, the chateau, located in the famed 1000 Islands region of upstate New York, is finally fulfilling its purpose: to preserve that timeless sense of gilded romance.

The picturesque Italian gardens, the exotic drawbridge, the hideaway Dove-Cote, all have been restored to that magical, fairy-tale setting that Boldt envisioned. It goes without saying that venue is super popular for couples looking to tie the knot.

I visited this historic complex with my own sentimental sweetie, George. How I was able to escape back to Alexandria Bay without a ring on my finger, I’ll never know…

Kissing_George

Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle

Life off the leash for salty dogs

Beebe Woods

Falmouth Cape Cod dog at beach

Falmouth Water Dog Dish

Not just people but canines love the Cape too! Salty dogs play catch on the beach, window shop on Main Street and explore the network of walking trails at Beebe Woods. Falmouth is as dog-friendly a town as you’ll ever visit and that translates into happier locals.

Studies have proven that oxytocin concentrations skyrocket when you pet a dog. A feeling of happiness and love helps to lower cholesterol, relieve stress and boost self-esteem. No wonder Mutti and me shared regrets leaving behind our furry companion when we saw how many four-legged Fidos live in Falmouth.

Falmouth Canines

When you visit be sure to say hello to the cutest Corgi overseeing a busy countertop at an emporium shop called Celebrations. Shoppers are encouraged to pet first, pay last.

Going for a walk in the woods and forgot the doggie bags? No problem if you trek the carriage trails behind the Cape Cod Conservatory at Beebe Woods. There are several waste stations at entrance points around the perimeter.

Jackson the dog at Cape Cod

Empty stretches of sandy beach are rare in the summer but by the time the leaves turn color, the Frisbies are flying. This Border Collie rescue, by the name of Jackson, crouches in a ready position to retrieve his favorite toy from the ocean for the umpteenth time.

And, finally, get the scoop on accommodations and restaurants in Falmouth where you and your best friend can go through the Chamber of Commerce website, or, better yet, call and ask for Maura!

Woods Hole: A tour of the country’s largest oceanographic facility

WHOI summer tour guide

Carl Wirsen explains Alvin's Sphere

“The true voyage of discovery is not so much in seeking new landscapes, as in having new eyes…”
– Marcel Proust

Today, we visited the venerable WHOI (pronounced “who-eee”) and learned about HOV’s, AUV’s and ROV’s. Not unlike military, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, a leading marine research, engineering and educational facility on the Cape, uses just as many acronyms.

“But, don’t worry, there won’t be a test at the end of tour,” mused volunteer guide and retired marine biologist, Carl Wirsen.

During the summer months, visitors can sign up for free walking tours (reserve online) of historic buildings that house millions of samples of exotic ecosystems, like tube worms, seabed coral and sediment cores.

In a little over 90 minutes, Wirsen rifles off four decades worth of countless missions and dozens of famous oceanographers that have all quietly advanced the world’s understanding of the murky abyss.

If you’re super lucky, you might be able to catch rare glimpses of the human-occupied submersible Alvin, or the remote controlled vehicle Jason or the autonomous underwater vehicle, Sentry.

Of the 4,400 dives, Alvin is best known for first exploring the wreckage of the Titanic in 1986. Other vessels that call this Southern Cape location home include a famously named American hero whose “small step” provided humanity with a new perspective on our planet: Neil Armstrong.

Currently, the Navy vessel is operating somewhere off the dangerous fjords of Iceland, on it’s way to St. Johns, Newfoundland. It’s both servicing moorings and collecting scientific data about our vulnerable oceans.

Ultimately, we didn’t see Alvin, but we did get to admire a decommissioned pressure hull that once sank with Alvin in the late ’60s. This cramped pod is now made of titanium and capable of descending into the deepest reaches of the ocean – namely the Mariana Trench. Persons with claustrophobia need not apply. In keeping with acronyms, inside the sphere is a humorous warning for the three-person crew: P-B4-U-GO.

If you have any sponge left in the ol ‘noggin, be sure to visit the interactive kiosks at the Woods Hole Exhibit Center following the tour.

Woods_Hole_Exhibit_Center

Woods_Hole_Exhibition_Center2

Waterfront pedaling on the Shining Sea Bikeway

Shiny, happy people (aka Mutti) on the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth.

Shiny, happy people (aka Mutti) on the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth.

We set off on our rentals (courtesy of the best bike shop in town – Corner Cycle Rental) this morning in search of a little adventure from the norm. What we found was vernal ponds, scenic ocean beaches, salt marshes and so much more.

All thanks to a former railroad bed, the Shining Sea Bikeway afforded Mutti, sis and me the luxury of biking faster and longer. At least long enough to find a cafe offering fruit smoothies and umbrella shade.

A dip in the ocean rounded out our sweaty day of pedaling on hot pavement.

Shining Bikeway Falmouth

Shining Sea Bikeway

Shining Sea Bikeway

Shining Sea Bikeway

Shining Sea Bikeway

Shining Sea Bikeway

Falmouth Heights Beach

Adjusting my aperture in Falmouth, Cape Cod

Love Cape Cod? Return to this blog all this week for quintessential visuals of Woods Hole and Falmouth.

I’ll be capturing late summer fun on shell-lined beaches, at quaint seafood shacks, along shoreline bike paths and inside friendly souvenir shops.

Since visiting for the first time last October, Mom, sis and me can’t seem to stay away. Come with us, as we explore ‘off the map’ using bikes, boats and bare feet to get us where we want to be.

This years' extreme drought has stressed out the lawns but there's still plenty of water in the pools at ShoreWay Acres B&B and Hotel.

This years’ extreme drought has stressed out the lawns but there’s still plenty of water in the pools at ShoreWay Acres B&B and Hotel.

The always-in-season Lobster Roll , this one is courtesy of Shuckers oyster bar and grill in Woods Hole.

The always-in-season Lobster Roll , this one is courtesy of Shuckers oyster bar and grill in Woods Hole.

No trip to Cape Cod is complete without a pair of havaianas flip-flops from Molinas.  The owner of this distinctly unique store (303 Main) will offer to teach you Spanish, if you Por favor.

No trip to Cape Cod is complete without a pair of havaianas flip-flops from Molinas. The owner of this distinctly unique store (303 Main) will offer to teach you Spanish, if you Por favor.

The ocean water is a whopping 78 degrees at area beaches along Shoreline Drive.  Beachcomber, Mutti, has no qualms about venturing into the deep zone.   In the foreground is washed up seaweed known as sargassum.

The ocean water is a whopping 78 degrees at area beaches along Shoreline Drive. Beachcomber, Mutti, has no qualms about venturing into the deep zone. In the foreground is washed up seaweed known as sargassum.

To see a growing pile of more photos, visit my FLICKR ALBUM.