Spirits in the Mountains

I could have kicked myself for not bringing my camera up to Mohonk yesterday. I wanted to catch a few vista shots of the Catskills and Shawangunks from the top of the mountain, with the storms dumping their heavy loads over some unsuspecting part of the valley. For anyone visiting the Hudson Valley, the Mohonk Mountain house is a must see. It was closed to the public this weekend, but my girlfriend knows the owner, so we got in for one of our very special afternoons. There is so much to do up there..golf, horseback riding, cross country skiing and ice skating in the winter, boating and swimming in the lake, a new spa (my reasons for the last two trips), tennis, hiking, rock on the 125+ year old porch, feed the giant stocked trout, stroll throught the heavenly gardens. It is one of the only remaining original "Catskill vacation hotels" built in 1865 as a Victorian Castle, with some 250+ rooms.

If you can't afford the 450-750.00 a night rooms,(I don't know many who can, but they do run specials as low as 238.00 per person) you can do a day at the Mountain House and have lunch, dinner, or use the spa, which is what I do. I book a massage and go early; pack a lunch and find a gazebo to eat it in on the lake, hike trails, stroll in the gardens. There is fabulous rock scrambling and climbing too, but with my ankle, I stick to walking and mild hiking! The spa is wonderful and for our 95.00 we steam, sauna, do the mineral pool, shower, use their wonderful spa products, sit in the solarium after the massage sipping herb tea and eating grapes, shower and then go for a rock on the porch watching the sun set. HOW DECADENT IS THAT?

The air is clean, the smell of the vegetation that grows on the top of a mountain crisp and sharp. The views of the valley from the numerous vistas spectacular. Some say the water has magical properties; I have to agree. When I leave there I feel at peace with myself and the world.

I have decided that after I retire I want to run art classes there. They have quite a few recreational activities and sometimes they will do a trade for time in the house. I would teach arts or crafts from that particular era, after all, it was my thesis work.

I have visited this house many times over the past 30 years. I never tire of walking the hushed halls and smelling the infusions of 150 years of wood, mountains, and spirits. Tonite they shoot fireworks between the lake and the cliffs; I hope to be there, AND bring my camera.

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