To be honest, I really didn't know what was even out that way until we first visited in 2011. After three trips, Matt and I have pretty much become experts on the area... or so we tell ourselves. It's so INCREDIBLY beautiful out that way, and such a different change of scenery from the flat farmland in Southwest Michigan. I seriously get so excited whenever we drive around a curve and there's a new beautiful view of the mountains. Matt and I could be on a commercial with how much we point and shout, "Look at that!"
The best way to really take in the Catskills is to get up close and personal. Matt and I have a blast hiking out in New York. We've done some fairly easy hikes, and we've also taken on a hike that made me just wanna sit my butt down on the trail and let Matt go ahead without me. Walking uphill for hours just isn't my cup of tea. Despite my exhausted limbs, the payoff is always worth it. Watching Matt identify birds and be Mr. Mountain Man is a blast. Plus, reaching the summit is always a surreal experience that I never forget.
Hiking is great because it's cheap entertainment. However, we've also done some costly tourist things as well. On our first trip to New York we drove over to Hunter Mountain and went on the highest, fastest, and longest zipline in North America. It was the craziest thing we've probably ever done together. After we got our gear on and went through all of the safety training with the rest of the group, we walked out to the first zip and volunteered to go before anyone else. I remember us looking over at each other, saying, "I love you", and running off the edge. Last year, we drove out to New York a different way than we usually go (the southern route), which allowed us to hit up Niagara Falls and ride Maid of the Mist. Even though I had seen the falls in person back in 2006, I dreamt of actually getting to experience them up close. We both hate the Niagara area because it's very touristy, so driving into the city just to ride Maid of the Mist and then get the heck out of there, was perfect for us.
Matt and I volunteered at a farm animal sanctuary back in 2011, and we're going to spend some time there again during our upcoming trip. The sanctuary is near Woodstock, which is a place that we absolutely love visiting because our favorite vegan restaurant is there in town. The sanctuary has been home to some very loving and unique farm animals. We've seen a rooster with boots and a sheep with a wheelchair. We got chased by a herd of goats so we could get them to move from one area of the property to another. Perhaps my favorite memory is when Matt and I were cleaning up the feeding area for the pigs, when one huge pig walked over to me and decided it didn't like a clean eating space, so it knocked over my whole bucket of foods scraps that I'd collected. All I could do was smile and laugh.
New York has so many awesome things to do, see, and most importantly, eat. Yes, eating is a favorite daily event of ours when we're in New York. It's nearly impossible to find a chain restaurant out that way, which allows Matt and I to find new places to eat all of the time. We constantly go back to our favorite places... Peekamoose Restaurant, Public Lounge, and Garden Cafe on the Green. Matt and I have a tradition that started on the first night of our first trip to The Roxbury Motel. We order a huge olive loaded pizza from Vasta's, and eat it while relaxing with a movie. It's perfect after a long travel day. We've decided to take a picnic lunch with us on a hike to Kaaterskill Falls in a few weeks, which is something I've wanted to do since our first hike there. It's fun and I get to save money. Win win.
Anyhoo, I'll be sure to share lots of stories and pictures when we get back from New York at the end of May. It's gonna be a good time.